SDF’s Festival 2021 – Meet our featured keynote speakers

by SDF 0

SDF’s Festival of Learning and Development 2021

Date: 22nd to 24th November 2021, with Coaching sessions on the morning of 25th November 2021

Venue: SDF Zoom and AdvanceHE connect


Welcome to our Keynote Speakers page for the 2021 SDF’s Festival of Learning and Development.

Please browse the information regarding our speakers to help tailor sessions to your interests and build connections within the #SDFest2021 community.

To see the full festival programme and to book your tickets, please click here

Kate Richardson-Walsh

Keynote title: Belonging – Me. We.

Synopsis: Belonging is central to me. Belonging is central to we. We can only belong in our teams and communities when we fully accept all of ourselves. Belonging is a basic human need and is fundamental in all of our lives. I will share my personal story and the Great Britain women’s hockey team story through the lens of belonging. Together we will explore the psychological tools we used to help us see our whole self and thrive. As athletes we learnt how to manage our state and own our super strengths. These skills were as valuable to me now as they were then and I hope they will help you on your own journey of self acceptance and belonging. When coupled with an empowered team driven culture, we were able to create a team where everyone had value, everyone had worth and everyone played a vital role. I will demonstrate how team cultures with aligned visions, values and behaviours are key to the success of both ‘me’ and ‘we’. What do we demand and accept of ourselves and the people around us?

Professor Dame Janet Beer and Professor Andy Schofield

Keynote title: A VC’s perspective on the challenges and opportunities for Learning and Development Professionals

Synopsis:  This keynote focuses on discussing challenges and opportunities that exist for organisational development/learning and development professionals supporting their institutions/staff in the coming years.

Janet Beer, VC, Liverpool and Andy Schofield, VC, Lancaster, will share their insights to provoke thinking about the type of support HE institutions may need to drive change through people – especially as a result of Covid, changes in working arrangements and other big agendas on the horizon.  Specifically, Janet & Andy will address questions around opportunities and challenges associated with hybrid working, inclusivity and wellbeing – all hot topics for organisational development professionals just now.

Dr. Ginny Whitelaw

Keynote title: Resonance, Resilience and Zen Leadership

Synopsis: The themes of this festival – agility, self-direction, connection, and reimagination ­– will become felt experiences in this interactive session that explores how physical Zen practices can enhance your resonance and resilience as a leader. You’ll learn what resonance is, and how it shows up both in your inner state and outward impact. You’ll experience how self-protection, trauma and differing time scales of change between mind and body can dampen resonance, destroy agility, and leave one stuck in the past. Finally, you’ll learn how to use breath and body to enter a more resonant, resilient, and connected state from which you can reimagine the present and make your greatest difference.

Barbara Bassa

Keynote title: Navigating the New and the Unknown through transformational Power of Presencing

Synopsis: In the session we will examine how the STOP button pushed by the pandemic invited us onto a deep journey of self-reflection and self-discovery, to question what we did before and its impact on our wellbeing, balance and happiness.

The collapsing timelines of the past and future have forced us more than ever before into the Presence. They taught us that future is indeed created now, through us, through the choices that we make. Recognising our old patterns and deeply ingrained beliefs about ourselves and others, is undeniably the foundation for a transformation. Once they are seen, they cannot be hidden again. They need to be transmuted. Freed from our past, we can fully open to new insights and understanding available in the field of presence and to direct our attention and energy to dream a new dream.

In the session we will look at how we can start creating The New through working with the multiple intelligences available to us. In the Higher Education sector we are very used to using our analytical minds, and not appreciating the power of our heart-brains and our intuition. We will look at how we can access them through using presencing techniques, the power of metaphor and deep listening. Strengthening those skills, will help us navigate the New and the Unknown and reimagine ourselves as future HE professionals.

I will briefly share with you some insights from my Transforming Leadership Programme, run for senior leaders in the sector using modalities of planning the future as it emerges in the present movement.

Jenny Garrett

Panel title: Avoiding Burnout in a 24/7 Work Culture

Synopsis: With boundaries between work and home getting ever more blurred, How can you avoid burnout in our 24/7 ‘always on’ work culture?

Many leaders are ‘always on’ and with the boundaries between work and home blurred it’s never been more difficult to switch off.

For some this creates work-life harmony, but others are teetering on the edge of burnout.

Jenny will host a panel of Executive Coaches, who will share strategies on how to bring yourself back from the brink.

We’ll talk about the signs of burnout to help you identify if you or a friend/colleague are on the brink, why burnout is on the rise among employees of all ages and the resources, activities and sources of support that can help someone who is close to burnout.

Their insights will provide an invaluable and refreshing pause, new perspectives and challenge your thinking.

Cindy Vallance

Keynote title: Two Ears to Listen, One Mouth to Speak: Keynote Listener Highlights

Cindy is pleased to be returning to the SDF Festival for the second year as Keynote Listener to provide reflections and facilitate a final session with keynote speakers.

Synopsis: I will be joined by keynote speakers during the final Festival session where I will provide initial reflections and will then make connections with the speakers across the multiplicity of ideas within the Festival. I was first introduced to the concept of Keynote Listening through the work of Canadian academic and author, Henry Mintzberg. I am also taking into consideration the practice of Talking Circles which are a key element of many indigenous cultures, providing a model that encourages dialogue, respect, the co-creation of learning and social discourse. As everyone has their turn to speak and when all voices are heard in a respectful and attentive way, the environment can become a rich source for learning as well as for considering identity and community. My goal is to encourage participants to similarly engage in a reflective mind-set that informs commitment to action for transformation and systems change.

To see the full festival programme and to book your tickets, please click here