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In conversation with…Top Management Programme in HE Programme Directors, Louisa Hardman and Robin Ryde

14 Jan 2021 | Advance HE With the next cohort of Advance HE’s Top Management Programme for Higher Education on the horizon, we spoke to the programme directors to discuss the importance of high quality leadership in difficult times.

The 48th iteration of the Top Management Programme for Higher Education (TMP HE) will start in January 2022 with an updated focus on leadership in changing times due to the global pandemic and the difficulties this has caused throughout the world.

To find out how the programme had been adapted and why it is so important in these unpredictable times, we met (virtually) with programme directors Louisa Hardman and Robin Ryde to discuss.

Opening with what they describe as TMP’s defining characteristic “that [it] has always adapted to the changing context of higher education”, Louisa and Robin discuss:

  • the main challenges for executive leadership at present
  • how the programme is going to be delivered in these changing times
  • how the lessons from the programme stay with participants throughout their careers…

Louisa points to six key challenges as the backdrop for the programme: contextual – making sense of the changing world; organisational – how do we lead organisational change at a transformational level; technical – managing money, sustainability and digital capacity; relational – mobilising teams, creating engagement, sustaining cultures for performance and addressing inequalities; personal – maintaining personal effectiveness and resilience; political – how do we ensure the sector remains politically astute.

Discussing the format of the programme, they highlight the key elements of the three week long modules:

  • Week 1 – focusing on change, strategy and leading the institution
  • Week 2 – ‘International’, understanding how global HE is responding to shared challenges
  • Week 3 – focusing on governance and place (civic/political/societal).

They also commend the positives of the more blended approach which has allowed for more opportunity to “plug in the right kind of expertise” at any point in the programme, wherever they are in the world. Small – ‘impact’ – group work, 360s and coaching also continue to be key features of the programme and provide personal connections and networks.

Talking about the ongoing impact of TMP and how the learning stays with delegates after the programme ends, they highlight the deliberate process on TMP HE to “encourage deep and lasting networks” by building understanding and trust and authenticity between members of the group, alongside the adaptive models, frameworks and insights of best practice used throughout the programme about how to deal with particular situations as leaders. Louisa noted the “hunger for a network” in the context of “lonely” senior roles and how professional and personal friendships live on beyond the programme. They noted how reflective practice and personal development helped to build confidence and resilience for the leadership challenges ahead.

Watch the conversation with Louisa and Robin below:

The application deadline for TMP 48 is 1700 GMT on 26 November 2021. To find out more about the programme and download your application pack, click here.

About the programme directors:

Louisa Hardman is an experienced board and executive team coach with experience working in higher education, health, central and local government, broadcasting, publishing, professional services, transport, social housing, retail, distribution, finance, membership organisations, trades unions and the police.

Robin Ryde is an author, leadership and organisation development expert, and former Chief Executive of the UK National School of Government. He has been a director with the UK Cabinet Office, director with the UK National Audit Office and he currently holds the role of programme director with the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG).


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