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Continuing professional development with the Strategic Leadership Programme

14 Feb 2019 | Clare Gryce There’s always something new to learn, and getting out of the office and sharing questions, ideas and reflections with peers in different functions from across the sector has got to be one of the most enjoyable and fulfilling ways of doing so.

Clare Gryce, Director of Research IT services and Director of IT for IoE and ELASH (interim) at University College London shares her experience on the Strategic Leadership Programme and explains how she applies her learning across a range of scenarios in her day to day role.

There’s always something new to learn, and getting out of the office and sharing questions, ideas and reflections with peers in different functions from across the sector has got to be one of the most enjoyable and fulfilling ways of doing so.

Continuing Professional Development

I’ve always been a strong advocate for the importance of what we all call ‘Continuing Professional Development’ or CPD. And my time on the Advance HE Strategic Leadership Programme last year completely reinforced my belief that a good course, well delivered can be the event that revitalises our professional lives, propelling us forward and giving us the energy and courage to respond to new challenges and opportunities. 

This was my second major programme with LFHE/Advance HE – I ‘graduated’ from the Future Leaders Programme (FLP) in 2014 and there is no doubt that that experience was instrumental in my achieving my first Director level role a year later.  I know from contact with my FLP peer group – many of them now friends – that a good number of us have since moved up to take on full leadership roles, or otherwise found their path.

But with a packed diary and a list of looming deadlines in sight it’s hard to commit to taking the time out and a step back. And my experience on the FLP had been so transformative that I had doubts as to whether the SLP that I was eyeing up could really deliver for me in the same way. Did I *really* need to do this right now? Perhaps I already knew enough to drive my development for the next couple of years? How would I actually benefit? Happily, I ignored my inner voice on this one and signed up. 

The Strategic Leadership Programme

And I’m so glad I did. SLP was absolutely the right next step for me. Just like FLP, it was an intense, highly interactive programme. Spread over two modules to allow time for reflection and with coaching in between, it covered a range of topics and provocations. The content was well curated and designed to address core issues facing leaders taking on increasingly strategic roles within their institutions. 

But it was the skill and commitment of our programme facilitators who really made the magic happen.  

Gary and Lisa worked so well together, with obvious chemistry that enabled the group to engage very quickly. Both of them brought warmth, humour and humility to their work, and their skills as coaches resulted in some amazing sharing by the participants, which was deeply moving.  I really valued the fact that they both brought so much of their personal selves into the space, sharing their own stories in a way that offered both direct learning and insight and was also an invitation for us to do the same. 

The best learning experiences stay with you, often demonstrating their relevance at unexpected times. I still draw on my experience from FLP – now five years ago – today. Since participating in the Strategic Leadership Programme, I’ve applied my learning across a range of scenarios in my day to day role. It’s helped me make more sense of financial reports, informed my thinking about how to re-frame a strategy I am delivering, reflect on what actions I need to take to develop my own team and the way they work. It’s helped me prioritise, and more clearly identify blockers and find new conviction about I will act how to tackle them.


Without a doubt, I am further along the path of being the leader I aspire to be. SLP may have been ‘time for me’ but I know that my institution and all those I work with are benefitting from my time on the course also. So next time you’re feeling defeated by deadlines or floored by frustrations, take a step back to about where you are in your own journey and what kind of CPD ‘intervention’ might be right for you, right now. Whether your ‘time out’ is a full-blown programme, a short course or an evening event, it could be just what you need. Go on; you know you deserve it.

The Strategic Leadership Programme features in the ‘Senior Leadership’ stage of Advance HE’s development pathway. Click here to find out more about our full portfolio of programmes and how they provide support at all stages of your career.

We feel it is important for voices to be heard to stimulate debate and share good practice. Blogs on our website are the views of the author and don’t necessarily represent those of Advance HE.

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