Hilda Matheson: Women into Leadership programme


Category: Leadership

September 14, 2019

"I've always been a bit of an introvert, but just because you don't fit the classic mold doesn't mean you can't be a leader." - Jess Lee

During my time working at the BBC, I was lucky to be part of the Hilda Matheson - Women into Leadership programme for women looking to lead.

Hilda women

What was the programme?

The programme was a regionally based development programme for women. It aimed to develop common skills and understanding needed for women in leadership. Including:

  • Confident & self belief

  • Resilience

  • Stepping Up

  • Networking

  • Career development

Why Hilda?

Hilda Matheson was the BBC’s first Director of Talks. In 1926 she was headhunted by Lord Reith to join (from MI5) and she revolutionised the airwaves, boosting listening figures and bringing intellectual heavyweights such as HG Wells to the air.

Although not very well known, she accomplished revolutionary achievements and was one of the first pioneering women of the BBC.  We want all of our women to be able to tell their story and have equal opportunities to men.

What was involved?

The 6 month programme involved group sessions on specific topics, tools and methods. In between those sessions there was 1-2-1 coaching and action learning sets. These sessions allowed women at the BBC to come together to focus on their softer skills and develop them in a safe, supportive environment.

Women in leadership who inspire

Our first exercise of the programme, was to bring along a photo of a female leader who inspired us and to share to the rest of the women why. The leader I chose was Susan Cain, author of the book 'Quiet'.

Cain is someone who actually inspired me to apply for the programme. She leads something called ‘Quiet Revolution’ which aims to unlock the power of introverts. 

As an introvert herself, she proved to me that it’s possible to be an introverted leader. And through her leadership she has influenced not just other introverts, but many people to believe in themselves, and not let personality be an indicator on their success. 

Key takeaways for me

Being authentic (being yourself) is key to being an effective leader as these leaders demonstrate a passion for their purpose, practice their values consistently, and lead others with their hearts as well as their heads. And when you lead authentically, people trust you to deliver a message worth listening to.

As well as the course content, one of the most valuable aspects was building a network of strong, confident, authentic women leaders, who I still follow and work with today.

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