From Our Founder

A Message from Our Founder and President, Jerry Straks

My emphasis for decades has been to help those around me be all they can be and achieve all they can achieve while being true to themselves. Throughout my career I have approached all my roles using a coaching or mentoring perspective, from my start as a high school physics teacher and all through my 25 years in high tech, high tech management, and management consulting. I earned a B.A. from Macalester College and did graduate work in physics at Purdue University. I am a graduate of John F. Kennedy University’s fifteen-month coach preparation program and have been certified by them as a professional coach. Additionally, I am a candidate for a master’s degree in organizational psychology from JFKU, and have been certified in several coaching specializations by other professional organizations.

Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, I began the business that became
Petra Consulting and Coaching, Inc. in 2003. Before that I worked for companies ranging from Fortune 500 companies to Silicon Valley startups. Managing teams ranging from 5 to 250, I have led corporate functions ranging from engineering to marketing and product management, including holding P&L accountability. In addition to line management, I have experience in corporate strategy, business development, and business planning and analysis. Known for repeatedly turning around products, projects, and departments via strategic rethinking or repositioning rather than the “slash-and-burn” tactics advocated by some, I have helped organizations set new benchmarks for cost-effectiveness and results.

Because of my strong technical background, I find that I can relate to engineers and scientists as a peer rather than as an outsider who does not understand their issues or the pressures they face. Because I have also held P&L accountability and worked in marketing, product management, corporate strategy, business development and business planning, I can provide creative insights grounded in decades of personal experience about alternative ways to deal with the outside pressures engineers and scientists face every day.

Similarly, that same experience allows me to relate as a peer and to speak the language of whatever corporate group with whom I happen to be working. I can also help them in their dealings with scientists and engineers, couching my explanations in terms the non-engineers can accept, using their own language and concerns as a foundation for their understanding. As a result, I have repeatedly been able to bridge gaps and misunderstandings between different corporate groups.

To create cultures of sustainable leadership development, we use coaching and training, leadership consulting, conflict management, and organization development–whatever you need. Just as the quality movement began delivering consistent quality results when attention shifted to improving the processes that create products, sustainable leadership delivers leadership results by shifting attention to improving the strategic leadership processes used by team leaders.

I founded Petra Consulting and Coaching, Inc. to draw together the supplemental resources businesses need today to become competitively responsive to market change, to use internal organizational effectiveness as a competitive advantage, and to help technical professionals enhance their careers, improve their interpersonal and leadership skills, and enjoy less stressful and more satisfying lives.

The associates that I can call on as needed are all seasoned professionals and expert in their fields. Whatever challenges you face, I or another Petra Consulting and Coaching, Inc. associate can help!

In 2009 I reactivated my involvement in real estate investing. It was only natural to expand my coaching, training and consulting to include real estate investors and other entrepreneurs. I know what they face! We have now helped many move to a new level of success. Including my active investing, I also hold a California real estate broker’s license (CA DRE #1909236) and hold a Mortgage Loan Originator endorsement (NMLS #1138353).

My focus today is in doing commercial real estate investing (See my website at and consulting with others wishing to invest in real estate or having trouble with their real estate investments. (See my website at Contact me if you would appreciate some help.