Hoya Highlight: Dean M. Brenner (C'91)

Dean Brenner (C'91)

President, The Latimer Group

Describe your current position and what led you to your job:

Twelve years ago I founded an executive coaching and corporate training firm, focused on clear and powerful communication skills. We work with large organizations on their ability to sell, lead and communicate as persuasively as possible.

I was working in financial services and wanted a total career change, and wanted to work for myself. I had a background in competitive sports, and was intrigued by the concept of “executive coaching.” But it took me a while to determine the specifics on what I would coach. Finally, after thinking and talking about it with my wife, Emily, for several months, she simply said, “You’ve always been a good public speaker, you should just coach that.” I thought about it for a few minutes, couldn’t poke any holes in her idea, and so it began.

What has been the most rewarding moment in your career?

For the first two years we were in business, things were pretty slow. I was networking a lot, but we hadn’t yet gotten our first big break. But then in 2004, I was introduced to a senior executive at United Technologies Corporation. We hit it off, he hired me to train his entire team, and everything changed after that. We still work with UTC now, 10 years later, with about 15 different cost center relationships throughout their enterprise. This relationship has led to several other significant relationships at other Fortune 500 organizations. We can trace about 90 percent of all revenue we have ever done back to that first UTC conversation.

What is the best career advice you have received?

Have clear goals, write down a specific plan, and stay the course.

It takes a while to launch a business and you have to work hard and be patient. It rarely happens overnight. Also, manage your overhead and cash flow! It’s easy to over spend and then back yourself into a financial corner. Low overhead equals the freedom to make the decisions you want to make.

What would you recommend to someone interested in working in your field?

This space is cluttered and fragmented. You need to have an approach and frameworks, tangible things to leave behind with your clients. And you have to do a lot of listening. If you are doing the bulk of the speaking in your client meetings, you probably are not the best executive coach you can be.

What challenges have you faced and how did you successfully manage one situation?

I have always been maniacal about managing overhead, which has been good most of the time. But one time it got me in trouble. I had held off hiring a full time assistant to help me manage the details of the business. I was afraid of the expense. Then, I was heading off to a client engagement and made all my own travel plans, flew there, rented a car, slept in the hotel, woke up and began driving to the meeting, only then to realize I was in the wrong city, hundreds of miles away from where I was supposed to be. To quote my wife, “Your head is officially full. Hire someone.” I hired someone about two months later, and it was the best decision I ever made.

What skills are necessary or what prepared you the most for your career?

To be a great executive coach and corporate trainer, you have to be “other-people focused.” You have to be comfortable putting other people in the spotlight, and helping them be their best. Great coaches are rarely out front and in the spotlight. You need to be a great listener, you need to have empathy and you need to be able to put people at ease so they trust your advice and counsel.

If you could have another career what would it be?

I would teach. My wife teaches high school history, and I love what she does.

How did your time at Georgetown University influence you and your career path?

At Georgetown, I had my first exposure to writing, speaking, a little acting and a little radio. I wrote for the Georgetown Voice for four years and loved it. I realized I could write, speak and communicate. Before Georgetown, I had no idea I had those skills.