Effectively leading the student experience is essential to the success of higher education. This presentation reports on large-scale research that is building the capacity of institutions to develop new approaches for leading the student experience. The research moves beyond ingrained myths to build new conceptualisations of undergraduate students that go beyond stereotypes, generalities and dated assumptions. It also moves beyond ingrained rituals to identify emerging and under-utilised empirical options for understanding and enhancing the 21st century student experience. The presentation reports on how the research is synthesizing these developments into innovative strategies for leading the 21st century student experience.