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Leadership Academy advocate: Yogita Popat

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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?


Yogita Popat

Current role

Head of Organisational Insight and Intelligence in the London Borough of Barnet.

Which Leadership academy programme did you join?

I have been lucky enough to attend two programmes this year [2021]; Top Talent (which was virtual), and Empowering Women (which was face-to-face).

I realised that virtual programmes don’t work for me as I get too distracted with emails. So face-to-face it is every time!

What were your initial thoughts about participating?

Both programmes had been booked prior to the pandemic and I suppose as they got closer, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I think I thought they were going to be the same old management programmes providing you with a lot of theory and not a lot of space to do.

I transferred the Empowering Women programme to later in the year so that I could do it physically. I had been told it was more powerful in a room, and I am so glad I did that.

What were your first impressions?

On both programmes I was surprised at how unstructured the agenda was; that the coach/facilitator was able to read the room to tailor the programme for us and what we needed or wanted to discuss further/shorter. Yes, there was a guide of what you’d be covering but it wasn’t regimental in that there was set times for each section.

Both Aidan and Jen were amazing coaches/facilitators and really inspired all of us.

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

For me, there were two powerful elements that were mirrored across both programmes;

  1. The camaraderie between the participants and how that continues outside of the ‘classroom’, and
  2. How important the ‘softer’ skills of management are and how they may have even overtaken the historical management skills.

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

That being the authentic me is the most powerful thing I can bring to the room. And that I’d be doing a disservice to myself and my teams if I try to be anything other than who I am.

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

I think for me I’ve stopped trying to fit, what I thought, was the mould people want you to be in. Going on the Empowering Women course made me realise I AM an authentic leader. Before going on the programme, I was worried that my passion and enthusiasm were in some way working against me professionally. But I now realise that they aren’t.

I’ve also bought and started reading about Ikigai – one of the readings which were suggested on the Empowering Women programme. I’m looking forward to learning about the art of a long and happy life ????

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

Other than meeting some amazing people, I enjoyed just having some time out to think and reflect. I’d definitely recommend a physical programme over a virtual one, so that you have time to make real connections and space for you.

There are some great programmes. And if the two that I have been on are any indication I don’t think you would go wrong on anything you pick.

My one word of advice would be; go in with an open mind and enjoy!

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.