Leadership Training Program

McGill is developing new leadership and communication training that will benefit its own graduate students as well as those enrolled at Concordia University and the University of British Columbia.

The first year of the program was supported by a $91 080 grant from the “Entente Canada-Québec relative à l'enseignement dans la langue de la minorité et à l'enseignement des langues seconds” to continue the Leadership Project piloted spring 2016.  This funding facilitated the hire of two Leadership Project Administrators, as well as 4 graduate students, who work to provide professional development workshops to graduate students in leadership and communication, and develop new resources.

McGill recognizes that graduates need to be critical problem solvers, change agents, innovators, and to work effectively in cross-disciplinary teams. Graduates who can communicate their research effectively to both academic and public audiences are better positioned to secure funding and employment. Researchers who can engage communities are being sought out to meet the demands of a rapidly evolving social landscape. SKILLSETS helps students cultivate and grow these skills, offering over 220 workshops annually to graduate students.

The Leadership Training Program team is working collaboratively with multidisciplinary partners across McGill as well as Concordia University's GradProSkills team and the University of British Columbia's PATHWAYS team


McGill partners include:  

Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (GPS)

Macdonald Innovations for Teaching Improvement (MITI)


NSERC CREATE graduate training - Environmental Innovation

NSERC CREATE graduate training - Medical Physics

Public Life of Arts and Ideas (IPLAI)

Student Services (Campus Life and Engagement)

Teaching and Learning Services (TLS)

Tomlinson Project in University-Level Science Education (TPULSE)

Trottier Institute for Science and Public Policy (TISPP)

Trottier Institute for Sustainability in Engineering and Design (TISED)


The original Leadership Training Program grant application was spearheaded by Dr. Elena Bennett, McGill’s Leopold Fellow in Leadership from FAES, David Syncox, the Graduate Education Officer from Teaching and Learning Services, and Dr. Sophia Kapchinsky, the Skills Development Officer from Teaching and Learning Services.

Stanford University’s Leopold Leadership Program aims to provide “skills, approaches, and theoretical frameworks for translating ... knowledge to action and for catalyzing change to address the world’s most pressing ... challenges.” Following the model of the Leopold Leadership Program and utilizing the unique strengths and knowledge of McGill’s own Leopold Fellow, we have the goal of creating a five-year training program that will offer leadership and communication training to the McGill student body.

Leopold Fellowship

SKILLSETS worked in collaboration with the NSERC CREATE program for enhancing Canada's prosperity through innovative environmental assessment, monitoring and management, the Macdonald Innovations for Teaching Improvement (MITI), and University Advancement to develop an experience that would help graduate students develop their leadership and communications skills. Students came together from McGill and the University of Alberta to take part in a very successful 2-day leadership and communication retreat at Macdonald campus. Modules created for the retreat will be further refined this year.

A sample of user feedback:

“I think the retreat was an excellent and rare opportunity.”

"I learned a lot about myself, and it helped me to identify strengths and weaknesses that I wasn't necessarily aware of. Most of all, I found it useful to learn in what ways I may be viewed by someone with a very different leadership style.”

“I found it interesting to see how different peoples personalities lead to separation of leadership styles.”

Through this initiative, graduate students will have opportunities to develop new skills and to apply those skills as they step into leadership roles. We will develop a cohort of cross-disciplinary change-agents able to engage communities, communicate effectively, and make an impact in their chosen fields. These graduate students will become workshop leaders who will mentor new students as they transition into their careers.

We are exploring the possibility of bringing in additional partner universities internationally, considering how we could extend this program to undergraduate students and how we can formalize the process of tracking the development of professional skills through initiatives such as the IDP and professional portfolios.

For more information, please email us: skillsets [at] mcgill.ca or call Teaching and Learning Services at 514-398-6648.


McGill University is located on land which has long served as a site of meeting and exchange amongst Indigenous peoples, including the Haudenosaunee and Anishinabeg nations. McGill honours, recognizes and respects these nations as the traditional stewards of the lands and waters on which we meet today.