Student experience: Sam
Sam Humphrey graduated from i-coach’s Masters programme in 2005, and here explains how joining the academy has played a major role in shaping her career since then.
“When I was looking to learn more about coaching, there wasn’t as much choice of courses as there is nowadays but I knew I wanted something that would give me a qualification or training ‘currency’ that everybody would understand. I wanted academic rigour at a time when accreditation of coach training really was in its infancy, and the faculty that i-coach offered was very impressive. Even now, I don’t think many other academic programmes on coaching are as good as i-coach. It has held its position very well and I’ve got nothing but great things to say about my experience of the Masters programme.”
“During my time at Unilever, I had done a lot of coaching training and this had been very process-driven. I then took on the role of Global Head of Coaching and wanted to make sure I knew more about coaching and this was why I wanted a programme that was credible. The course hugely exceeded my expectations in that there was so much more that I was able to translate into practice and take back into my job.”
A course of real depth
“It was the breadth and depth of the programme that I found most impressive. Many people in my cohort were doing the programme because they wanted to become professional coaches but while I did do coaching at Unilever, my role was much more about managing the strategic infrastructure of coaching and acting more as an internal coaching consultant. That meant helping the business think about the type of coaching that fitted into the global leadership offering, the key touchstones we needed to hold across the business, that is, our standards around coaching, how we selected external coaches, and how we trained internal coaches, and so on.
It was the breadth and depth of the programme that I found most impressive.
“I had high expectations of the programme giving me a lot in terms of how to be a coach but I hadn’t expected to glean so much learning about how to manage coaching and how to think about it from an organisational point of view.”
Paving the way for a coaching career
“After leaving Unilever and completing the Masters, I set up my own coaching business called GRIT which is still going strong. Then three years ago, myself and 17 others set up the Møller Professional Services Group Cambridge delivering a number of different services specifically to the professional services sector. I was also a faculty member at Meyler Campbell for five years, a niche coach training organisation that works with senior business professionals hoping either to become professional coaches or to develop their coaching capability.”
The professionalisation of the industry
“Without a shadow of a doubt, compared to 10 years ago clients now put more far emphasis on the need for coaches to have high quality accredited coach training, so having a Masters has really paid off for me. It’s a currency that holds its own as buyers understand the level of a Masters qualification. I think what is even more impressive to buyers is that I did it almost 10 years ago when it was much easier to do a shorter and less rigorous training programme.”
Coaching as a passion, not just a day job
“My interest in coaching goes beyond me and my business. I have a huge passion and interest in the whole field, which is why I sit on the board for Coaching At Work magazine and contribute regularly to it, I’m a member of the CIPD Advisory Board on Coaching and I’m a qualified supervisor. I take a huge interest in standards and ethics and try to contribute to the field. My current ‘project’ is a Professional Doctorate in Coaching Supervision that I am studying through Middlesex University.
“I would hazard a guess that people who come to i-coach have a deeper interest and passion in the whole craft of coaching and like me are trying to develop deep expertise in the field rather than just wanting to be a competent coach.
“I may not have been able to articulate this as my aim when I first started at i-coach and I would never have predicted back then I’d be doing all the things I’m doing now, but i-coach has been a very, very significant step that has helped me in my journey.”