Stepping into Comms Leadership – Autumn 2017

Stepping into Comms Leadership
7 December 2017
09.30 - 13.00
A set of three workshops exclusively for heads of department/assistant directors (or equivalent) at organisational members of CharityComms with a turnover of over £5m.

Cost: £450+vat for all three sessions: dates below.

These workshops are now fully booked. Please email to be added to the mailing list for Spring 2018.

Roots and Shoots
Walnut Tree Walk
SE11 6DN

This set of workshops is fully booked (and there’s only one left of the series). We have another series running in the spring though! Please get in touch with Harri if you’d like to book onto the Spring 2018 workshops – there are only a few places left.

A set of three workshops supporting senior comms professionals through the transition from senior management to leadership.

Becoming a visionary leader requires embodying a new set of skills. These workshops will support and inspire senior comms professionals looking to move from senior management to leadership (for example from head of department to director level – and beyond).

As a delegate you will:

  • Hear the experiences of other senior leaders in the sector who have made the transition
  • Create an ongoing supportive network of peers from other charities
  • Gain tools and strategies for success
  • Improve your confidence in your ability to lead.

“Fascinating, honest, thought-provoking. Made me reflect a lot on where I’m going and what I want from work – and what I need to do to progress to the next stage in my career.”

Ian Fannon
deputy director of marketing and communications,
Teenage Cancer Trust

What to expect from the sessions

Each session will focus on an aspect of leadership transition – a key developmental theme which surfaces when one moves from a managerial role into leadership role (outlined below).
In each session:

  • 9.30 – 10.00: network and get to know different members of the group
  • 10.00 – 10.30: a CEO from the charity sector (who has moved up from a comms position) will tell us their personal story of how they tackled the session’s theme in the development of their career as a leader
  • 10.30 – 11.00: Q&A session with the speaker
  • 11.00 – 11.10: Quick comfort break
  • 11.10 – 12.10: facilitated discussion led by Griff Griffiths from Cocomotion. We will explore your reaction to the CEO talk, how different themes relate to your situation, what it means for you in terms of your own development needs and identify new ideas and action for you to take away
  • 12.10 – 13.00: sit-down lunch and informal networking
  • 13.00: session ends

Who the workshops are for:

  • These workshops are exclusive for organisational members of CharityComms
  • This is an application only event for heads of department/assistant directors (or equivalent level) working in charities with a turnover of more than £5 million
  • The cost is £450+vat. The fee covers all three sessions, including lunch and the workshop (workshops cannot be booked as independent sessions)

Full programme:

Wednesday 13 September, 9.30 – 13.00

Speaker: Dr Tom Pey, CEO, The Royal Society for Blind Children (RSBC)
Theme: Using Your Difference

What’s the essence of what you bring and how does that align with the leadership culture of your organisation? Where they don’t align is where you can be usefully different in the leadership team, and can be the area where you fly or fall – or both!

Thursday 2 November, 9.30 – 13.00

Speaker: Jessica Taplin, CEO, V•Inspired
Theme: Riding Several Horses

At any one time there are multiple demands on your time, so how you balance and prioritise your time and ensure delivery through others is key. No single horse is difficult, it’s the complexity of them all together and the interface between them which can be challenging.

Thursday 7 December, 9.30 – 13.00

Speaker: Kay Boycott, CEO, Asthma UK
Theme: Leading from the Self

Your accumulated operational experience can be a solid base from which to lead, and provide a sense of security. How do you move beyond this to lead functions of which you have no operational experience and only a limited understanding? How can you show up as a leader – how can you embody leadership – in a way which draws on who you are as much as on what you know?

“The Stepping into Leadership workshops are really inspiring and motivating. It is very interesting to hear from CEOs who have come from a communications background and how they have overcome challenges. An added bonus of the workshops is building a support network of senior marketing and comms professionals. The workshops have encouraged me to have the confidence to say ‘yes’ and take on projects outside of my comms remit.”

Louise Robertshaw
head of marketing and communications, planning and strategy,
Guide Dogs


Dr Tom Pey, CEO, The Royal Society for Blind Children (RSBC). Tom had a successful career in international investment banking when at 39 he lost his sight, something he calls a “horrendously traumatic” experience. He says: “I learned that I could either be a victim of my sight loss or I could do something with it.” It was this thinking he brought with him when he was appointed chief executive of the Royal Society for Blind Children in 2010, following 11 years at Guide Dogs as director of external affairs. He is revolutionising the charity so that it can reach its goal of helping 22,000 blind and partially sighted children and young people in England and Wales by 2020. Tom is also executive chair of the award winning tech. start-up, which is trail blazing audio based navigation for blind people across the world. He is a long time advocate for the rights of disabled people and a member of the Board of VODG (Voluntary Organisations Disability Group).

Jessica Taplin, CEO, V•Inspired . V•Inspired is the nation’s leading youth social action charity. Jessica has a strong focus on developing innovative multi-platform programmes and digital support services, including the Nesta and Cabinet Office funded Digital Connectors project, which provide support to young people via web chats using remote volunteers, and a Department for Education funded crisis counselling phone service. Previously, Jessica was CEO of Get Connected, the UK telephone helpline for under 25s, successfully leading its merger with Youth Net to create The Mix. Jessica also headed up partnerships and public engagement at The Big Lottery Fund, developing the strategic objectives and leading the implementation of the partnerships and public engagement strand of its UK Portfolio – funding such initiatives as The Big Lunch, Get Set and two multi-episode TV partnerships with both the BBC and Channel 4. In 2014 she won an ACEVO Judge’s Recognition Award for her people centred leadership.

Kay Boycott, CEO, Asthma UK. Kay began her career in commercial roles for Johnson & Johnson, followed by 10 years in strategy consultancy for clients including GlaxoSmithKline, Nestle and Vodafone. She was also a non-executive director and audit chair of NHS Hammersmith & Fulham Primary Care Trust for five years and a trustee of Gingerbread. Kay moved to the charity sector in 2009 as director of campaigns, policy and communications at the housing and homelessness charity Shelter and became chief executive of Asthma UK in October 2013. Kay is a member of the Kings Fund General Advisory Council.


Griff Griffiths, director, Cocomotion. Griff created the award-winning Cocomotion network, which works with individuals, teams and whole organisations to: unpack assumptions, get clarity about what they do, understand what shapes their decision making, expand options, set direction and work better together to move forward.

The sessions are designed as a set of three and will run over a period of six months. Delegates attend all three sessions, get to know the group, and have the opportunity to reflect back with each other and the facilitator about experiences and learnings you have in the time period between sessions.

“It’s been one of the most helpful things career wise I’ve ever done. Talking to charity chief execs with comms backgrounds about how they made their mark was really inspiring and helpful. The time spent chatting to peers about the shared issues we all face was also super useful. I couldn’t recommended it more highly.”

Michelle Saxby
Head of global PR and media,

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