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3rd October 2012

Manchester Leadership Programme

Charlie Boorman takes you through the ins and outs of the Manchester Leadership Programme

The Manchester Leadership Programme, or MLP, provides students with an insight into the qualities and expertise needed to be a leader. The course is weighted at either 10 credits (a purely lecture based or online module) or 20 credits (a lecture based module with volunteer work in the second semester).

The lectures focus around the practical and theoretical aspects of leadership with the MLP drawing high profile speakers from academia, business, sport and the public sector; past speakers include former CEO of Tesco Sir Terry Leahy, Dame Ellen MacArthur, while this year’s speakers comprise of the CEO of a charity, the Head of HR of Unilever, and the mastermind behind the massively successful Olympic games volunteering scheme. Those who have undertaken the programme have found these lectures both invaluable and diverse: ‘it was good to hear the real life experiences of the leaders especially when they were from different backgrounds.’

However, do not be fooled into thinking that the programme is solely centred on leadership: it offers far more than that. The full 20 credit programme actively encourages students to carry out charity work in the local community. Past projects include designing a mural for a school, creating a sensory book for adults with severe learning difficulties, and raising money to decorate and furnish a bedroom for a child with muscular disability. The programme does organise a great deal of charity work for participants, but partakers may do this themselves as long as the work is carried out for a charity or non-profit organisation.

Naturally, the voluntary work is extremely rewarding, and in many ways the MLP can be a life-changing, transformational experience. A former student Lucy Nightingale was so motivated by the programme that in 2010 she founded SL Volunteers based in Sri Lanka: an affordable volunteering opportunity that strives to make positive impacts on communities. Lucy states that the MLP was a great driving force behind this decision, ‘it offered me the confidence to lead people and take risks. It provided me with practical experience and knowledge which I still continue to use at SL Volunteers.’

With today’s saturated job market, the MLP gives students a unique selling point on their CV – as former alumni Rachel Boyce, who found a job within a month of graduation, will attest. ‘My volunteering enabled me to develop a range of skills including communication, leadership, public speaking, budgeting and time management’ – the list goes on!

The MLP is considered so significant by certain schools in the university – for instance the Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences – that it is a compulsory part of many degree programmes; however, as long as you have free choice units, the MLP is available to you.

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