As students we are taught that at the end of the day it is just a desk, a pen and an exam paper which comes between us and our dream job. We learn to work independently. This is the opposite of a working environment, where you are a cog in the wider machinery of the company. University is, indeed, a bubble.
Learning to lead
The reason why I joined the Leadership Academy was to improve my delegation of tasks and self-awareness in group situations. The programme itself runs for a year, and enables students to become their best selves with the help of a personal mentor and a series of workshops and lecture-style talks by inspiring leaders within their respective fields. My mentor is James Johnson, former Banking Partner at Clifford Chance, who has truly supported and boosted my confidence within my journey of becoming a lawyer.
Overall, this experience made me realise that leading is not about being the head of the group. Your skills are not universally applicable and perfect for every challenge you face. The command tasks and the lectures we attended at a weekend with our partners, created a new situation where I had to understand and appreciate the strength and weaknesses of my own and my team’s abilities. Our leader changed with every activity. I bonded with my group, who were the most intelligent and perceptive people I had ever met. I highly recommend the programme to anyone who wishes to not only develop personally but also co-operatively.
Women in Leadership Event
But to use the metaphor of learning to drive a car, the experience so far has been the theory, and the Women in Leadership Panel Event will be the practical exam, for how as a team, we can create and host a real event. On the 9th of March we have an incredible line-up of talented, inspiring and hard- working women who will lead talks throughout the day. There will be a reception at Kenworthy Hall at St Mary’s College, where students will have the opportunity to network and share their experiences with our speakers.
The event will also include a panel discussion and a Q and A where students will be able to gain further insight into their work. The panel of speakers includes Jo Farrell, the first woman to be appointed Chief Constable of Durham Constabulary in its 180 year history and Locardia Chidanyika, founder of Women Today a collaborative network to support, connect and inspire Black African women. I am proud to say that the slogan for this event is #EachForEqual. I believe this is especially important, as everyone, no matter sex, or gender expression, should come together to recognise the powerhouse of women leaders.
Here are a few testimonies from some of the students I have had the opportunity to work with on the project, to celebrate International Women’s Day:
“I believe the Durham University International Women’s Day panel it is a fantastic opportunity to be a part of a crucial discussion regarding equality, one that I feel extremely passionate about as a young woman in 2020. To me, International Women’s Day is about bringing to the forefront the dialogue of equal opportunity and drive collective action across society I would like to celebrate the women around me who have made a positive impact on the lives of those around them.”
“I hope that through having an engaged student body and utilising speakers to the greatest extent possible we could motivate student societies to create charters for gender equality. In order to further empower women to take up leadership roles throughout their time at Durham and create a sense of true gender equality.”
“I hope that the event will be one in which everyone is welcome to attend to discuss, debate and question all manner of topical issues that keep arising around the idea of women in leadership. By aligning itself with this year’s International Women’s Day slogan #EachforEqual, I hope the event will allow students from all over the university to hear from such prominent women.”