Athena programme

The Athena programme is designed to support women to fulfil their potential as public sector leaders. It has a particular focus on developing the personal, political and strategic awareness they will need to become successful.

Women have a significant contribution to make in leading cultural change in the public sector and driving a model of collaborative and distributed leadership. Our 2013 survey with the HSJ confirmed what we know: that support for leadership development is key to enabling more female leaders to progress.

Who is it for?

You are a woman working at a senior level in your organisation and are passionate about, and committed to, improving your own performance, that of your team and your organisation.

We welcome applicants from any area of the public sector, including the NHS, social services, police and prison services, education, housing services and the civil service, as well as encouraging applications from the voluntary and community sectors.

How will you benefit from this programme?

While the Athena programme focuses on personal development, it also has an important wider purpose – to enhance the leadership capacity of organisations. It will help you to focus on overcoming the barriers – real and perceived – to leading and will enable you to influence at the most senior level and to build networks.

You and your organisation will benefit from:

  • improved personal and organisational performance
  • increased confidence, personal authority and presence
  • a greater awareness of personal impact and effectiveness
  • increased emotional and political literacy
  • a greater range of creative responses to challenging situations
  • increased leadership competence linked to corporate goals.

What will you do on this programme?

Athena has been designed to meet the challenges facing female leaders. It is delivered in four modules over a period of four to six months. You will also be expected to participate in three learning sets (one day each) and two one-to-one coaching sessions (90 minutes each), which will be scheduled between the modules. The programme starts with a residential module that gives you space away from the challenges of the workplace and encourages the group to form a learning community.

The learning style helped me find creative ways to implement change. I now have more confidence to be a visible leader, comfortable with my personal authority and power.


Deputy Governor, Her Majesty's Prison

We take an experiential approach to learning, focusing on participation – you need to be willing to be open and active in group settings and to take risks. You will draw on personal experience, learn from the experience of others and generate knowledge and creativity from the group.

Not what you're looking for?

You may wish to consider our Top Manager programme or our Personal Impact and Influence programme.

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