Leading with creativity: meet Diana Squires

Meet Diana Squires, Master’s in Innovation, Creativity and Leadership graduate and Global Women’s Leadership Programme Scholar

Leading with creativity

Diana Squires has built a career on four pillars: creativity, investing in people, social change and leadership.

She began her career in theatre, mastering the art of audience engagement. This led her into marketing and fundraising, where she built a reputation for exceeding targets.

“When I ventured into marketing and communications, I realised that my theatre background gave me more than storytelling skills. It was also an educational foundation in human behaviour,” she said.

Her communication skills enabled her to connect with diverse audiences and drive performance in corporate and non-profit settings: an Olympic sponsor corporation, a higher education institution, a body-positive fashion label for women, a health research foundation, and a social enterprise dedicated to environmental action.

Moving towards the business side of theatre, Diana set up her own theatre company called Scarlet Satin Productions, a vehicle for actresses to perform stories with strong female leads.

Diana Squires

“As a theatre producer, I was able to address the under-representation of women in the industry—actresses have fewer roles available than men, female directors have an uphill climb to find employment, and female playwrights do not see their work produced nearly as often as their male counterparts. Social impact has been a through-line in my career. My artistic work reflected this, and my natural trajectory as a manager led me into senior leadership in the third sector,” Diana said.

When asked to define strong leadership, Diana said: “A good leader has the confidence to cast an inspiring vision, the wisdom and strategy to implement, and the empathy and ethics to bring people along.”

Studying the MICL

Diana was looking for a new challenge and to take her leadership to the next level when she applied for the Master’s in Innovation, Creativity and Leadership at Bayes Business School (formerly Cass) – commonly known as the MICL. She wanted to build a professional network in London and start a new career chapter.

“Many students on the MICL are mid-career professionals with diverse backgrounds; it’s common to use this programme as a pivot point. I researched postgraduate options across Europe and North America, and was accepted to several, including an MBA. But there was no other course like this one. It was an ideal opportunity to upskill and deepen my specialism in creative leadership.”

Peer mentoring with the Global Women's Leadership Programme

Diana credits the Global Women’s Leadership Programme (GWLP) with allowing her the financial freedom to pursue further study. The GWLP coordinates scholarships, organises events on women’s issues, produces skills workshops, and gives Scholars the experience of working on an Executive Board.

The GWLP helped Diana apply her leadership skills, while also working on something she is passionate about – nurturing community.

“I knew that being a GWLP Scholar would help my career, but more importantly, it aligned with my value of bringing other women forward. I have a passion for community-building, and my interest in enhancing that at Bayes was one of the reasons that I was selected. Within my first month on the Executive Board, I had an idea of building a peer-to-peer mentoring programme for female postgraduate students.”

The ‘Partnering for Personal Best’ scheme had an explosion of interest. Diana matched female Bayes students in London and Dubai based on their interests and career stages. The initiative helped female students support each other in building their leadership and communication skills. It did so much more than that—Diana and her team produced workshops on topics like networking and confidence. Participants met with their partners but also benefited from the wider network of participants: this led to opportunities for their dissertation research, women finding jobs, and a sense of community during a year of remote learning and lockdowns.

In addition to her work for the GWLP, Diana also volunteered as Cohort Representative for the MICL, was hired as a liaison on the Student Experience Committee, and received a Student Impact Award by the university for her success in these roles and in fostering community at Bayes.

A bright future

While studying at Bayes, Diana developed an understanding of design thinking, human-centred design, and AI product design while consulting on team projects as part of the MICL. Her studies led her to work with CebAI, the UK’s National Centre for Creativity Enabled by AI, and with C2P2, Bayes’ research Centre for Creativity in Professional Practice.

Reflecting on her time in London and on the MSc programme, she says: “I loved my studies and the many opportunities to meet new people and work alongside other creative professionals. London is a pro-innovation city and there are lots of interesting career opportunities for someone who leads with both creative and strategic thinking.”

Diana is currently freelancing as an innovation consultant, podcast producer, research presenter, and public speaker.

Find out more about the Global Women's Leadership Programme.

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