Aspiring Women Leaders Programme

Monday 29-02-2016 - 10:11

In May the Aspiring Women Leaders Programme for non-student staff will take place. This transformational programme has been designed specifically for women of the student movement and will be facilitated by Aspire, an internationally recognised and award-winning leader in leadership development, coaching, diversity and social responsibility for women leaders.   


Within the student movement women are the majority of students, staff and officers in students’ union’s, however the 2011-12 Diversity Survey has shown that the gender profile of senior managers and GMs/CEOs does not reflect the overall students’ union workforce profile.

The overall aim of this programme is to increase promotion, increase retention and increase the number of women in middle management and senior leadership positions so that the student movement can be more representative of its membership.

Who is the programme for?

There are 30 places for this five month leadership programme. The programme is for women non-student staff who are aspiring to be leaders within the student movement. This means someone who is in a non-managerial or middle management role and who has the desire and aptitude to have a personal and positive impact on the student movement.

What will the programme explore?

The programme gives participants the opportunity to understand themselves as a leader and what they want to achieve for themselves and the student movement. They will also be given tools, guidance and strategies to develop their leadership skills and qualities to be successful.

This is a ‘leadership’ programme to inspire leaders to aim high and be authentic. So expect it to be challenging, fun, relevant, interactive, insightful, practical and highly supportive. This programme is not a management course.

The objectives of the programme are:

  • To develop a better understanding of who you are as a leader and how you can increase your leadership skills to further succeed as a woman within the student movement.
  • To reflect on your career aspirations and priorities in a supportive and inclusive environment.
  • To expand your self-confidence and leadership capability to gain greater influence and impact within the movement.
  • To raise your profile, increase your resilience, and expand your network.
  • To appreciate the leadership culture and attitude towards women leaders within the student movement and explore how to successfully navigate this to achieve career ambitions.
  • To hear from women senior leaders in the student movement. 

Structured over a period of five months, this programme starts with a 2 day workshop followed by two subsequent 1 day workshops every other month with mentoring and practical application at work in between sessions. A more detailed outline of the programme can be found here

What makes this programme unique?

The programme has been designed to appeal to women through both the content and the delivery method. Aspire facilitators are expert coaches who work dynamically with the group, so there’s a high amount of interaction with individuals and the group.

Using the latest in neuroscience and emotional intelligence principles, participants learn cognitively and emotionally making the experience deeply personal and transformational. Combined with this depth is a very practical focus which means that participants walk away with practical tools, techniques and skills that can immediately be applied in the situations they face every day at work.

Aspire specialise in leadership development for women and draw on the findings of their own research and work with more than 10,000 women over 12 years and on publications on women in leadership from organisations such as Catalyst, Harvard Business Review and INSEAD to align with best and latest practice in this field.

The impact of the Programme

This transformational programme has already had a huge impact on those in the 2014 and 2015 cohorts. For example, participants have successfully applied for new jobs, including management and senior management roles, feel more empowered in their career and have taken up opportunities they wouldn’t have done before the programme. This is highlighted by the following comments from the 2015 cohort of participants.

"I have already taken action to apply for a new job in which I was successful. The knowledge I had of myself and way to present myself was undoubtedly influenced by the Aspiring Women Leaders Programme and I don't know if I would have got the job without it, seriously!"

"This program has done a lot to breakdown misconception, stereotyping and mental barriers. Which in turns helps to boost self-confidence and own who we are."

"Before I began I was unsure what my next step was going to be. I felt that I wanted to do something new, without leaving my workplace and I had a belief that this wasn't possible without a new job. I realised very soon into the programme, that I could advance and improve without changing roles."

"Since the programme, I feel like I’ve really upped my game. Before I didn't really understand how I could get my work and contribution to the organisation to be noticed. I didn't really create opportunities for myself. In the small amount of time since starting the course I have received so much recognition."

"The content was really good and gave me a range of tools that I can use. It gave me the time and structure to reflect on myself and the way that I work. I liked that it addressed the specific challenges faced by women in the workplace and that it was a supportive, empowering and non-competitive environment. Good mix for different learning styles."


When will it take place?

The programme will take place at the NUS London Office on the following days:

  • Thursday 5 May, 11:00am - 5.00pm
  • Friday 6 May, 09:00am – 4:00pm
  • Thursday 21 July, 10.00am - 5:00pm
  • Friday 26 August, 10.00am – 5:00pm

How much time will I need to invest?

In addition to your four days on the programme, participants will receive 1 hour a month of mentoring from an external mentor and take part in peer mentoring with other participants on the programme which will take up to 2 hours a month. There will also be approximately 1-2 hours of pre-programme reading.

We recommend participants schedule at least 2 hours of review time after each module to ensure they have time to reflect and work through goals and actions identified during the workshops which it is envisaged they will subsequently integrate into their everyday working practice.

In addition, participants are encouraged to schedule one-to-one sessions with their line manager to discuss objectives prior to the modules and to share with them goals and actions post modules.

How much does it cost?

The cost to participate in the programme is £375 (excl. VAT) per participant. This includes, lunch, materials and being mentored.

The cost does not include dinner or accommodation. Participants who need to book accommodation are encouraged to take advantage of the NUS package developed with the Tunes Hotel. This consists of a room rates of £93 (incl VAT). To receive this discounted rate you will be provided with a discount code.

The hotel is convenient, as it’s opposite the NUS London Office and close to range of places to eat and amenities. Find out more about the hotel here.

How do I apply?

If you are a woman non-student staff member and would like to apply to take part in the programme, please complete an application form and equal opportunities monitoring form and send them to by 12 noon on Friday 25 March.

Please note we particularly encourage applications from African, Arab, Asian and Caribbean women, as Black women are currently underrepresented in middle management and senior management positions across the student movement.

We will confirm successful candidates by Friday 15 April.

For further information please contact NUS Learning and Development Consultant Sam Uppal:


Features, Union Development, Women

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