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Talking, sharing and learning about leadership in higher education

08 Nov 2019 | Phyllida Hancock Phyllida Hancock, Programme Facilitator, summarises the first day of the Edinburgh Aurora cohort 2019-20.

After six years of being part of Aurora, I have become accustomed to the growing buzz as participants arrive, and Edinburgh didn’t disappoint. This cohort certainly won the prize for punctuality and attendance - we were ready to start on time with a packed room of women, with a palpable sense of anticipation, a little apprehension, excitement, pleasure at seeing colleagues and old friends, and a feeling of awe at the sight of 250-plus professional women coming together to talk and share and learn about leadership in higher education.

Amanda Wilsher led the day with warmth, presence and great humour, encouraging participants to fully own their right and ability to see themselves as people who can increase their impact and get their voices heard within their institutions. Among the many insights she offers, my favourite was the idea of eye contact as the opportunity to make a generous and optimistic offer of yourself to a conversation.

Our speaker, Carron Shankland, has presented many times at Aurora about her experiences of dealing - or not dealing - with work overload, depression and the inability to feel on top of things. She is a thoughtful and utterly engaging communicator, inspiring the audience with her honesty and her heartfelt plea to colleagues to be kind to themselves and to others.

There is a real pleasure in listening to the different sounds of the day - each time we go into an exercise or a conversation, the sound of the room changes. There is the hum of introduction as participants learn about each other, the thoughtful murmur of discussions about what leadership looks like, the joyful enthusiasm when people talk about the people who inspire them, and the glorious wall of sound that comes when a room full of women explore the extent of the power of their voices!

Aurora is Advance HE`s leadership development initiative for women and those who identify as a woman. Aurora runs in a number of locations across the UK and Ireland and consists of six interlinked days. To find a cohort search "Aurora" in our calendar.

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