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Why the Leadership Academy made such a difference to me

Sian Owen, from the Isle of Anglesey County Council, joined the Leadership academy in 2019. She is an Empowering women alumna and shares her experience of the programme and its impact.

I’d like to give you a quick insight as to why the Leadership Academy programme that I attended made such a difference to me.

Sian’s background

I’ve worked in local government for the last 38 years – within the same ICT section. During that time, I’ve seen huge changes in technology and I’ve always embraced the constant changes from a work perspective, but personally, I wasn’t embracing the need for change in myself.

As Tony Doyle described at the virtual graduation ceremony in his excellent testimonial to Alison Lincoln (from Blackpool Council), there were cultural challenges that they had to overcome. In all my years of working in the ICT service, I hadn’t had a single line manager or Head of Service that was female…IT, as far as I could see it, was predominantly a male workplace!

Over the years, I’ve progressed a little up the ladder, but when a managerial post was available, I didn’t feel I had the confidence to apply for it.  Our IT managers were all male – they were confident, clever, risk takers – all the things that I didn’t feel I was or could do. I think this is a trait amongst many women in a generally male-orientated environment.  We’re too self-critical – and we need to stop analysing ourselves so deeply. But how do we make that change?

Thinking about challenges and change

What I realised was, if this was the way that I perceived myself, then how did I expect my peers and co-workers to perceive me? I just didn’t know where to start or who to talk to.

Luckily, the opportunity to attend the Empowering women leadership programme arose! I was a little nervous on my first day. Here were much younger ladies than me for a start, and I was in awe of their confidence. Sharing stories of each other’s experiences allowed us to speak up in an environment which was mutually understood, as we all faced the same struggles. As the course progressed, we were breaking down barriers and knew that we were not alone in how we felt. During our discussions with each other we identified so many similarities and the same struggles.  We laughed, and we also cried!

Returning from the programme, I felt more motivated and focussed. Those two days at the Academy had given me a new outlook, a new meaning. During these days, we were asked to think about our values and the barriers (what was holding us back). I came away knowing that I needed to reconnect with myself. I needed to show my co-workers that they could invest in me – I could take risks and challenges.

Since the leadership programme

Since the leadership programme, I have a new-found confidence!  The Leadership academy has helped me to find my inner voice and I have bags more motivation and above all, self-worth and self-esteem.

I stand out within the team now! As Sam said during her speech, I now have opportunities that have opened up for me. I’m involved and have led on a couple of projects – without the academy’s morale booster this would not have been possible.

My co-attendees and I have become a proper little family now!  We have “virtual lunches” where we can just stay connected, and like any other family, provide support or a boost when needed.

I would like to thank Socitm’s Leadership academy for the opportunity to attend the course, and look forward to other opportunities to be more involved with the society.

For more details about any of the Leadership academy programmes please get in touch with us on

Watch the graduation ceremony, featuring Sian’s Newcastle 2019 cohort: