Patrick Niland

As is the case for many professional coaches, Patrick’s career path has not been a linear one. Given his natural interest and ability to work well with people, Patrick started out studying psychology for his undergrad degree. However, the need to be financially independent felt greater at the time, and so he spent 25 successful years working in the private sector in cities all over the world.

Patrick laughs ruefully, “After having spent over two decades in the private sector making a living but not saving any lives, I felt a lack of purpose in my life. It was through some solid self-reflection that I realised I needed to be spending at least some of my time working with people in some form of development, and given my personal experience and initial study interest, it seemed natural fit to return to the realm of Applied Psychology.”

Given Patrick’s depth and breadth of global experience he has noted that businesses are increasingly recognising the benefits of developing emotional intelligence and ‘soft’ skills associated with awareness and respectful communication styles. “I believe that coaching can play a huge role in developing this as well as address the various cultural divides and developmental gaps we have at all levels of business,” he says.

Having made the decision to study coaching, it was a matter of deciding on where to study. “I chose SACAP, firstly, I think, because it was the most robust course that I could find, bar perhaps, a Masters programme. I chose to commit to the full 2 year Post Grad in Coaching, which had both depth of learning as well as a breadth of subject matters, including mentorship, internship and a research component.” Patrick continues, “It was imperative to me that what I walked away with was something to be proud of and not a quick and easy course that would leave me ill-prepared for the professional world of coaching. What also appealed was that the course exposed one to multiple methods and models of coaching, allowing one to develop an individual style and approach.”

Patrick, while still working in the business world, has already set up a small practice to cater for the “coaching part” of his life. This role currently takes up 20% of his working week and he has plans to significantly expand this within 3 years so that he spends closer to 60 – 80% of his time coaching. Patrick offers the following words of advice to others contemplating studying coaching at SACAP: “Don’t do it if you don’t want to be challenged. Don’t do it if you simply want a quick and easy course to add to your portfolio. Don’t do it if you are not prepared to give up parts of your weekend regularly – and more – in order to get through the readings and assignments.  But, go for it if you want a significant qualification post your efforts. Do it if you want to access masters and doctorate level educators and coaches. And do it if you are prepared to pay the price for something that really speaks to you!”

These are strong words from a clearly motivated individual. Patrick also readily acknowledges that doing a course like the PGDC (Post Graduate Degree in Coaching) has had a direct impact in his working world, his management style and his home life: “It’s not so much a course as it is a journey that one embarks on. As with many journeys, the end may seem too distant and alien to where you are now, but just taking it a step at a time, you’ll get there and without even noticing the change until you look back.”