Executive coaching is a key feature of staff development for many businesses, which see its importance in promoting both personal and professional growth.
As a result, demand for the services of trained coaches is increasingly rapidly in Hong Kong, as more organisations realise the benefits and more individuals see the opportunities for building a career in this field.
At present, as the only tertiary institution offering a formalised course locally, HKU Space is leading the way, having introduced a master of arts in coaching and mentoring practice in collaboration with British-based Oxford Brookes University.
The two-year part-time course is intended for experienced professionals such as freelance coaches and consultants, mentor co-ordinators, and coaching psychologists. It is also suitable for counsellors, senior managers, HR executives, and leadership professionals in both the public and private sectors.
“The programme is the first of its kind in Hong Kong and is designed to equip students with knowledge and skills relevant to coaching and mentoring,” says Dr Pansy Lam, senior programme director at HKU Space. “Students will gain a theoretical understanding and experiential knowledge, plus the self-awareness to coach and mentor in a range of contexts. They will have the practical skills and [awareness] needed for successful one-to-one support.”
Taught in a series of study weekends, the course also involves regular online workshops and conferencing, which enable distance learning.
“Approximately 50 per cent of the programme is delivered online,” Lams says. “Students have their own professional coach-supervisor from Oxford Brookes University during the first year of study. Teachers from Britain fly in to provide face-to-face sessions and there are also tutorials taught by locally-based staff.”
One of the tutors is Tatiana Backirova, who is the leader of the programme at Oxford Brookes University and a famous figure in coaching education.
Assessment is based on assignments and, to graduate, students are required to complete a 20,000- word dissertation. In general, applicants are expected to have a good honours degree plus two years’ experience in their own field.