Future Leaders Fellows Development Network: Year 1 Lessons Learned

Updated: Sep 24

What a year it’s been!

No, not for that reason.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly a whole year since our consortium – made up of six research-intensive universities – was awarded the contract to establish the FLF Development Network, to support Cohorts 1-3 of FLFs and an additional group of research leaders nominated by the Research Councils. Our vision was to create a bespoke development programme in partnership with you, this extraordinary community of some of the most innovative, dynamic, and influential researchers and innovators across the UK. From day one, it has been thrilling work.

We came to the Network with many years’ experience of supporting fellows and research leaders, so we had some ideas for what you might be needing and wanting, and we hit the ground running with our bridging programme of workshops, which ran over the late autumn and winter. Over 87 of you attended these sessions, and feedback was extremely positive.

Yet the core of our Year 1 work was to take a deep look at the FLF community’s training and development needs, in order understand how we could shape an ongoing programme that would meet the goals of so diverse a group of future leaders – that is, how you, individually and collectively, could enhance your leadership potential, not only in achieving the research ambitions you have set but also acquiring the confidence to act as agents for change in the UK’s rapidly shifting research & innovation sector. This organisational and cultural change is a key part of many stakeholders’ thinking – not least UKRI’s and the Government’s – and it remains central to the ethos of the FLF scheme.

Through our busy first year we’ve delivered 45 workshops and courses, insight sessions and surgeries, regional coffee mornings, the Research Encounters event, and the Plus Funds competition. Through these, as well as through myriad informal interactions, we have listened to what you have told us, and we have fed this information back to UKRI. Perhaps the two biggest sources of information have been the 360 leadership survey and one-to-one coaching conversations with Bridget, our Community Manager. In this post, we capture some of the insights and lessons learned from those sources.