Published on 03/02/2023
Aston Means Business talent development
  • Promotions aplenty among students taking Aston Business School’s Masters-level executive leadership programme
  • Expectation that students are likely to be promoted, either on or near after the completion of their apprenticeship
  • Employers benefit from new ideas and developing a talent pipeline for succession planning.

An executive leadership apprenticeship programme at Aston University is helping to create the ‘boardroom superstars’ of tomorrow.

The Level 7 course aims to change the way that students think, while developing a ‘talent pipeline’ for participating employers.

The Masters-level programme was the subject of the latest episode of the ‘Aston means business' podcast, presented by journalist Steve Dyson.

Entitled ‘How executive leadership apprenticeships can drive organisations’ talent development’, the episode features Terry Hodgetts, director of Corporate Client Solutions at Aston, and Dr Lloyd Parsons, director of the MBA and Chartered Management Institute programmes at Aston Business School.

Mr Hodgetts said the apprenticeship was aligned to standards set by a “trailblazer” group of employers who defined what skills a senior business leader needs to be able to demonstrate to be effective.

Dr Parsons said there was no typical student or organisation on the programme: “We have people from traditional financial services, a wide variety of businesses, tech firms, but we also have people from the civil service, the NHS. It could be a programme that may help you develop, and push and drive your organisation forwards.”

He said prospective students not only receive “cutting edge research delivered by great practitioners” but they also hear from people who understand what work pressures are.

“We aim to give students an overview of a wide variety of all the different components that go into a business … strategy, operations, marketing and finance.”

Mr Hodgetts said he was very familiar with the pressures of balancing work and studies, having done an MBA himself while in a full-time job.

“What you see on this programme are high potential, high performing, highly motivated individuals that are really ready to dive in and engage in this process [and] almost suck the marrow out of the learning experience as they go through it.”

He said there were a number of “really beneficial impacts” for businesses when they put their staff through the programme, including generating new ideas and helping with employee retention. He said it was an “investment in capability”.

Dr Parsons chipped in: “We have so many cases where students lift the learning from the course and apply it back into the business. That’s the cornerstone, the foundation of what the apprenticeship is all about.”

He said they had “so many examples” of cost savings made from procurement projects, and increased revenues from product development strategies. But a “really prominent output” of the programme is “there is an expectation that our students will probably be promoted, either on or near after the completion of their programme”.

Although it was a “bold statement to make”, Dr Parsons said they gave their students the “depth and breadth of knowledge” needed for advancement, having seen marketing managers go on to become strategists and finance directors.

Aston Business School’s executive leadership apprenticeship has two intakes a year, in September and April. There is a common core syllabus for all students, who can then tailor their programme by choosing two from about 15 elected modules the university offers, ranging from international finance to cyber security.

Mr Hodgetts said: “For participants, the programme changes the way you think, it makes you very strategic, it gives you a broader view of the organisation. For the employer, it’s capability, it’s that talent pipeline, it’s bringing ideas into the business.”

Dr Parsons added: “For the apprentice, it’s definitely about having a curiosity to want to learn. We are here to show you this fabulous canvas of things to consider for a business or organisation.”

He said there was also the value of networking with people from different fields and walks of life: “For the employer, echoing what Terry said, it’s about talent development. Look at succession planning to get the next executive, senior leader, boardroom superstar.”

Anyone wanting more information is asked to email: or google ‘Aston apprenticeships’ or ‘Aston executive leadership apprenticeship’.

The University also regularly runs Directors Club and Leadership Matters evening networking events.

Notes to Editors

About Aston University

Founded in 1895 and a university since 1966, Aston is a long established university led by its three main beneficiary groups – students, business and the professions, and the West Midlands region and wider society. Located in Birmingham at the heart of a vibrant city, the campus houses all the University’s academic, social and accommodation facilities for our students. Professor Aleks Subic is the Vice-Chancellor & Chief Executive.

Aston University is ranked 22nd in the UK in the Guardian University Guide, based on measures including entry standards, student satisfaction, research quality and graduate prospects. The Aston Business School MBA programme was ranked in the top 100 in the world in the Economist MBA 2021 ranking.

For media inquiries in relation to this release, contact Sam Cook, Press and Communications Manager, on (+44)7446 910063 or email:

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