Aspiring chief operating officer programme


We’ve designed this programme with Ashridge Executive Education to help develop up to 25 senior professionals from inside or possibly outside the NHS to be ready to take on a chief operating officer (COO) role within the next 12 to 18 months.

How will this programme help you?

The programme will help you develop the key skills required to be a successful COO, including:

  • learning how to operate effectively at board level, influencing and managing important stakeholders, and the essentials of good governance
  • understanding how to successfully lead healthcare operations and meet necessary targets
  • exploring how to create supportive, collaborative and high performing patient-focused cultures
  • exposure to good improvement practice to improve patient experience
  • developing the personal resilience necessary to function in the role
  • learning from healthcare leaders who have been successful in the role
  • developing your interview skills

What will the programme consist of?

Over the period of a year the programme will consist of:

  • a recruitment process including a panel interview
  • a formal launch event introducing the programme and forming a learning community
  • completion of psychometrics and a personal development plan, supported by a professional coach
  • three residential modules and two regional workshops with Ashridge Business School that will expose you to new ways of thinking about leadership, change, operational and quality improvement, and build your skills and confidence as a leader
  • shadowing senior leaders in other service areas
  • completion of a work-based ‘stretch assignment’ in groups which you will present to a panel of Ashridge Faculty and programme sponsors in a closing conference

How to apply

Please discuss this programme with your director, COO, or chief executive, who will need to endorse your application and your release from day-to-day operations to attend the programme.

We are expecting successful candidates to come from at least a band 8D or 9 level of seniority, or equivalent.

Please note we reserve the right to close the application process early if we receive enough applications.

Please send back your application, a copy of your CV and a completed equal opportunities form to

Please note that the equal opportunities monitoring form will be stored confidentially by Ashridge Executive Education and used solely for monitoring purposes.

If you have any questions please call Ashridge Executive Education on +44 (0) 1442 841142.


Closing date for applications Friday 11 May 2018
Face-to-face interviews Wednesday 6 or Tuesday 12 June 2018
Offer letters sent Monday 18 June 2018
Closing date for acceptance into the programme Monday 25 June 2018
Virtual programme launch Wednesday 4 July 2018
Module 1 – Birmingham Tuesday 11, Wednesday 12 and Thursday 13 September 2018
Regional workshop 1 – venue TBC October 2018
Module 2 – Wyboston Lakes Tuesday 6 and Wednesday 7 November 2018
Regional workshop 2 – venue TBC January 2019
Module 3 at Ashridge’s campus in Hertfordshire Tuesday 19, Wednesday 20 and Thursday 21 February 2019
Final conference at Ashridge’s campus in Hertfordshire Tuesday 19 March 2019

This programme is fully funded by NHS Improvement with the exception of travel expenses and overnight accommodation the night before any of the modules.

Contact us

If you have questions about the course please email Senior Development Advisor, Carolyn May on or Ashridge Executive Education on

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