Birmingham's Professional NetworkJoin Today

Celebrating the Future of Leadership

News Categories: futureleaders

More than 80 professionals attended a dinner to celebrate graduates from BPS Birmingham Future’s second Leadership Development Programme.

Held in partnership with Aston Business School, the programme saw 28 participants develop core leadership skills during a series of monthly evening workshops on a range of topics.

The participants were presented with their certificates by Mark Smith, Executive Director of Business Engagement, at Aston University, at the event on Thursday 26 July at Conference Aston.

Commenting on the evening, Mark Smith said: “It’s been great to celebrate the success of this initiative between Aston University and BPS Future, which is a very important relationship.

“Aston University’s ethos has always been to work with business. Long may this continue and flourish with BPS Birmingham.

“The graduates here tonight all have high-pressured jobs, and I’m sure there were some days when they could have stayed working, or could have gone home to relax with loved ones.

“But instead they did this programme, showing enthusiasm to develop their skills. And so tonight was about rewarding their dedication, with an enjoyable evening of food and entertainment alongside their peers, colleagues and new found friends.”

Victoria Ball, Chair of BPS Birmingham Future and Senior Associate at Trowers & Hamlins, who was one of the programme’s graduates in 2017, addressed the dinner audience.  She said: “Your leadership journey is a constant and evolving one, with new lessons learned all of the time.

“This programme is not something you should walk away from thinking “great – box ticked – I am a qualified leader now”; this is something you should walk away from thinking “right: that was awesome, what is the next step I should take in my leadership journey?” And that “what next” will look different for everyone.”

Victoria encouraged the cohort to reflect, take stock regularly and carve their own path.

The evening included a wine and canapes reception in the Courtyard followed by a three course dinner with speeches, it also raised awareness of local charity LoveBrum.

Dr Keith Schofield, Executive and Apprenticeship MBA Programme Director at Aston University, was one of the keynote speakers. He said: “The BPS Birmingham Future Leadership Development programme is a great initiative which is helping to foster a culture of excellence in tomorrow’s leaders in the West Midlands.

“Here at Aston Business School we’re proud to be a patron of BPS Birmingham as the work echoes a lot of what we stand for.

“We are committed to enhancing leadership practice through working with local and international businesses, developing leading research, and using it to inform our excellent teaching, which we showcase on the BPS programme.”

Sharing his lessons and advice for good leadership, Keith said: “There isn’t a right way to do things; the best leaders know this and have the tools and resources to take an evidence based approach to problem solve.

“Our workforce are increasingly diverse; we can only maximise the potential in our organisation if we allow people the space to grow and develop.

“And finally, change is the only constant; ever more so as political and economic shifts shape our organisations we can only get used to managing more and more difference.”

The evening’s second keynote was delivered by Kiran Trehan, Professor of Leadership and Enterprise Development   Director of External Engagement at Birmingham University, and the Research Lead for the West Midlands Combined Authority Leadership Commission.

Kiran made a passionate case on the importance of leadership diversity; sharing the research from the work of the Leadership Commission she argued that there was now an economic and business imperative for greater leadership inclusivity in addition to the clear social imperative.

 Reflecting on the research she highlighted the profound negative impact a lack of diverse leadership has on the prosperity of the West Midlands and wider region and therefore on the population as a whole. She made a compelling case which highlighted that organisations with diverse leadership perform better. Kiran went on to raise some innovative and thought provoking issues as she addressed three key questions;


  • How do we make inclusive Leadership Everyone’s Business?
  • Are we developing Irresponsible leaders?
  • Can academics, business, public services, small firms,  practitioners and the policy community play  a collective role in putting knowledge to work; in effect making  inclusive leadership  everybody’s business to create sustainable impact.


Kiran invited the audience to collectively imagine what leadership diversity looks and feels like in their organisations, what role they would play as future leaders in helping transforming leadership practice.

She highlighted that leadership was also an emotional endeavour and she hoped that as future leaders they would be passionate, persuasive and persistent because we need Inclusive leadership to drive inclusive growth. Diversity is important not just for the individuals affected but for the health of business itself.

Beth Sadler of Aston Business School, who is also a committee member at BPS Birmingham Future, is the lead organiser of the programme and celebratory dinner.

Compering the evening, she said: “Congratulations to all of the participants. All 28 of you, who enthusiastically committed to monthly evening workshops since September last year.

“I am incredibly proud of what you have all achieved in the past 11 months alongside completing the programme; to securing job promotions or taking one new challenges with new employers, a couple even moved cities, and many of you embarked on new voluntary roles.  And equally, you have proved a new confidence in the language, thinking, behaviour and mind-set of good leadership.

“In gaining all of this, not only do you make me, your peers, colleagues and family very proud. But you also act as a great role model to the wider young professional network in the region. That to be a good leader, takes on-going development, commitment and investment.

“There is no manual. But with the right tool-kit you can confidently build great things.

“On behalf of Aston Business School I would like to say thank you to all those involved.”

The cohort were keen to thank Beth for her hard work in co-ordinating the programme and for keeping the participants motivated with her positive attitude and presented her with flowers and champagne as a token of their gratitude.

Victoria closed the evening’s formal proceedings, by announcing the Overall Star Student Award, which was presented to James Neale, Associate at DWF LLP, winning a meal for two at Maribel Restaurant in Brindley Place, Birmingham.

Prizes were also given to highly commended participants Hannah Green, Client Services Executive at Urban Communications and Kristiana Briede, Digital Project Manager at Jask Creative.

Victoria added: “To all of you who have taken part in the BPS Birmingham Future Leadership Development Programme: thank you and congratulations.”

Natalie King, Account Manager at West Midlands Growth Company, was one of the graduates. Talking about her experience during the evening’s wine reception, she said: “The programmes covered quite a broad range of subject areas, and yet every single module has been fully relevant to my role and current stage in my career.

“The course content has been very easily applicable to the workplace, and I have benefited from some really engaging and insightful speakers.

“Anyone looking to progress in a management-level role or develop their leadership skills should definitely apply.”

Sarah Groves, Senior Communications Executive at Gately Plc, attended to congratulate the graduates. Reflecting on the evening’s keynote speakers, she said: “It has been so motivating to be in a room full of people of all different ages and backgrounds who each have their own experiences and views on leadership and development, but who all equally strive to make the environment they work within better, be it the work place or indeed the wider community, as well as inspiring future potential leaders to be the best they can be.”

During the evening, it was announced that the Leadership Development Programme would continue for a third year from this October for another 20 professionals. Applications are open until Monday 13 August exclusively for Future members.

Photographs of the evening can be viewed here