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How does Aurora work?

Aurora runs in a number of locations across the UK and Ireland and consists of six interlinked days: four development days and two action learning set days. Participants are encouraged to access and use the online self-directed resources available to them.

Led by a team of four leadership experts, participants will explore four key areas associated with leadership success: Identity, Impact and Voice; Power and Politics; Core Leadership Skills; Adaptive Leadership Skills.

Each of the four delivery days are held online, with delegates usually being drawn from a wide range of institutions in the same region. These days combine the best of conferences (prominent keynote speakers, open space technologies, outstanding networking opportunities, energy and dynamism) with the best of development workshops (interactivity, small group work, individual reflection, sharing of experiences and learning from role models). The development days are intended to be introductory events which will provide inspirational stories, guidance for growth of skills and knowledge, opportunities to share solutions to common problems and signposting for further learning. 

Aurora 2020-21

Cohort dates for Aurora 2020-21.

View Aurora 2020-21 dates
Amanda Wilsher

Amanda Wilsher

Identity, Impact and Voice
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Vijaya Nath

Vijaya Nath

Power and Influence
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Jenny Garret

Jenny Garrett

Adaptive Leadership Skills
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Suzanne OBrien

Suzanne O'brien

Core Leadership Skills
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Aurora Online Development Days

Day 1: Identity, impact and voice

Participants will investigate the nature of leadership and leaders and what it means to them, learn about the importance of visibility and ‘voice’ and start to consider the leadership skill set they already have. Current challenges facing participants will be discussed along with what the participant wants and can offer within a leadership role. This day will be led by Amanda Wilsher.

Day 2: Politics and influence

Under this heading the cultures and politics of organisations will be investigated along with individual responses to them and ways of working within them. Participants will be encouraged to think about building coalitions, developing networks and make lasting mutually supportive connections. At this development day participants will be placed in action learning sets. This will be a prelude to day three, a full day action learning set hosted at a participant’s institution. This day will be led by Vijaya Nath.

Day 3: Core leadership skills

This day will introduce the key skills needed by all leaders and managers and consider whether there are any ‘gendered’ ways of leading. Participants’ underlying values and principles will be discussed, along with powerful communication styles, influencing, and the necessity of having a clear vision and appropriate strategy. This day will be led by Suzanne O`Brien.

Day 4: Adaptive leadership skills

Leadership is really tested when the environment is challenging or when there are no easy solutions. A leader’s attitude to risk and challenge, and their ability to take the long-term view, are essential in this context. This day will look at how the process of adaptive leadership could enhance your performance and success. This day will be led by Jenny Garrett.

Aurora 2020-21 speakers

Past Aurora speakers

Additional learning activities

Alongside attending the four online development days, participants are required to attend an introduction webinar and two action learning set days between days one and two and at the end of the programme. Participants are also encouraged to undertake self-directed learning, provided via online resources and materials and are required to engage with a mentor during and after the formal learning process.

Introduction Webinar 

This introduction session will introduce participants to the overall aims and objectives of Aurora. Additionally, we will be introducing participants to their Action Learning Set Groups, giving them the chance to develop their network. Furthermore, we will be introducing the online delivery platforms and how we will be using them to deliver Aurora. This webinar will be recorded for participants who join Aurora at a later date

Aurora action learning sets

The middle and final days of the programme is set aside for  full-day action learning sets. Participants of each set will utilise the sessions to discuss their personal work-related challenges and seek support through the action learning process, to identify solutions and next steps.

Whilst only two action learning sets are scheduled, we encourage sets to stay in touch and to schedule subsequent sets. It is anticipated that institutions will support Aurora participants in maintaining these sets as a positive approach to problem solving and as a way of developing networks, sharing good practice and learning from experience.

Self-directed learning (online)

Throughout Aurora, four streams of self-directed learning that echo the subjects of the development days will be available online for participants to use and follow throughout the programme. The self-directed learning will include reading, reflection, activities and challenges and be provided via online links to specially commissioned materials, internet articles and websites and via an Aurora community mail list.


Aurora participants are required to have a mentor to support and guide them throughout and after the end of the formal learning process. Find out more here.

Aurora delegates

Participants will benefit from the Aurora programme if they are:

•    Committed to the full Aurora process, attending all four development days plus the action learning set days and be prepared to undertake some self-directed study;
•    Able to undertake all pre-work set for the course in advance of attending each development day;
•    Ready to embrace the mentoring relationship, and actively work with their mentors to address their personal development and build their self-reliance;
•    Committed to career development higher education and prepared to devote some time to thinking about and planning their career;
•    Willing to host an action learning set day at their institution, with the support of their institution;
•    Prepared to embrace the extensive networking opportunities and participate fully in Aurora;
•    Willing to undertake projects or assignments for their institution in order to build on their developing leadership skills;
•    Prepared to participate in a longitudinal study;
•    Willing to act as mentors or role models to future participants.

Register your interest in Aurora 

If you would like to find out more information about our Aurora 2020-21 cohorts, please complete the enquiry form below. We will keep you updated with further information as it becomes available.

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