Homerton Students Leading from the Front

Photo: Students and Training Corps

How do Homertonians cope in quicksand?

Homerton recently created a partnership with the Cambridge University Officers’ Training Corps (CUOTC) designed to instil leadership in its students. Specifically conceived to improve student employability in an increasingly competitive world, Homerton already sets the standard in Cambridge, with 96% of Homerton students employed or in further study within 6 months of graduating – higher than any Russell Group university, including the University as a whole. 

As part of the CUOTC’s remit to enhance leadership skills beyond the military sphere, students were invited to take part in a day of talks and activities. To begin students heard from Gordon Chesterman (Director of the University Careers Service) who spoke about the attributes employers seek in their future leaders, followed by Major Piers Ashfield DSO (of British Army Headquarters) and CUOTC Commanding Officer Lt Col Mark Nicholas, who challenged the students to develop their own leadership model and to think of figures from public life whose style of leadership has influenced them.

Participants then engaged in exercises that facilitated leadership skills and teamwork. Teams worked cooperatively to construct a tower within 20 minutes that could hold 3 cups of water, and then to retrieve a box from ‘quicksand’ without touching it.

Photo: Leading from the front exercisePhoto: Leading from the front exercise

At the end of the day students received a certificate, and were invited to submit feedback – which was overwhelmingly positive. In the words of one student –

“I did not know what to expect from the course, but I couldn't have been more glad that I took part. The whole day from start to finish was run smoothly and efficiently, and each participant was well looked after. We were given a variety of great talks ranging from a current soldier on leave from tours in Afghanistan all the way through to the head of the Cambridge Careers Service, all linked by the central theme of how to be a great leader. The course was extremely hands-on, and unlike anything I would normally participate in during my degree. The course struck the perfect balance of theoretical and practical, and made leadership feel both tangible and achievable. All that is left to say is thank you Homerton and thank you OTC!”

Another student praised the flexibility offered by the course:

“As someone with no military interest, I was worried about balance, but at every stage we were reminded that this was just one perspective, and we were free to think independently and critically about it. I hope that at some point in my career I will end up in a leadership position, and the course gave me some very useful insights and tips on potential challenges.”

This generation of Homerton graduates will join eight centuries of leaders produced by the University of Cambridge, including 15 British Prime Ministers, 23 foreign heads of government, and 9 monarchs!