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Senior Women’s Leadership Development Programme

Explore the contemporary contexts and challenges of being a female senior leader.

The shortage of senior women at the most senior levels in institutions is still a challenge, despite some improvements at executive and board levels in recent years.

Advance HE’s Senior Women’s Leadership Development Programme is one of our women-only programmes designed specifically for women in senior positions in HE to help them take the next step up or extend their role, profile and impact. It aims to create more gender parity in senior leadership within higher education.

In the programme, we create a safe space for senior women in leadership roles to explore the complexity of navigating through conventional organisational structures and to build foundations for transformation and paradigm shift.

The programme strikes a balance between enhancing the technical knowledge of key strategic areas of operation (including institutional finance, structures and governance) and exploring individual leadership styles, leadership legacy, personal impact and developing political skills. 

Register your interest and find further information on this programme

Register here
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Programme outcomes

Through the programme, participants will:

  • Enhance their sense of presence to be able to engage in an organisational dialogue in a more impactful way
  • Develop skills and confidence related to finance, governance, culture, politics, and influence
  • Understand the organisational and decision-making frameworks of the UK’s HEIs and their links to institutional purpose
  • Build understanding of their unique leadership style, personal impact, and legacy
  • Start exploring the leadership needed in the post-pandemic HE
  • Create a momentum in their career progression through renewed commitment and supportive network of senior women.
I found the programme invaluable, with space to explore the challenges of women’s leadership in HE as well as to examine critical issues such as university governance and finance. I especially enjoyed the opportunity to be amongst other senior female leaders in HE.”

Dr Emily McIntosh, Director of Student Life, Student Experience Team, University of Bolton

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Share and celebrate your achievements with digitally recognised learning

For much of our portfolio for 2023-24 the learning of event attendees and programme participants and conference, symposia and colloquia presenters will be digitally recognised.

This makes it easy for you to share and celebrate your achievements by adding them to your email signature or including them in your social profiles including Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Your learning certificates can also be easily verified and downloaded as a pdf.

Find out more about digitally recognised learning
digitally recognised learning

How is the programme delivered?

Taking place virtually over the course of 4 months, the Senior Women’s Leadership Development Programme consists of a half day introductory session and five one-day development days.

Day 1: Introduction to Senior Women Leading

- Introducing the remits of the programme: key principles
and frameworks
- Building a safe container for deep leadership explorations
- Setting the scene for Senior Women’s Leadership in the
current HE context

Day 2: Finance and Governance in leadership

- Exploring the organisational and decision-making frameworks of the UK’s HEIs
- Examining universities’ Annual Report and Accounts or equivalent publicly available financial data
- Understanding funding and finance, governance, accountability and regulation contexts of the higher education sector

Day 3: Finance and Governance in leadership

-Developing practical strategies for navigating organisational frameworks in HE
- Using a real play methodology to explore decision making at the executive level
- Applying scenarios for planning financial sustainability in universities

Day 4: Action Learning Sets

Halfway through the programme the participants meet in smaller groups for their action learning sets. You will be encouraged to discuss practical issues pertinent to their leadership roles and work on solutions using the collective intelligence of the group through non-directive, coaching approaches.

Day 5: Organisational politics and culture in HE

- Using Mythodrama to understand organisational culture and politics in higher education
- Developing practical skills to influence positive organisational changes
- Working with real life scenarios to impact the internal politics

Day 6: Leading the New: your leadership purpose, presence and impact

- Exploring leadership skills needed in the current HE context
- Understanding your unique leadership style
- Learning about successful leadership from senior women leaders
- Enhancing leadership impact by developing your personal purpose and presence
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Delivery team


Barbara Bassa

Senior Consultant, Leadership and Organisational Development
Advance HE
Barbara Bassa
Barbara heads a number of national and bespoke leadership programmes for the Higher Education Sector, including Aurora UK, Senior Women’s Leadership Development, Transforming Leadership Programme, and Transformative Conversations Programme. She leads Organisational Wellbeing programmes.

Gill Ball OBE

Advance HE
Gill Ball, Senior Women’s Leadership Development Programme
Gill is a non-executive director of Professional HE Services Ltd and has recently served on the Audit, Risk and Assurance Committee for the Commonwealth Games 2022. Prior to retiring in 2014, Gill spent the majority of her career within Higher Education with the last 20 years as Director of Finance at the University of Birmingham. She was awarded an OBE for services to Higher Education in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in 2012.

Simone Clarke

Pro Vice-Chancellor, Education and Students
Harper Adams University
Simone Clarke
Simone has over 25 years of experience working in a range of academic and leadership roles in a diverse range of universities in England and Wales. Simone taught undergraduates during her doctoral studies and worked as a post-doctoral research fellow on an interdisciplinary history and computing project before beginning her career in professional services.

Phyllida Hancock

Advance HE
Phyllida Hancock
Phyllida is a workshop designer and facilitator. She is an Associate of Advance HE, Olivier Mythodrama, Leaders’ Quest, Mary-Louise Clark Associates and Ranmore Consulting, and recently joined Warwick Business School as a Teaching Associate.

Aranee Manoharan

Associate, Leadership and EDI
Advance HE
Aranee Manoharan
Aranee is an HE professional with experience across teaching, student success, educational development, governance, and EDI. Having worked in both Russell Group and Post-1992 provider contexts, she is knowledgeable about the experiences and needs of staff in both research-intensive and teaching-focused institutions; taking the learning from both to inform her coaching, training, and consulting practice. Having served on a University Board, she is confident in working with Board Members and Executive Teams, especially in relation to inclusive approaches to governance, strategy, and leadership.

Andrea Bolshaw

Associate, Governance
Advance HE
Andrea Bolshaw
As Registrar and Secretary at the University of Brighton, Andrea provides strategic leadership for the university’s professional services and is also responsible for supporting university governance. She joined the University of Brighton from Leeds Beckett University, where she was Interim Registrar and Secretary. This is her third University Executive position.
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ADVANCE HE | 23 SEP 2022


Kate Farley (Norwich University of the Arts) and Dr Kate Strudwick (University of Lincoln) answer questions about their experience of SWLDP.
ADVANCE HE | 13 JAN 2022

'An empowering experience'

Participant feedback from the Programme.
GILL BALL | 06 Feb 2020

Finance isn’t frightening!

The finance sections of SWLDP.
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Read our Delegate Terms & Conditions for Programmes and Events here.