Release Date: 13 February, 2020

Wits MBA Alumni give back to their school through student coaching

Executive coaching has become a mainstream approach for professional development, and so it makes sense for MBA students to receive coaching on their own development path as future executives.  In the past several years, a number of top-ranked MBA programmes around the world have established one-on-one coaching programmes within their curricula.  For many students this is an attractive option and for business schools it becomes an important differentiator.   

Since 2009 Wits Business School (WBS) has run a highly successful programme which sees MBA students receive one-on-one coaching from MBA alumni.  This is a “win-win” situation which benefits the student, the alumni and the school, according to Jessica Reekie, Programme Director of the WBS Certificate Programme in Leadership Coaching (CPLC).

“The coaching provides the student with a confidential environment in which to explore and reflect on their leadership development, while our alumni are given a great opportunity to develop their coaching and mentoring skills,” says Reekie, herself a WBS MBA alumna and CPLC graduate.

“The other important benefit of this programme is that it is a very cost effective way for the school to provide quality, focused coaching for its students,” she adds.

Since the launch of the programme a decade ago, over 200 WBS alumni have been trained as MBA leadership development coaches, and over 1,600 MBA students have received coaching.  This has proved to be a key to their “leadership quest”, a part of the curriculum which focuses on individual development and capability.

A recent study Dr Viveka Christierson, who developed the programme at WBS, showed that MBA students who received coaching from MBA alumni gained a new personalised learning experience that had increased their self-awareness, strengthened their self-development skills, and built a foundation for their future leadership development.  The study (using data collected from 350 MBA students and 90 MBA alumni) found that this method is a highly effective and financially viable alternative to using professional coaches from the private sector.

The certificate programme teaches MBA alumni the basics of coaching and leadership development with the primary outcomes being for students to demonstrate their knowledge of both leadership development and ethical and effective coaching. They complete 24 hours of tuition plus four coaching supervision sessions, which are offered free of charge to the alumni. In return they provide up to 24 hours of coaching to MBA students.

“The beauty of this programme is that the coaches are de facto mentors, because they have completed and survived their own MBA!” says Reekie. 

From a school point of view, the volunteer coaching programme has also proved to be an important way for WBS to build and strengthen ties with its alumni.

“Many of our alumni volunteer to coach our MBA students on an ongoing basis,” says Reekie.  They are only too pleased to have the opportunity of giving back not only to their alma mater, but to the next generation of business leaders.”     

WBS MBA alumni should send an email to for more information.