Future Leaders: your questions answered

Are you thinking about applying for Future Leaders but want to find out more about the programme? We recently held two informal Q&A session with Future Leaders from past cohorts, where they answered questions from potential applicants. For those unable to attend, we hope you find the summary below helpful.

I’m not sure if I’m young/experienced/good enough to apply for Future Leaders?

Future Leaders is for anyone who has the right attitude and who aspires to be the next heads and directors of communications.

A certain level of experience in a communications role is necessary, but that doesn’t mean you need to be at a certain job role or have a set number of years of experience under your belt. Previous cohorts have been made up of people from a range of ages and backgrounds, with experience levels ranging from communications officers who had been in a job for two years to established managers.

In the words of former Future Leader Jack Grasby: ‘If you think you’re not experienced, good, young enough, don’t worry about it. Just apply if you want to do it!’

Former Future Leader and now Chair of LGcomms, Alix Macfarlane, explained on Wednesday’s webinar how important it is that we represent the communities we serve. LGcomms is committed to improving equality and diversity in the profession so we welcome applications from communications professionals from under-represented backgrounds.

What was your best part of the programme?

For Ross MacRae, taking time for academic learning was really helpful for him to consider his leadership style.

Mike Stringer said that one of his favourite things was visiting the Cabinet Office and learning from professionals in other organisations.

Neil Stewart described how working with his mentor completely changed his outlook on his career, helped him to identify his gaps in experience and gave him the motivation and support to fix them.

Melissa Craven said she thought the network she gained from being part of her cohort was the best part and that over this year, throughout the pandemic, they have been a huge support system to her.

What is it like taking on this programme? It’s been a while since I was at university and used to studying…

The programme takes around ten days over a year, with some compulsory sessions (such as the academic study of communications leadership with Paul Willis) and additional optional learning opportunities based on the development needs of the cohort.

Alumni on both webinars also reassured participants that they found the experience really beneficial and added it wasn’t necessary to be concerned about the academic part of the course.

They explained there are lots of practical take-aways that could be applied to roles immediately and taking time out to do the course also led to improvements within their teams, as they were able to bring back and apply the knowledge and best practise they’d obtained.

Do I need to prepare for the programme if I am accepted on?

Though there isn’t any compulsory preparation you need to do, Harri explained that it was important to think about what you want to get out of the programme, so you can grab opportunities as they arise throughout the year.

Do you think it will be an issue having some of the parts online this year?

This year, due to Covid, there are parts of the programme that will inevitably need to be adapted. However LGcomms can guarantee the programme will still be a fantastic development opportunity for the successful cohort.

In hopeful anticipation of being able to meet in person later in the year, this year’s cohort will be made up to 12 in order to allow people to be split into groups of six.

What are you looking for in the application process?

Attitude and drive are the most important things, as well as how you think the programme will help you to develop and raise communications standards in your organisation.

What did you gain from being on the programme?

Safika Munshi explained how her confidence had shot up since being on the programme. This was echoed by other panellists including Anna Marshall and Vicky Hardcastle.

Carly Davis said her network of contacts from being on the programme, both from her cohort and elsewhere, was still something she draws on today, since completing Future Leaders in 2019.

Katherine Lloyd said the programme gave her the strength to try new things and be innovative and is now transforming the way her team works.

A huge thank you to our panellists

Panel 1 (Wednesday 20 January 2021)

  • Carly Davis
  • Neil Stewart
  • Katherine Lloyd
  • Melissa Craven
  • Ross MacRae
  • Alix Macfarlane

Panel 2 (Friday 22 January 2021)

  • Michael Stringer
  • Safika Munshi
  • Anna Marshall
  • Vicky Hardcastle
  • Jack Grasby

Find out more about Future Leaders, including a high-level overview of the 2021 programme