Principal Coach

Talented and high potential executives demand proven, skilful executives to coach, mentor and advise them. Dr Ashley Gavin Frank joined Ascent Coaching as Principal Executive Coach, after transitioning from a successful career as an internationally respected business school professor into a capacity that allows him, now, to better fulfil his lifelong passion to improve executive performance and build outstanding teams. In a coaching environment, he can employ a contextually based approach that is highly experiential and results-oriented, and which ensures that executive performance directly advances their organisation’s business imperatives and optimises return on investment. As well as blend the "hard skills" associated with Finance and international business with "soft skills" of understanding and promoting interpersonal connection, a truly rare asset. This has led to him being dubbed The CEO Whisperer®, by his clients. As a Fellow Certified Leadership Practitioner, he has over 10 000 hours of verified experience in the context, culture and constituency of Leadership Development at the C-Suite level of major corporations.

Dr Frank began his career in investment banking in the Corporate Finance Advisory division of London based Robert Fleming & Co. (now JP Morgan, Chase) where he worked on several senior cross-border assignments involving capital raising, mergers and acquisitions and associated corporate action. He then joined the academy, serving on the business school faculty of the Universities of Luton, KwaZulu-Natal, Cape Town and North-West, rising steadily from Assistant to Tenured Full Professor of Finance and teaching across the full spectrum of the discipline's subjects to graduate post-experience business executives seeking MBAs to advance their business careers.


As a business school professor, he received Distinguished Teacher honours from global accounting firm KPMG and was a National Research Foundation rated scholar for the quality and impact of his published research. He is the author of two case-study texts on investment valuation and markets, which are influential contributions to graduate teaching and welcomed by the academic and practitioner community alike. His research has appeared in several peer-reviewed scholarly journals including the South African Journal(s) of Business Management/ Economics/ Economic & Management Sciences as well as the Investment Analyst’s Journal and the African Finance Journal.

Dr Frank has had an Ivy League/Russel Group education, studying at the Edinburgh Business School; the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley; the United Nations Institute, Geneva; the London School of Economics; the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, Germany as well as the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Ashley received his MBA in 1999 at Buckinghamshire New University and his DCom (PhD) in Finance at the University of South Africa in 2004. His postdoctoral work, conducted in 2007/8 (the height of the sub-prime crisis), focused on the mathematical modelling of derivatives. He is a graduate of the Executive Leader’s Program at Cornell University’s College of Business.



Featured in BusinessWeek (Africa Edition), he was awarded, in 2012, the Master Financial Modeling Specialist™ designation in recognition of several years of expertise in the field. In 2018 he was elected a Fellow of the Global Academy of Finance & Management in recognition of "a career of exceptional contribution to management". He is licensed by the Financial Services Board (SA) to “provide investment advice, exercise managerial discretion and execute transactions of equities” listed on the JSE. His third book "Tunnel Out" (this time aimed at a more general business readership), which focuses on Values-Based Leadership in a South African context, is a national best-seller. He completed his accredited coach training at the Coaching and Leadership Institute, Canada, where he specialised in Power Coaching® with Mind Kinetics®, a unique method of understanding his clients so as to work with them to genuinely lift their performance to a higher level. Ashley is also an active member of both the (by invitation only) Chief Executive Officer and the Fortune 100 Coaches Networks and, as a Vistage Expert Resource Speaker, regularly addresses conferences of senior business executives, on the subjects of Corporate Governance, Values-Based Leadership and Personal Leadership Philosophies, internationally.

Top notch skills and experience aside, Ascent Coaching believes each Executive Coach should “earn the right” to coach, through the quality of their character. This they do by being clear on their personal values and by acting in ways consistent with those values. Given that Power Coaches® emphasise greater leadership success is a direct result of self-actualisation, achieved through body-mind-spirit mastery, clients should be well-served by Ashley being a Satsangi coming from the Sant Mat spiritual tradition and his daily practice of Surat Shabd Yoga. You will find that he exhibits a unique blend of confidence and humility gained from a high level of awareness of his personal strengths and managing his own interpersonal needs to ensure that all coaching is done in the service of the person being coached. At Ascent Coaching, he is responsible for the origination and execution of client engagements and the coordination of Associate Coaches involved in specific programs.

See our white paper on Sant Mat for an introduction:

For greater detail about Ashley's background visit his LinkedIn page:

In this video Gregg Thompson, Principal Coach at BluePoint Leadership Development shares what he believes great coaching (and thus great coaches) looks like.