Mental Toughness Conference

Optimising Performance and Wellbeing in Times of Crisis and Chaos - Friday 16th October, 2020

We are delighted to announce that on Friday 16th October, The University of South Wales will be collaborating with AQR International, to bring you, the ‘Mental Toughness Conference 2020’.

This highly interactive online event will showcase the latest thinking in ‘Mental Toughness’ and its implications for coaching and people development from the eyes of both academics and practitioners. 

Mental Toughness is an aspect of our personality that determines how we deal mentally with stress and pressure, and how we can see change as an opportunity to grow and develop. Widely used in Coaching and Mentoring around the world it embraces notions such as Resilience, Mindset, Grit and Learned Optimism. 

Global research shows that Mental Toughness is a major factor in:

  • Performance – explains up to 25% of the variation in attainment
  • Positive Behaviour – more engaged, positive and “can do” attitude
  • Wellbeing – more contentment and better stress management
  • Aspirations – more positive about opportunities and open to learning 

Recent events have tested to the extreme our capacity to respond positively and to manage the most difficult events. In today’s VUCA world, this kind of disruption is not new and comes round more often than ever before. As uncomfortable as it may be, the pandemic has provided a unique opportunity to learn how to cope with future disruptions.

Wellbeing is also right at the top of the agenda. Assessing and understanding individual’s mental responses is vital in formulating strategies to optimise current well-being as well as ensuring when normality is restored, individuals are in the best place mentally to get going again.

Mental Toughness is universal, applicable in all walks of life. It has a particularly appropriate application in dealing with sustained adversity, setback and crisis and doing so positively. 

This is a unique opportunity to explore this fundamental aspect of people development. You will hear from some of the world’s leading practitioners and academics in the field of Mental Toughness.

Attendees will be provided with an opportunity to complete the Mental Toughness Questionnaire, a well evidenced psychometric, free of charge (RRP £55).

The associated psychometric measure supports both diagnosis and evidence-based practice. The concept describes the mental responses that every person adopts in everything they do.

In short, in an age of unprecedented complexity, turbulence and change, our mental toughness matters.

This conference is aimed at coaching and mentoring practitioners and facilitators, training and HR managers, business leaders - anyone that wants to embed a coaching culture within their organisation.   

You will hear from some of the world’s leading practitioners and academics in the field of Mental Toughness.

There will be several interactive, online masterclasses throughout the day designed to demonstrate the practical use of the concept. 

Closer to the time, the full running order and ability to book places onto your chosen sessions will be made available.

Doug Strycharczyk (CEO, AQR International) 

Doug is the CEO of AQR International – Founded in 1989, AQR is now recognised as one of the most innovative test publishers in the world working in more than 80 countries. AQR established its reputation as a thought leader in mental toughness. Doug has worked with Professor Peter Clough for 25+ years to define Mental Toughness and to create the world’s leading measure of Mental Toughness, the MTQ. Doug is now recognised as a leading authority on the application of the framework to the worlds of work.  

Keynote: The Development of the 8 factor Version of the Mental Toughness Concept and Questionnaire. 

Driven by feedback from practitioners and contributions form academic researchers, we now have a significantly enhanced understanding of the Mental Toughness concept and how it is relevant for every single one of us. Few are completely Mentally Tough or completely Mentally Sensitive – most of us are a mixture of both. The 8 factors enable us to understand this and to direct appropriate interventions more effectively than ever before.


Professor Peter Clough (Head of Research, Huddersfield University) 

Professor Peter Clough really needs little introduction. Whilst at the University of Hull, Peter initiated a programme of work which led to the development of the 4Cs framework of Mental Toughness – published in 2002 and now comfortably the most widely adopted description of Mental Toughness globally. 

Since that time, he has collaborated with researchers all over the world to examine the concept further and to identify links to important aspects of work and life – his name appears on around 50 peer-reviewed papers. 

By inclination an applied psychologist, his work has always focused on real-world issues. In recent times, together with long term collaborator Doug Strycharczyk, Peter has been instrumental in taking the Mental Toughness concept to the next level. 

Keynote: The Evolution of the Mental Toughness Concept and its Relationship with Key Ideas and Concepts in use Today 

Mental toughness describes “how we think” when events occur. Most practitioners engage with developing behaviour – “how we act when events occur”. How we think is a major determinant of how we act. 

In the last 10 years, a great deal of research has focused on how Mental Toughness relates to issues such as Emotional Intelligence, Creativity, Resilience, Fatigue and Overwork, Positivity, Decision Making, the Dark Triad, Flow and Directed Forgetting. Each with its application in people and organisational development.  

The result is that the Mental Toughness concept can both explain and join these ideas – often enabling them to be integrated effectively. And sometimes, it can expose those ideas that are not so well-founded in evidence-based practice. 

This promises to be informative as well as provocative.


Dr John Perry (Head of Psychology, Mary Immaculate College)  

Dr John Perry is Head of Psychology at Mary Immaculate College in Ireland. For several years John has been a core member of the team which has continued the development of the mental toughness concept and has been central the work carried out to establish the reliability of the concept. John has published many papers on Mental Toughness often in collaboration with Peter Clough and Kostas Papageorgiou. 

John has also led the exploration of specific aspects of Mental Toughness and a variety of applications – including new insights into understanding stress management, directed forgetting, etc all of which have direct implication for practitioners.

Keynote: Evidence-based practice - and why it’s important - clearing away the myths 

The world of people and organisational development can be plagued by the application of ideas and concepts that have little or no real evidence to support them. As professionals who are concerned with making a real difference in our work, the idea of evidence-based practice is fundamentally important. 

Dr Perry will provide a very accessible introduction to the topic – what is evidenced-based practice; what is evidence and what isn’t; the importance of causality; how to identify approaches that are well evidenced and those which aren’t; and usefully, how to incorporate this into your work. 

It is an issue that is rising in the agenda for professionals as clients of all types begin to ask “why will what you propose work and what is the real evidence for it”. 


Darren Whysall (Executive Coach & Coaching Supervisor, Barclays) – The Power of Team Coaching: Mentally Tough High Performing Teams 

Darren is a highly qualified and experienced Executive Coach, Coach Supervisor, Trainer and Facilitator with more than 25 years’ experience of working with people in high-pressure roles e.g. Armed Forces UK, Education, and Financial Services. 

Combining current studies for an MSc in Business and Strategic Leadership with qualifications in Education, Training, Coaching, and Supervision has helped Darren develop the insight and passion for helping individuals and teams identify their unique qualities and attributes to improve well-being, build capability, enhance team working and growth. 

Session Outline

In today’s ever-changing business landscape many organisations are investing in coaching to bring about individual change, but what do the most forward-thinking organisations do to bring about broader more sustainable change, whereby both individuals and the organisations they are a part of thrive?  They take the next step and invest in team coaching!  

What is team coaching?  

This highly interactive session aims to answer this question. In addition to this, participants will explore models, tools and techniques they can take back to their own organisations to help build mentally tough high performing teams.


Craig Hamer (Founder & CEO, The Performance Culture) – Organisational Performance, Coaching and the MTQ: Moving towards Diagnosis and Development Programmes in Organisations   
Speaker Bio  

Craig Hamer is a Mental Toughness Master Trainer and comes with significant experience of working in Senior Executive Coaching, Organisational Effectiveness and Team Working assignments with a wide range of clients including Deloitte CH, Mazars and Jaguar Land Rover. Alongside his client work, Craig also teaches at Leeds Business School. 

Session Outline

The real value of the MTQ is in its’ application for clients and client organisations. In this session, we explore the concept of ‘diagnosing’ organisational issues using the MTQ tool, and the concept of ‘developing’ organisational performance through the MTQ tool – using real-life case studies from the Automotive and the Professional Services sectors. 

What does a ‘diagnose’ and ‘develop’ programme look like? 

During this interactive session we will: 

- Consider how to sell programmes rather than tests 

- The design, launch and delivery of team programmes 

- Developing longer-term engagement through coaching 

- How to coach for performance using MTQ


Joanne Turley (People and Performance Consultant, ARK Consultancy) – More Than Just a Measure: a selection of case studies 

Joanne is a people and performance consultant at ARK consultancy and heads up their Academy; predominately providing people solutions to the social housing sector, charities and most recently education. Joanne’s whole focus in her career has been to help people achieve and reach their potential and take the opportunities that come their way. She will share how she applies the MTQ model and where she’s seen it add great value to people and organisations.  

Session Outline  

In this session, I will share some of the case studies of using mental toughness with my clients. From employment support to evidencing impact to creating high performing teams to personal growth and development – one ‘size’ really can fit all. 

From Improving team collaboration - when a team’s dysfunction turns catastrophic, understanding mental toughness can help mend relationships and build team cohesion and collaboration. 

To measuring ROI and personal development – working with those furthest removed from the job market and demonstrating progress.   

 Sharing how mental toughness can be embedded in several working practices.


Samantha Sloan (Director, 123 People Development) – The Resilient Pilot: Mental Toughness in the Aviation Industry 

As a passionate developer of people with over 13 years Coaching facilitation, design and training experience across a wide range of sectors, from financial services, contact centre to retail. Sam loves working with clients where her skills, knowledge, flexibility and commitment will make a real difference.  

Recognising that there is no one-size-fits-all approach, Sam understands that development can be tailored to any organisation for a true return on investment, by focusing on the business culture, behaviour and strategic goals.  

Sam’s additional expertise is online delivery, design and accreditation of others. She has over 10 years’ experience in the online classroom arena. Her ability to effortlessly adapt her style to her audience ensures your learning experience is both supportive and enriching. Sam also has a wealth of practical experience across many sectors which, coupled with her natural ability to coach, creates highly a targeted, relevant, and memorable training experience. 

Session Outline 

With the level of chaos and uncertainty facing the aviation industry, this session explores how the mental toughness model and MTQPlus measure are being used to develop mentally tough pilots. This highly interactive session will explore its use in supporting the development and wellbeing of pilots and trainee pilots. The session will also highlight the use of data for safety perspectives, as well as its use in mentoring - using data to match mentor pilots with mentees. Join us to see how the sky's the limit with the successful application of Mental Toughness.


Lorna Lawless (Coaching Psychologist, Next Level Coaching) – Coaching Mental Toughness in Mixed Martial Arts: Practitioner Case Study 

Lorna Lawless is a Coaching Psychologist and owner of her own Coaching business. She holds a first-class honours M.A. in Coaching Psychology from University College Cork and a BSc in Psychology from the Open University. She is a member of the European Mentoring and Coaching Council and Secretary of the Coaching Psychology Special Interest Group for The Psychological Society of Ireland.  

Lorna uses the Mental Toughness framework to signpost the developmental needs of her clients, as well as evidencing the impact of her work.

As well as Mental Toughness, Lorna also specialises in Emotional Intelligence and Flow states. This combination of expertise provides her with a thorough understanding of the psychology of high performance. She has presented her research on emotional intelligence and mental toughness at international conferences. 

Session Outline  

This session will outline qualitative results from a coaching case study with amateur MMA athletes. It will explore both client and practitioner experiences using the MTQ model to develop mental toughness.


Pam Heneberry (Director, Professional Development Centre) – Resilience in Times of Change: Why we need to focus on Resilience now 

Pam has worked in the field of Leadership and Development for the last 25 years. She specialises in creating and delivering senior leadership and organisational change programmes. Working in partnership with USW for the last 10 years to develop bespoke experiential learning programmes delivered to both the public and private sector.  

Pam has several post-grad qualifications including an  MA in Management Learning and Leadership from Lancaster University. Having published several articles on leadership, coaching and action learning she has recently co-authored Critical Leadership How we learn to be better leaders (Heneberry, Turner & Pardey). 

Session Outline  

We are currently in a time of huge and dramatic change. Our workplaces are different, our social contact with people is different, our everyday routine is different. We are creatures of habit and we take comfort from patterns and routines of behaving – this has been turned on its head.  

For many of us we have on occasion felt anxious, out of control and fearful of what the future holds for us and others.  

It is perhaps particularly timely to consider how we become more Resilient in order to cope with the challenges facing us but also how as leaders and managers we help others to become more resilient and cope with the changes that the future holds.

Tickets cost £70 per person. In addition to a place on the conference, attendees will be provided with an opportunity to complete the Mental Toughness Questionnaire, a well evidenced psychometric, free of charge (RRP £55).

You can book online or if you'd like your company to be invoiced, please email uswcommercial@southwales.ac.uk to be sent a booking form. 


Reserve your space

Email: uswcommercial@southwales.ac.uk

Tel: 01443 482482

Twitter: @USWCommercial