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University College Dublin - Aurora case study

29 Jun 2018 | Aurora is important for University College Dublin (UCD), it provides an opportunity for participants to take a step back from their busy work schedules into a reflective space where they can consider what leadership means to them and how they can develop and contribute to leadership within their respective schools/units in UCD.

Aurora provides a unique opportunity for participants to come together from different disciplines and professional backgrounds and create supportive networks which aid in personal and professional development.

Professor Maeve Conrick, college principal, is the Aurora champion for University College Dublin
Professor Conrick is principal of the College of Arts and Humanities at University College Dublin. Educated in Ireland, Switzerland and France, she has published extensively in the areas of Sociolinguistics and Applied Linguistics. Career distinctions to date include an appointment as Specialist Advisor to a UK House of Commons Committee.

Professor Conrick is supported by an Aurora liaison:

Edel Quinn, learning and development specialist
Working in learning and development, Edel has a deep interest in personal and professional development and has had a varied career across private, public and the not for profit sectors.

How do you select your participants?

In setting up Aurora, we are keen to really impress upon participants that they have been chosen for a reason, that their applications have demonstrated their potential for leadership and that their respective heads of school/unit endorse their application. In addition there is also a requirement that all applications have the nomination of the college principal/vice-principal of the unit which indicates support at a senior management level across the University.

Application to Aurora is a competitive process and applications are evaluated based on key criteria which include elements such as leadership potential and how that leadership can be best maximised for the benefit of the respective school/unit and the university as a whole.

How do you match your participants with mentors?

Before the Aurora process starts, we ask participants to select mentors and approach them to ask if they would be willing to be mentors. The process is very open and we provide guidance based on the Leadership Foundation guidelines. As part of the preparation for Aurora, we provide mentor and mentee training so that both parties understand what’s expected of them. Mentoring for Aurora lasts for a 12 month period which can then be reviewed by both parties if they wish to extend the contract. Going forward we will provide more detailed guidelines around mentor selection. This is to encourage participants to find space and time when choosing a mentor; to think widely about what they are looking to achieve from mentoring and identify appropriate mentors for themselves.

What is the impact of Aurora for your institution?

Aurora is viewed as a very positive initiative within the university and is seen as something of value. Feedback has been very positive and every year we have more interest and enquiries around Aurora.

In our first cohort, we had a number of people who have enjoyed career progression and in many cases, they would cite Aurora as being a positive contributor to this. In addition, we have had participants from Aurora get together to run events i.e. Women’s Day and networking events to encourage greater networking, sharing and collaboration across the college.

What is the impact of Aurora for your participants?

Read about Catherine Lynch's experience of Aurora. Catherine is the gender project manager at University College Dublin and attended Aurora in 2014-15.

How has Aurora evolved for your institution?

UCD see Aurora as something beyond just the training days. We try to create an Aurora experience for our participants whereby we provide events relating to Aurora – a launch with our President; an opportunity to hear a variety of speakers; check in facilitated sessions; mentors/mentee training and opportunities for informal get together with mentors and key decision makers in the University. We want to create an Aurora mentor network where past and current Aurora participants get together to support, challenge and grow each other!

The take-away...

"Talk to everyone; make connections; use your networks; make full use of mentoring and look for leadership opportunities."

Want to know more?

Find out more about Aurora here.

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