We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.


Sporting alumnus Ollie Phillips supports ground-breaking Leadership Challenge

Ollie Phillips, Business School graduate, former England Rugby Union player and Olympian, is now working with the School to deliver an exciting new leadership programme. The Durham Leadership Challenge is a unique physical and managerial experiential learning exercise, combining an endurance cycle ride across the north-east England countryside with managerial problem-solving. For those familiar with Ollie, the endurance cycle ride won’t be a problem after his ride across America.

As the name suggests, the Challenge has a competitive element to it with the opportunity for eight forward-looking organisations to field a team of ten senior managers. And this is where Ollie fits in, as one of the elite athletes providing exclusive coaching.

To allow for the improving Covid-19 situation, the Challenge element will take place later in the year with a high-energy, week-long residential element in Durham and the greater north-east region. However, the seven-month long programme begins in September with the virtual delivery of pre and post-event modules based on research by Professor Olga Epitropaki and Professor Susanne Braun from the School’s International Centre for Leadership and Followership.

Peter Allen, Associate Dean for External Engagement and Impact at the Business School said “This unique challenge is aimed at senior leadership teams from organisations serious about developing their people and wanting to benefit from the latest leadership thinking. Not only will managers benefit from leadership modules developed by research active, internationally-recognised academics, they will be supported by exclusive coaching from elite athletes like Ollie Phillips.”

The programme is due to start in September 2021 and enquiries about participation can be emailed to

Ollie said: “I’m really looking forward to working with the Business School, the University and other partners in the delivery of such a ground-breaking leadership programme. I’d certainly encourage any of my fellow Durham alumni in a position to take advantage of this programme to find out more.”

More information

  • Further information on the Durham Leadership Challenge can be found here.
  • For Exec Ed programmes click here
  • To find out more about the International Centre for Leadership and Followership and research undertaken by staff click here