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Cambridge Advanced Leadership Programme


This three-week general management and leadership programme gives seasoned general managers and senior executives the opportunity to step back from their professional and personal lives and dedicate time to themselves in a learning environment second to none. Aside from refreshing their thinking and fine-tuning their leadership agenda, participants will benefit from discussions and exchange with top Faculty members and outstanding speakers from Cambridge Judge Business School and the University of Cambridge, as well as from other top business schools.

"Successful leaders see beyond operational issues to recognise fundamental forces that are relentlessly transforming our world and to consider how to respond strategically. But the 'tyranny of the in-box' is so often our enemy is separating the important from what seems to be urgent.

We seldom have the chance to step back and recognise the gradual, but relentless trends that are shaping our future until they explode in crisis. Opportunities are missed because they creep up on us unawares.

That's why the Cambridge ALP is specifically designed to look beyond the traditional tools and functional disciplines and equip a select group of senior managers with the ideas and capabilities to look at drivers of global business success in a new light. It's about challenging conventional wisdom and finding innovative ways to turn perceived constraints into opportunities for new sorts of competitive advantage. If it's a standard management programme or an mini-MBA you are after, I'm afraid the Cambridge ALP is not for you."

Professor Peter Williamson, Academic Programme Director of the ALP

Innovative and leading edge

All Cambridge Advanced Leadership Programme participants are given access to a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), providing exclusive access to important programme materials. Providing programme materials in this format significantly reduces the amount of paper printing and handouts, and allows delegates to easily and simply view their programme material in the most up-to-date, electronic format.

Programme structure

Three major themes span the programme, helping to weave the discussion and debate into a coherent fabric on which participants can chart their next moves. Please click on the "show more" links below to expand the content around each programme theme:

Making sense of turbulent times

The "straight-line" projections on which so many plans are still based have never looked so inadequate. The reverberations of the worst financial crisis since 1929 continue to re-shape economies around the world; when Jim O'Neill of Goldman Sachs coined the "BRICs" in 2003 he seemed radical, but by 2011 China's GDP grew to twice the size he predicted to become the world's second largest economy; few saw the political change being played out in the "Arab Spring" or the fact that the rising middle class in Asia, Russia and South America would bring about such rapid and profound social and political change; to name just some of the seismic shifts we can't ignore.

How will you lead your company in this new environment?

Rather than assuming "more of the same" as our baselines, we need new ways of thinking. A powerful starting point on the path to success in the face of this increased volatility and pace of change is to look at the fundamental drivers that underlie it. We propose three: increasingly rapid economic and technological change; globalisation, which has increased inter-dependency and sharpened the divide between those that are world-class competitors and those that are not: an increasingly complex and inter-linked global financial system that has rendered prevailing ideas about risk largely obsolete.

Because the same skills and techniques are unlikely to be effective in dealing with these forces of change, the Cambridge Advanced Leadership Programme is designed to help you make sense of these turbulent times and develop strategies that recognise the new realities.

Our responses also need to be evaluated against what is probably corporate life's most fundamental question of all: 'Who are we running the company for?' Perhaps more than ever, we need to revisit what we mean by the "sustainability" of our organisations against the demands of a broader spectrum of stakeholders and ask how we can create value for all of them. Stakeholders include employees, customers, investors, suppliers, environmental and climate change groups, NGOs and other authorities. The Cambridge Advanced Leadership Programme will examine how you can best manage this broader range of constituents to bolster the sustainability of your organisation in the face of turbulence.

Building organisational and personal capabilities

The relentless march of globalisation and liberalisation in world markets means increasing competition in more and more industries. Only the fittest will survive.

This environment demands leadership - it's not enough to manage an agenda set by competitors. But this kind of leadership is not only measured by market share. The value of incumbency is declining in the face of innovative new players. Today's industry leaders need to re-shape the competitive game and set rules.

Companies may not be able to do this alone. Instead they may need to catalyse the growth of an "ecosystem" of partners around them, bound together by self-interest, complementary investment and shared learning. That means becoming a lead firm in a network rather than building a vertically integrated behemoth.

Being a global competitor, meanwhile, no longer just means projecting your home-country formula abroad. Global leaders must now understand specific local needs and know how to successfully confront local opponents. The global competitive playing field may be getting "flatter", but local cultures and differences are, in anything, being reinforced as people look to re-establish their identities and sense of belonging.

The rapid pace of change is also increasing technological and market obsolescence. In order to grab new opportunities for business development, innovation is key.

The Cambridge Advanced Leadership Programme will get you started on thinking about how new scientific developments, for example biotechnology, additive manufacturing, green energy or synthetic life, and new developments in IT might transform your company.

But innovation is about more than new technology. So we will also consider how a company can (and should) innovate throughout the value chain, be it in distribution, operations or customer service. And assess how you ready your company to be an innovator. Innovation starts inside - it begins with the collective mindset, people ready to tackle and take on new opportunities. Opportunities do not just exist, they need to be created. They are events which you can see before others, or that you make sense of better than others. Opportunities to innovate also come from analysing business failures - as said by Konesuke Matshushita, 'failure is the tuition for learning the business'.

Cambridge is the perfect location to think about these issues.

Few places are better placed to help your re-assess the role of innovation in your organisation than Cambridge, with its Nobel Prize academics and its successes in electronics and pharmaceuticals. 

  • What kind of innovation should I be targeting?
  • How do we sustain a creative environment that encourages innovation?
  • How do we manage change?
  • Who are our partners?

These issues (and others) will be debated with successful local executives.

Leading into the future

Leadership should be viewed not only at the industry level, but also internally. To bring about change, it is essential to set clear objectives and mobilise commitment around them. It is therefore essential to encourage entrepreneurship and considered risk taking. Vested interests and inertia need to be challenged, new options created and experiments launched.

There are many styles of leadership - some leaders are charismatic, others not; some foster decentralisation, others are more in control. There is no doubt that Steve Jobs was a great leader, as was Jack Welch or Nelson Mandela. When deciding how to change the organisation you lead, you first have to consider the practical steps to take to change yourself.

The Cambridge Advanced Leadership Programme will encourage you to examine your personal management style. Is it still suited to the organisation and the changing environment? How might it need to change?

Among our discussions during the programme about what it takes to move from strategy to action, two key aspects will be given particular attention. Firstly, employee motivation. In the current economic climate employees need motivating if they are to fulfil the company's objectives. In the current economic climate, the stock options that were so often used to motivate and reward organisation members have lost their value. We need to find innovative ways of providing people with acceptable alternative incentives that will benefit both them and the company. How will you reward your high achievers? Can you provide them with sufficient motivation to sustain them through this challenging period? And for the next 10 years of their careers? What non-monetary incentives can your company offer? Do your people have voice, opportunities for personal and professional development, or the chance to participate in community-related initiatives?

Secondly, reporting systems. Most information and reporting systems were established in a different business period. They identified, measured and controlled objectives that often became obsolete. Globalisation and strategic change require new information and reporting tools.

Over the three-week period these themes are explored through a number of core sessions that address specific issues related to them. These sessions include - but will not always be limited to:

  • Ecosystem advantage
  • India - innovation and technology
  • Managing the unforeseen
  • Managing the media
  • The global economic environment
  • Management of people
  • International finance
  • Globalisation of service businesses
  • China, including business and government relations
  • Global supply chain
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Fostering and guiding innovation
  • Global leadership
  • Globalisation
  • Innovation - the Cambridge way
  • Corporate governance
  • Leading growth through M&A
  • Network and power dynamics
  • High performance teams
  • Leadership, hierarchies and teams
  • Sustainability
  • A day and a half of group and individual coaching

Occasional additional sessions may be added.

Find out more

For further information and an in-depth discussion about the programme please feel free to contact Allison Wheeler-Héau, Director of the Cambridge ALP. She would be delighted to speak to you, and help you decide whether this programme is the right choice for you and your professional development.

You may also wish to request the Cambridge Advanced Leadership Programme brochure via our online form.


For the individual who participates:

  • A refreshed leadership mindset - the red line throughout the three weeks is leadership and the challenges and opportunities which incur for today's senior executives
  • 'Time out' - it is not often that busy senior managers have space just for themselves, without the demands from the office and family. They are constantly running, and seldom take the time to take breath and pause. The Cambridge ALP helps people step back and take stock of their professional and personal lives. It enables senior executives the opportunity to refresh their thinking and recharge their batteries in a restful academic environment free from the distractions of a buzzing big city.
  • Immersion in the unique academic environment of Cambridge. This is the city of study. The walls around each and every room breathe and permeate learning and knowledge. Inspired academics are at arm's reach, and the ALP will give executives time to meet and enjoy these individuals. How can one not be inspired to learn in this environment?
  • Exchange and debate with senior Cambridge Judge Business School and Cambridge University Faculty who are world-renowned. They will bring thought-provoking views to the classroom. Participants will be encouraged to think outside the box and will be confronted with challenging and stimulating perspectives. The programme benefits enormously from a multidisciplinary approach to learning.
  • Networking - with other senior executives individually selected for admission. The time spent together is long enough (yet shorter than many other advanced management programmes) to help people make friends and colleagues for life, a group who can call on each other long after the programme. On completing the Cambridge Advanced Leadership Programme you will be eligible to become an associate member of Cambridge Judge Business School's global network of graduates and business-focused University of Cambridge alumni, faculty and staff.
  • An international perspective - participants and faculty come from all over the world. In the last session of the ALP, 14 nationalities were represented in the class.

For their organisation:

  • Changed executives who come back after the three weeks ready to make a difference; agents of change within the organisation who can cascade their learning to their team and colleagues
  • Refreshed executives with newly-charged batteries and new aspirations
  • Executives with increased self-confidence, better fit to assume leadership responsibilities
  • Well-networked executives for enhanced business opportunities internationally

Who should attend

An ALP is only as good as the quality of its own participants. Selection for the Cambridge ALP is therefore taken very seriously, and a stringent process ensures the group of people selected is homogeneous in their objectives and experience. Each prospective candidate should complete an application form available on these webpages. A phone meeting will be set up between the Director of the ALP and each applicant. A decision on each application will be made within one week. Typical participants will be:

  • Managing directors and heads of business units. With at least two years' experience in this position and P&L responsibility, they will make up the majority of the group. They can be working within small, medium and large organisations in the public or private sector. We welcome executives from the non-profit sector.
  • Heads of corporate functions - contributors to the strategy of the organisation.
  • Individuals who have made a difference - they may be entrepreneurs, academics or individual contributors. They should be outstanding in their area and bring a different viewpoint to the group.




Faculty & speakers

This list represents some key contributors to the ALP; however, it is not exhaustive. Senior practitioners from business are also invited as guest speakers.

Peter Williamson

Honorary Professor of International Management
PhD (Harvard University)

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Professor Peter Williamson is the academic Programme Director of the Cambridge ALP. Peter brings together his team of faculty and contributors to the ALP. This team knows each other and what each other are teaching very well.

Dame Sandra Dawson DBE

Fellow in Management
MA (University of Cambridge)

Watch a video interview with Sandra

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Fabrizio Castellucci

Professor of Operations and Human Resources Management, SDA Bocconi School of Management
PhD (Graduate School of Business, Stanford University)

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Mark de Rond

Professor of Organisational Ethnography
DPhil (University of Oxford)

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Sir Richard Dearlove KCMG OBE

Master of Pembroke College and Former Head of MI6
MA (University of Cambridge)

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Lord Eatwell

Fellow in Financial Policy
PhD (Harvard University)

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Jonathan Haslam CBE

Former Director of Communications, Prime Minister's Office at 10 Downing Street

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Hermann Hauser CBE

Serial Entrepreneur and Co-Founder, Amadeus Capital Partners
PhD (University of Cambridge)

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Dame Patricia Hodgson DBE

Deputy Chair, Ofcom
MA (University of Cambridge)

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Stylianos Kavadias

Margaret Thatcher Professor of Enterprise Studies in Innovation & Growth

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Jaideep Prabhu

Jawaharlal Nehru Professor of Indian Business & Enterprise
PhD (University of Southern California)

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Simon Taylor

Senior Faculty in Management Practice (Finance)
PhD (University of London)

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Lord Wilson of Dinton

Master of Emmanuel College
LLM (University of Cambridge)

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David Yates

Warden of Robinson College
MA (University of Cambridge)

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Coaching faculty

A team of highly experienced executive coaches will work with participants individually and in a group context.

Dates & fees

Dates Duration Fees *
4-23 June 2017 (Opening session on Sun eve) 3 weeks** £18,000 + VAT
5-24 November 2017 (Opening session on Sun eve) 3 weeks** £18,000 + VAT

VAT is charged at the prevailing rate - where applicable - which is currently 20%; e.g. £18,000 + 20% = £21,600.

* Fees include all programme materials, daytime refreshments and some evening meals, accommodation in the centre of Cambridge, some Cambridge-based activities and a gala dinner in a historic Cambridge College. Participants are expected to attend the full programme. Please note prices pre-registration are subject to change.

** 19 nights' accommodation.

Preferential rates may be available for groups, University of Cambridge alumni and members of the School's Alumni Association.

Benefit from our early payment discount

If full payment is received at least 60 days before the programme start date, there will be a 10% discount on the tuition fee, subject to the applicant being accepted on the programme.

For information regarding payment terms, cancellation rights, transfer policies and fees, please see our terms & conditions documents:

Terms & Conditions for Self-funded Applicants (pdf, 226KB) (updated 27 October 2015)
Terms & Conditions for Organisation-funded Applicants (pdf, 243KB) (updated 27 October 2015)

Version 2 (8 January 2016)


Since the programme is highly subscribed, we would encourage you to reserve a place. This means that we will hold your place until you have had the time to complete the application form.

Selection for the Cambridge ALP is taken very seriously, and we ask prospective participants to complete the application form. A decision on each application will be made within one week.

Apply for a place

This programme is supported by our Virtual Learning Environment and requires a minimum of either Internet Explorer 7 or Firefox 3. Other browsers are compatible but prior testing must be undertaken.

Learn more about the average ALP class and participant.

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Cambridge alumnus Constantine Goulimis says three weeks on the Cambridge Advanced Leadership programme changed his life.

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The ALP took me away from the day-to-day business to consider the much bigger picture. The bond that you build with other senior professionals through the three weeks is something I'll never forget. The quality of the lectures and discussions far exceeded my expectations and previous learning experiences.
Kevin Banthorpe, Senior Development Manager, Sepura
I must say I personally gained ‎new insight and enhanced spatial concepts over the period spent on the ALP. This no doubt has translated to improved client negotiations and staff management for my company, and personal success (being appointed General Manager Rig Operations in a new company structure).
GM Rig Operations, ‎Oando Energy Services, Nigeria