In addition to our wide-ranging schedule of briefings and events which are free of charge to members, CEF provides access to a range of programmes and seminars which are available to our members at discounted rates. Full details of these programmes are outlined below:

Current Programmes

Women in Leadership
Media Training: Making The Soundbite Count
Public Accountability and Governance
Leadership & Team Support
Cross Sectoral Development Programme
The Transformative Leader

Cross Sectoral Development Programme

Cross Sectoral Development Programme for High Potentials

The complex challenges facing Northern Ireland cannot be addressed by any single organisation or any single sector. Collaboration across boundaries is key to successful delivery for citizens, and must become the norm, not the exception.

Leaders in the public sector and the third sector have been working to build relationships and establish trust, to create understanding of how much more they can achieve by combining forces, and to better appreciate the barriers to collaboration and how to deal with them.

The CEF/CO3 Leadership Exchange programme has provided a space for leaders in each sector to step into each other’s world, illustrating the benefits of building relationships, understanding each other’s perspectives and expanding cross sectoral networks. It is important that the ethos of collaborative working is established in staff throughout both sectors, particularly for the leaders of the future. On behalf of CEF and CO3, Grant Thornton, building on the Leadership Exchange programme and successful delivery of the High Potentials pilot programme in early 2021, offer this programme for staff who are currently operating at middle/senior management levels in the public sector and third sector. Excellent feedback from the pilot recognised the aims of enabling connection and understanding of one another’s experiences, aspirations and pressures, as one of the key benefits of the programme. 

Our ambition for the programme is to develop effective partnerships based on trust, clarity of accountability, and a shared understanding of purpose and outcomes across the two sectors. It recognises the particular challenges faced by staff operating at this level of management.

This is a critical group of staff who are required to manage the often conflicting demands of interacting upwards and downwards on a repeated basis, and who are sometimes identified as both the ‘victims and carriers of change.’

Specifically, the programme aims to:

• build and maintain empathy for one another and commitment to the shared challenges we are addressing;

• build resilience to speak frankly with courageous authenticity to demonstrate honesty and integrity while tailoring communication to meet the perspectives of various stakeholders;

• strengthen cross-sectoral relationships to enable effective working relations; and

• focus on real issues, building genuine partnerships and shared understanding to develop leadership capacities to meet the complex societal challenges we face, shifting focus to impact and outcomes.

The Programme

The 3 month programme will be delivered to 10-14 managers from each sector (Broadly equivalent to NICS Principal / Deputy Principal level or NJC scales PO4 – PO9.)* The delivery method will include a blend of online, peer and virtual classroom learning. The programme will focus on building a good foundation of skills, knowledge and behaviours across this leader group, focusing on experiential learning and addressing real issues and building partnerships between the sectors.

The programme will also include access to ‘WeLearn by GT’, Grant Thornton’s Learning Management system and Mobile application for six months.


As an outcome of the programme participants will:

• Gain a greater understanding of the two sectors

• Understand their own leadership style, strengths and personal brand to allow them to lead authentically

• Be aware of their communication styles and the preferences of others and how to communicate effectively

• Understand the system team development model and how they can apply it to their cross sector group

• Agree a team charter and plan of action

• Practise using different innovation and decision making models

• Collaborate together to solve shared issues

This course is a joint collaboration between the Chief Executives’ Forum and CO3. For more information please refer to the current brochure which can be viewed under our Publications section of the website. There is also an evaluation of the pilot programme of 2021 captured in an engaging video which can be viewed below.

PLEASE NOTE: The application process for the next cohort commencing in September is now complete. We are not accepting any further applications at this time.