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International leadership scholarship for Sunderland psychologist

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Published on 28 January 2022

Dr Helen Driscoll
Dr Helen Driscoll

A psychology academic has completed a prestigious scholarship after being selected from thousands of entries worldwide for a programme designed to further develop her leadership skills.

Dr Helen Driscoll, Principal Lecturer and Team Leader for Psychology in the Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellbeing at the University of Sunderland, is among 124 women to successfully apply for the scholarship out of 13,000 applications, which offered the opportunity to participate in the Santander Emerging Leaders – LSE programme.

In partnership with the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), the successful aspiring female leaders undertook a scholarship that trains top negotiation skills as part of a dynamic, hands-on programme.

Helen explained how the scholarship is benefitting her role and the wider university: “The programme has given me a very rigorous and intensive training in key leadership skills, strategies and approaches. This has been both theoretical and practical, with the use of three live skills sessions where I had to practice my skills in unseen scenarios with other female leaders taking the course from across the world.

“I really enjoyed the challenge and intensity, and the live sessions were brilliant. The programme has given me insights and a skillset that will benefit me throughout my career – and I believe will be invaluable for effectively leading projects at Sunderland.”

She added: “The programme has fostered a sense of community amongst the 124 successful applicants with a WhatsApp group for the whole group that will continue to function – and is in regular use. It has provided me a network of positive and successful female leaders and peers from across the world who are a great inspiration, working in very diverse fields such as medicine, public health, marketing and sustainability, many of which are areas that are of interest for the University.”

Dr Richard Darby Davis, Head of Psychology at the University of Sunderland, said: “It's fantastic news that Helen was selected for this prestigious scholarship.

“She has an exceptional drive and work ethic, committing fully to all projects she leads or is involved with. She works in a truly collaborative manner and in doing so both extends and develops herself as a leader – but also, enhances the skillsets of those she works with. She is a motivational and inspirational manager who possesses tremendous scope to develop into a truly remarkable leader.”

As Principal Lecturer in Psychology, Helen has responsibility for the University’s undergraduate psychology and counselling provision. She is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Chartered Psychologist. Helen is an evolutionary psychologist and her research interests include sexuality and sexual behaviour, dark personality, adult play and higher education pedagogy. She also has significant experience of programme design and development, and of higher education quality assurance and enhancement. Her significant achievements at the University include leading the first successful School‐level Athena Swan gender equality award at the University of Sunderland, with the School of Psychology being recognised as a ‘trailblazers’ in leading equality, diversity and inclusion.

She has also led the successful development and implementation of groundbreaking and unique, integrated undergraduate degree programmes and leading the organisation of the British Psychological Society’s Psychology of Sexualities Section annual conference in her work on the Section’s national committee.