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Interview with Trusted Advisor Sandra Bang

July 7, 2023

Sandra Bang is the Founder and CEO of Sable Group, a bespoke coaching and people development consultancy, and a certified executive coach. She helps people and organizations gain clarity and achieve their professional and business goals by actively listening with empathy, reframing perspectives within context, and providing strategic guidance. With her candid and pragmatic approach, Sandra facilitates outcomes for clients that are impactful and beneficial, particularly in the areas of inclusive leadership, team management, navigating complex organizations, getting promotion ready, self- empowerment, and leadership pivots.

Sandra brings to her coaching and advisory work 25-plus years of experience in professional services, having created and executed business-informed leadership and talent management strategies that produced measurable results, and culture change. Most recently, Sandra served as the Chief, Diversity & Talent Strategy Officer at the international law firm of Shearman & Sterling LLP. A sought-after subject matter expert, Sandra has spoken and presented at events hosted by many national organizations and is a contributing author to An Associate’s First Year: A Guide to Thriving at a Law Firm, published by PLI.

Sandra began her legal career as a litigator in Canada. Her passion for inclusion, talent development, and executive coaching led her from practicing law to people management. She decided to add a coaching certification to her legal degree and completed the Advanced Coaching Intensive at Columbia University.

Sandra joined the PDC’s Trusted Advisor program in 2023. To get to know her better, we asked Sandra about her approach to professional development and trends that she foresees.

You transitioned from practicing law to people management. Are there transferable skills you brought to your new career?

  • Lawyers need strong listening, analytical and problem-solving skills to succeed. You also need these skills in people management and talent development.

How has professional development changed in the law firm world, in your experience?

  • PD is no longer a "nice to have" - it is an essential business element to attracting, developing and retaining talent." People entering this field are coming in with a lot of training and knowledge specific to learning and development.
  • Programs are built in a much more intentional way these days, with a focus on problem- solving. They are targeted to specific issues and outcome oriented.
  • Technology is also a much bigger factor, of course. The use of video and interactive technology makes PD programs timelier and more efficient.

What trends do you see coming our way in the professional development realm?

  • Learning to manage and teach in a hybrid environment more effectively. There is a human factor in training lawyers in professional skills, business development, managing teams and resolving conflict.
  • Being clear and candid about defining expectations, providing examples to clarify what you’re looking for will become even more important. For example, managers need to be explicit about how to prioritize different demands and how quickly to respond. That puts a greater burden on managers, and they may need more coaching and support to help them understand how to manage effectively and make a greater effort to connect.
  • Generational differences can’t be ignored. Thinking through how people take in information helps create more impactful training programs that benefit multigenerational teams.
  • Structuring trainings to allow for greater choice and respond to learners’ preferences will become more common. How do you frame learning programs in a way that allows participants to choose their own adventure, experiment, and achieve their goals?
  • No doubt, AI will impact PD programs and initiatives, both in terms of delivery and content of programs and initiatives.

Can you share advice for those new to the field of professional development?

  • PDC members are very generous when it comes to sharing their experience. Don’t hesitate to reach out and build connections within the PDC.
  • Be intentional about the skills you are building over time. What goals are you setting for yourself?
  • Don’t forget to stay curious. You may find inspiration in Instagram or a cooking show. Solutions can come from a variety of sources, not just the legal world.

How can Sandra help PD professionals in their roles?

Sandra serves as an executive coach, consultant, and facilitator. She works one-on-one and with groups of lawyers and business professionals. She consults and presents programs on a variety of talent development and management topics. Her "sweet spots" are coaching (1) high potentials to reach the "next level" whether it is partnership, the C-suite, or leadership position; (2) leaders in improving their team management skills and self-awareness about their own leadership prowess; and (3) professionals on executive presence and influence in their workplace. Sandra receives stellar feedback about her ability to coach challenging personalities, and to facilitate group learnings on topics that some may find sensitive or challenging.