Phillippa Prongué

Formerly: Group Strategy and Corporate Development Director and Chief Transformation Officer at Kier Group PLC

Currently: Chief Executive Officer at Apex Airspace

I wasn’t a member of Women on Boards UK before attending the “Getting to the C-Suite” programme – I first heard about it from talking to Kirsty Bashforth, a non-exec at Kier Group who’d spoken at one of yourevents.

Although I wasn’t actively looking for a specific training programme, I was actively aiming for a Plc board role here at Kier, and this seemed like the kind of programme that could help me achieve that career objective. I had until this point only worked in the property division of the organisation, and knew that I needed more varied experience at a group level to ultimately gain that Plc board position.

From reading about the programme on your website initially to actually signing up was a relatively short timeframe.  The programme information and collaterals were easy to follow and seemed to be a great fit with what I needed. I then spoke to Fiona and that convinced me to finally ask for approval internally – my organisation was very supportive, saw the value and agreed to fully fund the programme.

Contents of the programme

In terms of the programme itself, I thought all of the content was extremely good, and Malcolm, who led the programme, was quite simply brilliant. He also helped me later, after the programme itself had finished, with suggestions for reading materials and in terms of preparing my subsequent Plc board presentation – see below. The other women on the course were great too – a really interesting mix.

If there was anything I might have liked to see more of, it’s a small point overall, but it would be more role play and examples, especially around interview questions. Most of the exercises we did on the course around this area were with other members of the cohort, and I think it would have been useful to have some one on one time with one of the course leaders as well. But that’s just nit-picking to be honest.

For me, the two key modules were “Leading Strategically” and “Leading Change”, and this was partly due to the fact that we were implementing a change management programme internally at the time, so these modules had particular relevance and impact for me. In fact, I suggested “Leading Change” as a topic for a presentation I was asked to give to the Plc after finishing the WOB C-Suite programme and referred a lot to my WOB notes in preparing that presentation.

Very quickly after completing the C-Suite programme and making that subsequent presentation to the Plc (weeks as opposed to months), I was promoted to my current role as Group Strategy and Corporate Development Director as well as Chief Transformation Officer.

Longer term

I would wholeheartedly recommend this programme to other women internally at Kier Group as well as externally to senior female directors in my peer group in other organisations.  Although I’m not surrounded by many women in my current role, I have already put our Head of Talent in touch with Fiona, as I feel strongly that we could definitely use a slightly more junior version of the programme internally, to help women in the various Kier Group divisions get onto their local management groups as a next career step towards a Plc role.
I’m currently focusing on my new, wider executive role – still with a view to that Plc board position – but ultimately a NED role is also on my target list at some point and I’m sure WOB UK will be able to help me with that aspiration too.

Would I have still signed up for the programme if my company had not paid for it? Absolutely 100% yes.

Your next steps…