Annie Coleman

Formerly: Managing Director, Global Head of Culture and Client Marketing, UBS

Currently: Group People & Culture Officer, Unicredit

UBS is a corporate member of Women on Boards UK and that’s how I originally heard about the organisation. WOB ran a couple of events at UBS as part of the corporate introduction programme and I then followed up by going to maybe 3 or 4 of WOB’s outside events as well.

I found the “Getting Started” workshop of particular value and incredibly helpful initially in terms of understanding the difference between a non-exec and an exec CV and how to put a non-executive CV together for applications.

“I really do think that everyone who’s serious about getting an NED role should attend.”

I already had a couple of small NED roles under my belt but wanted to concentrate on higher level NED positions in the private equity and financial sectors, as that’s where my strengths and experience are, to start to build a portfolio for post my exec career.

I first heard about the C-Suite programme via a member newsletter email from WOB and thought it looked really interesting in terms of potentially helping me to develop further in my current role at UBS as well, although the main driver for me was in terms of a future NED career. I prepared a case as to the potential value to my employer and as a result, UBS agreed to fund 50% of the course and give me paid time off work to participate.

The programme was challenging in terms of the amount of content squeezed into each half day, but like me, I expect that few senior execs can afford to have a full day out of the office for each module, so it was manageable. The programme itself and the various modules were incredibly valuable, absolutely spot on in terms of what I was there to develop in terms of higher level leadership, strategic and change management skills. I also loved those follow up “nudges” afterwards, making sure we were implementing what we were learning.

“Overall the programme was invaluable, and I still regularly refer to my notes and the slides from the course.”

I think one of the most important things I learned from the C-Suite programme was how the “language of the board” is different from executive language. It helped me to frame my executive career experience better and to apply the kind of language that boards want to hear when you are explaining how you can add value, whether in written applications or interviews.

Interestingly, before the course I was talking to a very senior friend in recruitment who said she’d have no hesitation in hiring me as Head of Culture for an organisation but probably not as an NED. Recently, after the course I met her again and she told me that “You’re now talking and sounding much more like a credible NED, using the language of the board – I can see and hear the difference”.

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