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New students join our postgraduate course in Place Management and Leadership

Last week we welcomed a new cohort of postgraduate students to study Place Management and Leadership.

On Wednesday, the 18 strong cohort had a virtual evening induction and got to know each other and the course team. IPM Director, Professor Ares Kalandides also delivered a short introductory keynote on his work on citizen participation in Berlin.

The teaching on the course would normally take place in the Business School at Manchester Metropolitan University where IPM is based. However, due to the pandemic, we have been delivering our course fully online for the past 6 months. The teaching team has adapted quickly to virtual teaching, ensuring we still deliver engaging and interactive content.

Core content delivery commenced Thursday in the form of a full day Place Leadership Masterclass. Our new postgraduate students were joined by an additional 17 delegates, studying the masterclass as CPD. The audience, consisting of a range of place management professionals from BIDs, local authorities, the third sector and consultants were treated to a wealth of learning from the IPM teaching team and a host of guest speakers.

IPM Co-chair and High Streets Task Force Executive Director, Simon Quin set the scene for the masterclass discussing the changing nature of high streets and town centres. In his half hour presentation, Simon also discussed why place leadership is so important for high streets and identified the key characteristics of effective place leaders.

The audience then heard from a panel of guest speakers all involved in place leadership. Firstly, Neil Schneider, former CEO of Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, gave a detailed and inspirational account of how he led change in the area over his 15-year tenure. Neil explained how he managed to transform the town, gain funding, hold large events, support businesses, engage with vocal community members and turn negative press into positive news about Stockton.

Second in the panel of three, Stefan Gurney, Executive Director of Norwich BID, explained the impact the Business Improvement District (BID) has had on the city. Norwich BID has three main focuses: Promoting Norwich, Norwich Experience and providing the city with a stronger voice. Stefan discussed some of the events Norwich BID has organised to activate and animate the city. Stefan also reflected on the challenges of place leadership and ‘wearing different hats’ in a variety of collaborations and partnerships the BID is involved in.

The final guest in the panel was High Street Task Force Board Member and active community leader in Holmfirth, Margaret Dale. Margaret discussed the community organisation Keep Holmfirth Special and her role in lobbying on behalf of the community, communicating various concerns and the needs of local residents. Focusing on her leadership style coined ‘sheepdog leadership’; Margaret highlighted a number of key traits needed to be a successful community leader. She explained how it was important to be diligent, optimistic, determined and be willing to take risks to reach the desired outcome.

Whilst the panellists were delivering their presentations, IPM Co-chair Professor, Cathy Parker asked attendees to identify the different enablers and blockers to effective place transformation mentioned with the talks. Over the course of the one-hour session, participants identified 168 enablers and blockers to place change, which IPM Junior Fellow Joe Barratt pulled together, analysed and presented in real time back to the group.

Following a short lunch break, allowing attendees some time away from their screen, Professor Cathy Parker led a session looking at the more theoretical side of place change. Cathy’s lecture focussed on the different place processes encompassed in place management and leadership, discussing placemaking, place maintenance and place marketing. The audience were also introduced to some of IPM’s key frameworks including the Covid-19 Recovery Framework, the 4Rs for renewal and 25 priorities for vital and viable town centres.

Following the introduction to some of the key theory and frameworks, participants were asked to reflect on their own leadership by completing a number of different surveys and diagnostics identifying their different leadership styles and traits. The collective results were then collected in a poll and Cathy summarised the findings picking up on specific themes from the group. One key takeaway was the highly developed leadership skills of the delegates and their propensity for collaborative working.

Postgraduate programme leader, Dr Steve Millington brought the day to close by highlighting ways attendees could further their study with IPM via our short courses and postgraduate programme.

With the conclusion of the masterclass this week, our postgraduate students and individuals undertaking the CPD short course in place management and leadership now undertake a week-by-week learning programme, before submitting their first assignment in February.

Our next Masterclass will take place in May on the topic of Place Marketing and Branding, led by IPM Director, Professor Gary Warnaby – to register your interest for this, or any of other courses please email


About the author


Formed in 2006, the Institute of Place Management is the international professional body that supports people committed to developing, managing and making places better.

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