Can a chatbot be a leader?

11 June 2019

BPS Birmingham Future – part of BPS Birmingham, the membership organisation of choice and the voice of the business professional and financial services sector in Greater Birmingham – and the University of Birmingham are launching a new Digital Leadership Programme to help emerging leaders in professional services understand and address some of the key challenges in the digital age.

The programme, commencing in September 2019, will draw on expertise from across the University as well as senior business leaders from across the region. It will focus on the potential of digitisation and technology and the resulting changing nature of leadership. This is not a programme where attendees will learn how to code or the intricacies of AI programmes – it is about learning to lead by understanding and utilising digital tools.

The Continuous Professional Development (CPD) programme, the first of its kind at the University of Birmingham, will run for twelve months.

Katie Fulcher, chair of BPS Birmingham Future commented:

“In a world of algorithms and avatars, it is our young professionals who need to grasp and champion the benefits of innovation and technology in their firms. To stand by, as tech and new forms of leadership race by, will see our sector suffer rather than prosper from disruption.”

“This programme is part of our response and is another great example of a partnership with one of our world leading universities.”

As part of monthly workshops, leading academics such as Professor Kiran Trehan, Catherine Mangan and Dr Tom Chothia will contribute to the programme alongside regional and national industry leaders drawn from the University’s extensive business engagement networks. There will also be additional self-reflective learning and development for participants to complete in their own time. There will be twenty participants in the initial intake and the programme requirement is at least five years’ of professional services experience.

Andy Newnham, Deputy Director of Business Engagement, University of Birmingham, added:

“We are excited to work on this programme with our partners at BPS Birmingham as we support emerging leaders to navigate the changing landscape that rapid digitisation and technological advancement bring.

“The University of Birmingham is globally recognised as an expert provider of leadership education to professionals across the public and private sectors and as we build towards our new Leadership Institute, part of our new development at The Exchange in Centenary Square, this programme is the perfect example of how engagement with universities can support business and the Local Industrial Strategy.”

The Digital Leaders Programme has been developed in conjunction with Birmingham Future in response to demand from businesses, the priority given to this issue in the national and Local Industrial Strategies, and the development of the University’s Leadership Institute, which will be housed at The Exchange in Centenary Square.

The programme is underpinned by the need for adaptive leadership within a ‘VUCA’ world (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) which calls for a different style of leadership from that of the past. For example, the world of work is changing; leaders at the top of organisations may view the concepts of leadership and digitisation in a fundamentally different way from those joining their organisations.

The programme seeks to equip leaders to be effective in a rapidly changing world where not only the answers, but also the questions are unknown. The topics on the programme focus on areas such as: emerging tech and its ethical design and use; leading change in digital ambiguity; neuroscience and change; digital skills gaps and productivity; and digital leadership and inclusion.

Those who complete the programme will receive a certificate from the University of Birmingham and join a Digital Leadership Programme alumni network, supported by BPS Birmingham and the University of Birmingham; following completion there will be a celebratory dinner for all participants and trainers. For further information and to apply please visit the BPS Birmingham Digital Leadership webpage.