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My Aurora story: Musfira Jilana

Advance HE’s Aurora women’s leadership programme opened up international opportunities for assistant professor Musfira Jilana. The programme director for the National College of Ireland’s  Artificial Intelligence (AI) MSc also says Aurora informed her thinking on the limits and potential of AI in leadership.

“The Aurora programme was recommended to me through a friend based in another university, and then also my line manager.

“And personally, I was just curious about the word 'leadership' and I wanted to learn more about it, and so I applied.

“The ‘leadership’ word has always been there, and I have had lots of different positions of responsibility. But I never knew exactly - am I supposed to be a leader? Am I a leader? Should I actively pursue leadership? Am I a manager or a leader? So those were the questions I was curious about.

Developing my confidence

“Aurora is a six-month leadership development programme, and basically it takes place online apart from the last session which you do in person.

“It involves sessions on core leadership, your impact, your voice, the importance of politics. So core issues are discussed, and then you take part in action learning sets in which you get to practise some of the skills you’ve learned.

“Mentorship is a very important part of the programme. We initially had some meetings in the Aurora-recommended style. But then we quickly clicked and started working together. I received a lot of constructive feedback, and it was coming from a person that I really considered held high. So that feedback was very useful and there was lots of positive reinforcement. So that went a long way in developing my confidence.

Aurora's big impact

“As a result, I now know the kind of projects I should be applying for, the proposals I should be making and where to go for advice for career decisions. Also, he's one of the go-to person, like an additional nice support for me. So it's a valuable addition to my life.

“Taking part in Aurora had a big impact.

“I would say that now my circle of influence has increased. More people now know me inside my own institution and outside. And with respect to my career, I have been invited to participate in an EU consortium, which is very good. And I have also been invited to lead the EDI board of a big EU initiative, called Digital4Business. So that's again, very good.

“What I’ve found is that one part leads to another and multiple parts. So that's what's happening with respect to my career.

Leadership and management

“In terms of my own area of expertise, after doing the programme, I'm now more aware of the limitations of AI - because there is big distinction between leadership and management. Leadership, I now understand, is about having a vision, being able to influence people, bring people together for a cause and to bring your authentic self.  AI cannot do any of that. It can do a lot of management-related things, but leadership is something AI cannot do.

“AI is a tool that can be very effective for decision-making. But leadership is more than just decision-making. AI can enhance your decisions through all the data and analysis of that data. But we have to be very careful with respect to the ethics and bias aspects in the algorithms we apply.

“Overall, Aurora has been most important to me for personal development. I always thought that I was a self-reflective person, but then somehow, in the rat race, that self-reflective process of mine had taken a backseat. Through the Aurora programme, I learned the importance of self-reflection again, and that a good thing.”




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Aurora women’s leadership programme is celebrating its 10th anniversary! Since it was launched in 2013, more than 10,000 women from nearly 200 different institutions across the UK and the Ireland have completed it – all gaining new skills, bigger networks and fresh perspectives on leadership. To mark this special milestone, women who have taken part in Aurora since its very earliest days share their stories and institutions outline the role it plays in their gender equality work.

Join us as we celebrate a decade of leadership empowerment
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Becoming an Aurora Mentor workshops

Mentoring is now a vital development tool in many organisations and can be used to speed up integration through induction mentoring, to develop skills and support career progress as well as to address strategic objectives such as diversity, well-being or retention.

Evidence suggests that both mentor and mentee gain from the experience so the skills of mentoring appear to enhance wider working practices. This course gives an introduction to mentoring in an institutional context and will identify how to make mentoring effective. It will cover best practice guidelines to follow and give delegates practical advice in addition to well validated tools and techniques to use.

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Aurora Alumnae Network

The Aurora Alumnae community is designed exclusively for women who have completed the Aurora programme, offering a platform for ongoing growth and collaboration. It was established in recognition of the transformative impact of the Aurora programme. With over 10,000 women from nearly 200 institutions in the UK and Ireland participating in Aurora since its launch in 2013, the community addresses the continued need for support, development, and connectivity among its members.

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