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Senior Women’s Leadership Development Programme

Explore the contemporary contexts and challenges of being a female senior leader.

The shortage of senior women at the most senior levels in institutions is still a challenge, despite some improvements at executive and board levels in recent years.

Advance HE’s Senior Women’s Leadership Development Programme is one of our women-only programmes designed specifically for women in senior positions in HE to help them take the next step up or extend their role, profile and impact. It aims at creating more gender parity in senior leadership within higher education.

In the programme we create a safe space for senior women leaders to explore the complexity of navigating through conventional organisational structures and to build foundations for transformation and paradigm shift.

The programme strikes a balance between enhancing technical knowledge of key strategic areas of operation (including institutional finance, structures and governance) and exploring individual leadership styles, leadership legacy, personal impact and developing political skills. 

Enquire about Senior Women’s Leadership Development Programme

Booking information

Booking Deadline: 3 March 2023
Next cohort starts 9 March 2023

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I found the programme invaluable, with space to explore the challenges of women’s leadership in HE as well as to examine critical issues such as university governance and finance. I especially enjoyed the opportunity to be amongst other senior female leaders in HE.”

Dr Emily McIntosh, Director of Student Life, Student Experience Team, University of Bolton

Share and celebrate your achievements with digitally recognised learning

For much of our portfolio for 2022-23 the learning of event attendees and programme participants and conference, symposia and colloquia presenters will be digitally recognised.

This makes it easy for you to share and celebrate your achievements by adding them to your email signature or including them in your social profiles including Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Your learning certificates can also be easily verified and downloaded as a pdf.

Find out more about digitally recognised learning

How is the programme delivered?

Taking place over the course of 4 months, the Senior Women’s Leadership Development Programme consists of an introductory session and 4 online days.

Day 1: Introduction to Senior Women Leading

9 March 2023
- Introducing the remits of the programme: key principles
and frameworks
- Building a safe container for deep leadership explorations
- Setting the scene for Senior Women’s Leadership in the
current HE context

Day 2: Finance and Governance in leadership

28 March 2023
- Exploring the organisational and decision making frameworks of the UK’s HEIs
- Examining universities’ Annual Report and Accounts or equivalent publicly available financial data
- Understanding funding and finance, governance, accountability and regulation contexts of the higher education sector

Day 3: Finance and Governance in leadership

29 March 2023
-Developing practical strategies for navigating organisational frameworks in HE
- Using a real play methodology to explore decision making at the executive level
- Applying scenarios for planning financial sustainability in universities

Day 4: Action Learning Sets

25 – 28 April 2023
Half way through the programme the participants meet in smaller groups for their action learning sets. You will be encouraged to discuss practical issues pertinent to their leadership roles and work on solutions using the collective intelligence of the group through non-directive, coaching approaches.

Day 5: Organisational politics and culture in HE

22 May 2023
- Using Mythodrama to understand organisational culture and politics in higher education
- Developing practical skills to influence positive organisational changes
- Working with real life scenarios to impact the internal politics

Day 6: Leadership in a New HE sector. Strengthening your leadership narrative.

23 May 2023
- Exploring leadership skills needed in the current HE context
- Learning about successful leadership from senior women leaders
- Enhancing leadership impact through developing compelling narrative about personal purpose and legacy

Delivery team


Barbara Bassa

Senior consultant, executive coach and programme director
Advance HE
Barbara Bassa
Barbara Bassa is a senior consultant, executive coach and programme director for a number of national and bespoke leadership development programmes at Advance HE with over twenty years’ experience in higher education. She completed her Masters in Organisational Development and Coaching and Mentoring in 2013 and has delivered over 3000 coaching sessions since then, both in the UK and internationally.

Inclusive, compassionate and authentic leadership have been the focus of her work, helping leaders find their unique voice and shape the future of the HE sector in the UK and beyond. She specialises in supporting leaders going through transitions – moving into senior strategic roles, personal change and / or organisational change.

Gill Ball OBE

Advance HE
Gill Ball, Senior Women’s Leadership Development Programme
Gill spent the majority of her career within Higher Education with the last 20 years as Director of Finance at the University of Birmingham until she retired from that role at the end of 2014. She was awarded an OBE for services to Higher Education in 2012.

Simone Clarke

Director of Academic Services and Academic Registrar
Harper Adams University
Simone Clarke
Simone has 25 years of experience working in a range of academic and management roles in a diverse range of universities in England and Wales.

Phyllida Hancock

Advance HE
Phyllida Hancock
Phyllida is a workshop designer and facilitator. She is an Associate of Advance HE, Olivier Mythodrama, Leaders’ Quest, Mary-Louise Clark Associates and Ranmore Consulting, and recently joined Warwick Business School as a Teaching Associate.

Aranee Manoharan

Associate, Leadership and EDI
Advance HE
Aranee Manoharan
Aranee is an HE professional with experience across teaching, student success, educational development, governance, and EDI. Having worked in both Russell Group and Post-1992 provider contexts, she is knowledgable about the experiences and needs of staff in both research-intensive and teaching-focused institutions; taking the learning from both to inform her coaching, training, and consulting practice. Having served on a University Board, she is confident in working with Board Members and Executive Teams, especially in relation to inclusive approaches to governance, strategy, and leadership.

The programme's outcomes

Through the programme participants:

  • enhance their sense of presence to be able to engage in an organisational dialogue in a more impactful way
  • develop skills and confidence related to finance, governance, culture, politics and influence 
  • understand the organisational and decision-making frameworks of the UK’s HEIs and their links to institutional purpose
  • build understanding of their unique leadership style, personal impact and legacy 
  • start exploring the leadership needed in the post-pandemic HE
  • create a momentum in their career progression through renewed commitment and supportive network of senior women.  


ADVANCE HE | 23 SEP 2022


Kate Farley (Norwich University of the Arts) and Dr Kate Strudwick (University of Lincoln) answer questions about their experience of the Senior Women’s Leadership Development Programme (SWLDP).
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ADVANCE HE | 13 JAN 2022

'An empowering experience'

Participant feedback from the Senior Women's Leadership Development Programme
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Read our Delegate Terms & Conditions for Programmes and Events here.