AAR launches No Bullsh*t Leadership E-Learning Programme to develop a new generation of exceptional ‘everyday leaders’

09 May 2023

  • Guest speakers to include Harpreet Kaur, winner of The Apprentice 2022
  • Partnership with MAMA Youth Project gives talent from under-represented groups access to free places

AAR has today launched the No Bullsh*t Leadership E-Learning programme, in collaboration with author and former CEO of Havas Creative Group, Chris Hirst. The course is set to accelerate the introduction of a new generation of everyday leaders by democratising leadership training for all. 

This innovative e-learning course is based on Hirst’s bestselling book No Bullsh*t Leadership. Business book of the year in 2020, No Bullsh*t Leadership has featured in the best sellers lists since launch and was recently described by CityAM as “the best of a broad cannon.” The course aims to solve the common misconception that leadership is all about CEOs and the C-Suite. Forbes highlighted earlier this year “an increased need for leadership development” as one of the key business trends for 2023 and the AAR course aims to do just that; by bringing forward the next generation of everyday leaders at a pace the industry needs.

The course is available for a diverse range of people at any stage of their career across agencies and brands. The sweet spot is anyone who wants to transform their career and performance who has influence over a team or a project. The course will welcome its first cohort in June 2023 and does away with the snake oil and clichés that have become embedded in leadership training. AAR’s No Bullsh*t Leadership course has crafted a learning experience that teaches leadership in a straightforward, accessible way. The course will give participants practical skills to develop as dynamic leaders as well as the confidence to develop their own style of leadership. 

Commenting on the course, Victoria Fox, CEO of AAR said: “We believe leadership must be thought of and taught in a completely new way - and that companies who embrace this challenge will gain a considerable competitive advantage.

“For over 45 years, AAR has been at the unique intersection between brands and agencies, and we have seen first-hand how great leadership sets leading brands and agencies apart.

“If people are the fuel that drives creativity and innovation, it is essential that our new leadership programme becomes the engine room of tomorrow’s leaders. We can’t just wait for new leaders to emerge, we must nurture them to succeed.”

The CPD accredited, 100% online course is led by Hirst and AAR consultant and executive coach Vonnie Alexander.  It comprises eight modules featuring:

  • Different aspects of leadership, with sessions focusing on topics including the importance of decision making, why self-care is vital and how to have difficult conversations
  • High profile guest speakers who will add expertise and real-world experience to each module. Harpreet Kaur, winner of The Apprentice 2022, is the first speaker to be confirmed
  • Two live Q&A sessions with Hirst & Alexander during the programme
  • An online forum available for classmates to discuss the course and build up an invaluable new leaders’ network

Chris Hirst commented: “Leadership is always the problem and better leadership is the only solution. Yet so much of what we’re told and sold about the subject is just snake oil; it’s bullsh*t. This creates two baleful real-world problems: it inhibits those already in leadership positions from fulfilling their potential and worse, excludes whole swathes of society from believing it is something they can aspire to. I passionately believe that there is no leadership type. Everybody can lead and lead well – and this programme is how.”

As a tangible commitment to creating a diverse generation of everyday leaders, AAR will be giving one free place away for every two sold in partnership with the incredible MAMA Youth Project. The multi-award-winning project recruits, trains and nurtures young people between 18-25 years of age from under-represented groups or with limited educational or employment opportunities.

More information can be found here.


Further information

AAR has been training teams and individuals for almost 20 years through a range of bespoke and off the shelf training packages, always with a focus on talent management and helping organisations improve their output and outcomes. The No Bullsh*t Leadership course is an exciting new strand to our upskilling offering and Chris Hirst and Vonnie Alexander are the formidable duo joining forces to guide, challenge and develop our new generation of everyday leaders.

Chris Hirst 
No Bullsh*t Leadership was published in 2019 to widespread acclaim, with England’s World Cup-winning rugby coach Sir Clive Woodward saying Hirst offers “a brilliant set of leadership tools that will help you succeed whatever your goal”. Hirst has also been described by Campaign magazine as "one of the stars of his generation”.  

He is the former Global CEO of Havas Creative Group and UK CEO of Grey (part of WPP). After more than a decade in CEO positions, he has a proven track record of guiding businesses to record growth, product reinvention and a culture of enduring success. He is also the founder of leadership consultancy Dogsbody Group and is a sought-after speaker and columnist.

Vonnie Alexander
Following a 15-year career in the marketing and advertising industry and working with clients in a range of sectors including retail, telecoms and finance, Vonnie Alexander set up the award-winning agency Kitcatt Nohr Alexander Shaw in 2002 with three partners and grew the business significantly before selling it to Publicis Groupe 10 years later. Fluent in French and Spanish and a natural communicator, Vonnie has more recently worked with people and teams as an executive and team coach, facilitator, and consultant.

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