Executive Development Programmes

We recognise that your organisation is constantly striving to adapt and flex in a rapidly changing, globalised economy

You demand more robust, stronger results, and your high performers need greater opportunities. We aim to deliver both of these benefits simultaneously, in a partnership approach that helps you achieve these strategic development goals.

This approach helps to raise executive capability and build team performance to implement corporate strategy and deliver measurable business benefits.

Our customised programmes

One of our account directors will partner with you, giving direct and sustained access to an expert single point of contact and trusted safe pair of hands, providing you with the reassurance of a secure consultancy relationship.

We work closely with you to identify what your executives need to do – and in some cases do differently – to implement your organisation’s strategy. 

Only after thorough reflection on your specific requirements do we then blend new, research-based thinking with relevant, proven tools that meet your executives’ strategic leadership and management development needs.

How we design our programmes

Programme design

We establish a clear and shared understanding with you of the impact our programmes aim to deliver to your business and your executives.

We adopt an inclusive and transparent approach to design, through focus groups, reports, questionnaires and interviews with key stakeholders, potential participants and their managers.

Programme blueprint

We collaborate with you to build an in-depth understanding of the style of intervention required to maximise our programme’s impact in the agreed timescale and help us to create the programme blueprint.

We then test this blueprint with programme sponsors, and work to agree the exact scope, schedule, key measurable deliverables and style, refining our appreciation of clients’ expectations from their investment.

Relevant, credible and applicable

We match clients’ subject matter experts with our faculty to ensure content and examples are relevant, credible and applicable.

The design process confirms a shared responsibility for follow-up with cohorts and individual participants to ensure the programme delivers the impact it was commissioned to make.

How we deliver our programmes

We deploy our blend of research-based thinking and relevant, proven tools to maximise the impact for your business.

Our approach to delivery includes the following key developmental and administrative aspects:

  • An action learning process that guides practice in small syndicate groups to encourage in-company application. 
  • Tailored programme logistics and follow-up services to agreed client requirements.
  • Real-time customised delivery to participants’ classroom responses, incorporating input from the client’s business units to help develop richer networks.
  • Personal, informal coaching for participants to ensure they get maximum benefits from each session and are confident and committed to apply the learning in their workplace.

Case studies

Our programmes include highly relevant case studies, using real exemplars and events in the public domain and, if needed, specific case studies based on client issues.

This includes:

  • Pragmatic and company-specific attention – often using projects as a teaching focus and as the first point of application for taught tools.
  • Applying learning to participants’ own scenarios to reflect current or recent realities, enabling knowledge to move to know-how, strengthening the pragmatism of development.
  • Treating participants’ confidentiality and accountability to the client as equally important. This means issues raised by participants are summarised in post-session group feedback to clients, without referencing individuals.

All our programmes measure return on investment, holding ourselves and participants accountable to deliver the impact and value for which the intervention was commissioned.

Venues

Our programmes can be delivered at Conference Aston, a fully-serviced conference centre and 4-star hotel on Aston University’s campus in central Birmingham.

Alternatively, we can deliver programmes at any venue of our clients’ choosing, anywhere in the world. 

Our networked learning approach

We start with your needs and add our networked learning capability to put you and your people at the heart of the development process.

Networked learning aims to connect participants to specialists and information sources, and encourages knowledge sharing that supports collaboration, innovation and higher performance.

We deploy a customised blend of e-learning and online solutions in our programmes, that support and facilitate reflective and collaborative mindsets.

We aim to improve application of learning, and encourage higher performance and greater business impact.

Read our white paper to see how communities of practice can make an impact on innovation. 

Client Cases
Our short Client Cases demonstrate the impact we have achieved in our clients organisations.
Succession planning

Case summary

We helped our client, one of Europe’s leading plastic products manufacturers, identify potential senior leaders within their talent pool.

The Leadership Development Programme was customised to meet the needs of the organisation’s “Developing Leaders” strategic objective, aimed at providing an opportunity for potential senior leaders to be identified and selected from within the company talent pool.

The aims of the programme were to ensure that the participants developed an understanding of their company strategy, appreciated their role in successfully executing this strategy, and recognised how they could engage in helping to develop strategy over the medium term.

In order to help develop and demonstrate the skills, knowledge and understanding to take on senior roles in the organisation, the participants engaged with the programme through three modules:

  • Strategy
  • Leadership and High Performance Teams
  • Commercial Acumen.

The programme materials and activities were linked to a real world project within the organisation. All subsequent learning was done in connection with this project, so that participants were able to demonstrate the application of their learning back in the workplace.

Impact

We were able to support robust succession planning and the identification of potential leaders.

This was a crucial key performance indicator in our client's business strategy.

Collaboration

Case summary

In partnership with our executive development team, project managers at a leading manufacturer learned effective new ways to share best practice and increase collaboration.

Participants completed a programme of specialist modules supporting the client’s new product introduction process. Led by Aston Business School faculty, the modules focussed on key areas of project management expertise:

  • Leadership and High Performance Teams
  • Finance
  • Project Management.

The programme aimed to support the evolution of a project management Community of Practice within the client organisation, with the objectives of enhancing communication, collaboration and sharing of good practice.

Participants were experienced project managers, with a wealth of skills and understanding, who wished to extend and develop their expertise. To ensure that the client gained maximum benefit from this programme, we ran impact measurement workshops with both cohorts.

Focussing on action pans developed by the participants, the workshops helped measure the accrued benefits to the organisation of greater collaboration and sharing good practice within project teams.

We also used the workshop outcomes to help evaluate and augment the continuous improvement of the programme itself. The programme methodology can be readily applied across many different types and sizes of organisation.

Impact

We supported the development of a project management Community of Practice within the client organisation, with the objectives of enhancing communication, collaboration and sharing of good practice

Influencing stakeholders

Case summary

Effective communication in business interactions is crucial for leaders and managers who need to influence stakeholders and sponsors successfully.

Working in tandem with a leading automotive manufacturer, we developed a solution that empowers participants to communicate specialist technical knowledge effectively.

The programme closely follows the competency models of global blue chip organisations, and is founded on world class research into future-oriented and critical self-leadership and management skills.

We designed the programme to enhance the reflective skills of technical specialists, building their ability to tailor their communication style to suit audience and context. Participants learned how to communicate business opportunities better, and improved their ability to listen to and understand others’ perspectives.

Participants were also encouraged to learn continuously by observing, assimilating and applying new ideas and techniques, increasing their ability to learn fast, make decisions and present clearly.

The programme provided ample opportunity to apply new tools and techniques in practical situations, so that effective communication quickly becomes routine.

The real benefits of the programme to the client include:

  • Senior management alerted more quickly to emerging technical issues and potential threats / opportunities for their business.
  • Better integrated teams, more able to relate to business imperatives and how their actions have influence.
  • More flexible and motivated staff, with ability to assimilate, interpret and offer new ideas.

Impact

Teams and individuals report closer alignment to business imperatives, and are better able to influence senior leaders in relation to emerging technical developments, threats and opportunities.

Developing talent strategically

Case summary

One of the hallmarks of an effective organisation is ensuring that talented managers develop the capabilities to progress to more senior leadership and executive roles.

We worked with a leading multinational company to create a Leadership Development Programme for their talent-level managers. The programme had one clear aim: to maximise the promotion of highly talented individuals to key positions in the company. Our response was to deliver two customised management programmes at Certificate and Diploma levels.

The Certificate in Management provides initial exposure to academic content in an academic environment. But importantly it also offers practical tools, drawn from the latest business and management research. These tools are delivered within a learning framework that encourages immediate adoption and application. This is achieved specifically through the assessment of a work-based project.

Work-based projects are reviewed against both organisation and individual objectives, in an ongoing ‘Promise to Reality’ tracking of successful impact. Projects provide measurable return on investment because the application of tools and models in project work can lead to real change within the business, given appropriate support. Aston’s own research has identified a significant increase in tool use and sophistication of approach by managers following similar development interventions, with past programmes showing significant ROI.

Our collaborative design methodology involves as many stakeholders as possible in the project design process, ensuring that they are individually and collectively committed to maximise the benefits of the programme. By getting commitment up-front from participants, we are able to emphasise the importance of action learning elements and the necessity of integrating the work done on the programme with the real world issues faced in the work place.

Impact

We have clear evidence of accelerated promotion for individuals during and after their time with us, with a major impact on middle to senior management bench strength.

Improving leadership performance

Case summary

Our leadership development programmes offer participants the time and space to become more self-aware, develop better self-understanding, and learn how their behaviour affects those around them.

We partnered with a leading multinational construction company to provide aspiring and current leaders with a customised leadership development programme.

The client, whose main business focus is on complex infrastructure projects, was keen to build on its tradition of engineering excellence and investing in people to succeed.

Participants joined the programme from a variety of managerial and executive roles across the company, both engineering and commercial.

Consequently, the aim of this programme was to give participants a balanced appreciation and understanding of leadership and behaviour, and increase their self-awareness.

In addition it was designed to help them develop a better understanding of the financial aspects of the business and the key challenges faced by the business over the next few years.

We designed the programme as three residential workshops on leadership, finance and commercial acumen, and strategy.

Each workshop was led by a senior member of our faculty team. The core programme was supported by group work, case studies, exercises and presentations, and was delivered at our in-house Conference Aston suite

Impact

Participants developed a much better awareness of the practical skills of leadership and learned to apply them in the appropriate contexts.

Strategic business planning

Case summary

We supported our client, a global leader in property, residential, construction and services, in their talent development strategy.

Within the context of the client’s 2020 Vision a key priority was to attract and retain highly motivated, high performing teams and to enhance the key people processes which would differentiate the business in the market, through the provision of an attractive, flexible, and cost sustainable employment offer.

The client’s HR graduate programme was designed to fulfil this strategic aim by developing both professional technical skills and the behavioural attributes that define successful HR professionals.

We designed a customised MSc in Human Resource Management, accredited by the CIPD and leading to Associate Membership. This recognition of professional credentials was designed to appeal to graduate HR managers who wished to progress to leadership roles within the organisations.

The programme was structured as 2 year programme of study in part time block release modules that enabled participants to continue with their full time employment. Entry onto the programme required a good first degree and a real commitment to investment in professional development on the part of each participant.

The programme met the strategic aims of the client by developing capable HR practitioners with the knowledge and skills to integrate HR management to the wider business strategy.

Impact

The programme developed HR professionals capability to meet the client's strategy: to attract and retain highly motivated high performing teams.

Building leadership impact

Case summary

In partnership with our client, a major public sector organisation, we designed a leadership programme aimed at increasing the capabilities, performance and impact of participants.

The client’s organisational strategy included the need for senior leaders to inspire and motivate, and play a significant role in shaping the organisation. The client envisaged this need being met through a behavioural programme, which would align its future senior leaders to a leadership competency framework. This aimed to develop values and behaviours that engendered the confidence to inspire and empower others.

To meet these requirements we designed a high level leadership programme that would raise capability and performance, while delivering impact through action learning projects. The programme also aimed to build a supportive and sustainable professional network of senior leaders that would persist beyond the duration of the intervention.

The five programme days were delivered over a period of 4-5 months, structured as a part time block release module delivered as four iterative units. Participants’ personal learning objectives were negotiated before module commencement, and development needs were identified through a customised psychometric tool. These in turn fed into the design of each of the module’s block release days.

The programme’s impact assessment, underpinned by a peer coaching process, was evaluated through follow-up interventions in two stages. Stage one utilised an online questionnaire three months after programme conclusion. Stage two took the form of one-to-one telephone interviews with a sample of participants, aiming to gather detailed examples and case studies of application.

Impact

The programme enabled participants to develop their leadership style and impact, build commitment from their high performing teams and workgroups, and increased their confidence and capability to manage change more effectively.

Leading in risk environments

Case summary

We worked with our client, a major financial organisation, to design a programme closely aligned with its commercial strategy and practices. The aim was to deepen participants’ understanding of the role of leadership in responding to risk, regulation and compliance factors in the sector.

One of our client’s strategic objectives involved attracting new talent and developing existing high potential staff. The provision of an MSc accredited programme was viewed as a potential attractor to help secure talented young recruits for the business, and as a retention tool for early career, high potential staff. The audience for such a programme would be drawn from graduate entrants to the risk, regulation and compliance areas of the business, with the potential for some additional participants from existing employees.

In order to meet these client requirements, we designed a Level 7 accredited programme that would run annually, with approximately 12 participants per year in each cohort. Although some of the programme content was geared to an in-depth understanding of quantitative factors of risk assessment and statistical analysis, other elements of the programme of particular interest to the client focussed on behavioural elements, soft skills, decision making and behavioural economics.

The eight module programme extended over a 2 year period via ‘block release’, each module being delivered over approximately eight weeks. Modules comprised four days of classroom contact time delivered as twoday blocks, supplemented by online virtual classrooms, independent study and individual research projects. This programme design enabled participants to acquire specialist skills and knowledge, developing lifelong learning and personal development capabilities.

Impact

Programme participants acquired skills to facilitate decision making, identify and measure key risks, and use suitable risk-management methods to maximise the financial performance of the client organisation.

Developing future leaders

Case summary

We partnered with our client, a leading global product design and engineering company, to design a programme closely aligned with their leadership development strategy and practices. The aim of the programme was to maximise the leadership capabilities of those high-potential managers likely to move into senior executive positions in the company.

Client requirements included a tailored development programme aligned to internal progression strategy. This included senior executive mentoring of participants and on-site delivery at a variety of locations globally. A customised development approach meant the programme was not required to link to any external accreditation.

Our response was to tailor an Aston Certificate programme structured around work-based projects. We included mentoring in the project process to provide additional focus and emphasis. A final day of project presentations by participants would conclude each programme iteration.

In addition, the programme’s Certificate structure also comprised an induction day and four taught modules in Financial and HR Management, Sales, Marketing and Operations, Strategic Management and Leading with Impact. Each module was designed to run over a 3 or 4-day block-release session. Ensuring transfer and application of learning to in-company project work was a key responsibility, shared between the programme sponsor and Aston’s development team.

By focusing participants more explicitly on the impact of their projects, we were able to identify more substantial business benefits from project activity and the programme as a whole. This meant that the identification of ROI, and the shared accountability for its delivery, could be more readily tracked and appreciated as a journey ‘from Promise to Reality’.

Impact

Improved leadership capabilities and in-company networking, exemplified by the substantial returns on investment achieved by the various project activities.

Our open programmes

We also deliver open programmes, delivered through case studies and interactive learning, to build specific skills to meet your broader strategic challenges.

Our short open programmes are designed to inspire leaders, build specific skills and enable executives to better deliver corporate strategy.

Our open programmes are held at Conference Aston on Aston University’s campus, but we can also deliver them anywhere in the world for in-company application or programme-specific purposes.

Current open programmes

The Aston Professional Managers' Award gives participants the concepts and fundamental principles in key management disciplines needed to accelerate their careers.

In-Company Delivery

We have a long experience of successfully delivering customised development programmes for our clients.  Working in partnership with you we can tailor the content of the programmes to suit the specific needs of your organisation and your people.  

We provide compelling, focused and relevant content to enable participants to complete their studies one year, whilst still providing the fundamental knowledge of business and management required at this level.

Our solutions encompass a broad range of both credit-bearing and non-credit-bearing content.  In this way, for those organisations keen to offer their managers a route to a recognised qualification, we are able to offer modules which will build credit towards a recognised postgraduate qualification, whilst still being contextualised around the client’s organisational and strategic issues.  

We have delivered the credit-bearing route to a wide range of organisations, providing programmes ranging from 30-40 credits at Masters level that can be carried forward into further study, through to full MSc and MBA programmes aligned to our client’s requirements.  Where required, we can develop and approve specific academic modules in response to client needs that can be integrated into our academic programme structures.  This approach is well suited for those clients seeking to build broader and deeper management competence within key populations.

The range of non-credit-bearing solutions is limited only by the client’s needs:  we are able to work in partnership to develop fully customised programmes built on the premise that the client’s organisation is the chosen case study throughout.  In taking this approach we have facilitated major strategic change in client organisations and have developed and underpinned critical behavioural changes amongst key management populations.  While such an approach necessarily has a more substantial design overhead, the organisational benefits are significant.

Get in touch

To speak to someone from our team and find out more about our Executive Development programmes get in touch at abs_exec_dev@aston.ac.uk. You can also call Tanya Lomas, our Client Programmes Manager on +44 (0)121 204 3160.