Reflections on CoachFest

Coaching for Tomorrow

23-25th March 2021 witnessed hundreds of coaches gathering online for a rich array of keynotes, masterclasses, demonstrations, skills tents and more, as the Wales Coaching Centre’s annual conference went virtual for the first time. 

The move from the Vale Hotel to cyberspace also meant a higher than usual number of attendees from beyond Wales contributing to the discussions and debates around the conference themes.

Days One and Two had the respective themes of ‘Sustainability’ and ‘Wellbeing’. 

Environmental sustainability was the key consideration for a number of the presenters, and it was heartening to hear about the spike in membership of the Wales branch of the Climate Coaching Alliance by the end of the day. In addition, issues around social, community, organisational and individual sustainability were also discussed. As with any coaching conference where the theme is a topic, rather than an approach or competence, attendees debated whether it was the coach’s legitimate role to set the agenda or to promote their own values in client sessions. Our first keynote speaker, Linda Aspey, very much encouraged us to notice how often the climate crisis is brought into the coaching space by our clients and to give ourselves permission to be challenging them and asking the question.

Predictably, strong conceptual links across the themes of wellbeing and sustainability emerged as Day Two progressed. Both themes linked to considerations around resilience (again: organisational and individual): a topic on many organisations’ agendas even prior to COVID-19 and the pandemic lockdown. In addition, many of the sessions I had the privilege to attend highlighted the association between wellbeing and meaning (of course, the ‘M’ in Martin Seligman’s PERMA wellbeing model), with Viktor Frankl’s book ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ getting plugged repeatedly. During our Day Two ‘Meet and Eat’ networking lunch, many of us coaches noted how Wales’s Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, like the climate crisis, is rarely brought into the coaching space by clients. Again, we have legitimacy to be posing those questions, too.

The final day looked to the future and ‘Coaching for Tomorrow’. 

There is much, individually and collectively, we as the coaching community in Wales (and beyond) can be doing, be it helping our clients transition from lockdown to the new way of working; democratising access to coaching – not just across tiers within workplaces, but to marginalised communities too - and advancing our understanding and practice of coaching. To that end, it was truly exciting to announce the launch of USW’s new MSc in Coaching, with our first intake starting this September as USW continues to broaden our support and partnership with the coaching community across Wales.

Enjoy the links to the sessions you missed – and maybe revisit and relive those you attended during CoachFest, too. Draw as much insight and learning as you can. We very much look forward to all meeting up again next March…

Dave Tee

Chair, Wales Coaching Centre at University of South Wales


We’d like to thank:

• Our Headliners and Masterclass speakers who delivered their sessions on specialist areas, such as resilience, positive psychology, Neurodiversity and more current thinking and research in the field.

• Our Conference Supporters: All Wales Coaching Alliance, Climate Coaching Alliance, the Institute of Leadership and Management, Academi Wales, EMCC and the Association for Coaching. 

The 9th annual Wales Coaching Conference will, if restrictions allow, be held in person next March 2022. Date and location will be confirmed in the autumn. 

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Watch the 2020 conference highlights