Balancing diplomacy, Oxford study and motherhood

4 minute read

The University of Oxford online Women’s Leadership Development Programme embodies detailed and realistic leadership guidelines. It serves as a bedrock for the unending life-long learning journey for women leaders who are determined to affect and maintain constant change for excellence in their various contexts, communities, countries, regions and continents.

In the 24 years of my career journey, I have worked in seven contexts and transitioned through four sectors; tourism, trade, politics and diplomacy. I noticed that men always showed dominance. I started as a sales officer, and in most of my jobs, I worked under the direct supervision of male bosses and, a few times, female bosses. I noted that my female bosses could have been more friendly. They were more academically qualified yet needed more leadership skills.


Conversely, my male bosses had lower academic qualifications and had the necessary leadership skills with successful results. I struggled to understand that irony when I started my leadership work. After graduating with my PhD in 2023, it became more pressing for me to take up a course that would specifically delve into leadership for my gender and give me the required skills for an advanced leadership journey.

Here I will walk you through the programme overview, my learning experience, the programme’s effect on my personal growth, the challenges I encountered and the lessons I learned.

We had six modules. Each module had three graded activities in common:

  1. An assignment – the written work
  2. A reflective journal – an online text of not more than 250 words to express our new findings about ourselves.
  3. Small group discussions in which we give our views while drawing on organisational and personal experience of a particular topic.

I found other activities (though ungraded) very interesting too; the enrichment activities and the class-wide discussions. The former helped us see each module’s overall goal, with the latter allowing us to learn from each other (the general cohort).

  • The first module was about accepting ourselves as leaders. We reflected on how we have led in hindsight and acknowledged our leadership abilities.
  • Module two treated ‘understanding your context’ where we learned to read and diagnose our contexts and react appropriately.
  • The third module was on negotiating as a leadership practice. We studied cultural dimensions that can be used to negotiate effectively.
  • Module four delivered 'becoming an influential leader,' which guided us in recognising how to use our strengths to persuade and influence.
  • Module five addressed developing as a leader and we learned to appreciate self-development as a life-long activity.
  • The sixth and final module was on imagining our future possibilities as leaders and we created a personal development plan.

It was an intensive six weeks of learning. Work emergencies, particularly travelling to different time zones during the six weeks, were challenges I faced, but I overcame them all.

In addition to their guidance, my tutor posted weekly inspirational music and motivational videos, and my head tutor posted her weekly video messages and module outlines in infographics. The programme directors were also helpful in giving further guidance during the live sessions. The module videos by resourced people were very insightful. My fellow participants were cooperative. Overall, it was a fantastic learning journey!

I got attached even more to my MacBook, iMac and iPhone and ensured I had uninterrupted internet connectivity. The online experience was smooth.


Surprisingly, I gained more knowledge about myself and my unique approach to issues, even when it concerns my children, and have extended my mentorship activities to primary school students. On a professional level, I have seen that effective leadership needs versatility in approach.

I am a better listener and negotiator now and these skills will project me as an all-round leadership professional with the appropriate skills. Everyone around me, including others in different contexts and sectors, admires the new changes I exude.

I was not on study leave, so I had to work regular hours to ensure I read, understood and submitted all my assignments and graded activities before the deadline. I faced a severe setback in module six. The folder in which I saved my assignment disappeared. I immediately requested an extension for the first time, which was granted within five minutes. I was given two days, but I only spent six hours. I learnt from that experience that diligence is a virtue.

I have become a better and more skilful leader. I am impacting the knowledge I have gained from this experience to those in my context.

This is an insightful programme and specifically designed for women leaders. I highly recommend it for women leaders ready to meaningfully partake in the unending evolution on the international business stage.

Oxford Women's Leadership Development Programme