MA Coaching and Mentoring Practice
“Having coached at work, I started coaching formally outside work with those from my network who knew me, and wanted to add the theory and best practice to that to become a better coach and mentor”
Your current professional role title and company
Head of Cross Product Strategy, 360T
Why did you choose to study the MA Coaching and Mentoring programme?
I have spent most of my life leading teams in the army, and in finance. I realised, rather late, that it was not the underlying business that I most enjoyed, rather it was the development of the people with whom I was working. Having coached at work, I started coaching formally outside work with those from my network who knew me, and wanted to add the theory and best practice to that to become a better coach and mentor.
How have you found the experience studying on the programme and the balancing between work and study?
I should caveat what follows with the fact that I had not been to university before this.
I worked slightly more than was needed, as I enjoyed the subjects and wanted to read around the recommended reading lists. I work four days a week, and use the other day and one day of the weekend, most weeks, to complete my studies. There were moments over the two years when I was definitely a better student than husband…as my wife suggested…but with her support and that of my family it was a life changing experience.
Describe your experience working alongside fellow students. What have you learnt from them?
Being in the army and finance, my background has been in predominantly male environments. One of the first things that attracted me to the course was the diversity of the student population, or rather, that for once I was in the minority. I met nurses, therapists and doctors - who nurture and coach their patients in a way I had not previously considered. I met actors, coaches and those seeking a change of career, all of whom enabled me to take new perspectives on coaching, mentoring and those who use it. Despite our disparate backgrounds, the sense of camaraderie was strong, and many of us recognised that we only completed the course as we did because of our study-buddies… those who supported us and who we supported throughout the journey. This was for me one of the highlights of the two years.
What has the standard of teaching been like on the programme and also comment on blended modes of study (virtual/face-to-face)?
It was the professors, tutors, and staff who first drew me to Oxford Brookes University. Many of those teaching the course literally “wrote the books” on coaching and mentoring. Hearing first hand from some of the leading thinkers, academics and practitioners in the field was the other significant highlight of the course.
To what extent has the programme prepared you for becoming or enhancing your expertise as a coach and mentor?
I thought I knew how to coach a bit, and that I was a reasonably accomplished mentor before coming to Oxford Brookes. It is hard to describe the disparity between where I was and where I am now. Understanding how adults learn, understanding how to use aspects of some of the disciplines in which coaching has its roots, seeing others coach and coaching in front of them, learning how to reflect, how to be reflexive in session, and then spending nine months researching a subject of my choice that enriches me and adds something to my profession? Together, with the other students and less formal learning through open discussion, these have made me an immeasurably better coach and mentor. I am grateful, as I believe my clients to be.