Anja Bohnsack graduated from the LSBU course sponsored by LHF this year with a distinction. We asked her how the course benefited her and could benefit others.
What is your current role?
I have just started as the Director of Operations at Depaul International after working as Programmes Manager for several years. The LHF LSBU course was actually instrumental in this move as it helped me to develop new skills and a more precise knowledge base across key areas such as accounting, governance and change management. I realised that I had picked up a lot of things during my career, but it was helpful to understand the theory and consider the evidence behind it so I could become more effective in my work.
Why did you apply to the LSBU course? What attracted you to it as opposed to the many other courses available?
My main goal was career development. I wanted to further develop the skills I needed to move into leadership; and I wanted to do this within the homelessness sector. This course is unique in that it is detailed yet concise and whilst its focus is on developing leaders in the homelessness sector, learning from each module can be transferred to other organisations and sectors – ensuring that what has been learned can be applied in other contexts.
Which bits of the course were particularly useful?
All were helpful in their own right. Over the years, you learn a lot of things simply by doing them; however, other things need to be taught. I have always found it beneficial to have a robust theoretical framework to fall back on, and this course has helped me to get one across a diverse set of subject areas.
How has it changed the way you now practice? What lessons have you been able to apply in your work and organisation?
I am now far more reflective in my approach, thinking more about what I do and how it affects me and others. I am also more confident in making my opinions heard – especially as I have the theory and evidence to back it up. Whilst we haven’t implemented any specific initiatives as a result of this course (yet), I would say that it has added to the learning of DPI overall. This course wasn’t just a learning experience for myself; but also for the rest of the team as I would discuss what I had learned at length, whenever I had the chance.
Who do you think would particularly benefit from the course?
I think the course is particularly useful for people in middle management who want to progress into senior management. Many of us started our careers on the front line, got a lot of experience and worked our way up. But to make the move into senior management you often need a qualification and evidence of a specific skill set to help open doors. This course allows you to demonstrate that you have the level of skills you need to be successful in senior management. That said, even people in senior management would benefit: we all have gaps in our knowledge and practice. We need to be aware of what we don’t know.
Anything else about the course?
One of the key points for me was that NGOs and local authorities were represented on the course. This allowed us to build relationships, joint understanding and an appreciation of the different approaches as well as environments we work in – vital points when wanting to work together to end homelessness.
For more information about the LHF funded LSBU course go to https://lhf.org.uk/leadership-course/