Aberdeen-based leadership programme strives for greater diversity at the top

Transcend Teams pic

“IT’S about creating better opportunities and representation in senior management. It will take time, but we have to make strides”.   

It’s exactly this crusade that Aberdeen-based diversity and inclusion organisation AFBE-UK Scotland – Association For Black and Minority Ethnic Engineers – aims to achieve through its latest programme.   

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Transcend – led by Dr Roy Bitrus – is designed to inspire and motivate BME professionals with more than 10 years’ experience in senior to lead engineering and technical roles to help them progress to high-level management and executive positions.    

The programme also aims to influence an organisational and institutional change in leadership structures, where more people of colour will be promoted and retained in management and executive roles.   

AFBE-UK Scotland supports all young people, particularly those from BME backgrounds, with career aspirations in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics).    

The latest Transcend cohort, which featured individuals from a range of sectors, including engineering and energy, completed the programme on Saturday. The weekly remote sessions have covered aspects of leadership from the barriers to communication, unconscious bias, negotiation, coaching and mentoring.  

There has already been great success from the previous cohort of 2023, with two participants progressing into manager roles – and one recently appointed as a senior vice president – global upstream.   

Dr Bitrus, who is co-chair of AFBE-UK Scotland, said: “It’s about creating an ecosystem where we all work together to create opportunities and better representation in senior management. It will take time, but we have to make strides.   

“The tools and resources learned from the programme can help organisations to diversify its management and leadership structures. As this is a participant led programme, the cohort can genuinely express themselves and reflect on past experience and are given tailored leadership exercises to help give them clarity, challenge their perspective and improve their capacity to be better leaders.   

“We want them to leave here with a fire in their bellies thinking about how they can make a difference.” 

Transcend participant Nicola Martin, head of quality engineering for an AI and data science company, is passionate about increasing diversity and inclusion in software engineering.   

Nicola, who is a council and committee member for the British Computer Society and a council member for WomenTech Global Network, said: “Participating in the AFBE-UK Transcend programme has given me valuable knowledge and skills, especially in further promoting diversity and inclusion in tech.   

“I now understand the challenges faced by underrepresented groups and have heard practical strategies to foster inclusivity. The mentorship and networking opportunities will expand my professional network, providing guidance and support. In my future career, I aim to create more inclusive workplaces, breaking down barriers and fostering a culture of belonging.”    

Applications for next year’s Transcend programme will open at the start of 2024. Go to https://transcend.afbe.org.uk/leadership-programme/ and express your interest at https://forms.gle/5PUH7bg5rEoyZa6y7 

Companies can also sponsor individuals through their Transcend training or AFBE-UK Scotland can deliver it directly to organisations.   

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