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Leadership Academy advocate: Irene Docherty

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


Irene Docherty

Current role

Strategic ICT Business Partner at Wiltshire Council

Which Leadership academy programme did you join?

Empowering Women (October 2023 in Manchester). 

What were your initial thoughts about participating?

I was excited, curious, and nervous in equal measures.  The content looked really interesting, and I was looking forward to meeting other women on the programme.  

What were your first impressions?

Everyone was friendly, supportive, and open to sharing their experiences with each other.  The positive energy continued throughout.  I noticed early on that each woman expressed in her own words a desire to make a positive difference in her organisation. 

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

I was able to take time to reflect on my values and biases and to challenge my own thinking.

The realisation that we all shared many views, issues and aspirations was eye-opening. 

The programme also has helped to create a fertile environment within which we can grow the seeds of trust, nurture good working relationships and build a support network going forward.      

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

Finding advocates, support, and role models throughout the different phases of your career are key to success. 

It is also important to be that advocate for other women, as there are still considerable issues to be resolved for women working in technology. 

Positive actions, small and large, will build and sustain the momentum towards improving the current situation.  

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

I have been able to reflect on my own practices and beliefs and realised that I needed to be kinder to myself.  Self-care and time to reflect is essential to building resilience. 

Opening up opportunities for others and building a positive future depends upon having the resilience to deal with the challenges of an ever-changing world.  It also spurred me to reflect on my own self-worth (to the positive) and contributions to my organisation. 

Within Wiltshire Council I am working with my colleagues on the ICT senior management team to set up a multi-year programme to improve diversity within our sector.  We will be sending women on the Empowerment programme and providing additional coaching and mentoring to them.  The aspiration is for each woman in turn to support two other women. 

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

I wouldn’t hesitate to encourage any woman in the public sector of any age or stage in their career to join this programme – and for male colleagues to support them – as everyone will benefit from this. 

You will learn so much about yourself and meet some truly amazing women. So, bee positive, bee brave and bee bold

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.