After seeing the impact that the American Express Academy, delivered by Common Purpose, had on one of their staff members, the Sheffield Alcohol Support Centre sent a second participant. We caught up with the alumni and their CEO on what has changed since they completed the programme.

Carl was the first SASS staff member to go on the programme

Before the programme I was feeling challenged both at work and in my personal life and was feeling a bit stuck. After the programme I had confidence in my ability to lead and manage people and groups. I developed a more strategic view of partnership working and it opened my eyes to my partners’ needs, not just mine. Previously, I had a challenging relationship with the NHS; our views were always very different, however the course led me to think differently. 

Since the programme I have taken on a new role. Before the programme, I would have felt inclined to say ‘I’m new to this role...’ almost making an excuse for lack of experience. Now I’m more likely to say ‘I manage a professional and very experienced team’. I have also joined a research group and before the programme I would have joined that as a minor partner but I’ve gone from a bit player to a key player – realizing my importance.

Kate completed the programme one year after Carl 

The programme was a great opportunity. I was already discussing next steps in development with Josie when Karl highly recommended the course. I thought ‘where’s the form?! The programme helped me to reaffirm that I did have the necessary skills and abilities. I am now thinking more strategically and involving partners in things that I would never have considered before.

As a result of the programme, I am better at networking and I am now reconnecting with old contacts. I now realize that questioning and listening fit better with my leadership style and lead to a better conversation. I also now think about how to tactfully impact other organizations we work with. I identified my strengths and am using skills I already had, but I have re-angled them to find a more influential outcomes. You might take the scenic route to an outcome but it’s more mutually beneficial.

Josie, CEO of the service, discusses the difference in her staff since completing the programme.

I sent my staff onto the programme because strong leadership means we will deliver better services. It doesn’t matter the role; you should be showing leadership skills.

The difference in Carl is easier to see after a year. He has had to step up because his role has changed. I’m not convinced he would have been successful were it not for this programme. He has struggled with imposter syndrome for years. Now he believes in his leadership – it’s a big difference. Now Carl has more trusting relationships with management team. I couldn’t have influenced that, I’m not a peer. Coming from the CEO, it sounds more like a task.

Kate has been at SASS for 18 years and her role has changed too. It was great for her to take time out to reflect on herself and her role. She’s thinking more about where she wants her life to go rather than where others want to take her. She was stuck without realizing it.