Meet the Candidates: Dr Natalie Lancer

Dr Natalie Lancer is one of five candidates standing for the role of President-Elect this year.

Society grade: Chartered Member

Current employment: Self-employed Coaching Psychologist

Current roles within the society: Chair of Senate; Trustee; Chair of Division of Coaching Psychology

Previous roles within the society: Secretary of Division of Coaching Psychology; PsyPAG rep for Special Group in Coaching Psychology; Member of the Practice Board

Membership of society member networks: Division of Coaching Psychology; Qualitative Methods In Psychology Section; Division of Academics Researchers & Teachers in Psychology

Natalie Lancer
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My three core values are transparency, accountability and integrity. I am an open and accessible person, making sure that any views I put forward are clearly evidenced and explained. I relish respectful dialogue and challenge, and welcome being held to account for my actions.
Natalie Lancer
Dr Natalie Lancer - Nominee for BPS President-Elect

Natalie's nominee statement

Question 1

The President of the BPS acts as champion and ambassador for the society, the discipline of psychology and for the wider psychological profession. How has your career and experience to date prepared you for this distinguished role?

As the Chair of Senate, I have worked closely with Member Networks across the society. My focus has been on connecting people and ensuring that members' voices are heard. This includes listening to the wider concerns of Chairs of the Member Networks and amplifying their voice within the society.

Furthermore, I am the Chair of the Division of Coaching Psychology (DoCP), which crosses the traditional boundaries in psychology; with members from Clinical, Forensic, Occupational and Sports Psychology. This has enabled me to develop a broad understanding of the needs and issues of psychologists working in a variety of contexts including the NHS, prisons, businesses and sports organisations.

In my professional work, I combine research in association with Birkbeck, University of London, lecturing and academic supervision of Master's and Doctoral students at the New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling, with my independent coaching psychology practice. Prior to this, my career included banking and teaching, which have provided me with a keener knowledge of broader society, helping me become a better psychologist.

I am confident, capable and comfortable with the media and have featured in radio interviews, podcasts and newspaper articles. I am a champion for psychology in multiple ways, including supervising and training psychologists, and writing articles in national newspapers. Hosting The Coaching Psychology Pod podcast for the BPS has enabled me to interview BPS colleagues and external stakeholders, representing psychology to the wider world and helping psychologists engage in wider societal issues. 

I lead regular coaching psychology events online and in-person and engage in thought leadership – presenting informative webinars for psychologists, writing and reviewing peer-reviewed articles and books, and running personal and professional development programmes.

I train university postgraduates on the benefits of psychological techniques to support the completion of their Master's and Doctorates, running programmes at the University of Cambridge, Durham University and Queen Mary, University of London, among others.

As Chair of the DoCP, I am actively involved in cultivating links with external stakeholders such as St Luke's Cancer Centre, Spark Inside, which brings coaching to prisons and the US organisation, GSAEC. I have the expertise, care, integrity and time to represent our society to other organisations and the wider public, pushing our broader agenda forward and having a practical impact on people's psychological lives.

It is important to be clear on why we are here as an organisation and acknowledge the influence we have on psychological societies throughout the world. For example, we are the first Psychological Society to recognise Coaching Psychology as a discipline in which a psychologist can become chartered and part of what we do in the Division is engage with psychologists, for example, in the US and New Zealand, about developing recognition of this field in their countries' societies. 

I also collaborate with the Global Psychology Alliance and, together with my fellow Chairs of other Divisions, I met Lisa Cameron MP, at Parliament to discuss how we can leverage psychological knowledge and expand its reach to impact the lives of more people.

Question 2

The BPS’s vision is to promote inclusivity and diversity. How do you see this as impacting the society’s work?

A key challenge for our profession is Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) which includes, inspiring and welcoming people from diverse backgrounds, people with neurodiversities and people from across the UK to become psychologists. If a more diverse range of people become psychologists, our profession will better reflect and connect with the wider population we serve.

My experience as a teacher for 12 years, including my role as Assistant Headteacher at an ethnically-diverse comprehensive school in London, encompassed inspiring students from diverse and lower socio-economic backgrounds to choose degrees and potential careers that they may not have considered before. Running programmes, mentoring schemes, careers and university fairs, and giving talks has enabled me to build expertise in this area which I apply to being a twenty-first century ambassador for psychology, cracking open the psychology profession to a new world of people. 

I have evidenced this in my own Division by championing Coaching Psychology as a way to help all people thrive, in their work and personal lives. I do this through the podcast I host, by volunteering to speak to prospective psychologists, such as at the BPS Careers Festival, as well as by answering many emails from prospective psychologists about career pathways and by supporting our committee to work on refining our vision and mission and defining clear strategic and operational objectives.

It is important that people from a diverse range of backgrounds can train to become psychologists which is why I believe it is vital to keep BPS qualification Stage Two pathways open. People may not want to train at a traditional university as they may have had an unusual educational journey, they may need more flexibility due to personal circumstances or they simply may not be in a part of the country where there is a relevant graduate university course available. 

Whilst consideration should be given to financial viability, there are issues beyond this. It is important to take into account the development of psychological expertise across the UK, and the inclusion of people who would otherwise be excluded from becoming a psychologist. As a Trustee, I have been vocal about this and will continue to advocate for our members. 

The BPS is a member-led organisation and we need to find solutions that service our members, are aligned to best practice as a charity and provide effective governance. Flexible and innovative thinking can align different viewpoints. We need to collaborate and bring energy, drive and commitment to our members and to the working of the charity, supporting the BPS strategic goals: building community, championing and building confidence in the psychological professionals and cultivating a diverse and high performing culture.

As President, I will champion the active mentoring of under-represented groups into leadership positions within the BPS and I have actively supported the Leadership Inspiration for Excellence Member Network (MN) leadership development programme initiative, started by Branch Chairs, with the aim of attracting and developing MN chairs which is recruiting for its pilot phase.

Question 3

The BPS aims to create a vibrant member-centred community with a meaningful membership identity. What do you see as the President’s role in this?

Supporting and encouraging our members, in terms of attending events, and getting involved with committees is a vital part of the President's role. I have held one-to-one meetings with people from many Member Networks and I have advocated for what members want to the relevant BPS staff and Chair of the Board of Trustees, particularly around events, budgets and training. 

We must clearly articulate the value of membership for each individual at a Member Network and broader BPS level. We need to communicate this explicitly and increase the benefits of membership, making sure people want to engage with and remain in the society.

As Chair of Senate, my focus has been on promoting meaningful discussions on cross- divisional topics, such as EDI and Climate Change. I have done this by leading well- structured meetings with respect, asking clear enquiry questions and encouraging everyone to contribute. I help ideas, connections and opportunities flow. I am always keen to listen to the voice of our members and find ways to put them at the centre of our work. I encourage members of Senate and members of the Division of Coaching Psychology to contact me with any issues or ideas. I always reply promptly and often meet colleagues who wish to discuss any matters with me. 

Communication and consultation are key. As the Chair of a newly formed Division, this is especially important in order to iron out any problems and to be open to new ideas. I am highly visible to members – sending out a monthly newsletter and hosting a monthly podcast (The Coaching Psychology Pod) which has had over 35,000 downloads to date. Hosting the podcast has given me the privilege of speaking in depth with key stakeholders and psychologists from different contexts, including schools, prisons, business and sport, better positioning me to represent them in our society.

While I have been DoCP Chair, I have encouraged new members to join our committee, making sure to find a place for them that matches their interests, such that our committee has grown to include several subcommittees, including Outreach, Careers, Mentoring and EDI, Lobbying and Engaging External Stakeholders.

As such, we are a thriving Division, with many people volunteering and a host of events and initiatives taking place, including an EDI mentoring scheme and a celebration of neurodiversity in coaching psychology. I am committed to helping members navigate BPS procedures. 

An example of this is playing a key role in ending the moratorium on new Member Networks forming which has led to the possibility of the birth of an Environmental Psychology Section, which will come to fruition, if enough members of the society choose to join it. My role included working with the members who wanted to start it, finding out why there was a moratorium in the first place, and providing constructive challenge to our SLT and Board of Trustees around providing a concrete end date. Although this has been discussed for over a year, I am tenacious, and I made sure to see this through.

Question 4

The President-Elect is an integral member of our Board of Trustees, which is the overall governing body of the society. Please outline any leadership, organisational and/or governance experience that would help you carry out this role.

It is essential to have good governance at the BPS. As President-Elect, I would focus on contributing to and achieving this, ensuring that we have regular reviews on what we are doing well and less well as a membership organisation, and taking action as a result. Indeed, I have already raised the issue of better communication and open consultation to the Board and look forward to spearheading this culture change.

My three core values are transparency, accountability and integrity. I am an open and accessible person, making sure that any views I put forward are clearly evidenced and explained. I relish respectful dialogue and challenge, and welcome being held to account for my actions. In my current role as a Trustee, I hold others to account, and advocate for decisions to be made that are transparent, sensible, and in the best interests of members, clients/patients and the society. 

My professional ethos is about breaking down barriers. Some barriers in the BPS are around excessive bureaucracy and we need to make sure that the language and processes used in BPS communications is inclusive and accessible. I will strive to work collaboratively with my colleagues to ensure that documents are clear and the main issues are summarised so that our busy members can engage with them efficiently. 

I have undertaken charity governance training, so as to uphold the highest standards of good governance. I bring insights from different sectors to my role as a Trustee, with an understanding of a range of organisational issues from finance to human resources, and currently sit on the Finance and Investments subcommittee.

I have a track record of supporting and enabling people and ideas. In my earlier career as a teacher, I was the union rep at my school for the then Association of Teachers and Lecturers. I was the PsyPAG rep for Coaching Psychology, becoming the Secretary and Chair. The Division of Coaching Psychology is one of the larger Divisions of the BPS and has recently gone through significant change, and as a result, I have developed a good understanding of how the BPS functions, and how to get things done. 

As a school leader, I was an Assistant Headteacher involved in policy making, holding my fellow leaders to account and apportioning our large budget to different initiatives. I also served as Development Governor of Christ Church Primary School, Barnet. I will bring my strategic, yet hands-on approach to the role of President and conscientiously execute statutory responsibilities. 

I am confident that I have the values, leadership experience and governance skills to build on my current role as a Member of the Board of Trustees and take a more strategic position as President. I am the right person to lead the BPS as President at this time, and, I hope you, as the members, will put your trust in me to represent our society. In turn, I will give this role my characteristic energy, and imbue it with my values of transparency, accountability and integrity.

Proposer statements

Professor Hazel McLaughlin

How long have you known the candidate?

Six years.

When have you worked with the candidate or come into contact with them?

Natalie Lancer has a depth of understanding around professional practice. She actively enables skills development, professional opportunities, and best practice within the profession. I am impressed by her energy and passion for psychology. She enables and encourages others, and she values the many volunteers who add their expertise to the society. She recognises the importance of lived experience and has a track record of coaching, mentoring, and enabling others to succeed. I have seen her in action with members, and at events. Leadership and development are important and in recent years, I have been Natalie's mentor. She runs coaching psychology supervision sessions where her enabling and supportive approach is evident. She has a background beyond the psychology remit through her experience in finance and banking, as a governor and through her career in teaching.

She has been proactive within the Coaching Psychology Division and within the society as a whole.

Why do you think the candidate would make a great President-Elect and President?

In these times of change and uncertainty, the psychology profession has a critical role to support and enable people within their communities. Every day, our profession delivers a wide range of services in diverse contexts across the four nations and beyond. We expand the science of psychology through research and practice and promote equality, health, and wellbeing as well as best practice in diverse contexts. To enable positive outcomes, it is essential that our trustees and leaders within the BPS are proactive, agile, and responsive to our members and that they actively promote best practice and are explicit in the way that they enable the added value of psychology to flourish. To this end, I am pleased to endorse Dr Natalie Lancer to be President-Elect and the future President of the British Psychological Society.

As the current Chair of Senate, she has already shown her willingness to listen and to work closely with others. She brings the capabilities that enable her to be a positive, collaborative, and progressive President and she has energy, passion, and a drive for change. She couples relationship building skills with empathy and a practical, down to earth approach to delivery. She would actively promote fairness, inclusion, and equality as President. She appreciates the challenges faced by BPS members and the need for close collaboration to deliver meaningful results. She takes accountability for her actions, appreciates the importance of governance, and how to work with others to achieve the end goals.

She is well versed in communication and the benefits of technology to enhance regular two-way interactions with members. She brings a positive can-do attitude, and she seeks out opportunities that will make a difference as well as working closely with others to overcome the challenges faced by psychologists and psychology in our ever-changing world.

Anthony Wainwright

How long have you known the candidate?

Over a year.

When have you worked with the candidate or come into contact with them?

I met Natalie a year ago as I was involved in a series of joint events on psychology and climate and environmental disruption. The Chair of the BPS South West branch introduced me to Natalie, and we met to discuss the possibility of a Senate meeting on the same topic. I was impressed with Natalie's approach which was a mixture of attention to detail and getting things done. I felt that there was the possibility of progress on this important issue and that Natalie would be able to get it more front and central to our profession's thinking. 

Natalie indeed hosted a Senate meeting on what we need to be doing as a society about climate and environmental disruption which went well. At Senate we discussed the possibility of establishing an Environmental Psychology Section, and this has now been approved by the Trustees to go to a vote of the members.

Why do you think the candidate would make a great President-Elect and President?

Dr Natalie Lancer would make an excellent President as she combines effective leadership skills with a practical approach to problem solving. Her background in Coaching Psychology contributes to her way of working with others, which encourages engagement, and helps build conversations across different groups within the society. In her role as Chair of Senate she has delivered some outstanding events, including on equality, diversity, and inclusion, and the climate and environment crisis.

The issue of the disruption of the climate and environment and the associated global conflicts defines the times we are living through. Natalie is an ideal candidate as she is fully engaged with these issues and understands that there is an urgent need for everyone who has influence to do what they can to affect policy. She is also committed to supporting the society collaborating internationally, for example, through the Global Psychology Alliance and the UN so that psychological ideas and social science are in the mix. 

Natalie also recognises the immense challenges the UK faces (along with the rest of the world) from extreme weather events and the importance of promoting the role of psychology in this area, for example, through the new Section she has helped to foster on Environmental Psychology. I think it is fair to say that it is down to Natalie's leadership that we have made the progress we have, and I personally am grateful for that.

Natalie's approach will be relevant to students and appeal to people who might be thinking of joining the society.

Natalie also sees the importance of equality, diversity and inclusion – in terms of ethnicity, and other factors such as poverty and disability. All these intersect with climate and environment, but are not the same.

Natalie's work on both themes I think is a winning formula.