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Celebrations get underway to mark 10 years of Aurora women’s leadership initiative

26 Oct 2023 | Advance HE Hundreds of Aurora alumni to join Advance HE to mark the special milestone of the programme that has helped more than 10,000 women in more than 200 higher education institutions.

Celebrations are underway to mark 10 years of Advance HE’s Aurora women’s leadership initiative – which has helped more than 10,000 women in more than 200 higher education institutions develop as leaders.

To mark the occasion, Advance HE is hosting a conference for past Aurorans to attend without charge, and more than 400 of them have so far signed up.

The event will also launch Aurora’s wider alumnae offer which will provide continuing opportunities for development, connection and networking beyond the life of the programme.

Advance HE will also be showcasing the stories of women who have participated in Aurora as far back as the first cohort in 2013, detailing the impact Aurora has had on their lives and careers.

'Aurora is an important initiative'

“Aurora is a hugely important personal and career development programme for women in higher education and institutions across Ireland and the UK value it for the impact it has on individual women as well as the strategic contribution it makes to their gender equality work,” said Advance HE chief executive Alison Johns.

“We are incredibly pleased to be able to celebrate Aurora’s 10-year anniversary with so many women who have participated over the past decade. We’re also looking forward to continuing to work with both individual women and institutions to ensure Aurora continues to meet their needs and aspirations for many years to come.”

Two women holding shiny balloons making up number 10
Advance He chief executive Alison Johns joins Dr Mary Richards, one of the UK's very first Aurorans, to mark 10 years of the programme.

The Aurora 10-year anniversary conference will take place online on November 2 and will reflect on the evolution of women’s leadership over the years since Aurora began and reflect on continued challenges and opportunities for change via:

  • An interview with Alison Johns conducted by a recent Auroran Lylian Fotabong of Mary Immaculate College, Limerick on perspectives and insights for women leaders.
  • A panel discussion at which Dr Mary Richards of Brunel University, one of the very first Aurorans, will be among those sharing her thoughts on the future issues likely to impact women's leadership in the sector.
  • A keynote speech by award-winning career coach and leadership trainer, and foundational facilitator for Aurora - Jenny Garrett OBE.
  • Interactive break-out sessions exploring  different aspects of leadership relevant to women and approaches for these.
Woman smiling
Career boost: Dr Richards saw her career take off after completing Aurora as one of the first women to take part.

After completing Aurora, Dr Richards – now a reader at Brunel University – saw her career take off and became the architect of a ground-breaking undergraduate Global Challenges programme. She is one of a number of women who share their stories.

“As an academic you can move from independent research and teaching to managerial positions which require substantial leadership skills," she said.

“Aurora helped equip me for the challenges of that."

Stepping up

“As Vice-Dean I had to step up to a prominent leadership role with considerable line management responsibilities. To succeed in setting up the Global Challenges programme, I had to embrace a different type of leadership which involved mustering support across the university for an entirely new approach to course development.

“Aurora helped me understand the different types of leadership, to understand where power and influence lie and how to harness that power to deliver for my students.”


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