SME leadership programme launches in the North East

October 14, 2020 @ 13:36 by Alison Cowie

A new, fully-funded leadership programme, created to help SMEs build resilience, tackle the challenges they’re facing during COVID-19, and drive future growth, is now underway with its first cohort from across the North East.

Supported by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, the Small Business Leadership Programme (SBLP) is a free, ten-week training programme for senior leaders in SMEs.

The programme covers a range of practical topics and is delivered online by small business experts – including entrepreneurs, business leaders and academics – from Newcastle Business School at Northumbria University.

Dr Hannah Hesselgreaves, who is co-leading the programme alongside Dr Matthew Sutherland at Newcastle Business School, said: “Our first cohort represents a really diverse mix of sectors, from manufacturing, engineering and bioscience to events, IT and dentistry. However, they have a shared interest in improving the sustainability and resilience of their organisations. There is a real desire to listen and learn from each other and to share experiences and challenges along the way.

“Registration is open for a further eight groups to join the programme. I’d encourage anyone managing a small business during this difficult period to sign up if they would benefit from the opportunity to strengthen their strategic leadership skills, as well as grow their business networks.”

The programme comprises eight, 90-minute webinars, alongside independent and peer-to-peer learning. Participants must be in senior management roles, with at least one direct report, in businesses which have been operating for at least one year, and with 5-249 employees.

Lucy Winskell, chair of the North East LEP, said: “I recognise the many difficulties that small businesses across the North East are facing right now. At the LEP we recently launched the #WeGoAgain campaign which is all about the region putting its best foot forward despite the significant challenges we face. The Small Business Leadership Programme offers SME leaders the support to do just that. It’s a programme that is focussed on improving business resilience, developing strategic leadership and building the confidence and skills to navigate your business through these challenging times – and on to future success.”

To aid business survival and future growth in the current climate, the curriculum covers topics such as leadership, innovation, employee engagement, operational efficiency, marketing, sustainable practices and finance.

James Ramsbotham, chief executive at the North East England Chamber of Commerce, added: “To drive regional recovery we need to ensure that businesses can achieve their full potential. The Small Business Leadership Programme provides senior leaders in SMEs with the chance to develop key skills that will help to build resilience, tackle the challenges they face and make the most of every opportunity to grow and succeed moving forward. It’s fully-funded, delivered online and is a fantastic way to help small businesses on the path to recovery.”

This scheme is part of a £20 million package the government is providing to help small businesses in the long term.

The Small Business Leadership Programme is being delivered across the country by a consortium of business schools accredited by the Small Business Charter (SBC). Newcastle Business School at Northumbria University was accredited in 2015; the national accreditation recognises business schools that excel in supporting SMEs and the local economy.

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