Clearleft has experience of running bespoke retreats for design leaders.

We take small groups to beautiful locations and provide space for them to take time away from their busy schedules, allowing them to focus on their own self-development. The retreats enable them to connect with a small curated group who hold similar positions. The retreats provide a much-needed safe space for design leaders to share and open up about the realities of design leadership within their organisations.

Our retreats were one of our most popular events. Always selling out and in great demand. In spring 2020 we were all set to run another retreat, this time specially for women in design leadership. Then COVID put a stop to our plans.

Everything was set for our retreat to run. The venue was booked, tickets were sold, but once COVID hit we, like so many other people, had to put the brakes on. The pandemic put a lot of events on hold; weddings, holidays, big birthdays, let alone work events!

Knowing when to take the brakes off and run the event was a tricky balance. As restrictions were lifted we knew people wanted to come together. But would attendees be comfortable travelling? Some would be coming from as far away as Australia and Singapore. After so long working from home would people want to spend four days in a strange location, no matter how nice it was? Basically, would attendees still want to come?

With a level of trepidation we decided that Spring 2022 would be the time to relaunch the event. During the two years that the event had been on hold, a few extra tickets had become available. But would we be able to sell these tickets at such short notice?

We had stayed in communication with attendees and when we messaged them to say that we were going ahead, they were delighted and couldn't wait to book their flights. And as for those extra tickets, there was such a huge demand for them that we quickly had a waiting list of people who wanted to join us.

And so, last month we had the pleasure of taking an intimate group of female design leaders for a four day retreat in the beautiful Cotswolds countryside. Travelling to the retreat, I had one question running through my head: after two years of waiting could the retreat live up to the expectations of the attendees? Well…

There are few moments in life and especially in your career where you get to experience true sisterhood, but this retreat is one of them.
Lindsay Rife, Design Lead, Funsize
Happy-looking women gathered outdoors for a group photo.

The retreat didn't just go well, it exceeded all of our expectations! It was fantastic to receive such positive feedback from the attendees.

No words can really describe experiences like this.
Natalie Armendariz, Partner & Design Director, Funsize

It was wonderful that the attendees shared our feeling of having our greatest expectations being surpassed.

Julia Whitney is an executive coach who we have the pleasure of collaborating with on our retreats. She developed a framework for our time together which provided structured coaching, peer support and time for self-reflection.

Rebecca sitting and working at a table outside in the garden of a beautiful country house.
Curated with care and intention, the amazing team at Clearleft have made something beautiful together.
Aditi Sharma, Head of Design, Payments Ops
The group gathered round a board, deep in discussion.

There was also plenty of time to bond as a group. We had social activities like cocktail making, flower arranging and country walks. There were even a few swimming sessions thanks to some unexpected Spring sunshine.

Everyone getting hands on with flowers.

It wasn't just the programmed activities that made the event so special. The beauty of these events is what the attendees bring to them. It is their openness and willingness to let down their barriers where the magic happens.

The group walking down a country path.
Thanks for providing and creating such a safe space that allowed us to bring our authentic selves and share our vulnerabilities and stories.
Elena Metcalfe, Director Design, Global Savings Group

It was so rewarding to know that we have connected a group of women who will be able to continue to support and empower each other.

When I booked in for the retreat I knew it would be special but I was unprepared for the deep connections I would feel towards the women who shared this experience with me. We will be friends. We have a community I will reach out to for wisdom and joy for years to come.
Grace Kraus, Head of Experience Design, Atlassian
Two women hugging outside a country house.

As the host of the event, this retreat had an unexpectedly profound impact on me too. I felt so lucky to be in the presence of a group of women who lifted each other up, saw strengths within us that we didn’t see in ourselves and empowered one another. And knowing that that feeling was shared with the attendees was truly special.

I will cherish this time for life. Thank you for helping me find me.
Jaqui Frey, Director of Product & Design Operations, DeliveryHero

Whilst we continue to reflect on our amazing time in the Cotswolds we are already looking forward to holding the next retreat. If you would like to attend our future retreats you can register your interest here.