People make places. Do not miss President's Conference 2024 in Birmingham. Register now.

Leadership Academy advocate: Alexandra Murphy

Leadership Advocate - Adam Simmonds

A Q&A where graduates share their experiences of Leadership Academy training. What has it added to their life, both personally and professionally?


Alexandra Murphy

Current role

Marketing and Communications Assistant at Socitm

Which Leadership academy programme did you join?

Empowering Women (Birmingham 2021)

What were your initial thoughts about participating?

I was keen to give it a go. Ever since joining Socitm I’d heard colleagues talking about Empowering Women. Yes, it was something we were encouraged to take part in. But it was also talked about in somehow, hushed reverential tones! It was intriguing. No-one really described exactly what happened on the programme, they just nodded and said that you only really get it by doing it. Now, it seemed magical.

What were your first impressions?

The training in Birmingham at the end of 2021 was the first in-person programme since the lockdowns. So being out of my house and my county was really pushing that comfort bubble of clinging to the super familiar and super local that Covid-19 imposed on us all.

I had initial intentions of “just observing”. But that was not going to work. Straightaway one of the women on my table picked up on the language I used to describe my job: “just part-time”. Even 14 months on, that has stayed with me. My hours might have been part time, but nothing else was. I changed my email signature and and LinkedIn profile when I got back from Birmingham. I know this seems a small, even slight thing to mention. But it was one of those perspective shifts that made me start to think a little differently about myself.

What were the most powerful elements of the programme for you?

Having the space (and freedom) to ponder the questions we were being asked. I took my laptop with me, thinking that it would ideal to catch-up or get ahead of things. But I didn’t open it. Instead I enjoyed the quiet time and thinking time.

Everyone in the room was so open and accepting. In one of the conversations it became clear that women were changing who they were, or just not fully expressing their enthusiasm or passion, in order to “fit in”. I wondered if men do the same thing.

I was also surprised by my answers to the values exercise. How highly I valued beauty was something I don’t think I’d consciously acknowledged. I was apprehensive to say it aloud, but it is true! I find beauty in so many things.

After graduation, what were the key things you took away with you?

On the train home, I had a little revelation about my own career and working life. That realisation remains a work in progress but that moment of clarity was only possible, I’m sure, because of the space and time I had in Birmingham.

The phrase “sharpen your saw” is also still in my mind. And it’s something I really try to do.

How did you apply these professionally and what are the direct benefits?

It’s made me much more open to challenging myself and taking responsibility for my professional self. I’m reading more about marketing and communications now than I have for years. It’s been re-energising.

What would you say to anyone thinking about joining the programme you enjoyed?

Just do it! I have a much better idea of why everyone was unable to describe it. And unlike any other training, you need to bring yourself to the Empowering Women programme, and be ready to look at your assumptions. It’s not necessarily about learning a skill, like picking up some HTML. It’s learning about yourself.

Read more about the Empowering Women and Top Talent programmes. Places are subject to availability and membership level. Check with our Leadership Academy Manager for all  the information you need.