Karl Gostner

Executive and Business Coach

Cape Town and Online


Cape Town, South Africa


I help leaders to realise their potential. My clients – business owners, executives and senior managers – are leaders in professional services; the technology, creative and design industries; media, advertising and public relations; academia; and the not-for profit sectors. On request I support a broader layer of management teams in my clients’ businesses, particularly those demonstrating high potential.

I also provide pro bono leadership support to young leaders. Working with them inspires me with fresh perspectives and keeps me on trend.


My clients come to me when they need a partner to help them achieve their goals – or to help them clarify their goals. Sometimes they’re on the brink of something great but need help in developing their strategy to get there. Sometimes their passion is being drained by the challenges and complexity of day-to-day operations – they’re overwhelmed by life and feel stuck, not sure how to move forward. Often, it’s a combination.


Whatever your purpose for seeking out coaching, my commitment is to help you build the insight and capabilities to achieve your goals. You will experience new ways of seeing, acting and learning so that you can maximise your opportunities and overcome the obstacles in your path.

Our work starts with you. I help you to identify patterns, strengths and gaps in your skills, experiences and ways of acting. We co-create a strategy supported by knowledge, insights and tactical approaches to enable you to meet your goals.

You will gain deeper insight into yourself, your context and your relationships. As you strengthen your capacity for observation and insight, you will also build the behaviours, skills and knowledge to act more effectively in both your professional and personal life.

Ultimately, we build the strategy and the skills to help you attain your goals with a smile and a steady pulse. You understand yourself, your relationships and your organisation better. You build resilience in your leadership teams, leading to a healthier and happier organisation. You develop more effective ways of living and working. You are more productive, know more, laugh more and are more at peace.


My first job was cleaning tables in a fast-food restaurant. My last job, before starting coaching full-time, was as Chief Operations Officer of Primedia Broadcasting – a 300+ employee business with R1bn+ revenue. It’s been an interesting journey. I now know that dustbins hide a lot of lost cutlery and that “other” on the income statement often signals a great deal of unproductive expenditure.

The first phase of my work life included facilitating workshops for trade unionists in the mid-1990s and dutifully scribing the minutes of meetings between senior members of Nelson Mandela’s government and leaders of business and organised labour. I undertook socio-economic and industrial policy research and wrote sector strategies.

From the world of negotiation and sector-level strategy, I moved into electronic and digital media. I worked at the interface of strategy and operations for nearly two decades.

I was often deployed to help other executives and teams work through strategic and operational challenges. My colleagues and teams told me I helped them manage complexity by listening carefully, discerning patterns, asking the right questions, adding unique insight and helping them into action.

My career has had measurable successes: a quadrupling of revenue flowing from organisational restructuring; multi-million-rand new product lines; multiple digital and marketing awards; exponential growth in digital products; the successful integration of different businesses; the launch of new divisions; and many people who say that I have had a positive impact on their lives.

My life in media has given me a passion for working with creators and innovators, and an appreciation for the soulful satisfaction of doing with work with a positive social impact. It has helped me understand how to get groups of vastly different people to collaborate. It has taught me how to implement rapidly and the importance of not getting caught up in the hype.

From 2014, while still in the corporate world, I  began coaching. By 2019, I decided to begin coaching full time, bringing my experience as a business leader to bear to help people live fuller, richer, more effective lives.

I love coaching because:

  • I enjoy helping people unlock their talents and work through difficulties;
  • I love learning and sharing knowledge and ideas;
  • I am a systems thinker and enjoy creating clarity from complexity. My clients bring all their experiences and together we sort it into something actionable;
  • I thrive on partnering with people to enable action that creates new possibilities.


Our initial interaction will be an introductory session, at no charge, for you to establish whether you believe you’d get value from working with me.

If you decide that you do want to work with me, we would work in two phases:

  • In the first phase, we will meet weekly for 4-6 weeks. In these conversations we develop a deeper understanding of the areas you wish to work on and explore possible paths to your desired future. We co-create a strategy that will enable you to envisage moving from the current moment in your life or business to a place that opens new possibilities for the future.
  • In phase 2, our conversations focus on building new behaviours and skills to ensure that you’re acting effectively towards your goals. This period typically consists of 6 sessions over a 3-month period. We will implement a coaching programme that supports you in developing the capabilities to bring your strategy to life. Your programme is a mix of self-reflections, observations, exercises and practices designed uniquely for you. In this phase, you start to experience a new way of being; building new habits, new observation patterns and new knowledge.

After each session you will receive comprehensive notes from me. They support you in keeping track of themes that have emerged and of any new insights or new understandings of an old problem.

Your programme will:

Be unique to you, designed for your life. It draws on well established research in human development and performance, but is unique to your personal objectives;

Integrate into your life. For all my clients, time and energy is a scarce resource. Your programme is designed to challenge you, but is sufficiently pragmatic to enable you to implement new learning.


I started my career in industrial strategy working in various sectors between 1997 and 2002. From 2002 onwards, I worked in media starting as Strategic Consultant to the Founder and Manager Director of 99.2 Yfm and ending as the Chief Operating Officer of Primedia Broadcasting. I have held the roles of Head of Sales, General Manager, Group Head of Strategy and acted as Chief Commercial Officer and CEO.

My corporate expertise includes:

  • Strategy formulation and implementation, in particular:
    • Commercial strategy and implementation;
    • Business model innovation
    • Organisation design
    • Audience development.
  • General management and integration across all key business areas from budgets, forecasts to operational implementation.
  • Media, communication and activation strategies from blue-chip brands to start-ups and national issue-based campaigns.

I completed my B.A. with majors in Psychology, Political Studies and Industrial Sociology which I followed with an MA in Industrial Sociology at Wits University (1991-96) and an Advanced Management Programme in Media and Entertainment at IESE Business School, New York City Campus (2017-18).

I did the first year of my MBA at Wits Business School. I was on the Dean’s List throughout the year and then dropped out. It’s my one academic regret.

My coaching qualification is the Professional Certified Coach from the Centre for Coaching at UCT’s Graduate School of Business and is accredited as an Integral Coach by New Ventures West (San Francisco) (2013-15). I am an ICF certified coach.




In person in Cape Town, South Africa. I am available to travel for work with larger groups and work globally with clients using either Zoom or Skype.