LEAD Showcase April 2024

This spring, over 200 students from 20 GDST schools gathered at The London School of Economics and Political Sciences (LSE) for the showcase event for our LEAD enterprise programme. Now in its third year, GDST LEAD was launched in September 2021 as an innovative programme designed to allow young women to develop the transferable skills necessary to become future leaders and entrepreneurs.

It was inspiring to see how the student entrepreneurs collaborated, pushed themselves out of their comfort zones, and worked hard to overcome unexpected challenges. The showcase provided insight into some of the most important issues for GDST girls today, from women’s safety to inclusion through sustainability.

The products and services pitched to solve real-world problems included Brighton Girls’ cookbook Slice of Brighton, featuring recipes from local restaurants and chefs to provide a cheaper alternative to eating out in light of the cost of living crisis, Bromley High’s Safe Shells, a comprehensive network of safe havens strategically placed in popular public spaces, and Northampton High’s Step Mentor, a coaching program designed to provide sports sessions for junior school children.

The judges were particularly impressed with students from Sydenham High who gave – in the words of GDST judge Alexandra Read ‘‘the best presentation I have ever seen’’ for Retro Reads, a venture to collect and resell surprise bundles of second-hand books. The team from Croydon High was highly commended for incorporating sign language into their engaging pitch for Signify, a book and workshop to teach sign language and build friendships between hearing and deaf children.

The annual People’s Choice prize, voted for by the audience, was hotly contested and was eventually shared between the Belvedere Academy team that set up Care Crown, a business to create care packages for female asylum seekers in the Merseyside area and Eco Charge, the Wimbledon High team who invented a device to generate power to charge mobile phones from cycling.

Keynote speaker Suki Fuller, Tech Entrepreneur & 2023 Most Influential Women in UK Technology, commended the students for their innovative and ethical business concepts and encouraged each young woman to keep striving to create positive change in their future careers. She spoke about her illustrious career, from serving in the U.S. Army Reserves to working in Academia, National Security, Law Enforcement, and Private Corporations as an intelligence advisor. Suki also answered the students’ questions on topics such as social networks, privacy, and the ethics of technology.

In addition to a trophy for the winning team in each category, the winners of Most Innovative Idea won an internship experience with LSE Generate to work with one of their alumni entrepreneurs on a business enterprise project to develop the skills, experience and knowledge they have gained through participating in LEAD. The winners of the Best Teamwork prize also won an internship with construction and property consultancy business Gleeds, where they will be working on a project that brings together STEM, design, marketing and comms, finance, business and more. 

Congratulations to all the budding female entrepreneurs and future change makers who presented their business ideas at the incredible showcase.

The GDST LEAD Programme

The GDST LEAD (Leadership Enterprise Advanced Diploma) Programme encourages Sixth Form students to create real change for the future. Elements of the programme are provided in partnership with LSE Generate, the entrepreneurial arm of the London School of Economics and Political Sciences (LSE).

Find out more about GDST LEAD