01 May 2024

Francesca Roberts Leadership Summit Success Story


Francesca is an accomplished Finance professional with over 20 years of experience. Before attending the Leadership Summit, she served as Deputy Finance Director at the HM Treasury, with prior roles at The Royal British Legion and the BBC. Her passion lies in business-facing roles, where she excels in allocating funding to meet organisational goals. Following the Leadership Summit Programme, she earned a promotion to the Senior Civil Service as Finance Director at HMRC.

What was your motivation to come on the programme?

I learned about the programme when I was working in the HM Treasury, before I moved to HMRC. My line manager, who had attended the course, came back absolutely enthusiastic, praising its benefits. They believed it would be beneficial for someone like me who aimed to advance into the Senior Civil Service, especially since there wasn't much focus on female leaders within government at that time, particularly in the Treasury. Given the course's design and the benefits my manager received from it, they recommended it to me. That's when I decided to attend, and ever since, I've been sharing my positive experience with female colleagues.

What was your Programme experience?

I found that the toolkit provided by the course, especially tailored for women like myself, was particularly impactful. It resonated with me that the program was designed with women in mind, acknowledging our unique needs and challenges, necessitating a different approach to building confidence. The course offered various tools and tips that I continue to utilize today. I believe it has equipped me with the skills necessary to navigate to the next level of my career with confidence and effectiveness.

For me, the programme was about discovering what works best for me, my role as well as my organisation and how to apply it effectively. Despite learning alongside a group, I felt supported as an individual, with personalised guidance within the cohort setting. Furthermore, hearing others' experiences, whether positive or negative, fosters a shared sense of resilience as you navigate challenges together. This balance made for a highly valuable learning experience.

The guest speaker on the programme, Patsy Wilkinson, second permanent secretary from the Home Office was really impactful. Hearing firsthand experiences from someone who had navigated a similar journey was powerful. It inspired me to envision myself in her position in 15 years, reaffirming my aspirations and reminding me to stay focused on my goals. I always revisit the programme content which is key to staying aligned with my ambitions.

What’s been the impact on your Leadership Skills?

Throughout the course, three sessions left a lasting impact on me. Firstly, the session on personal branding resonated deeply. Defining my brand ultimately contributed to an increase in my confidence levels. This newfound confidence enabled me to speak about myself more assertively, leading to positive outcomes. Secondly, a smaller but impactful session discussed gender dynamics in meetings. It shed light on subconscious behaviours, such as seating preferences and offering drinks, and emphasized the importance of deliberate actions. This is a lesson which I’ve applied in my leadership by ensuring that women feel included in meetings. Whether virtual or face-to-face, I actively invite them to participate, encouraging them to sit closer for a more engaging discussion.

Lastly, a session led by actresses Harriet and Matilda focused on projecting confidence and presence, demonstrated through engaging activities like wearing a metaphorical "big cloak." Despite its playful nature, the session instilled valuable lessons on public speaking and self-assurance. Shortly after the completing the course, I had a promotion where the experience on the course has continued to shape my approach to professional interactions, particularly in public speaking engagements and meetings with stakeholders.

Would you recommend The Leadership Summit?

The programme is a couple of days where you go and focus on yourself and that can sometimes be uncomfortable because we don’t do that often. You come away with the most profound sense of who you are, what you know and what you stand for, as well as your USP and actually how to leverage that.

“I've never come across anything like it before or since. If I could say there was one thing that helped me get my promotion to the Senior Civil Service, it would be it would be this course.”

Francesca Roberts
Author Francesca Roberts | Finance Director | HMRC

Francesca Roberts is the Finance Director at HM Revenue & Customs . She is an accomplished Finance professional with over 20 years of experience with prior roles at The Royal British Legion and the BBC. She attended The Pipeline's Leadership Summit programme in 2018.