Pathway 2021 residential comes to an end after two days of debates and masterclasses


OBV's Pathway to Success residential has come to an end but the overwhelming feeling among staff is one of pride.

The programme is run in partnership with the University of Oxford’s Magdalen College and Blavatnik School of Government as well as Lloyds Bank and the House of Commons. Following the online sessions in the spring, the March and April cohorts met for the first time at the University of Oxford's Magdalen College.

After an opening night reception on Cloisters Lawn, Tuesday began with the Pathway 2021 group attending a valuable session on the realities of a career in politics led by Ngaire Woods and OBV's CEO Simon Woolley. Farrah Bhatti would also lead a session dedicated to demystifying the House of Commons.

'Huge pleasure to speak at the Pathways to Success event yesterday to help demystify the House of Commons with Operation Black Vote at Magdalen College, Oxford - Such an inspirational group of participants dedicated to public and political service - thank you to all involved!'

                                         Farrah Bhatti

What followed after was something to remember. First, the group engaged in their very own Oxford Union debate. Being able to stand your ground in debate is an invaluable tool in senior levels of leadership and the session typified the quality of talent which saw this year’s cohort chosen.

Nevertheless, the afternoon session would not end before a farewell ceremony from the OBV team and all in attendance for the departing OBV CEO Simon Woolley, led by OBV COO Ashok Viswanathan. The OBV CEO is preparing to take over as the head of Homerton College at University of Cambridge.

The emotional reception moved many in attendance, but the OBV CEO would return to the stage after the break. Joined by Dominic Grieve QC PC and flanked by the President of Magdalen College Dinah Rose QC, the trio reflected on the former Attorney General’s career in politics.

Every member of the Pathway to Success cohort is given a mentor that has served in a leading area of civic, public or corporate life. After the business of the day had been attended to, the group met the individuals who have been helping to steer their respective pathways.

The final day featured valuable masterclasses on the art of negotiation and the growing importance of climate change before the group finally departed. The reaction of those in attendance speaks to the value of the experience on offer. However, at its core, Pathway to Success is focused on nurturing future leaders, and helping to build confidence, know-how and familiarity with senior leadership settings around politics, governance, community, business and civic environments. For the Pathway 2021 cohort, this is a process that will continue long into the future.

So, how are your debating skills? Are you engaged in civic, political, business or community action? Do you feel you would benefit from a mentor as you begin your leadership journey? If any of these apply to you, make sure to follow OBV’s socials and regularly visit the website for future programmes in the pipeline.