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The Academy Story

The Leadership Academy was created out of frustration. During my long career in human resources, I had witnessed first-hand self-indulgent leadership styles at every level. What’s worse is that the very leaders I supported didn’t always recognise a suitable leadership style for themselves. That lack of awareness became an obstacle when discussing leadership of their teams – especially as they themselves were the root cause of the problem.

I struggled for some time with a genuine desire to do something around leadership versus the need for HR to miraculously have managers lead – but how? What support would be given them? What tools are available for leaders? How did they view leadership themselves? What is the key to creating your employees’ leadership style…?

More recently, since the launch of bonafide hr, I set out to discuss this with my clients and discovered that one common thread tied them all. We want to upskill our leaders and support them but can’t afford to send them on expensive leadership development training programmes.[Average cost is often upwards of £10,000 per participant]*

I recently approached a few leadership development training companies; most of them did not want to tap into the SME space. The response ranged from “They can’t afford to send participants on training” to “We only work with companies that clearly have a leadership proposition for their employees and the budget to invest”. The list of companies they worked with included financial institutions, pharma companies, global conglomerates (all the companies I worked for myself) who can afford to send people on expensive leadership and management training programmes. I was one of them!

I found myself moaning about this constantly with HR and leadership colleagues and then I thought, “I’m going to do something about it”.

In January 2019 I started to pull together a team of experts from across the HR and leadership industry – a mixture of training professionals, occupational psychologists and coaches. We all got along well and discovered a common interest in supporting smaller businesses. We wanted to bring together what we have learnt to serve the next generations of leaders in the SME space, within the creative industry… and here we are.

My name is Shaheen, Founder of bonafide hr Leadership Academy, and here is our remarkable team!

Welcome aboard!


Leadership Academy Team

Hans Schumann

I first met Hans in 2017 at a networking event and we connected immediately. Hans is an ex-lawyer (Ashurst and Santander) turned executive coach. This transition from lawyer to coach was a compelling one. Hans explained how, as a result of a serious health crisis, he decided to do something more meaningful with his life. I found him charming, charismatic, engaging and with a contagious smile. You just wanted to talk to him. 

Hans has been successfully coaching many bonafide hr clients on a host of issues, mainly around leadership. He combines practical insights with a wealth of coaching tools for a person-centred approach. 

Contact Hans here. Or see his full profile here.

Heeral Gudka

We live in a world of technology and social networking; I met Heeral in the most unlikely of professional social networking sites, Shapr, in early 2018. From her profile I knew she was a coach specialising in Inclusion & Diversity, an area where I had a keen interest and a gap in expertise. We arranged to meet at our offices in London.

Heeral came from a blue-chip background, working as an actuary turned coach and I&D expert. I loved this:a multi-directional career path based on passion. Having learnt some great skills, she realised very quickly that she wanted to use her emotional intelligence and decided to explore a more varied path for development.

Heeral works on both sides of the Atlantic, in London and Bermuda (some people have all the luck!).

Contact Heeral here. Or see her full profile here.

Lucy Cleveley

Lucy is an occupational psychologist; she helps businesses create environments in which people can thrive, growing skills and confidence to unlock potential.

She started her career with Deloitte, moving on to Barclays Bank and then the BBC. Lucy has spent the last 10 years building bespoke people development solutions that are clever, simple and creative. When I first met Lucy, she had just started setting up her own business. I just loved Lucy’s passion; she has taken her expertise into her community and, in her ‘spare time’, runs The Booster Club – a series of bite-sized, confidence-boosting workshops for local women.

Lucy lives with her husband, son and daughter in South East London.  She loves travel (yes, even with the kids in tow), live music, reading, watching boxsets and is a bit of an eco-warrior.

Contact Lucy here.


From Our Leaders

Shaheen Kadri

Human Resource Director & Co-Founder, bonafide hr
“Leadership and Performance is part of any organisational culture. Your ability to perform and lead helps you to grow your leadership position in the businesses that you support.”

Zarina Mahmood

Executive Director, bonafide hr
“By targeted networking and learning you allow yourself the opportunity to build on your capabilities in a safe place, with like-minded people from within the creative space, and be part of something very special.”

be Creative.
be Exceptional.
be a Great Leader

About the Academy

At the bonafide hr Leadership Academy we grow creative leaders who can solve the business challenges of today and tomorrow by engaging teams through heart, vision and excellence.

The Leadership Academy has been designed to empower you to create your own leadership style, so that you can drive change and growth across your entire organisation.

Our Leadership Academy is a suite of carefully designed and configurable programmes built by experienced facilitators from across the executive coaching, HR, leadership and training industry. They enable our participants to develop the creative capabilities of frontline leaders and high-potential employees as part of a cohort.

Benefits and Opportunity

– An opportunity to be part of a cohort of like-minded people – a diverse mixture of aspiring, experienced and newly appointed leaders from across the creative industry
– Create or develop your own leadership brand
– Become confident in your leadership abilities
– Explore skills that will allow you to engage your team with heart and vision
– Learn how to master difficult conversations and resolve conflicts assertively
– Understand what it means to increase your influence and the impact it may have
– Improve your personal effectiveness
To register your interest or for more information contact us today.

The programme includes:

  • 3 full days of engaging and energising learning across three months in central London, including breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea
  • Welcome Pack
  • 3 online coaching sessions with our trained leadership coaches 
  • An opportunity to meet and network with other participants from across the creative industry
  • Individual personalised assessment with feedback to discover your leadership style
  • Social event in January 2020 with the bonafide hr team and guests
  • Ongoing support and the opportunity to be part of a cohort to become an alumni
  • Optional membership in a closed Facebook / LinkedIn group

Have some questions?
OK…. Let’s try and answer them for you!

Leaders are people who drive ideas forward.  They create change and momentum in the organisations and support, enable and influence others to meet this change.  They help other people to be effective they are always striving to be more effective themselves.  You don’t have to be a manager to be a leader. In the Academy, we will explore how you can become a great leader while staying true to your creative integrity and your personality.

The goal of the programme is to enable our participants to develop their leadership skills as frontline leaders and high-potential employees as part of a cohort of like-minded people from across the creative industry.

The Leadership Academy is for anyone who wants to improve their confidence and effectiveness as leaders.

Even better! Your experience will add richness to the conversation and you will benefit from a change of perspective and learning.

SME stands for Small and Medium Enterprises, such as boutique-style businesses and start-ups.

We believe that leadership styles in the creative space have more substance and depth. In our experience the passion and originality of the industry drives its culture and leadership enabling creativity, hence the need for its own academy.

You will meet like-minded leaders from across the creative space who experience similar challenges to those you face daily. Together you will learn from knowledgeable facilitators who draw on years of experience in managing people.

No, you don’t need to qualify – but please bring your creative mindset and real-life experience with you!

You may be asked to prepare something in advance; watch out for an email from one of our facilitators.

be Creative, be Exceptional, be a Great Leader

Sign Up

Corporate Social Responsibility – Global Fund for Children

At bonafide hr our commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility is an extension of who we are. That’s why one per cent of all profits from bonafide hr will go to the Global Fund for Children, an international nonprofit advancing the rights of children and youth around the world.

To learn more about the great work of bonafide hr and GFC visit us at

For bonafide hr, doing good business means giving back.