The Senior Executive Programme embedded several concepts into my life, ideas that I continue to share in my webinars and whilst mentoring. The 100-Year Life sessions not only helped me understand how to make big pivots (at a time in my life when I was making a big pivot myself), but they also gave me the tools to properly prepare and make successful changes. By the time I began the programme, I had left Arçelik to start my own business. Learning the importance of always planning the next step has been incredibly helpful as I set out on my new venture. The Best-Self exercise and the coaching that accompanied it were also incredibly enlightening. Working in cohorts to examine testimonials about myself from family, friends and colleagues allowed me to identify blind spots that have helped me construct this next step in my working life. In a career like mine, you must make decisions every day about which projects to accept, which board roles to say yes to, and whom to work with. Knowing myself better has helped me identify my strengths and make better decisions.
When I went on the Senior Executive Programme, I had a burning desire to do something that would add to the conversation on gender diversity. There are a lot of statistics about gender equality, but I’ve always found that when you get to a more granular level, the individual stories hold a different kind of power. The programme ignited my ambition to make this project happen. I wanted to build the stories of senior women and the challenges they faced in their careers, yet I had no idea how to go about bringing them together. When my colleagues on the programme realised how passionate I was about this, they pushed me to meet with Kathleen O’Connor who agreed to mentor me. The entire ecosystem at the School helped me put this project into action. I’m so thankful to Kathleen for the help she has given me in formalising the idea and making the interviews happen. I have now completed the initial pilot interviews with senior women from different industries and geographies and am in the process of consolidating the stories and identifying patterns. Going forward, I am planning to share these via a webinar or podcast.
The programme delivered what I anticipated and, in many ways, also far exceeded my expectations. Going in, I knew the programme would be of high quality and have strong academic material. Every faculty member that entered the room opened up our minds. I loved the sessions on leadership from Randall Peterson and Herminia Ibarra, and the finance sessions of Henri Servaes and strategy sessions of Costas Markides have been instrumental in my work as a non-executive director as I help set out the strategy for the businesses. But there were also several aspects I found more surprising that ended up being highlights of the course. Most of all, the people in my cohort were amazing. Each Executive had a different angle on the business world, and I learned a lot from them about leadership and different industries I’d not yet had exposure to in my career.
I just loved how much effort the Executive Education team put into making this a complete experience that I’ll remember fondly forever. There was a good amount of time set aside for immersing ourselves in the London experience. Of course, the campus setting is beautiful, but more than that, being surrounded by so many people with the same goal – furthering their business careers – is truly inspiring. I have built genuine relationships. Now, whenever I go to a country where a SEP colleague lives, we meet up, and it’s almost like having family all around the world.
The programme is a great opportunity for senior leaders who want to sharpen their skill-sets. The time you spend with other leaders, watching their different styles, helps hone your leadership. But it’s also great for aspiring leaders who want to make that jump into the C-suite – the experience you get from others is like nothing you’ll be able to gain from anywhere else. For people looking to build a portfolio career or those looking to set up their own company, it’s a great environment to learn how to make that change. The coaching was structured in such a way that we left with a complete plan of action and with the programme operating in two modules itself accessible to senior leaders to digest and then return with a renewed perspective. The programme took me out of my comfort zone both in and out of the classroom – and I cherish the relationships I found and the skills that have already shaped the next step of my career.