Top Flight

12 Month Programme
Designed to help women achieve CEO, ExCo and Permanent Secretary roles

Top Flight has significant economic benefits for organisations. When FSTE 350 companies achieve gender balance within their executive committees, each business could increase its pre-tax profit by up to £900m. 

If management and leadership teams are more reflective of the customers and communities they serve, they’re more likely to understand their problems and provide better quality, sustainable solutions.

Top Flight shines a spotlight on the very real effect of role-modelling: that women won’t stay with their organisations or strive for promotion if they don’t see other women reaching the top. As we outline, female under-representation is a systemic issue that only a programme tailored for women can address.

This muscular 12-month leadership development programme includes six two-day sessions throughout the year and executive coaching in between.

Sue Campbell

Director of Women's Football at The FA and Top Flight speaker

Top Flight provides a space for women at the senior level to share their career challenges with confidence, reassured that others in the room have faced the same obstacles.

We all agree in theory that greater gender diversity at the top of organisations leads to better public policy making. The Pipeline is one organisation that helps this belief become a practical reality by designing great leadership programmes that work for women.
Jaee Samant
Director General, Public Safety, the Home Office
Top Flight has made a tangible difference to the 13 leaders we have sent on it and we always get significant ROI. So even in times of significant financial pressures we still prioritise the investment.
Maria Antoniou
Chief Human Resources Officer, Morgan Advanced Materials

About our Top Flight programme

Top Flight is a 12-month executive leadership development programme exclusively for women. It is designed to be undertaken whilst participants remain at work where they can incorporate their new-found knowledge into their day-to-day lives.

Beginning in January each year and continuing in March, May, July, September and November, it comprises two nights and two days of intense and interactive learning and workshops led by world renowned, inspirational business leaders. The women also experience one-to-one coaching and career planning sessions with coaches who have been successful at the highest levels of business.

Key to the success of the programme is the contracting process, which requires the CEO, C Suite line- manager and executive sponsor to be involved in the women’s development. Our research shows that if you want to change the balance within your organisation you must start at the top. This support signals the organisation is invested in her development, directly impacting the likelihood of retaining not just this woman but others who view her as a role model. Essentially – ‘if she can get there, so can I’.



Who it’s for

The programme is for the direct reports of FTSE350 Executive Committee members. In the Civil Service, it is for those striving to be Permanent Secretary. All women are part of their organisation’s C suite succession planning. Some are newly promoted to position and view the programme as essential in helping them navigate the challenges they’ll encounter in the most critical role of their career. We accept women two levels below the executive committee who have an exceptionally large, global remit and those on the ExCo from heavily funded tech scale-ups.

Women who join Top Flight work across all business areas. These include P&L roles such as ecommerce, marketing, sales and trading. Corporate functions including communications, finance, HR, IT, legal and policy. We also welcome women in [traditionally male orientated] STEM roles such as cyber, engineering, operations, supply chain and technology.

Organisations who repeatedly work with us include Aldermore Bank, Aon, the BBC, British Airways, the Cabinet Office, Clifford Chance, Direct Line, DEFRA, e.on and the Home Office. The beauty of Top Flight is each woman is provided with a ready-made network of supportive women spurring her on.



What we cover

Top Flight provides a deep dive into the womens’ relationship with their organisation’s commercial priorities and its leadership style.

Over the year, we cover communications, finance, governance, risk and strategy. Our women are already subject matter experts in these areas, so the content focuses on each topic in the context of their organisation, and how the Board and Exco perceive them in relation to these areas.

We have learned that many women struggle to identify with the predominant leadership style which exists within their organisation. With the support of our teaching staff, coaches and their peers, they feel more confident exploring how to remain authentic whilst operating at a new, more senior level; how to influence and change the dynamics which exist without assimilating to the prescribed view of what leadership is.

Retained by their employer a year after participation.

Promoted to their Executive Committee.

Promoted to CEO, MD, Perm Sec or NED.

Group 18 Copy

Outcomes for Businesses

Better business results with greater gender diversity
Increased female retention
Rapid promotion with stronger, more confident women
Improved organisational performance as participants apply insights gained from contributors and peers
Positions your organisation as more attractive to millennials and Generation Z who seek greater gender diversity
Wider pool of female role models to inspire and sponsor more junior women
Group 22

Outcomes for Individuals

Unrivalled faculty in an intimate setting with access to FTSE 100 CEOs, Chairs and other high achievers
Unique mix of rigorous research, practical application and personalised roadmaps
Led by women with successful careers bringing their experience of how to overcome the barriers women face
Access to a phenomenal network of inspirational women to support and champion you
Opportunities to raise your personal brand internally and externally

Top Flight alumni

Watch our alumni talk about how Top Flight prepared them for executive level leadership.

Top Flight Guest Speakers

Gerard De La Garde

Executive Coach

Jane Maitland

Executive Coach

Margaret Edge


Karen Blackett OBE

President, WPP UK & Non-Executive Director, The Pipeline

Sanaa Sliti

Senior Programme Coordinator

Sophy Antrobus

Programme Lead

Mary Meaney

Mary Meaney

Former Senior Partner, McKinsey & Co and NED, Imperial College, London

Phil Collins

Philip Collins

Leader Writer and Columnist, The Times

Paula Leach

Programme Leader

June Sarpong OBE

Broadcaster, Independent Director and Former Director of Creative Diversity, BBC

Sue O’Brien

Executive Chair, People Advisory, UK & Vice Chair, Teneo & Chair of Board, The Pipeline

jo jenkins

Jo Jenkin

CEO, The White Stuff

Chris Bones

Chairman, The Chartered Institute of Legal Executive & Executive Director, The Pipeline

Jennifer Powell

Executive Coach & Programme Lead

Jackie Gittins

Executive Coach

Sue Leeson

Executive Coach

Jayne MacLennan

Executive Coach

Geeta Nargund

Professor Geeta Nargund

Medical Director, CREATE Fertility & Global Women’s Health Expert

Pauline Wiseman

Executive Coach

john reid

Rt Hon Lord John Reid

Chairman of Institute of Security and Resilience Studies (UCL) and Former Home Secretary

William Devine

Head of Coaching

Lorna Fitzsimons


Sir Jim O’Neill

British Economist & Former Chairman, Goldman Sachs Asset Management

ann steer

Ann Steer

CEO, Freemans Group

Joe Nellis

Professor Joe Nellis

Professor of Global Economy, Cranfield University

gill wylie

Gill Wylie

Group Transformation Director, Lloyds Banking Group

rees aronson

Rees Aronson

NED and former Audit Partner, KPMG

Charlotte Milligan

Charlotte Milligan

Former ITV Political Journalist

matilda thorpe

Matilda Thorpe

Presentation Persona Trainer / Actor / Writer

harriet thorpe

Harriet Thorpe

Presentation Persona Trainer / Actor

sue campbell

Baroness Sue Campbell

Director Women's Football, The FA

helen pitcher

Helen Pitcher OBE

Chair Judicial Appointments Commission and Chair, Advanced Boardroom Excellence

dido harding

Baroness Dido Harding

former Chair, NHS Improvement & former NED Bank of England

Lord Stuart Rose

Chair Asda