Leadership Summit: helping women break into the executive family

McKinsey found one of the common pipeline pain points for women is middle management. Many organisations focus considerable time and energy on achieving greater diversity in the recruiting process, perhaps starting at or close to parity for men and women in entry-level positions. Such gains, however, are often quickly eroded within the first few promotion cycles which results in women languishing in middle management.

This is a 3-day Leadership Summit to reduce the number of women who get stuck in middle management. Without this intervention organisations will not have sufficient numbers ready to populate short lists and promote to executive roles. We find at this middle management level women are most likely to get stuck in an “attainment trap” whereas they need to be displaying “leadership potential”. We help participants build personal brands, improve their communication skills understand the power of networking and the importance of recruiting sponsors. We also help them to question underlying assumptions in strategic and financial plans. This is a practical programme and participants leave with a 3-year career plan, which is followed up with a 6 month coaching call.

Clients of our Leadership Summit have seen a significant increase in the number of their female talent promoted to executive roles.

“I have never taken three days out from work before. I always think that I can’t spare the time. By the end of the three days I had all the jigsaw pieces I needed and now I am putting them together. Six months on, the programme is still having a big impact on me.”

Karen Bennett, Senior HR Business Partner, Asda

At a glance

  • 2018 dates

    30 January – 1 February (fully booked)
    13 – 15 March
    24 – 26 April
    1 – 3 May
    12 – 14 June
    2 – 4 October
    9 – 11 October
    20 – 22 November
    27 – 29 November

  • Central London, residential

  • 2018 – £4,950 + VAT (excluding accommodation)

Pre-course work

• Meet with your line manager to discuss your ambitions
• Watch various TED talks including Amy Cuddy’s power poses
• Read your complimentary copy of ‘Team of Rivals’ by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Programme content

  • Set a concrete three year career goal
  • Establish networks
  • Recruit and work effectively with sponsors to mutual benefit
  • Understand personal leadership style and impact on others
  • Contribute to overall company strategy and purpose not just individual department or role
  • Build a consistent personal brand
  • Deliver authentic powerful communication
  • Develop appropriate challenge and understanding of key issues including finance
  • Build confidence and maintain wellbeing

Programme participants

Suitable participants for this programme are therefore women whose employers determine that they are in ‘middle management’ and who believe they have the potential to undertake an executive role. Individual candidates must be open to future promotion even if they do not currently feel fully equipped or confident.

The purpose of this three day programme is to give participants the learning and skills so they can progress into executive and leadership roles as quickly as possible.

Benefits for organisations

  • Better business results with greater gender diversity
  • Increased female retention through better all-round relationships
  • Larger pool of women to select from when compiling short lists for senior roles
  • Rapid promotion with stronger, confident women
  • Improved organisational performance as participants apply insights gained from contributors and peers
  • Increased employer attraction to millennials and Generation Z seeking greater gender diversity
  • Wider pool of female role-models to inspire and sponsor more junior women

Benefits for participants

  • Personalised career plan with check points to review progress
  • Access to high profile role models in an intimate setting
  • Unique mix of rigorous research, practical application and personalised roadmaps
  • Led by women with successful careers bringing their experience of how to overcome the barriers women face
  • Establishment of great network and ongoing support to sustain new behaviours

Women are hindered by receiving less feedback from senior managers so they have to find their way blindfolded and do not get to address issues that may be limiting their promotion (Hewlett 2015)


Margaret McDonagh
Margaret McDonaghCo-Founder
Margaret McDonagh is a dynamic business woman and member of the House of Lords. She read an article by Alice Thompson in 2012 that explained corporate UK had lost 40% of senior female executives in the previous decade and thus co-founded The Pipeline. Its purpose is to increase the number of women at the most senior levels of large organisations.

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Lorna Fitzsimons
Lorna FitzsimonsCEO & Co Founder
Lorna Fitzsimons is currently leading a public-private partnership to bring back textile manufacturing to the UK. As previous CEO to the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM) Lorna turned this organisation from near collapse into an internationally renowned centre of excellence.

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Sue O'Brien
Sue O'BrienNED
Sue joined Ridgeway Partners as a partner in 2015 to lead the Retail and HR practice and work with the Board practice team. Previously Chief Executive and a board member of a listed search firm, she has over 17 years as a practitioner in board advisory services.

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Susan Kay
Susan KayLeadership Summit Programme Director
Susan has a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology, Masters’ degree in Business and a Masters’ degree in Consulting and Coaching for Change from INSEAD. Her thesis ‘Wilful blindness – narcissist’s at work’ looked at how personality disorders manifest themselves in the Executive suite.

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