Over the last few years, our Faculty has supported over 20 staff to attend the Aurora Programme, a flagship women-only leadership programme run by AdvanceHE to develop higher education leaders of the future. As we open up our application process for this year’s programme, we hear from Louise Reynard, one of our Aurora alumni, about what she got out of the programme, and the positive impact it’s had on some of our staff.
Despite over 4,600 women from over 171 higher education institutes having attended the course since its inception in 2013, I hadn’t heard of Aurora before it was mentioned by my unit head. I attended the course in 2016/2017 in Edinburgh, at the same time that I was transitioning from being a research fellow to being a lecturer with my own group. I found the course incredibly useful, not only because of what I learned about management and leadership, but because of the people I met, both attendees and speakers.
My favourite part of the course was the Action Learning Set; this involved 8 of us in a small room (with lots of cake!) taking turns to discuss our work related challenges and helping us identify our own solutions and future steps. My action learning group included a librarian, an HR manager, a law lecturer and a humanities professor, amongst others. Despite all being from different universities and having completely different jobs, it was amazing how many challenges were shared. The other people in my action learning group were really supportive and it was relief knowing that I was not unique, and that there were other people having the same leadership challenges as me. My action learning group have kept in touch, emailing regularly and meeting up once a year, usually over cake! Every current and previous attendee that I have spoken to has enjoyed and gained a lot from attending the course, as have other attendees from Newcastle:
‘Without this training I was at a point where I was considering giving up my Leadership role, instead I have identified solutions to reduce my workload and to focus on development of my leadership skills. I have a framework for doing that now.’
‘[I am] More confident in my role and more assertive in what I think can be/should be achieved. I’ve also applied and been successful for a promotion recently which I may not have done otherwise. I certainly wouldn’t have felt able to negotiate my salary before Aurora.’
‘I feel more empowered and I am able to recognise my skills and achievements and sell myself better’.
‘I have a better understanding of my own emotions around leadership and that my insecurities are natural, I am better at recognising and acknowledging my achievements and skill set.’
‘My confidence has also increased in that I am more comfortable in my role even when I don’t have the answers.’
‘I joined the first cohort in 2012 and have stayed active within the programme ever since. It has had a huge impact on my thinking, my networks and my personal development and I would encourage you to apply.’
If you are interested in applying, or even just want to find out a little bit more about the scheme and whether its right for you, come along to the Aurora afternoon tea, where you can chat to alumni of the programme and get help with applying. The afternoon tea will be 2-4pm on 9th July in G.21/22, Devonshire Building – please email your OD rep to let them know you’ll be attending.
I hope to see you there!