Thought Leadership was quite a new concept to me, and not something I was familiar with before joining Team ICZ.  What is a thought leader?  Is it something straight out of George Orwell’s 1984?  Not quite…there’s no mind control here.  As I see it Thought Leaders are people who just get to that idea first, they get it, they apply it, and more importantly they tell people about it, get people involved, excited and interested.  What’s great about thought leadership is that anyone can be a thought leader; everyone has the ability to learn something new, to develop, and to inspire. Universities are full of thought leaders!  Learning, development and inspiration are kind of our bread and butter after all.

Our ICZ Thought Leaders were asked to be involved because they were already working in a way that fitted with our ICZ message; in fact they were way ahead of us, building partnerships, starting conversations, growing ideas, making stuff.  This was already part of their day job.  We didn’t have to do any ICZ sales pitch to these guys, they already got it, they were selling it before we even had an ICZ label, and that isn’t uncommon.  As I said in my last blog, we are doing lots of this stuff already.  The ICZs are about growing and supporting this work.  Shouting loudly about it so students, staff, industry, researchers hear us and think the University of Salford is the place to go for exceptional industry partnerships.

The COO Networking Session on the 10th June flagged some concerns around this group and its membership.  It’s fair to say that there wasn’t a democratic process for pulling together our group of Thought Leaders; we asked around, we got some names and some interested people got involved.    The formation of this group could have been better and more widely communicated, and we’ll learn from that, but what’s important here is that there doesn’t need to be a single thought leaders group.  This was always intended to be a starting point.  This was us dipping our toe into the University pool and seeing what bites.

This group of thought leaders did not disappoint, they have come up with some great ideas, challenged everyday thinking about how we can structure, implement and deliver the ICZ programme.  You can do the same.

If you have an idea, something that fits the ICZ agenda and that you want to drive forwards then set up a group. We can help with that, we can connect you with like-minded people, we can offer projects for work, we can support you to facilitate your group so you can inspire and develop others.  You’ll be able to feed in to and influence the wider work of the ICZs.  If you’re up for the challenge then do it! The ICZs are here to foster, develop, and enhance our industry partnerships and the more people who are involved, whoever you are, whatever your background and experience, the more successful it will be.

If you want to be involved, get involved, contact us at