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Women in Leadership (WIL)

WIL supports women working across practice, industry and public sector who are aiming for senior management, partner or board roles. The programme has a strong personal development focus, and seeks to refine and craft the participant’s individual leadership style.

Why attend?

  • Understand and refine your strengths and how best to use them to support and lead within your organisation.
  • Develop insight into your individual leadership style and it’s impact.
  • Learn to navigate complex leadership issues with leading development experts and mentors.
  • Learn how to thrive within and lead organisational change.
  • Gain access to external perspectives and processes through mentoring and peer networking.
  • Learn about the dimensions of leadership in complex organisations in turbulent times.

Why is the Women in Leadership programme important?

Key details

Location  London
Duration  6 months 
Next start date  24 May 2018
How to book Register your interest to receive an information pack. Spaces are limited. 

Programme overview

Why Women in Leadership?

Building on the ICAEW’s credentials in gender diversity and leadership development, this six-month programme supports the careers of women in finance and business across all industry sectors who are one to three career stages away from a senior leadership or board role.

Working to the theme of personal development as a key tenet of strong leadership, it focuses on inspiring others and developing participants’ strengths considering the impact of these on their teams from a leadership perspective. WIL develops participants’ awareness of organisational cultural environments and how to best operate and lead within them, with the focus on the sharing of external perspectives being one of the differentiators of this programme.

Who should attend?

The programme is aimed at two audiences:

  • senior women, one-two career stages away from a more senior leadership or board role
  • middle-management women aspiring for senior management roles.

Participant numbers are limited to 18 per cohort in order to optimise networking and learning opportunities.

Employer benefits

Against the backdrop of the 2011/12 Davies Report recommendations promoting the advancement of women into senior roles, the need for this type of development has never been greater.

WIL supports an organisation’s inclusive leadership and succession planning goals and will:

  • increase employee motivation, confidence and focus; and
  • help participants act as change agents to improve the results of company initiatives.

Participant benefits

WIL helps participants:

  • understand and refine their strengths and how best to use them to support and lead within their organisation;
  • workshop leadership issues with leading development experts and mentors;
  • develop insight into their leadership style and its impact;
  • gain access to external perspectives and processes;
  • learn about the dimensions of leadership in complex organisations in turbulent times; and
  • learn how to thrive within and lead organisational change.

The Women in Leadership experience

WIL has a strong personal development focus evolving participants unique leadership style through a blend of workshops, peer learning groups and 1:1 mentor sessions. The course is structured to build momentum over the six months, building upon and connecting each of the activities, culminating in an action planning workshop.

WiL programme structure

Strengths development workshop

A workshop designed to help you understand leadership talents, learn about your strengths and craft your personal leadership hallmark.

Leadership and skills workshops

Practically focused skills workshops, led by expert facilitators.

Peer learning groups

Delegates work together in groups of six to share ideas and discuss issues.

Mentoring sessions

1:1 mentoring sessions in which participants receive practical, personalised and confidential guidance and support and access to exclusive mentor’s networks.

Networking events

Optional informal social events take place so as to help delegates make new contacts and build relationships with delegates, tutors, and ICAEW staff (Please note: Additional cost may occur when registering for these events and attendance is subject to demand).

Review and action planning

An action planning session to consolidate your learning and plan your next steps.


Deborah Gill, Director, UCL Medical School

WiL delegate, 2015


"It’s scary to do leadership training. It’s scary to think what people would think of you. Having time away from the workplace where someone cares about you, where a whole load of people care about you, is enormously beneficial. Having time out is good. Having an external perspective is crucial, in career and in life."

Keily Blair, Senior Associate, Morrison & Foerster LLP

WiL Delegate, 2016

Keily Blair

“WiL really is the only leadership programme of its kind. It focuses on what type of leader you are and making you better rather than changing you to suit a different style. The strengths workshop sets the framework for this unique programme and felt tailored to each individual. I've attended a lot of training but nothing compares to WiL.“

Ruth Stevens, Head of UK Procurement, Capital One

WiL delegate, 2016

Ruth Stevens

"It's exceeding my expectations. We're lucky at Capital One as we have a lot of training but this course has been really different. I've been challenged in a different way. The networking with peers in different industries is infinitely valuable. WiL allows the time to build relationships with each other which I hadn't anticipated finding so useful."

Sophie Annett, Director, Shared Service Centres, BT

WiL delegate, 2015

Sophie Annett

"Confirmation that leading on strengths is very powerful. I have always held a strong belief that everyone is good at something and if you can fit those skills to the right role, it's magic for an organisation. Leading through strengths is an extension of that belief – it’s been really good to drive that into practice."

Vikki Wall, Forensic Accountant, Haberman Ilett

WiL attendee, 2015

Vicki Wall.jpg

“I found that the course has been really helpful for me and came at the right time in my career development. The institute’s help, the quality of the mentors and facilitators, and particularly the closeness, honesty and integrity of my particular peer group have all been so valuable to me.”

Mun-Li Boswell, Head of Procurement and Supplier Development, BBC

WiL attendee, 2016

Mun Li Boswell

"The strengths workshop has taught me how to apply my strengths to everyday tasks. Both Gill and Moira are excellent leaders – considered, authoritative, and inclusive. Very good!”

Case studies

“That’s return on your investment.”

Philip Haberman, senior partner of leading forensic accounting firm Haberman Ilett, talks to London Accountant about staff development.


Philip Haberman does not believe in networking. He is more interested in chatting with people. Perhaps a semantic nuance, or maybe it reveals something about the way he approaches others.

Whatever it is, people seem to respond to it. During his time as partner at EY, Philip came to know Frank Ilett, himself a partner at Deloitte. When the pair founded Haberman Ilett in 2013, Philip found himself being approached by former colleagues electing to leave the security and prestige of EY to join him at his start-up. In 18 months the practice has grown from 4 to 40 employees, and shows no signs of slowing.

It is no coincidence then, that Haberman Ilett takes training and development seriously. They are keen to invest in their people. So far they have sponsored three employees to attend ICAEW Academy’s Women in Leadership programme (WIL), which supports women aiming for senior management, partner or board roles, and one employee to take part in DLiP™, their partner development programme.

“ICAEW Academy’s programmes have a real long-term benefit for individuals,” Philip affirms. “The participant meets a group of external peers who see them as a leader, and this helps them to feel like a leader.”

The Haberman Ilett founder believes that in order to be an effective partner, you have to feel like one. “Real self-belief is fundamental to success in a business environment,” he explains. “I need my team to go to their clients and tell them what they need to do with absolute conviction. WIL and DLiP™ build people’s confidence. I’ve seen the difference in employees: they come back from the programme with a belief in themselves, and it resonates with clients.”

WIL’s particular strength, as Philip sees it, is that it focuses on the participant’s assets, seeking to refine and craft their individual leadership style. He adds that its mentoring component is particularly powerful: “It can sometimes be hard to change the views of those who know you. A stranger is more objective, and you start from a position of strength, with no baggage.”

As for DLiP™, Philip declares: “It’s great that ICAEW are supporting small firms. Learning from other people is so valuable; you gain so much insight from other people’s experience.” Nor does the peer-learning end when the programme ends: the relationships formed over the course of this long-term and intensive training tend to be lasting, and continue to bear fruit years later.

When asked what he would say to people who are worried about the cost of these programmes, he replies: “It sends a really positive message to the individual: that they’re worth it. It says ‘We have confidence in you, your judgement counts’. Everyone can see it’s not a box-ticking exercise. It gives them a sense of empowerment and creates a positive atmosphere amongst colleagues.”

Philip concludes: “If you consider the value these programmes bring to the individual and the firm, they pay for themselves. They help people move from one career stage to the next, and getting people ready for leadership secures the future of the firm. That’s return on your investment.”

Women in Leadership mentors

  • Carla Stent Carla Stent NED and Trustee of Christian Aid

    Carla has held a number of senior positions in banking and retail industries. She has had direct responsibility for corporate finance & post-merger integration, strategy, business operations, brand development & management and business transformation. Carla has operated at Board level in several countries for organisations including Virgin, Barclays and the Thomas Cook Group.

  • Jan Babiak Jan Babiak Royal Mail board member

    Jan Babiak spent 28 years with EY before starting her ‘portfolio career’ in January 2010. Her client experience includes serving on some of the firm’s largest and most prestigious clients in financial services, technology, energy, media, transportation, government, retail and other sectors. Jan is board member of Royal Mail and winner of Lifetime Achievement Award by Women in Business & Finance.

  • Moira Siddons Moira Siddons NED and Audit Chair of MGM Insurance

    Moira spent 30 years with PwC, including 13 years as a partner. She spent eight years as a non-executive director and chairman of audit committee of a mutual life assurance company and sits as an independent member on an OFGEM regulated panel. She is a co-founder of Consulting Women bringing strengths based leadership development to women, and is a coach to directors and senior managers.

  • Caroline Hudson Caroline Hudson UK/ROI Finance Director at Specsavers

    Caroline is an FCA with over 20 years’ experience, predominantly in the Retail sector. She joined the Specsavers Group in April 2013, where she is currently the Retail Finance Director and a member of the UK Board. After qualifying with Price Waterhouse and a short spell in the public sector, she held a variety of senior commercial finance and strategy roles at Boots plc/ Alliance Boots where she honed her business partnering and leadership skills as well as growing her experience of developing teams and colleagues. Caroline was also a Trustee of the Boots Charitable Trust, which focuses on community development in Nottinghamshire.

  •  Carol Bagnald Regional Director, HSBC

    Appointed to the role 1 May 2009, Carol has overall responsibility for the commercial business across London. Carol is a Director for South London Business and Chair for Celsius, the exclusive top 100 Corporate Club for CEOs/MDs as well as Vice Chair for West London Business. She recently joined the board of the British Fashion Council. Latterly becoming a member of Cosmetic Executive Women, CEW (UK), the leading organisation for women executives working within the cosmetics industry.

  •  Christine Champion Strategic Leadership specialist

    Christine works with clients ranging from Chief Executives to Senior Leaders and identified Talent, supporting both individual and organisational development. Her specialism is within the area of Strategic Leadership and Transformation applying coaching and facilitation skills to transform the performance of organisations, teams and individuals. She is hailed as a role model for female leaders and supports a range of organisations to design and deliver their women’s leadership programmes.

  •  Gill Avery Change consultant, coach, and mentor

    Following her success as a senior manager in a leading telecom provider and building on her MBA from the London Business School, Gill has been a change consultant, coach, and mentor for the past 18 years. She has co-founded two consultancies which support leader’s growth, through learning from the business challenges they face. Gill has worked with women within the professional services, accountancy and insurance environments; from organisations such as the BBC, BT, PwC, Tawas, and Unipart, as well as many individuals at transition points in their careers.

  •  Jo Bond Coach and mentor

    Jo has coached many individuals and teams across different sectors, functions and organisational levels with wide variety of coaching objectives. She has also helped several organisations to create coaching cultures, training and developing internal coaching teams. Jo’s leadership and management training experience includes working with organisations and their people to achieve high performing teams. Jo joined Savile Group plc in 2008 and held the roles of both Group Chief Operating Officer and Head of Coaching for Cedar Talent Management.

  •  Joan O’Connor Coach and mentor

    Joan is an experienced facilitator, executive and team coach and consultant. She is well experienced in working within global environments, different national and organisational cultures and the challenges these can bring. Working internationally with executive teams has given Joan a strong insight into the dynamics that influence the culture and politics of organisations. As a specific area of interest, and as part of her Masters’ degree Joan researched the implications of cross-cultural differences on employee engagement. She has worked extensively with executive and senior teams in restructuring businesses following merger or strategic change initiatives.

  •  Ruth Morris Coach and mentor

    Ruth has an academic background with a Masters Degree in Management Development, but is academically rigorous without being academic. She brings a practical common sense approach coupled with a breadth of business experience. Ruth is enthusiastic about learning. She has pioneered work with universities and business schools, and is commissioned to write articles and review books for management journals. Her passion is to help people reach their full potential and make the most of their gifts and talents, whatever they are. She works with many senior executives in many different countries and market sectors.

  •  Mike Bishop Regional Chair of the EMEA region for Nexia International

    Mike has over thirty years’ experience of working in the accounting profession both in London and across the UK, including twenty years at partner level in Ernst & Young and Smith & Williamson. In his current role his responsibilities include setting strategic direction, building international relationships and policy execution in a region with over $1bn revenue. He has operated widely at Board level, including a five year role as non-executive director to a major independent manufacturing business.

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