University of Oxford

Cultural Leaders Programme

Dr Nelisha Wickremasinghe works as faculty on the Oxford Cultural Leaders programme, which is a residential executive leadership programme delivered through a partnership between the University of Oxford's Saïd Business School and its Gardens, Libraries and Museums.

It is designed for dynamic and reflective directors, heads of department and senior managers who want to challenge and redefine their identity as a leader and their vision for their organisation at a time of great challenge and complexity for the cultural sector. This week-long immersive, residential course is held annually in Spring within the University of Oxford's gardens, libraries and museums, colleges and other cultural assets.


Deliver sessions on personal and relational resilience grounded in the neurobiology of learning and growth.


Participants are given pre-reading to learn about the theoretical and research underpinnings of resilience.  The session itself is conversational and practice based enabling people to explore their pre-work in more depth, and to learn and practice techniques and methods for growing and sustaining their resilience.  These include: free fall writing - a practice to develop self awareness; breathing techniques for relaxation and managing attention, and use of the Kantor four player approach to understand the dynamics of how people talk together, how conflict emerges and what to do about it.

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  • Participants have greater insight into themselves as leaders; reflecting on their vision, values, impact, behaviours and attitudes (including to risk).
  • They are better equipped to deliver a more robust and resilient solution to the challenges ahead and are more entrepreneurially minded.
  • They are more confident to take charge of themselves, their teams, and the tasks in hand.
  • They will be confident in re-evaluating, reflecting and asking questions: what are we doing, what do we need to do and, how can we achieve this?

Client feedback

The resilience session delivered by Dr Wickremasinghe was rated as one of the most impactful sessions in the most recent 2019 OCL programme.

“Mind-blowing. Up to this point I think I was struggling to understand 'what my problem was' with myself and my leadership, and this session really unlocked something for me. I have gone on to read Nelisha's book and take with me so much from this session.” 

“The practical psychology knocked down my rational walls and engaged me at an emotional level, which I felt ready for and secure enough not to fight against by that point in the week.”  

“I'm really pleased you incorporated a mindfulness wellbeing element, as I think it's something we all desperately need.”

“I learnt lots of valuable skills in this lesson that I was able to bring back to work with me and utilize with my team.”

“Loved this session. Really messed up the dynamics of the group and Nelisha very much owned the room.”

“Most impactful session. I had a moment where I realized that I am hypervigilent and hyperaware which means that in one form or another, I live most of the time in my threat brain. I want to focus my energy on working towards my safe brain.”