WACL, Future Leaders Award, 27Mar2018, Photographer Bronac McNeill


Yep, a pretty hefty title for a blog post. I’m not gonna lie, I pinched it from The Drum who ran an article last week on the WACL Future Leader Award, which I was awarded along with 29 other super dooper laydeez killing it in the marketing and advertising sector.

I came across WACL thanks to one of our trustees, Jane Caldwell. It stands for Women in Advertising and Communications London and consists of a pretty impressive network of ‘amazing’ women. You know the ones who are on fire like all of the time and you need a lie down just thinking about them? Dem ones. I got to meet a few of them at the award event last Tuesday. They were all so mind-blowingly incredible and lovely in a ‘please can I be like you when I grow up?’ kind of way.

So what is this Future Leader Award all about? I hear you ask. It’s an annual award for female future leaders that’s been running since 2005 (apparently there aren’t enough of us, something to do with the patriarchy. Who knew?) Step 1 is you apply. Or should I say hurdle number 1. As women, we often feel like we’re not qualified enough so we don’t bother going for certain jobs or in this case awards. I looked at the guidelines and thought, technically I don’t work in this sector but I do lots of marketing and advertising for the Foundation and if I were a dude I’d probably just go for it so I figured, ‘be like a dude!’ and so I applied. No surprises that 55% of the 230 applicants wanted confidence training.

Of the 230 applicants, 60 were shortlisted for an interview and presentation. We had 15 minutes each to prove our worth to a panel of ‘amazing’ women from WACL. I remember walking down Oxford Street to my presentation. It was a quiet, sunny January morning and although I felt nervous I also thought, wow, I feel so incredibly grateful to have gotten this far and really privileged to have an opportunity to present to some of the WACL women. I just allowed myself a moment to feel proud and enjoy the view because frankly the last 5 and a half years have been like climbing Everest. I’m still nowhere near the top but I’m definitely getting there and this interview felt like another mini-milestone in the life of the Abram Wilson Foundation.

It turns out that a positive mindset can really get you places and my interview went so well that I was offered one of the 30 WACL Future Leader Award bursaries. At the same time as applying to the Future Leader Award (FLA) I also applied to the Clore Leadership Programme for their two-week residential course in June aimed at aspiring leaders working in the arts. I was offered a place and my FLA bursary will pay for the course. In addition to the FLA bursary I also get a mentor and access to networking events and panel discussions throughout the year. Sweet!

Other awardees are off to do courses in coding, unlocking their creativity, understanding how to use big data (in an ethical way!) as well as confidence and leadership training. The event itself was a really lovely opportunity to meet everyone and the vibe felt very supportive and uplifting. I think for a long time women were hustling so hard to get somewhere in their careers and there were so few of them that it was difficult to support the next generation of women. It feels like this has started to change and we now have more room to give back to the sisterhood. The more we connect, the more we can share our experiences so that we a) don’t feel like we’re alone b) don’t feel like it’s our fault when we’re discriminated against and c) can come up with tactics to help combat discrimination and rise above it, like setting up awards like the FLA! As Michelle O once said, when they go low…

There were so many awesome women in that room last week and I felt freakin great to be one of them. I also thought about how much the boys were missing out on having access to all of these fantastic females in one place. It made me hope that we’re able to reach equality sooner rather than later so that they can experience what I experienced and be a bigger part of the change that is coming. All aboard!

Till soon!


Jennie x

Check out The Drum article here: http://www.thedrum.com/news/2018/03/28/wacl-aims-disrupt-business-leadership-gender-bias-with-future-leaders-award-bursary

Fancy getting on board and supporting the Abram Wilson Foundation? Find out more here: https://abramwilson.com/abram-wilson-foundation-trailblazer/