The Pipeline: Leadership Summit


The MK-LF Partnership work with organisations to ensure they have enough female talent at all levels of their pipeline to create organisational resilience and commercial advantage through diversity and choice. The Pipeline: ‘Leadership Summit’ is a development programme designed to ensure that women at middle management level are, most importantly, retained and also able to achieve their full potential in and for their organisation.

Middle management is graveyard for many companies when it comes to female talent. Women stay longer in jobs than men and are more loyal and this is a problem for both individuals and companies that needs to be addressed. An organisation’s lack of management of female talent at this stage often means that they have no or few women to promote at its more senior levels.

The Pipeline ‘Broader Horizons’ addresses all of these issues.


What the research tells us

[Click here to see a summary of research MK-LF has commissioned.]

Research to date shows that women at this early stage fail to develop a mid or long term plan unlike their male contemporaries (YSC 2014). These young women are also much less likely to have regular and informal feedback on their progress or to have recruited a sponsor compared with male colleagues (Executive Presence 2013).

A report from McKinsey in 2011 found that whilst men are promoted for their potential, women are evaluated primarily on their attainment. Twice as many women than men leave the corporate sector once they reach mid-level management (PwC Gender Advisory Council, 2008). McKinsey also found that three out of the top four leadership behaviours are more frequently observed in women rather than in men – expectation and rewards, inspiration and participative decision-making (Women Matters 2, 2008). Yet in a law firm a man is 10 times more likely to make partner than a women, and in accountancy firms men are three times more likely to make partner (The Leaking Pipeline: Where are our female leaders? 2008).

McKinsey evidenced that, due to company culture, in most FTSE companies women know they are promoted on attainment and so think that all they need to do is more of the same. However, at middle management any successful aspiring manager needs to be looking up, establishing a brand (20%), developing leadership through job experience (70%) of what Catalyst refer to in their ‘Good Intentions, imperfect execution’ work (2012), as the ‘hot jobs’. Yet we also know from the YSC 2014 research that women are less likely to develop their brand early and this is known to be critical in long term career advancement.

This is why we have called our programme Broader Horizons: we believe that women need to lift their focus upwards if they are to avoid getting stuck in middle management and failing to realise their potential.


How it works

Corporations appreciate the economic imperative of having diverse executive teams. However, all too frequently female talent gets mired in middle management and fails to break through. The MK-LF Leadership Summit is designed to help organisations “pull through” their talent so they have the best potential pipeline available from which to promote.

The MK-LF Partnership run holistic programmes which incorporate ‘Thought Leadership’ and muscular academia along with contributions from Europe’s leading practitioners in business. We also vary between group and individual sessions to ensure that all learning can be fully applied in the work place.


Programme Content

All our sessions are taught through the latest research on what is the most successful and supportive route forward for women. They will be delivered in house and with minimum of 20 participants. There will be taught elements and master classes just as in the Top Flight programme.

The Leadership Summit includes group sessions on

  • Understanding the difference in managerial and leadership behaviours
  • The importance of networking and building sponsorship
  • Developing long term resilience and well-being
  • Creating a personal brand & executive presence
  • Career planning
  • Learning how to influence beyond direct reports
  • Developing ‘good’ strategy

The programme also offers one-to-one velocity coaching sessions to ensure that all

Participants leave with an actionable plan when they finish the ‘MK-LF Leadership Summit’ and prepare to return to work.

The Leadership Summit also attracts successful business leaders – both CEOs and Chairman – who will speak at our dinner time sessions.

Programme Contributors

Professor Chris Bones

Professor Chris Bones is Dean Emeritus at Henley Management School and Professor of Creativity and Leadership at Manchester Business School. He is also Visiting Professor at the University of Aberdeen and advises on the academic and knowledge content of The Pipeline programme. Professor Bones is an organisation and change strategist who is consistently ranked by his peers as one of the most influential thinkers of his generation. He writes extensively and is the author of ‘The Self-Reliant Manager’ (1994) and ‘The Cult of Leadership’ (2012), which won ‘Management Book of the Year Prize’ (2012).

Sue O’Brien

Sue O’Brien is Group CEO of Norman Broadbent PLC. In addition to her search advisory role Sue mentors and provides executive coaching to a number of FTSE clients.  Sue is an Experienced NED across a broad range of organisations and is a founder member of The Women’s Business Council. In the January 2014 New Year’s Honours List, Sue was awarded an OBE for services to Gender Equality in the Workplace and voluntary services to the community.

Lorna Fitzsimons

Lorna Fitzsimons is co-founder and CEO of MK- LF Partnerships helping FTSE 100 companies to develop their senior executive female talent. She also leads The Alliance Project a public-private partnership to bring back textile manufacturing to the UK.  Lorna is a previous CEO of the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM) and NED for Endsleigh Insurance. She is also a former Member of Parliament and President of the National Union of Students.  Lorna is a visiting Fellow at the Advanced Research and Assessment Group at the Defence Academy.


Simon Gulliford

Simon Gulliford is an internationally renowned marketeer. His recent pieces of strategy work include easyJet, BAA, Harper Collins, Cannes Lions & BDO. Simon has previously held a number of senior marketing roles including Group Marketing Director for Barclays plc. His first major marketing role was Marketing Director of Sears where relaunched and subsequently demerged Selfridges. Simon began his career as a lawyer before returning to work as an academic and Head of Marketing for Ashridge Management College.

Margaret McDonagh

Margaret is a dynamic business woman and a Member of the House of Lords.  She was one of a small team that turned the Labour Party around making it one of the UK’s most successful post war transformations.  After standing down in 2001 Margaret has established a successful career in the corporate world. She is an experienced NED having served on a number of Boards including Standard Life and TBI (a global airports company). She also chairs the Orthopedic Research & Education Foundation and is a Director of the AFC Wimbledon Foundation. Margaret is a performance coach for senior executives and co-founded the MK-LF Partnership in 2014.


The MK-LF Partnership ‘Leadership Summit’ takes place twice each year. The next programme is in September 2015.