2018’s Young Leaders’ Conference – the leaders of tomorrow

2018’s Young Leaders’ Conference

Students from the GDST family of schools and academies addressed by record-holding polar guide Ann Daniels at mentoring event for future leaders

Sixth Form students from the GDST family were challenged by national charities and mentors from the British Army and Chartered Management Institute as well as a world record holder at last weekend’s annual Girls’ Day School Trust Young Leaders’ Conference, designed to inspire the next generation of future leaders.

Ann Daniels delivering an inspirational speech on courage and determination at the GDST Young Leaders' Conference
Ann Daniels delivering an inspirational speech on courage and determination at the GDST Young Leaders’ Conference

Ann Daniels, one of the first women in history to reach the North and South Poles as part of an all women team, was one of several impressive role models who took part in this year’s event, which aimed to inspire students, while giving them a real experience of challenging leadership situations. Described by The Daily Telegraph as one of the top 20 Great British Adventurers of all time, Ann is a polar guide and the leader of four major scientific Arctic surveys.

Alongside a number of impressive female leaders, including Chartered Management Institute (CMI) CEO Ann Francke, Daniels drew on her own experience participating in a tough Dartmoor selection weekend as a mother of 18 month old triplets with no previous experience, and spoke with students about the importance of living life to the full, taking opportunities as they appear, and not letting a fear of failure stop you in your tracks.

British Army officers led a series of team-building exercises before students were split into groups and tasked with developing their own digital fundraising campaigns to support the specific needs of four charities: United World Schools, FRANK Water, Rainbow Trust, and SOS Children’s Villages UK. In previous years, ideas proposed by students have inspired award-winning charity initiatives.

Cheryl Giovannoni, CEO of the GDST, said:

“One of the problems we seek to address at the Young Leaders’ Conference is the distinct lack of great leadership in the world today. We want to help create the global leaders of tomorrow; leaders who look outward, not inward, who listen and learn and go on to create a better future for all. The best way to tackle the prejudice of today is to help develop the leaders of tomorrow, and this programme is designed to do exactly that.”


Ann Francke, CEO, Chartered Management Institute, said:

“It’s vital we give young women the leadership skills they need early on to fulfil their own potential and unlock the potential in others. The reality of today’s workplace is that young women are faced with a ‘glass pyramid’ where men dominate the majority of senior roles. Equipping young women with confidence, resilience, and the skills to lead will help give the next generation of female leaders the chance to thrive and benefit from a more gender inclusive environment.”

Now in its eighth year, the GDST Young Leaders’ Conference, which takes place at the Royal High School Bath, aims to help students develop tangible life and leadership skills, including teamwork, communication, negotiation, problem solving and financial management that will benefit them when they embark on their chosen careers.