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Cambridge Rising Women Leaders Programme


The challenge

Research shows that diversity in senior leadership encourages innovation, improves decision-making, reduces corporate misconduct and improves financial returns. Despite this fact, gender diversity is still a worldwide challenge at both an organisational and an individual level.  

Whilst we have witnessed great strides in achieving gender balance in the workplace, the progress is slow and there are still systemic barriers in place for women looking to achieve more senior leadership roles. 

The average percentage of women on boards of the 1,000 largest global companies is 16.8 per cent. The percentage of women in executive positions is even lower, standing at 11.7 per cent.

Even in progressive market places like the UK, the challenge is significant. Women on average earn 18 per cent less than men, and women managers are 40 per cent less likely to be promoted than male managers. 

The future is bright

Despite the significant challenges, we believe positive progress is being made, with the number of female executives globally set to rise by 36 per cent. We believe that supporting and nurturing a growing pool of talented female professionals is a crucial step in achieving greater diversity and it is what drives our work at Cambridge Judge Business School. We believe that a lot can be achieved by taking a collaborative and positive approaching to understanding and empowering female leadership. 

Global context, personal growth

To address the global challenge of gender diversity we need to keep focused on the big picture whilst making a commitment to individual growth. We strongly believe that women need to proactively prepare themselves for the opportunities and challenges of executive positions through building confidence, personal power and leadership skills. We take a strengths-based perspective, looking at the positives of female power and encouraging authentic leadership styles that serve both the individual and the organisation.

Our two day, research-based open enrolment programme has been designed specifically for high potential women in junior and mid-level managerial positions aspiring to reach the top. Our academics and industry partners provide the context of a shifting global marketplace whilst helping you to identify and develop your own personal leadership style. 

This research and evidence-based programme takes place in the historic city of Cambridge, providing you with the space and support to fully commit to your personal and professional growth.

Wo+Men’s Leadership Centre

Participants of the programme become lifelong members of Wo+Men's Leadership Centre (WLC), which aims is to foster the next generation of women leaders and expand the pool of women with the requisite leadership skills. 

The Centre conducts cutting-edge research to generate insights on creating the cultures, institutions and organisations that will enable more women to become successful leaders. By bringing students, corporations and policy makers more closely together, WLC disseminates the findings and creates forums to translate ideas into practical solutions.

Learn more about the Wo+Men’s Leadership Centre 

I don’t think there has been a better time to invest in yourself as a leader. By 2025, 75 per cent of our workforce will be millennials. The evidence shows that the skillset of women make them best-placed to lead in that environment.
Farrah Khattab, Lecturer, Lebanese International University
the four pillars of leadership: self-awareness, strength building, shared experiences and continued learning

Four core themes - or 'pillars' - form the basis of the programme:


This is the foundational part of the programme, where participants will spend time working on and analysing their own psychometric profiling, on their personality and leadership style, as well as self-efficacy.

They will leave the programme with a clear plan of how to further build and enhance their leadership style.

Strengths building

Participants will work through negotiation skills and techniques for improving communication. More specifically, sessions will include topics such as female leadership, confidence-building/executive-centred skill building, as well as how to build and grow high-performing teams. 

Participants will leave the programme with greater self-confidence and effective techniques for continued success in this area.

Shared experiences – 'words of wisdom'

The group will have the unique opportunity to listen to, debate and exchange views with some of today's most successful leaders - in the corporate world as well as from a range of exciting sectors. The stories emerging from these unique individuals would not be ones usually released - this would take place in an intimate, confidential setting. In addition, participants will be able to engage in personal conversations during reception and dinner with the distinguished panel members as well as each other.

Continued learning

Upon completion of the programme, participants will automatically become members of Cambridge Judge Business School's Wo+Men's Leadership Centre, founded in 2015. This serves as a platform to enable women's' empowerment and leadership in the business world globally. Participants will be connected to other members in this wider group, and be invited to events associated with this. Their leadership journey will continue beyond the two-day programme.


Some of the topics covered on the programme (this list is not exhaustive):

  • Executive coaching and career strategies
  • Female leadership advantage
  • Negotiation skills
  • Building, working with and growing high-performing teams
  • Strategies for career success, discussed with a distinguished panel
  • Strength based approach

Programme information subject to change.


  • A clear action plan for career advancement in rising to senior leadership roles
  • Reflective learning through discussions and debates about how to address the real challenges faced by participants in their current roles
  • Close and informal conversations with senior executives about their journey to the top and their advice on how to tackle the challenges participants face in their career advancement
  • A strong supportive network of peers who will remain on the learning journey beyond the programme
  • A positive, strength based approach to building on leadership skills
  • Incorporates insights and cutting edge, award winning research from Cambridge faculty
  • Historic Cambridge college dinner at the end of the first day, with a distinguished speaker
  • Membership of Cambridge Judge Business School's Wo+Men's Leadership Centre that includes:

    • Invitation to yearly networking events and skill-building workshops such as the Wo+Men's Leadership Conference
    • Regular updates and sharing of cutting-edge research articles by CJBS faculty
    • Platforms and forums for knowledge and job sharing with the women's leadership participant community

The Cambridge experience 

The biggest differentiating factor in this programme is Cambridge - the Cambridge experience. Cambridge is one of the most impactful universities in the world. Our faculty are experts in their field and we attract the best and brightest from around the world, engaging deeply with policy makers and corporations to make the crucial shifts in mindsets and approaches.            

The University of Cambridge is one of the world’s oldest universities and leading academic centres. Its reputation for outstanding academic achievement is known worldwide and reflects the intellectual achievement of its students, as well as the world-class original research carried out by the faculty of the University and the Colleges.        

Cambridge Judge Business School is a great business school at the heart of the University and is in the business of transformation - of individuals, of organisations and society. It means we work with every student and organisation at a deep level, identifying important problems and questions, challenging and coaching people to find answers, and creating new knowledge.

Cambridge and its historic colleges are both beautiful and inspiring for those seeking new knowledge. As part of this programme participants will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the Cambridge environment with cultural activities such as a walking tour and the formal dining experience at one of the historic Colleges.

This programme counts as one course for those completing the Cambridge Judge Business School General Management Certificate of Achievement. On completing the GMCA 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.

Rising women leaders

Who should attend

This programme is designed for women who are intent on growing their professional capabilities within their organisations, and also their personal capabilities beyond corporate life. We are expecting a truly global audience, with high potential women around the world convening in Cambridge.

Participants should be in the early to middle phases of their careers in management roles, with around three to 10 years' experience  in an entry to middle-management role.

The programme takes an uplifting strength based approach to the opportunities which are there to be seized for women.

This is a programme every woman leader should consider. It is packed full of important insights, thought-provoking case studies, challenging debates and, very importantly, a lot of fun. It's an invaluable programme for women, so don't miss the opportunity to book.
Gillian Beasley, Chief Executive at Peterborough and Cambridgeshire County Council, Speaker on the Cambridge Rising Women Leaders Programme
Gillian Beasley

Faculty & speakers

Academic Programme Director

Sucheta Nadkarni

Sucheta Nadkarni

Sucheta Nadkarni is the Sinyi Chaired Professor of Chinese Management and Head of the Strategy & International Business group at Cambridge Judge Business School. Professor Nadkarni is also a Professorial Fellow at Newnham College. 

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Sucheta is also the faculty lead of the Women's Leadership Initiative at Cambridge Judge. She served as the associate editor of the Journal of Management (2011-2016) and is the incoming associate editor of the Academy of Management Journal (2016-2019). She sits on the editorial of four other leading academic journals.

Her primary research interests include strategic leadership with a special focus on female rise to corporate boards and to executive leadership positions. She has published extensively in leading academic journals in management. Her research on female rise to boardrooms has been featured in global media outlets including New York Times, Forbes, CNBC, Huffington Post, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Reuters, Economic Times, Times of India, Herald Tribune, Borsen, O Globo, The Times (Kuwait), Business Standard and Folha De Sao Paulo. Her recent research on "The rise of women in society: enablers and inhibitors, a global study" won the Highly Commended Award for "Thought Leadership" at the Investment Week Marketing & Innovation Awards, 2015 and was cited in the 2016 Lord Davies Women on Boards report commissioned by the UK government. She has worked on research projects and grants with companies such as Boeing, Booz Allen Hamilton, Newton Asset Management and BNY Mellon and the 30% Club. She worked closely with two MBA students (Rena Zuabi and Siobhan Sweeney) to initiate the 30% Club Scholarships at CJBS.

Watch an interview with Sucheta at the distinguished panel at the Women Changing Europe Symposium organised by Columbia University, Barnard College.


Smaranda Gosa-Mensing

Smaranda Gosa-Mensing

Smaranda is the Global Head of Technology Talent for McKinsey’s New Ventures, based in London. 

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For more than 15 years, she has been advising and coaching senior professionals with a combination of deep psychological expertise as well as business and consulting experience. Before joining McKinsey, Smaranda worked in consumer/retail and as a specialised consultant for change management and coaching, advising senior executives on leadership issues. 

She is a caring and passionate driver of initiatives and programs to help advance women leaders, e.g. as a Finalist Coach for the Cartier’s Women’s Initiative. Smaranda is a Fellow of Cambridge Judge Business School, where she is helping to drive the Women's Leadership Initiative. She is a psychologist and holds an Exec.MA in Coaching and Consulting for Change (CCC) from INSEAD. 

As much as she cares about women leadership, she is also a passionate mother of three small children and enjoys spending her free time with her son and twin daughters. 

Cath Bishop

Cath Bishop

As Chair of Cambridge University's Women's Boat Club, Cath enthuses students to wave their training oars defiantly in the face of a challenge. Fluent in five languages, few people are as well-equipped to inspire others all over the world and influence them to pursue higher goals.

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Cath has a BA in modern languages from Pembroke College, Cambridge, a masters in international politics from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth and a PhD in contemporary German literature from the University of Reading. Cath won medals at the World Championships twice, a silver in 1998 in the women's pair with Dot Blackie, and gold in 2003, again in the pair, with Katherine Grainger. She won silver in the 2004 Olympic Games in the women's pair with Grainger. In 1999 she was the World Indoor Rowing Champion. From 2001 through 2014 Bishop forged a career with the Foreign Office, for whom she worked in London; Sarajevo, Bosnia; and Basra Iraq. Her roles included: Politica, Projects and Press Officer at British Embassy, Sarajevo, from 2004; Political Adviser to the High Representative to Bosnia & Herzegovina from 2006; Head of the Political Section at the British Consulate in Basra from 2007; and Deputy Director of the Stabilisation Unit in London from 2009-2011.

Cath Bishop is a versatile speaker with key lessons for companies floundering in the rocky waters of business. Sharing practical strategies to help teams make a splash with exceptional results, Cath relays the need for clarity and honesty to achieve success. Delivering outstanding performance under extreme circumstances is Cath's lifeblood - both from her gruelling Olympic training regime and through her struggle for survival as she sheltered from shelling on her diplomatic mission to Basra.

Cath returned from two Olympic games without a medal and decided that, after rigorous physical and psychological training, she had to unlock the secret to her non-success. In her search for new tactics, she ultimately adopted the well-documented 'marginal gains' attitude that saw her sail smoothly onto the podium. No stranger to tough situations, the decade Cath spent as a British diplomat in Bosnia and Iraq has equipped her with the highest level of strategy-building, resilience, and a determination to do her job in the face of danger and adversity. Both rowing and international diplomacy are effective analogies for interdependency and collaboration in business. In a unique amalgamation of her diverse experiences, Cath deftly relates genuine insights into setbacks and how to respond to them.

Guest speakers invited to contribute in either March or September

Michael Cole-Fontayn

Michael Cole-Fontayn

Michael Cole-Fontayn, Executive Vice President of BNY Mellon, is Chairman of Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). Michael is a Member of the Corporate Executive and Operating Committees.

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As Chairman of EMEA, Michael is responsible for governance culture and leads regional strategy development, execution and the delivery of enterprise initiatives in the region. BNY Mellon is an investments company focused on investment management and investment services. BNY Mellon employs more than 9,000 people in EMEA.

Michael has been with the Bank since 1984 starting as a Credit and Risk Analyst. He attended the BNY Mellon New York training programme from 1985 to 1986. Michael worked on and took responsibility for a variety of special industry banking groups between 1986 and 1992. Michael joined the DR Division in 1992, and has worked on many DR equity capital raising transactions, including numerous privatizations and equity offerings around the world. Michael has previously served as CEO of Depositary Receipts and ran The Bank of New York Mellon's Issuer Services Group in Hong Kong for seven years from 1993-2000.

Previously chair of The EMEA Issuer and Treasury Services Committee, he is currently chair of the European Executive Management Committee and the BNYM Charity/Community Affairs Programme.

A graduate of Westminster University (PCL), Michael received a BA (Hons.) in Business Management. He is a board member of the Association of Financial Markets in Europe (AFME), and is a member of the Advisory Boards of TheCityUK and British American Business and attends the All Party Parliamentary Corporate Governance Group.

Gillian Beasley

Gillian Beasley

Gillian is the Chief Executive at Peterborough and Cambridgeshire County Council and is the principal policy adviser to the 69 County Councillors and the statutory Head of Paid Service.

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She is accountable for the Council's half a billion pound budget as well as the work of around 10,000 employees across the Council and Cambridgeshire schools who deliver a wide range of services to the community.

Gillian is a solicitor by profession and quickly moved from the private to the public sector after qualifying in 1983 and beginning her career in local government as a trainee lawyer with Leeds City Council. It is for services to local government that Gillian was awarded an OBE in the New Year's Honours, 2008.

Dame Sandra Dawson

Dame Sandra Dawson

Dame Sandra is KPMG Professor Emeritus at Cambridge Judge Business School. She was Director of the School from 1995 to 2006, Master of Sidney Sussex College from 1999-2009 and one of the Deputy Vice Chancellors of the University 2008-2012. She writes and consults on organisational behaviour, leadership and innovation.

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In 2004 Dame Sandra was invested as a Dame Commander of the British Empire as part of the UK national honours system in recognition of her contribution to higher education and management research. In 2006 she was inducted into the International Women's Forum's International Hall of Fame in recognition of her achievements in business education and leadership development including being an outstanding role model for women who aspire to lead in the commercial, educational and not-for-profit sectors.

Dame Sandra has wide experience in the commercial, public and charitable sectors, both in leading executive development and through serving on Boards. She is a Non-Executive Director of DRS (Data Research Services), TSB bank and Winton Capital Management and a Trustee and Non-Executive Director of the Institute of Government, the Social Science Research Council in the USA and the American University of Sharjah. She is a member of the UK India Round Table and has previously been a member of the Prime Minister's Council on Science and Technology, an ICAEW Regulatory Governance review and an Advisory Board for the Aga Khan University on building a business School to meet the needs of emerging economies. Previously she has been Chairman of Riverside Mental Health NHS Trust; Vice Chair of Oxfam and served as a Non-Executive Director of Barclays plc, JPMorgan Claverhouse Investment Trust, the Financial Services Authority, the Public Health Laboratory Service and Cambridge Econometrics and a member of the UK's Senior Salaries Review Body and the DTI Task Force 'Accounting for People'.

Watch an interview with Dame Sandra on the importance of celebrating women across the world.

Robin Savchuk

Robin Savchuk

Robin Savchuk is the International Treasurer for BNY Mellon. In this role, she is responsible for Corporate Treasury activities and liquidity management across the EMEA and Asia Pacific regions.

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Robin chairs the Regional ALCO committees in EMEA and APAC. She is also member of other senior management committees including BNY Mellon’s Operating Committee and Corporate ALCO committee. Ms Savchuk is a Director on the Board of BNY Mellon Capital Markets EMEA, BNY Mellon Holdings UK and Deputy Branch Manager for BNY Mellon SA/NV London Branch.

Ms Savchuk is a Canadian national, although has been living and working in different countries and international organisations for over 25 years including ABN AMRO in Amsterdam, Citibank in Bahrain, and Kajima Corporation in Tokyo.

Robin holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts from the University of Western Ontario, Canada.

Martha Wikstrom

Martha S. Wikstrom

Martha (Marty) S. Wikstrom is a seasoned brand and retail executive with over 30 years’ experience in global executive roles. She is a founding partner of Atelier Fund, specialising in the acquisition and development of luxury brands.  

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Ms Wikstrom currently sits as a Board Director of Fortnum & Mason, the 300-year-old quintessential English purveyor of food, drinks and gifts, Johnstons of Elgin, which has been making Scottish cashmere, tweed and woollens since 1797 and Farrow & Ball, a global leader in high quality paint and wallpaper. She is also a Board Director of The Rug Company, purveyors of handmade, designer rugs and Cath Kidston, the home of modern vintage. She was formerly a Non-Executive Director of Bally International Ltd. and Space.NK.

As Chief Executive Officer, Ms Wikstrom led the Fashion and Accessories brands of Compagnie Financière Richemont SA. She also served as both a Non-Executive and then Executive Director of the Board, sitting on the Nominations Committee, the Group’s Management Committee, the Chairman’s Committee and the Strategic Product and Communications Committee. 

Ms Wikstrom served as the Deputy Managing Director and then Managing Director of Harrods. She was a Board Director of Harrods Holdings, Harrods Estates and Kurt Geiger where she was also the interim Chief Executive Officer.

Prior to joining Harrods, Ms Wikstrom spent 19 years at Nordstrom where she rose from a part-time sales assistant to President of the Full Line Stores Group. 

In 2017, Ms Wikstrom was inducted into the World Retail Congress Hall of Fame.

The next generation of female leaders

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The Huffington Post: Paid maternity leave could be the key to making more women leaders

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The New York Times: Quotas not the best way to add and retain women for corporate boards, study finds

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Dates & fees

Dates Duration Fees *
22-23 March 2018 2 days £2,300 + VAT
13-14 September 2018 2 days £2,300 + VAT

VAT is charged at the prevailing rate, which is 20%; e.g. £2,300 + 20% = £2,760.

* Fees (which are exclusive of VAT and accommodation) include instruction, materials, lunch, breaks and a college dinner. Preferential rates may be available for groups, University of Cambridge alumni and members of the School's Alumni Association. Please note prices pre-registration are subject to change.

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

Terms & Conditions for Self-funded Applicants (pdf, 233KB) (updated 31 January 2018)
Terms & Conditions for Organisation-funded Applicants (pdf, 250KB) (updated 31 January 2018)

Registration closes at midday two working days before the programme start date.

Participants are expected to attend the full programme.

I was interested in sharing the experience of leadership with other women. It was also an opportunity to take a step back and look at the bigger picture: what does leadership look like in a rapidly changing business landscape.
Lien Ceulemans, Senior Director, Salesforce
Lien Ceulemans
The programme has redefined how I think about leadership. I will be taking many lessons back to my workplace – it’s been the perfect balance of theory, evidence and practical solutions.
Wiesia Ruta, Head of Incident, GSK
Wiesia Ruta
This has been an incredible experience. The female focused programme is research led and evidenced based which is what I was looking for. It exactly met my needs.
Farah Khattab, Lecturer, Lebanese International University
Farrah Khattab
During the programme we focused on successes, not failures. It’s about recognising and harnessing your strengths.
Reena Suleman, Client Project Manager, Victoria & Albert Museum
Reena Suleman
What a fantastic couple of days. I had high expectations and was thrilled that these expectations were significantly surpassed. The diversity of first-class speakers and facilitators and variety of topics addressed in the two days meant this was a huge privilege to be a part of.

Brilliantly organised and facilitated, the programme was a perfect mix for me of theory, practice and insights from a variety of experts. I'm really looking forward to continuing my development on the back of what I learnt and catching up with the programme alumni at future CJBS Wo+Men's Leadership Centre events.
Belinda Benton, IT Senior Manager, ARM
Belinda Benton
I remember the dynamic of the group a lot and its positive vibes - I simply loved it, one of the best courses I have ever taken.
Doris Haselsteiner, Managing Director, voestalpine UK
Doris Haselsteiner
I attended this programme because I am ready for the next level in my career and needed a confidence boost. This programme was all so relevant and useful and has given me a different perspective. This is probably one of the best leadership courses I have attended and all the speakers were authentic and an inspiration.
Michelle Forward, Head of European Money Transfer, BNY Mellon
Michelle Forward
The two day programme was an excellent immersion into fostering confidence building and leadership skills for women managers. The exercises made me reflect on my psychometric profile, leadership style and self-efficacy. The strength building component of the course, confidence-building/improving executive-centered skills and how to build and grow high-performing teams, including techniques for improving communication were particularly relevant to me. I found the course had a good balance between theory and research based approach with concrete data and the exercises we did allowing to put into practice what was discussed. I would definitely recommend it to anyone for whom the development of a career plan and leadership skills for future roles of responsibility are relevant.
Sofia Moreira De Sousa, Deputy Head of Delegation, Delegation of the European Union to South Africa
Sofia Moreira de Sousa

The 30% Club was established in the UK in 2010, with a goal of achieving 30 per cent women on FTSE 100 boards by the end of 2015 in order to create a more balanced and diverse workforce. When the initiative was first launched the figure stood at just 12.5 per cent. Today it stands at 25.4 per cent. These significant results have been achieved by encouraging chairmen to appoint more women to boards, and by supporting businesses in implementing schemes to improve diversity at all levels within their organisation. But there is still work to be done. 

Cambridge Judge Business School is collaborating with the 30% Club to address the imbalance and to provide opportunities for talented women to access the benefits of a world-class business education.

Cambridge Judge Business School and the 30% Club are committed to addressing gender imbalance and to helping more women reach influential positions. 

The Cambridge Rising Women Leaders Programme 30% Club Scholarship has been established to encourage and support ambitious women who are aspiring towards senior leadership roles. For the programme which takes place on 13-14 September 2018, one 30% Club Scholarship is open to an exceptional female candidate who is currently in a junior or middle management positions within her organisation. Scholars need to be nominated by their organisation, and will receive a fully funded place on the two-day non-residential programme.

For details of how to apply please get in touch with the programme advisor, Claire Wright at or call +44 (0)1223 330741.

Please note: the application deadline is 15 June 2018 and the successful scholar will be announced by 6 July 2018. The deciding panel will consist of Allison Wheeler-Heau, Director of Open Programmes, and Professor Sucheta Nadkarni, the Academic Programme Director.

We are delighted about the partnership on this programme. The scholarships aim to help junior and middle level women realise their aspirations of rising to top positions and to help companies improve the pipeline of female executives.
Brenda Trenowden, Global Chair, 30% Club

If you have any questions or would like to have a chat about this programme and how it could benefit you or your organisation, please get in touch with the programme advisor:

Version 3.6 (8 December 2017)

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