- Laura McNamee and Joe Devlin are part of 50 young people from around the globe meeting world leaders, parliamentarians and academics in the UK as part of the British Council’s Future Leaders Connect programme
- The nine-day programme includes advanced policy and leadership training at the Møller Institute, Churchill College, University of Cambridge, and visits to the UK Houses of Parliament and No.10 Downing Street, London
- Future Leaders Connect helps some of the world’s brightest 18-35 year olds sharpen their leadership and policy making skills
- This year’s 50 winners were selected from 16,000 applications worldwide.
Two of Northern Ireland’s emerging policy leaders have been selected for a prestigious nine-day leadership programme.
Joe Devlin, a Senior Market Analyst at Viridian Group and Laura McNamee, a Policy & Public Affairs Officer and Practitioner Support Officer at Housing Rights have arrived in Cambridge, England to take part in British Council’s Future Leaders Connect programme.
The duo will be joined by peers from Canada, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Tunisia, the USA, as well as participants from the rest of the UK.
Now in its second year, the British Council’s Future Leaders Connect initiative provides advanced policy and leadership development training, networking opportunities with world leaders and visits to Westminster to help build tomorrow’s leaders from around the world.
The 2018 members are also participating in an evening of debate and conversation in London with Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland (1990-97), Ricardo Lagos, President of Chile (2000-2006), Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway, and other dignitaries from among The Elders. The Elders are an independent group of world leaders founded by Nelson Mandela in 2007, working together for peace, justice and human rights.
As part of the selection process, both Joe and Laura had to outline one major global change they would like to see over the next five years.
Speaking ahead of the event, Laura, who was previously a Councillor for the Ormiston Ward of Belfast City Council (Deputy Leader of the Alliance Party group) and Board Member of Eastside Partnership, said:
“I never studied politics or law at university and in my previous role I was straight in the deep-end – so I would like to take this opportunity to learn the fundamentals and further develop my policy and leadership skills for my future work with Housing Rights.
“I’m really excited for the next few days, and want to get as much as possible from it - it’s a great networking opportunity and I feel there is a lot to learn from my international peers.
“My major global change is to prevent homelessness, an issue affecting many countries around the world and through this programme, I hope to gain new insights and learn new perspectives from the other Future Leaders Connect members.”
While Joe, whose area of expertise is the analysis of energy markets, has chosen to focus on climate change as his global challenge.
He said: “I’m really looking forward to this opportunity and I want to use it as a chance to find out how the world works. In Northern Ireland, a lot of people want to change things, but don’t know how. I want to come home with a rock solid action plan, know who I should be talking to and make the right connections so that I can effect real change.
“The impact of climate change is not a distant threat. It is something that will affect us all if we don’t do something - and we can stop it, if we introduce strong policy changes right now.
“During the programme, I’m most looking forward to meeting Mary Robinson who has made climate change her top priority.”
After this intensive leadership training, the group will remain part of this global network of emerging leaders and gain access to connections and their global peers, receiving ongoing training and opportunities.
Jonathan Stewart, Director, British Council Northern Ireland, explains: “Our aim is to build a long-term, international community of leaders, whose global visions and values will help them tackle the world’s next challenges. Future Leaders Connect is an opportunity for emerging leaders to collaborate with their counterparts from all over the world, and to benefit from some of the best knowledge that the UK has to offer on their respective journeys for change. The selection process was highly competitive and I wish our Northern Ireland participants every success in the programme.”
Anybody interested in policy and leadership can also join the British Council’s Future Leaders Connect worldwide free online training course (MOOC) in early 2019 at: https://www.futurelearn.com/partners/british-council.