Inspirational Woman: Sarah Aubrey | CEO, DPG

Sarah AubreySarah Aubrey is the CEO of DPG. Developing People Globally (DPG) leads the way with flexible learning solutions that guarantee success in professional qualifications.

With over 25 years’ experience delivering innovative and credible quality programmes, we enable professionals to build their capability, drive the performance of their organisation, and fast track their career unlike anyone else. Our philosophy is simple: your success is our success.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

My career is centred in the professional development sector. I am deeply passionate about helping individuals and organisations to accelerate their ambitions, through the provision of world-class professional qualifications and development solutions. My career began by chance, after taking on a role selling professional qualifications at MOL Learn in 2002. Quickly I rose through the ranks, with an internal promotion each year, taking me to become Head of CIPD qualifications, in the UK and Internationally.

I joined DPG, as CIPD Director in 2008 and became a Board member in 2009 and haven’t looked back since. Today I am CEO at DPG and my role centres around providing the best service possible to those wanting to accelerate their HR, L&D and Management skills via professional CIPD qualifications and apprenticeships.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No, not at all. I have always had a keen interest in business strategy, leadership and psychology. However, I took my first position in the sector post-completion of an MSc, whilst I figured out what I wanted to do…!

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Throughout my career, I have been presented with opportunities to progress, that I didn’t feel ready for at the time. I took the leap and through the tough times, learned the most. I really subscribe to Brene Brown’s philosophy about being courageous by putting ourselves in a place of vulnerability. I knew even back then in my early career that if I didn’t make myself vulnerable and take the leap that I would regret it.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

The achievement that I am proudest of in my career is the success the team and I have achieved at DPG. In 2009-10 we worked extremely hard to ensure DPG was first to market with world class HR and L&D qualifications. This was a major catalyst for DPG and propelled us to a market leading position. Soon after we secured sole partnership with CIPD for the CIPD Advanced Level qualifications. A fantastic achievement for us all and testament to the exceptional quality and service that sits in DPG’s DNA.

Personally, the titles mean little to me. I take the responsibility that comes with leadership positions seriously and know that people are at the heart of driving high performance. This is my ‘why’ and how I found such an affinity to the sector. We are equipping and empowering others to maximise organisational performance through first class people management and development solutions and this also means maximising employee experience for all, espousing the CIPD’s core purpose.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Courage, clarity of purpose, high emotional intelligence and consistent hard work….! Having the courage to challenge, positively, has been important, especially early on in my career when I was the youngest Head of Department in the business.

Commitment to learning and own professional development is also paramount. Nobody is ever the finished article.  With experience comes the understanding that failure and false starts are a part of success. Unless we take risks, little changes. As the quote goes, ‘A ship in harbour is safe, but that is not what ships are built for’.

How do you feel about mentoring?

I am a huge advocate of Coaching and Mentoring. I recently undertook a post-graduate coaching course and found immense value in it for me personally and for my work with our team. I love the Nancy Kline quote ‘the mind that holds the problem holds the solution’. There is great learning in this for all leaders and managers.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?

I think it would be to give more even support to parents in the workplace via greater flexible working initiatives. Work is no longer just a place that we go to anymore and employees need greater flexibility.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Keep perspective, the stuff is just the stuff, it is how we respond and react to it that is key.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

I am highly committed to further accelerating DPG’s position and position. DPG is as much a part of me as I am of it. The team at DPG is everything and I am passionate about nurturing internal talent and progression. The digital revolution is an exciting time to be working in and DPG’s agility and entrepreneurial spirit stands us in great stead.

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