UCL Human Resources


Announcing a new leadership development programme for Communities of Practice

23 January 2023

We’ve delivered the pilot of a bespoke Communities of Practice (CoP) Leadership Development Programme, tailored to the role of CoP Lead.

Communities and Networking

Communities of Practice (CoPs) are communities for staff at UCL who work in similar practice areas or perform similar functions. CoPs help staff build networks, share knowledge and resources, and break down silos. Each of our 22 CoPs has between two and four Leads.

Being a CoP Lead is a unique and rewarding role: you can gain leadership experience by working with stakeholders across UCL, including senior leaders; strategically planning the COP’s activities; and overseeing projects and events. 

We created a leadership development programme because we wanted to give something back to recognise our Leads for all the work they do in their practice areas, and to make sure that our Leads felt equipped for success. This forms part of the CoP 2022-23 Strategy. 

About the programme

18 current Leads from 11 CoPs participated in the programme across four sessions. The programme covered an overview of the essentials of leading a UCL CoP; facilitation and engaging stakeholders; how to think, plan and act strategically as a CoP Lead; and delivering results.

The programme included a dedicated Q&A session with two CoP sponsors, Donna Dalrymple (HR CoP and UCL Chief People Officer) and Dr Kathryn Walsh (Impact and Partnership Development CoP, Executive Director, UCL Innovation & Enterprise). The conversation explored the Sponsors' role, how it supports the CoP Leads, and how to get the most out of the relationship between Leads and Sponors.

Programme impact

Our post-programme questionnaire found that:

  • All participants found the programme was relevant to the role of a CoP Lead.
  • Nearly all agreed that they considered themselves a more effective CoP lead having undertaken the programme (92%).

We also asked the participants to assess their level of confidence in their skills and abilities both before the programme started and after it finished, to find out if the programme had a positive impact. 92% of our participants rated themselves as confident in their abilities to

  • think strategically having completed the programme – up from 42%
  • plan and facilitate the work of the COP – up from 36%
  • understand the elements that make a CoP successful – up from 36%.

Next steps 

Given the overwhelmingly positive feedback, the Leadership Programme will now become a part of a larger support package for the CoP Leads. We plan to run the programme again in Autumn 2023.


The course has been a wonderful experience and it's helped me gain a deeper insight into the work of the CoPs. I think it should be mandatory for all CoP Leads.
It was a really useful and engaging course. The team ran the sessions extremely well and they were interactive and informative. It was really nice to meet with the other co-leads.

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