Viv Chitty

MA Coaching and Mentoring Practice

My name is Viv Chitty, I am the Director of Viv Chitty Associates, a coaching consultancy which works with senior people in a wide variety of sectors. I have been an executive coach for over 20 years and I am also a coach supervisor and author.

“I had a very good relationship with my Dissertation Supervisor, so I felt well prepared for doing the research and writing the dissertation. His feedback was challenging, and he pushed me hard. But he believed I could get a good grade and I did”

Why did you choose to do the MA in Coaching and Mentoring Practice at Oxford Brookes University?

I chose to do the MA at Oxford Brookes because I wanted to research a particular subject: client energy in the context of executive coaching. During my coaching career I had become increasingly aware of differing energy levels in my clients, with some struggling to meet the constant demands being made on them as a result. I started to wonder whether I should be addressing energy directly with clients when I perceived it to be an issue affecting their performance and relationships in and out of work. I looked for an answer to this extensively but found that there wasn’t the literature to guide me in doing this, so I decided to do the research myself. And to do this research properly. This is why I chose Oxford Brookes University – the university has a great reputation in the coaching world with some renowned academics leading the programme.

How have you found the experience studying on the programme and the balancing between work and study

It is hard work studying for an MA when you are working full-time running a business (and I had two children). But it was doable – particularly given that the master’s is part-time over two years. It is made clear what you need to do and when, which allows for straightforward diary planning.

And the tutors were very supportive. For example, I had a very good relationship with my Dissertation Supervisor, so I felt well prepared for doing the research and writing the dissertation. His feedback was challenging, and he pushed me hard. But he believed I could get a good grade and I did – a distinction and an Association of Professional Executive Coaching and Supervision Award.

Not only did I need to balance work and study, I also had to get up to speed with HOW to study at Master’s level. It has been a long time since I achieved my BSc in Psychology and I found it hard to get up and running and in particular to write critically at this level. But again, I was supported in the learning of these skills as well as thorough input regarding research methods and how to write literature reviews. This is important – when you have been a practitioner for years and past academic study was years ago you need to know that this input is provided and provided well.

Working alongside fellow students. What have you learnt from them?

I was in a small group of students. We all supported each other both in sessions, on our WhatsApp group and in the work we did in pairs. So, there was always someone to answer your questions or with whom to discuss a dilemma. We had great group discussions in-person and also using the online forums which formed part of the syllabus.

What was the standard of teaching like on the programme?

The standard of teaching was excellent. The staff on the programme are experts in the field. As I mentioned above, the tutors were very supportive.

The programme reinforced my practice as a coach, allowing me to attach much more in-depth theoretical knowledge to my practice and confirming that what I do already was along the right lines. Above all the course greatly enhanced my ability to research and write: the end result being that I wrote a book based on my dissertation research.

The resulting book

As mentioned above, I decided to do the master’s at Oxford Brookes University to carry out a particular piece of research. In brief, my research had some interesting findings: the highly experienced Executive Coaches whom I interviewed did recognise the concept of ‘energy’ in their clients and believed that it is relevant to address it, when appropriate. And two conceptualisations were formed, one of ‘energy’ and its influences and the second relating to when, and how, executive coaches can address client energy levels.

In the years following the master’s I continued to research the concept, furthering my understanding of what influences energy, the mechanisms involved, how it shows up in people and subsequently authored Coaching for Optimal Energy: A guide for executive coaches based on the dissertation and this further work. This book is now in print and is getting really good feedback. People appreciate that it is deeply researched, and I could not have done this without my studies at Oxford Brookes University.

Anything else you'd like to add about your experience on the course or at Brookes?

My experience of studying at Oxford Brookes University was very positive. As I have said above, the standard of teaching was excellent. But it is more than that. I have had support from the staff in the department since I left. They have encouraged me to write the book, helped by giving me their endorsements and invited me back to be the keynote speaker at the 19th Coaching and Mentoring Research Conference. In addition, they have supported my application to become an EMCC Accredited Coach at Master Practitioner level. I would not hesitate in recommending the MA in Coaching and Mentoring Practice at Oxford Brookes.