Ceri Jones from Swansea University's Research, Innovation and Engagement Services department

To celebrate 10 years of developing extraordinary leaders, Ceri D. Jones, Director of Research, Engagement & Innovation Services (REIS) shares his thoughts on the programme that he supported in the transition to Wales from the North West of England.

"Where have all the years gone! As we hurtle through 2019 it is incredible that we celebrate 10 years of LEAD Wales / ION leadership. It feels like only yesterday that our team at Swansea University had the foresight to import this wonderful programme to Wales, from Lancaster University. In that time I am very proud to say that we have worked with over 1300 business owners, directors and managers in nearly 1000 businesses, all of whom will have fantastic stories of how the programme has impacted on not only them but also their business.

"The programme as it is now is very different to the programme we imported in 2008. We needed to make sure that the programme was fit for purpose for the Welsh economy and a market heavily dominated by SMEs, of which a large proportion are micro businesses. Indeed one of the great successes of the programme in Wales has been the way in which we have enabled and empowered micro businesses to grow and prosper. We have developed and adapted the programme in a strategic way over the decade – a good example of this was our sector specific programmes that we developed for priority economic sectors in Wales. Similarly, we are very proud of the female leadership cohorts that we have developed and delivered in conjunction with Chwarae Teg.

"The programme has continually evolved. In 2015, due to a change in funding, not only did we re-brand to ION leadership but also for the first time in 5 years, due to the reshaping of our funding model, we asked delegates for a financial contribution to meet the cost of the delivery of the programme. This was obviously a major change at the time but thankfully the value added by the programme is clear to see. We adopt a continuous improvement philosophy to the development of the programme, so 2019 has seen ION collaborate with Danish business and design school Kaospilot to bring their highly acclaimed programme, Leading Product & Service Design, to Wales for the first time. I am delighted to see that ION is always striving to diversify and add value to Welsh businesses.

"I am very proud to say that I have played a part at LEAD Wales and ION leadership at all levels. From supporting the delegates and team members in the early stages of the programme, occupying the role of Operational Director of the Programme through to being the current Chair of the Steering Group, I have seen and heard first hand delegates from North and South Wales share their stories about how the programme has effected them both professionally and personally.

"We have 10 years’ worth of stories. Shaun Welsh, at Trojan Construction Management, said “The course enabled me to take a step back and view my business from the outside. Since starting the course, our company has seen a growth in turnover and profit”. A recent delegate on the female only cohort, in partnership with Chwarae Teg summed it up perfectly; “two words sum up the programme – absolutely necessary”. I couldn’t have said it better myself!

"If I included every success story within this blog you would be reading for days but the ION team has a number of films which perfectly showcase the impact of the programmes. Delegates from organisations such as Wolfestone, Miles Hire, Pharma Group and Abbey Glass, all share their stories, just a few of the many client testimonials that showcase the breadth of organisations and individuals who have taken part in the programme.

"From the Isle of Anglesey to Caerphilly, we have supported organisations in 15 counties across Wales. From veterinary practices in Pembroke Dock to computer programmers in Bangor, ION have worked with organisations across a wide variety of industry sectors.

"We have the statistics to back up the impact:

  • 2424 new jobs were created thanks to LEAD Wales (2010-2015)
  • £52m added to the Welsh economy (2010-2015)
  • 96% of surveyed delegates said the programme had a significant impact on the way they work. (2010-2015)
  • 38% of delegates on our Leading Growth programme have seen an increase in turnover
  • 46% of delegates on our Leading Growth programme have increased the number of employees in their organisation

"I want to end by thanking everyone who has been part of the ION experience over the last 10 years. A huge thank you to everyone who has worked for LEAD Wales / ION in both Swansea and Bangor. Thanks to everyone who attended or presented at one of our events. A special thanks to our colleagues in Bangor University who have ensured that the impact of these fantastic programmes is seen right across Wales and to the European Social Fund for their continued support. And a final thanks goes to our delegates. All 1300+ of them. Thank you for your dedication to the programme and contributing so positively to the magic. Thank you for allowing the ION team to be part of your leadership journey. We are very proud to have worked with every one of you.

"I look forward to hearing more fantastic stories at the events in November, and here’s to developing more extraordinary leaders over the next decade."

To find out more about ION Leadership please visit www.ionleadership.co.uk

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