Reflections on my journey into the coaching profession
The Friday evening of the 2010 FIFA World Cup opening (at about 22:00 or so), just when I thought I had my career direction planned and well-defined, a career midlife crisis struck me. I was in the middle of the first year of the MPhil in Futures Studies at USB, enjoying every bit of what I was learning. My work was in the business intelligence (BI) space, and the studies would take it quantum leaps further.
Early that evening I began work on an academic paper on midlife, personality types, emotional intelligence and wisdom, to be presented at a management conference in Montréal later that year. Part of the paper included some questions to ask oneself when in midlife. When I combined these questions with some of the Futures Studies techniques, such as scenario planning, I got the fright of my life when I could not answer questions such as ‘what kind of work do I want to be busy with the day before I retire?’ Over the weekend I continued writing the paper, all the while struggling with the same questions that I was asking my readers. Late Sunday evening I had my answer. My future was in the coaching industry, not in BI or Futures Studies.
The context behind this intended career change always causes eyebrows to lift. My whole corporate career was in the IT industry after doing a BSc Information Systems; first as programmer, then going into business analysis, project management, business processes and quality, project office management and later into the BI world and management consulting. How does one make a [real quantum] leap from IT into coaching people? My continuous involvement with change management projects and employee participation forums played a large role in the transition.
“I walked out of this programme not only with a cum laude, but with time spent on self-development that is rare in this world.”
It also helped that I completed an MBA in Strategic Marketing Management and Change Facilitation at Oxford-Brookes University in the UK. My research topic exposed me to Jungian work through the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), an excellent tool to use during transitions and change facilitation with people. As a side-line, this also helped to mature and grow my own personality far enough to get me married to Suzette, a few months before completing the MBA.
Eventually I did a short workshop in coaching at USB-ED in 2008. I implemented the basic coaching skills I learned in the workplace, later even coached a group of promising leaders as part of an internal leadership development programme. The MBA helped tremendously with my success with BI projects. I understood the business language of my executive-level customers, the complexity and the trends they dealt with on a regular basis. My contribution to solving their problems was with the development and maintenance of several business dashboards and balanced score cards.
“The time with Dr Salomé van Coller-Peter and team was life changing for me. I had an irrevocably new perspective on people and myself.”
But back to my midlife crisis and coaching. After that weekend I wrote to Prof André Roux, cancelling my studies (apologies, Prof Roux!). I spent the next six months with extensive reading into coaching and at the end of 2010 I was accepted into the MPhil Management Coaching. The time with Dr Salomé van Coller-Peter and team was life changing for me. I had an irrevocably new perspective on people and myself. I walked out of this programme not only with a cum laude, but with time spent on self-development that is rare in this world.
In early 2015 I left the corporate IT/BI world and I am now going into my fifth year as owner of ThroughTheLine Coaching & Consulting. I practice as an Executive Coach, with a special interest in transition coaching. I have been involved in several large-scale corporate coaching programmes, including a few programmes training managers-as-coach. My consulting services still entail some dashboards for small-medium sized companies, but expanded into strategy facilitation, research and monitoring and evaluation (M&E) projects.
I am actively involved in the South African coaching industry as Chairperson of the Research Committee at Coaches and Mentors of South Africa (COMENSA), recognised by SAQA as a self-regulated professional body. I am also a COMENSA Senior Practitioner, a SAQA-recognised professional designation. I decided to play an active role in the SA coaching industry because of my strong commitment to coaching, and therefore I wanted to make sure I am not only taking part in the industry, but also that I am able to influence the development of the industry’s level of professionalism. It is my chosen career and I want to see the credibility of coaching increase continuously.
To expand that notion further, I approached a coaching colleague close to the end of 2018, Megan Hudson. We co-founded SA Coaching News, South Africa’s only coaching magazine. We published the free first edition in mid-Jan 2019. It is a subscription-based online magazine, available on the first of every month. We get article contributions from all over the coaching industry and each edition is packed with 30 or more pages of practical and academic information from highly experienced professionals in the coaching industry. Our readers include not only coaches and student, but also HR, psychologists, consultants, business advisors and leaders in business. You are welcome to visit us at www.sacoachingnews.co.za
In my free time I keep myself sane with photography, mostly of nature. Together with a handful of close friends, we spend many hours in places like Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.
What the future holds? Who knows!