Career Change from Corporate HR to Executive Coaching with Nicole Case

With over a decade of HR experience, Nicole Case found herself being the coach to her colleagues when they needed advice or guidance. Her natural knack for coaching and problem solving attracted everyone her way. It was then, she realized coaching was an avenue that played to her strengths, values, and interests and she took the leap and started her own practice, Nicole Case Coaching. Working with highly ambitious women, Nicole utilizes her skillset from her HR days to help women identify what their “special sauce” is and how they can utilize it in their next career upgrade. Read more about how Nicole utilizes her HR experience in her coaching practice, the positives she’s seen while being in a virtual environment, and what excites her about the future of coaching and development.

Jennifer Fink: You worked in the HR world for a decade encompassing several different industries, such as health care, higher education, and digital software. What inspired you to make the jump into coaching and development?

Nicole Case: I was doing coaching and leadership development along with other responsibilities while working in HR. People naturally would come to me for guidance and advice on their careers and challenges as leaders. I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit and my parents own their own business so doing my own thing has been on my mind my whole life. I got exposed to the world of coaching during an Ellevate several years ago and realized I could take some of my favorite elements of my HR role and impact even more people. Once the pandemic hit, I was being contacted by women from all over wanting help with their careers and job search. I think everything that has been happening over the last year has woken people up to what is most important to them. And with employees working even more hours from home, they are realizing they aren’t in a job where they get to use their strengths, are making an impact, or feel valued. I was feeling the same way! I was ready for a change and to take my business full-time.

"I think everything that has been happening over the last year has woken people up to what is most important to them."

JF: If someone were to look at your LinkedIn profile, they would read that you’re a “recovering HR Pro”. Do you think your experience in HR could be considered a superpower in your practice?

NC: 100% a superpower! As an HR leader, I was part of those conversations with leaders and executives on really important topics. Who gets the promotion, who gets the raise, who gets the best projects? For many employees, how these decisions get made is very mysterious. I use my insider knowledge to help my client navigate the crazy corporate world!

JF: As a career coach, is there an ideal client or industry you enjoy working with most?

NC: My ideal client is a driven ambitious woman in corporate who is ready for that promotion, that next big challenge, or a change - they want a career upgrade.

JF: You currently are working on two exciting projects, your podcast, and a YouTube channel. Can you tell us a little bit about those? Or is that top secret information?

NC: The Upgraded Career video podcast is launching this fall! Stay tuned!

JF: What are three potential takeaways your clients walk away with when working with you?


  1. You have way more control over your career than you realize and no one cares about it more than you do. You get to define what success looks like for you and it probably doesn’t look like anyone else's version.
  2. Doing your job and working hard is just the price of entry. It’s not what moves you ahead in your career. Curating your personal brand and getting visible does.
  3. Nurture and give back to your network consistently - not just when you need a job.

JF: What is your “special sauce” when it comes to helping people with career development and transition?

NC: My special sauce is my ability to help others identify their own special sauce and the roles and environments they will thrive in. Then, empowering them to show up as that person confidently each day. It is my mission in life to help others build a career where they are successful, paid well, and using their strengths every day so they can go home and be fully present with their families. 

"My special sauce is my ability to help others identify their own special sauce and the roles and environments they will thrive in."

JF: You also hold the hat of being co-president of the NC-Triangle Chapter of the Ellevate Network. What is this and why would it be beneficial for someone to join the Ellevate Network?

NC: Ellevate the largest community of women+ at work with over 250k members all over the world. We are a powerful coalition of ambitious and supportive women+ who show up to help each other build careers we love. I am the Co-President of my local chapter here in the NC Triangle area but you don’t have to be close to one of the 40+ local chapters to be involved. Right now everything is virtual and many programs will continue to be virtual even once we are able to do in-person events again. I love Ellevate specifically because the women are diverse and come from all industries and career levels but are committed to learning and supporting each other - no “Queen Bees” here! I recommend Ellevate and/or other professional organizations to my clients as a way to expand their network, find platforms to share your expertise, stay up to date on industry changes, and get support in your own career growth. In short, find places where you can find other people in your space where you can support each other. That is what Ellevate is for me. I wouldn’t be where I am in my business and career without these women.

"Find places where you can find other people in your space where you can support each other."

JF: What most excites you about the coaching and development industry? And, what is one thing you’ve learned recently that’s helped you grow?

NC: The thing I’m most excited about is so many things moving virtual so that it makes things like coaching and learning more accessible to more people. We are seeing the live events, even the big names in the space, moving to virtual which removes the travel and location barriers for more people to take part and benefit. 

All coaches need their own coaches (and therapists)! I have an amazing network and support system that I turn to when I need help or need to bounce ideas around. And I ask for help a lot!

JF: As the Founder of Nicole Case Coaching, what is an “aha” moment you’ve experienced on your journey to becoming an entrepreneur and running your own business?

NC: I’ve learned I needed to toss out many of the routines and expectations I had for myself when working in corporate. What I’m doing with individuals in my business takes a different kind of energy and more rest and recharge time than what I needed in corporate. I’m still learning what that looks like. 

JF: How has your business adapted to the virtual landscape of the past year? Are there any lessons you learned in 2020 that you’re taking with you into the new year?

NC: My business had always been virtual, but I wasn’t used to working from home full time. Without a regular commute and seeing colleagues in the break room, I find it’s easy to work more hours and sit longer. I’m starting to actually schedule afternoon walks and other breaks in my day to make sure I’m stepping away to recharge. 

JF: Outside of the office, what inspires you to live a fulfilled life, personally or professionally? 

NC: Outside of the office and Ellevate, I live a pretty simple life with my husband and our two cats. We cook together nearly every night and love taking walks around our neighborhood. We like to try out different local coffee shops in our area. We can’t wait to be able to travel and host parties at our house again! One of my favorite things to do is to snuggle on the couch reading or watching our favorite shows. 

JF: At Fink Development, we’re big believers in the power of connection and community. Who are you most hoping to connect with in 2021?

NC: I want to connect with other badass female corporate leaders and entrepreneurs who want to support each other! Seriously, I can’t get enough of the energy I get when I’m surrounded by other powerful women. Meeting Mel Robbins would be cool too!

In you're ready to get more out of your career, here are three ways that we can support you. 

1) Join Our Job Search Accelerator Membership. Our structured step-by-step process to clarify, attract, and land your ideal opportunities.

2) Work 1:1 with Jenni. Learn more and book a complimentary call.

3) Work with a Coach in our Collective. Learn more and book a complimentary call.