+who we are
iMergence is a corporate education and leadership development company which uses a variety of methodologies, primarily the tools, perspective, and experiential learning that improvisation provides. Unlike more traditional improv classes and workshops, iMergence uses improvisation techniques not for comedy or theatrical outcomes, but to help both groups and individuals in terms of increasing confidence, enhancing communication, maintaining ease in the unknown, comfort in having to pivot and think on one’s feet, and strengthening trust between the team all at the same time. It can appear deceptively simple on the outset but don’t be fooled — improv provides the fast track to acquiring valuable skills and an outlook that all companies can benefit from immensely.
iMergence was founded by Holly Mandel, who studied and taught improv at the world-renowned Groundlings Theater in Los Angeles, and then went on to start her own improvisation school in New York City, Improvolution. Seeing the need to distill the essence of improv in order to take it into the business sector, she created her own training process which activates the conditions for greater autonomy, creativity, ownership, and innovation. She has worked with companies Merrill Lynch, Bank of America, CNN, and Toyota. She has been interviewed recently about her work in the corporate arena by Slate magazine and ABC, both recognizing the trend of using improv to improve individual skills and group dynamics.
founder and Executive Director of iMergence, founder of Improvolution Improv School in New York City, The Groundlings Theater Company alumna, Pace University professor
Holly Mandel offers a unique and cutting-edge approach to corporate education, collaboration, and development.
She has worked extensively with both groups and individuals on leadership training and team dynamics, creating the conditions for greater autonomy, creativity, ownership, and innovation.
Her degree is in both psychology and sociology (UCLA); she has studied organizational development, collective creativity & innovation, and leadership development - for women especially. Holly has also spent many years within the corporate world: at Disney Pictures in feature development; at ABC television in the marketing and advertising department; and at Comedy Central as a writer/producer.
Lastly, and what sets her apart from most corporate educators, is the training and experience she received in improvisation with the very best in the industry - The Groundlings Theater in Los Angeles. It boasts alumni that are both past and current Saturday Night Live cast members, and the very best comedy performers in television and film today. She became one of the most senior instructors and directors there before moving to New York to start her own school and training institution, Improvolution. She also teaches improvisation at Pace University. (Yes, that makes her a professor of improv. We agree, kinda cool.)
She has given her original lecture and workshop series, GOOD GIRLS AREN'T FUNNY, around the U.S. and abroad which uses the field of comedy as an example as well as an analogy for women's relationship to confidence, leadership, and perfectionism.
This unique combination of backgrounds and experience has given Holly an insight on how groups function within a larger company and how corporate cultures are shaped and influenced.
The power of improvisation is two-fold: it’s hands-on and experiential, and it’s also deceptively fun -- while on the surface it seems to be merely a ‘break from the norm’ and a way for people to get to know one another better, it actually addresses core issues in people and in groups. Thereby making real, beneficial development happen and stick.
Holly has worked with a wide array of groups including CNN, Wells Fargo, Razorfish, Money magazine, Merrill Lynch, Deloitte & Touche, Bloomberg News, The Walt Disney Studios, and Chipotle’s top restaurant managers using improvisation techniques specifically designed for the needs of each group.