Success School Seminar-2: Psychological and Cultural Barriers to Success

Wed, 18 May 2011 18:00 in Training
Venue: Central Library, Birmingham
Room: Conference Room 4, Fourth Floor
With: Stephen Hughes, Chief Executive, Birmingham City Council


This second session of Success School focused on the question of what psychological and cultural barriers impede people’s fulfilment of their potential, and how these can be counteracted and overcome. Stephen Hughes, Chief Executive of Birmingham City Council, gave an engaging presentation, drawing on his own experience to give valuable practical advice on achieving success. There was time for questions and discussion and participants found the session very helpful.


Mr Hughes' speech will be a part of our "success school" seminar series. In his speech, these particular subjects would be addressed:

  • Psychological and cultural barriers to success
  • The factors which make for success and of barriers to it
  • Valuable practical advice, hints and tips for being successful
  • Mr Hughes' own success story

Biography of Stephen Hughes

Stephen Hughes became Chief Executive in May 2006. He had been Interim Head of Paid Service from August 2005, when former Chief Executive, Lin Homer, left the Council to join the Home Office. Stephen is keen that all employees see their job as improving the lives of Birmingham people and changing the Council to provide more joined up customer focussed services. For that reason he is driving forward Business Transformation supported by the BEST change programme and InSource. He has led the way by taking the Institute of Customer Services qualification as an example for all staff. He also sees that Birmingham people "succeeding economically" is the key challenge for the city and that the Council, other public agencies and business need to work together to ensure the future prosperity of the city. Stephen joined the City Council as Strategic Director of Resources in February 2004. Before coming to Birmingham he worked for the London Borough of Brent as Director of Finance. Previous roles include a secondment to DETR to lead on Council Tax and Business Rates policy, Head of Finance at Islington Council and policy work around local government finance at the AMA and ALA.

Introduction to Success School

Dialogue Society Birmingham Branch's Success School aims to inspire, encourage and equip people to aspire to and work towards success. Participants will be challenged to think differently about their prospects. To this end the school will provide inspiration, encouragement and advice through the stories of a range of successful professionals. It will also help participants to explore and understand the factors which make for success, provide valuable tips. Further, the School will establish a network to provide participants with ongoing support, advice and networking opportunities.


  • To eliminate psychological and cultural barriers to success
  • To raise aspirations
  • To provide encouragement and support to participants at a pivotal stage in their lives and careers
  • To inspire participants through the stories of others' success
  • To build understanding of the factors which make for success and of barriers to it
  • To provide valuable practical advice, hints and tips
  • To build a network of participants, the Birmingham Branch staff and contributors to provide an ongoing source of support, advice and networking opportunities

Target Audience

Dialogue Society Birmingham Branch's Success School is primarily aimed at those from disadvantaged backgrounds, where personal circumstances tend to prevent individuals from achieving their full potential. Young people (16-27) in the local area falling into this category will be a key target audience. This will include young people from ethnic minorities.


The Success School will operate through a series of 10 presentations, which will explore the underlying dynamics, causes, and methods of success. Each presentation will either:

  • Explore academic research and empirical evidence that helps us better understand the causes of success (2 presentations)
  • Discuss techniques, attitudes and skills that help develop potential and achieve greater effectiveness, or (2 presentations)
  • Present role models who have become successful in their chosen field to discuss their 'story' and know-how. (6 presentations)

Participants will be able to meet in person with the speakers and engage with them on a more personal level. They will also have time to get to know each other and the Birmingham Branch staff informally over refreshments after each session, building a supportive network. An alumni networking event at the end of the School will encourage ongoing contact and support between participants, the Birmingham Branch staff and guests.


The sessions will be held in the evening, during weekdays and are expected to attract an audience of between 20 and 50 participants.

The format of each session will be as follows:

  • Presentation by the Speaker ( 25 - 45 min)
  • Question and Answers Session ( 20 - 35 min)
  • Closing Remarks ( Max 5 min)
  • Refreshments


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