Our Roots & History — Centre for Coaching Switzerland

Our Roots & History

Our roots stem from
South Africa, the
“Silicon Valley of

Our Roots & History

Proudly South African

Understanding complexities

We are proud to be the first coach training organisation in Africa to have been founded at a University over 20 years ago, and one of the longer-standing coach training institutions worldwide, not only on the African continent. In 2014, we opened our offices in Switzerland. We have spent years understanding the complexities of our diverse nations, continents and planet, and how to weave this into the way we teach and the way we coach. We take care to raise this as a continuing dialogue within the team and those with whom we work and to encourage deep openness and conversation. Over the years, we have been privileged to be able to work with an enormously diverse array of participants, students and graduate coaches, many of whom now grace our programmes as highly skilled faculty.

Rich with diversity

Many international participants come to us precisely because they seek a learning and training environment that is rich with diversity. Now, more than ever, this is being recognised across the globe as a truly critical aspect to any studies involving personal development and interacting with other human beings.

Unique transformational approach

Our unique transformational approach is informed by an integral view of the world and of human beings, with both Western and Eastern influences, which are deepened through the rich diversity that our African roots offer. Our roots and our integral approach are complementary, allowing us to look for things that unite rather than separate us. This allows coach and client to build bridges across their differences and work on the deeper qualities and capacities of what it means to be a human being.


For more information on the integral approach to coaching,
click here

There are three key words which most powerfully
encompass our Southern African roots,
and influence our work:

There are three key words which most powerfully encompass our Southern African roots, and influence our work: Image provided courtesy of Brand South Africa

Sawubona — I see you, and by seeing you I bring you into being.

In one of the most widely spoken languages of Southern Africa, isiZulu, when we greet people we say “Sawubona”. This literally means “I see you”, and all that you are, all that you represent. And, by seeing you, I bring you into being. This offers us the opportunity to really ‘see’ each other as we would like to be seen, and in turn really be ‘seen’ by another human being.

There are three key words which most powerfully encompass our Southern African roots, and influence our work:

Ubuntu — I am because we are

“There is an Nguni word in Southern Africa – Ubuntu – a word that captures … the recognition that we are all bound together in ways that are invisible to the eye; that there is a oneness to humanity; that we achieve ourselves by sharing ourselves with others, and caring for those around us. 'I am because we are.” (Barak Obama, speaking at Mandela’s funeral)

There are three key words which most powerfully encompass our Southern African roots, and influence our work:

Indaba – speaking from the heart, listening from the heart

Indabas come from the Zulu and Xhosa tradition of people getting together to resolve a matter and not just re-stating their positions but trying to find a common ground which everyone can agree with. An indaba is designed to allow every party to voice its opinion, but still arrive at a consensus quickly. It works because opinions and arguments can only be aired in a particular way. Instead of repeating stated positions, each party is encouraged to speak personally and state their “red lines”, which are thresholds that they don’t want to cross. But while telling others their hard limits, they are also asked to provide solutions to find a common ground.

Origins & Key Development Moments of the
Centre for Coaching

Origins & Key Development Moments of the Centre for Coaching

The originating vision of the Centre for Coaching was to start South Africa’s first university-based coach education offering. Initially called a ‘Centre of Excellence’, it is now known as one of the ‘Specialised Centres’ at the Graduate School of Business (GSB) at the University of Cape Town. Nick Segal, Director of the GSB in 2001, agreed to allow the GSB to become the first of South Africa’s tertiary institutions to offer coach training as an academic offering under the GSB’s Executive Education banner.

Since then, the Centre for Coaching has evolved to offer highly regarded coach training in South Africa and Europe. Today the GSB – together with the Centre for Coaching – is regarded as one of South Africa’s leading coaching resources that offers coaching qualifications, coaching of individuals and coaching of teams.

In 2001, the Centre launched by offering a two-day programme called ‘Coaching to Excellence’ in partnership with an integral coaching school in the USA , New Ventures West from San Francisco. After the first year, and having run over 20 of these workshops under the Executive Education arm of the GSB, the keen interest generated led to some key subsequent developments:

  • 2002 onwards: Customised in-house courses for organisations who are keen to build internal coaching capability and equip leaders, managers and supervisors with coaching skills. These include offerings such as Manager-as-Coach and Leader-as-Coach. Clients have included BMW, Toyota Tusho, Barclays Africa, South32, Astron Energy, Old Mutual, Standard Bank, and Nedbank.
  • 2003 onwards: MBA coaching elective – where the Academic Director of the Centre for Coaching runs an annual elective on the MBA that teaches students the foundations and principles of coaching and how to conduct a spontaneous coaching conversation that they can use as a part of their leadership style.
  • 2004 onwards: South Africa’s first face-to-face, ICF-accredited six-month part-time program called Coaching for Development (CfD) which is taught in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Geneva and now online using our acclaimed live-virtual teaching methodology.
  • 2005 onwards: Supportive, 1-on-1 coaching for MBA & Development Finance students – where we run a number of initiatives providing coaching: e.g. we provide 3 free coaching sessions to those who request it
  • 2006 onwards: A year-long programme called the Professional Coaching Course (PCC) which students can attend after CfD, and which is offered in Cape Town, Geneva, and from 2021 online using live-virtual teaching.
  • 2006 onwards: Design and development of Mentoring Courses for organisations who want to offer mentoring, either instead of, or side-by-side with coaching initiatives.
  • 2012 onwards: Working with the past and present Vice Chancellors and University of Cape Town (UCT) leadership teams to offer 1-on-1 coaching as part of the UCT leadership development programme, as well as Leader-as-Coach training and Coaching Circles for senior staff at UCT.
  • 2014 onwards: launch of Centre for Coaching Switzerland, offering certification programmes such as Coaching for Development (CfD) and Professional Coaching Course (PCC) to a European audience, as well as deploying consulting services offering customized “Leader-as-Coach training”, “Mentoring” and “1-1 Coaching” to organisations internationally.


“Bringing your whole self to life. Lasting and meaningful
benefits for individuals and organisations.”