Alumni Spotlight: Polly Goddard ’93

This month our Alumni Spotlight shines on Polly Goddard, who graduated with a degree in Outdoor Recreation Management in 1993. Originally from Kent, Connecticut, Goddard now lives in Harwich, Massachusetts, where she runs her own coaching and consulting business.

Tell us a little bit about what you are doing now.  

I’m a professional development coach and consultant and I develop and facilitate trainings, workshops and retreats. I work, most often, with leaders and managers who are stuck in some way and need an outside resource to help move them forward. My goal is to help people develop a greater sense of themselves, increase awareness, and remove obstacles in their leadership journey.

I am a professionally trained coach through the Gestalt International Study Center and credentialed by the International Coach Federation. Coaching has been part of my leadership practice since very early in my career but I’ve been a trained coach for the past seven years.

What is the most valuable thing you learned while at UMM?

I developed a lot of basic leadership skills at UMM through my Outdoor Recreation Management degree program, being a resident assistanct in Dorward Hall as well as the resident director (typically a professional position but I did it as a student) of Sennett Hall; participating in clubs such as the Outing Club; and as a sister in the Kappa Eta chapter of Kappa Delta Phi, National Affiliated Sorority. 

Digging into these experiences while at UMM led me down the path of examining the influence of leadership (good and bad) on culture, productivity, satisfaction of employees, and organization health and development in a variety of settings. 

The roles I had at UMM gave me the confidence and courage to jump into new experiences and just figure them out.

Do you have any advice for current students at UMM?

Try something new, meet new people, realize that campus isn’t the only place to gain wisdom and experience at UMM! UMM is a great place to explore who you are as a human, what your values and interests are, and begin to refine what you want from your life. Be open to new experiences and be bold about it. College passes quickly but if you really engage, you’ll learn far more than just the curriculum. 

How did your time at UMM prepare you for what you are doing now?

After UMM I moved across the country to Montana then New Mexico and then California… I had a wanderlust that I couldn’t ignore. My time at UMM set me up for being open, curious and willing to try things out. I moved out west before the internet. I was offered a job in Montana as a recreation director on a guest ranch based on a listing in an experiential education paper newsletter and I hopped on a plane sight unseen and not really knowing what to expect. The job ended up being a “bait and switch” deal (spent more time washing dishes and making beds than leading recreation activities), but I spent my free time fly fishing in the West Fork of the Bitterroot River and hiking and riding horses in the Bitterroot range. I learned so much through that experience and ended up staying through the winter working at a ski area near Missoula.

That thirst for adventure, first fostered at UMM, has led me all over the country working in “people development” jobs such as teaching adventure education, leading ropes course, and running conservation corps programs. Ultimately that all led me to realize that when I am helping people trust themselves, build their mental, emotional and physical resources, and move forward, I’m at my happiest and most fulfilled. This led me to coaching.

A Kappa Eta pledge mate and dear friend of nearly 30 years contacted me about a coaching job in higher education and from there, I’ve never looked back. My career took off at that point. With that in mind, the second piece of advice for UMM students is to develop meaningful relationships. Not all college campuses have an environment that creates lifelong friendships with fellow students and faculty! UMM is a unique community that cultivates that type of relationship. 

How has UMM made a positive impact on your life?

Nearly 30 years later, my UMM family is still very near and dear to me and my family. We still get together regularly, our kids are friends, and we strive to be part of each other’s lives in many ways despite miles and years. My degree was great as I learned a lot and what’s not to love about classes that take place on a sailboat or in a canoe? but the greatest thing I took away from my time at UMM was a sense of connectedness both to the people and to Maine!