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Programme: Vital Few

Jeremy Fennell

Carphone Warehouse, Managing Director

"It has been intense. It’s been brilliant though and I’ve got an awful lot out of it with tonnes to think about. For me, it’s been a good mixture of the academic side of leadership and being a CEO and a lot of the theoretical stuff behind it.

But the bit that I’ve enjoyed the most is the vocational side, listening to people’s experiences. Listening to people that have been there and done it; hearing their stories, good and bad; hearing their examples and having a laugh about it, that’s the bit that I really take on board and use to help me in my thinking about what I’m going to do next. So that’s been it for me. I really like it when I’m hearing about Chapel Down Wines and hearing about people that have been in business and made decisions.

Real examples really resonate with me and that’s how I learn best so they are the sessions that I’ve enjoyed the most, definitely."

Programme: Vital Few

Andrew Walker


"Seeing such a variety of subjects covered in such great depth.

I didn’t think that being a CEO was as difficult as it is, and today it was quite pleasing to see all the other people bring it to life. I really enjoyed listening to all the different speakers from different levels, from big companies to small companies. It was amazing and there’s so much to think about now, I’m a bit frightened right now!"

If you were to say there’s one thing that you’ll go away and do differently now, what would it be?

"It’s to articulate the culture and the vision and the ‘what’s the business about’ so that people know why they come to work. I’ve been thinking about it for a while but having listened to Craig Donaldson today, I know I’ve just got to do it. I’ve got to get people engaged to start affecting the culture positively."

Programme: Vital Few

Kirsten Lord

PhysioMedics Limited, CEO

"My goodness there are so many highlights!

There was such a tremendous calibre of speaker and I think learning a lot of the stories that they had to tell put a lot of things that were taught into perspective - it was really exciting.

Also to hear how, practically, things could change in a business because of small innovations and small things was wonderful.

I particularly enjoyed the case studies as well, because that actually meant that you not only learnt new things and theory, but you could actually see how they would work in practice.

It was a fantastic event. It’s not only the calibre of the speakers but it’s the people that you’re actually doing this with as well that also brought a lot of value to the whole event.

I know that having people that you can actually ring up and talk to who might be in similar situations has always helped me in the past and it’s great having a whole new bunch of friends to do that with."

Programme: Vital Few

Martin Smith

Royal Marines, Former Serving Officer

"For someone like me, who has just left the armed forces, it’s been about understanding the differences between the way we operate in the forces and the way a business operates. I have to say, it’s confirmed for me that in many ways we do the same things. We use slightly different language to describe them – so learning the language has been really important for me.

Meeting the practitioners, meeting people who are out there doing it now at a very high level – there are some very impressive delegates on this event.
I feel like I’ve got an awful lot out of it.

It’s all about the people. The technicalities are important, knowing your business is important, but in the end, leadership is about people and that’s what you need to focus on."

Programme: Runway

In-house all-female programme

Standard Life Aberdeen

"This is the first time we've run an in-house all-female programme. It was very much an experiment - how's it going to go? - but it appears to have gone incredibly well and I'm just delighted with the response of the participants and their willingness to share and to get involved" - Kerry Christie, Chief People Officer, Standard Life Aberdeen

"Runway really focuses on the individual and their development and really thinking about what kind of career you want - what are you trying to achieve with your life? - and taking the time out and stepping back to really think about it" - June Boyle, Programme Director, School for CEOs

"It's been a really exciting day. It's fantastic to be in a group of women from two heritage businesses - some of us have known each other, some of us haven't - with a common agenda to try and work out how we can better ourselves for the ultimate aim to improve and grow the business" - Amanda Young, Head of Responsible Investment, Standard Life Aberdeen

"I thought the networking last night was great. It was excellent to see a lot of our executive members come along. It was really good to hear their perspectives" - Caroline Gibson, Head of HR - Investments, Standard Life Aberdeen

"This evening has been fabulous actually. It's great to get so many people together and hear their views and perspectives and challenges that they are going through. I've learnt a lot listening to the women who have been in the room in terms of the challenges that they face so it would be great to be able to support them in what they are trying to do" - Jonathan Kennedy, Director - Investments Technology, Standard Life Aberdeen

"My role tonight was really to liaise with participants, to share my experiences, to talk with them about their hopes and their aspirations and to understand a little bit more about the programme. I'm also here to work out what I can do as a leader to really support the development of women in our organisation and how we can promote talent generally" - Mike Tumilty, Director of Operations, Standard Life Aberdeen

"There are a number of things that I think makes Runway unique; one is the Dimensions model, which is a really well thought through model and yet beautifully simple; the second is the peer to peer support and coaching that delegates give each other, and the third thing is the opportunity to really build some comprehensive networks, whether it's internally or externally with other organisations" - David Sole, Managing Partner, School for CEOs

"This has really solidified for me the need to be determined and deliberate about what I want to do. I think the company is trying to be more open and honest about talent development and succession, and it's really made me think about being more open and honest back to the company and being really clear about what I want" - Claire Marshall, Global Head of Product Evaluation & Fund Governance, Standard Life Aberdeen

"There's an African proverb which says the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is now. So you're never too late to start this and, for a combination of reasons, there is more openness to this agenda. There's also a need and some of that need comes from when you go through major changes such as these and you become aware of your need for talent and to grow the talent" - Suzanne Lamont, Global Head of Leadership and Talent, Standard Life Aberdeen

"It's been a brave step, because in the midst of integration, to actually continue to think about developing leaders is a fantastic thing to be doing" - June Boyle, Programme Director, School for CEOs

"I think there's always a risk when you do something for the first time. But I have to say the engagement, the conversations, the energy has been absolutely first class. We couldn't have asked for a better programme, more engagement or more really high quality conversations taking place in the room, so we're delighted" - David Sole, Managing Partner, School for CEOs.

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Programme: Runway

Dahlia Basar

Google, Strategic Partner Manager

The Runway course was excellent and I feel privileged to have been a part of it. I have come away having met an incredible group of talented individuals, all of whom added to the course in some shape or form.

I was initially weary and apprehensive and did not know what to expect but I was soon pleasantly surprised. The

course was organised with meticulous detail and it catered for a spectrum of talent. Runway puts together a considered curriculum where you are challenged with self introspection as well as peer coaching.

The pace of the course constantly changed and the day was split up into several parts which include external speakers who have a wealth of knowledge within industry.

David is very approachable, thoughtful and measured which sets the tone for the entire day and puts you in an authentic environment.

I came away from the course with three key takeaways; to better define my purpose, how I can manage in, up and down better in my daily role and what I need to better extend and grow my external networks.

Google gave us a lot of excellent training throughout the years however this external course was one of the best I have attended in recent years!

Thanks so much School for CEOs!

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Programme: Runway

Steve Othen

Recruitment & Employment Confederation, Head of HR & Projects

I found the Runway Programme hugely beneficial, both from what I gleaned from the day to the ongoing connections I have added to my network. The programme provides a safe place in which you can discuss your business and personal challenges with like-minded individuals from a range of sectors and backgrounds. The shared thinking, learning and challenging provided an extremely useful output.

The expertise of the speakers from with School for CEOs was great and the external guests really added to the session – an example of this was that we were joined at dinner by Sir David Reid who gave us some real insight into his career journey to date and some pointers too.

The Dimensions model provides a simple to understand, yet effective way of managing your everyday and long-term interactions with colleagues and stakeholders. I left the day wanting more and am looking forward to getting stuck in to the follow up coaching session to hone my personal action plan.

I would really recommend the programme to anyone looking at the next step of their career, even if you haven’t decided what that is yet. Some of these activities fill your mind with theory and unrealistic goals, but I left the Runway programme with some real practical actions to take away and a widened network to lean on if and when needed. I am looking forward to engaging further and adding to my network at the up and coming alumni events.