The search for a BAME Prime Minister and FTSE 100 CEO starts here


CONTACT: [email protected]/07920 057 237

To apply:  For further application enquiries please contact: [email protected].  The closing date for applications is Sunday 7th June 2020.

The search for a BAME Prime Minister and FTSE 100 CEO starts here

Thirty outstanding individuals are being sought for the prestigious Pathway to Success Leadership residential at Blavatnik School of Government and Magdalen College, University of Oxford. The ground-breaking initiative, now in its second year, seeks to equip talented BAME individuals with the tools and knowledge required to step up to senior leadership positions. After the week-long course, participants are given a very senior mentor from the Magdalen College illustrious alumni: this year they included William Hague, Michael Jay, Dido Harding and Stewart Wood.

Participants are selected based on their proven leadership skills and will undertake a week of intensive coaching and master classes to build their confidence, know-how and familiarity with senior leadership settings around politics, governance, community, business and civic environments.

The partners are more committed than ever, during this difficult time, to making sure that Pathway to Success goes ahead, when it is safe to do so. Programmes such as this are essential to ensuring that national progress on diversity is not curtailed, especially as the pandemic has been so destructive amongst BAME communities.

Equally the programme aims to send out the message that diverse leadership is essential in politics and civil society, universities, business and wider society.

Run in partnership with the University of Oxford’s Magdalen College and Blavatnik School of Government, the House of Commons, Lloyds Banking Group and Operation Black Vote, the programme will also offer seminars, Q&As, political cafés, and a site visit of Parliament including talks by political luminaries.

To apply:  For further application enquiries please contact: [email protected].  The closing date for applications is Sunday 7th June 2020.

If the current situation permits, participants will stay in Magdalen College, Oxford from Sunday 6th – Friday 11th September 2020 for a week-long residential.


Quotes from Pathway participants

Deputy Mayor of Hertsmere Council Cllr Cynthia Barker said:

I believe that everyone has leadership qualities, but to ensure that this is recognised and enhanced, you need to develop your skills in order to become a good leader.  The leadership training through Operation Black Vote and Pathway partners was the best route for me, giving me an opportunity to reflect and learn the different styles of leadership. The most important thing is to be able to engage and influence others.

OBV alumna Sandra Stewart said:

The Pathway programme has enabled me to develop, cultivate, and possess the critical thinking, acting and execution of collective and courageous decision-making; and forthright, progressive and compassionate leadership. It has taught me the difference between short term gain and long term goals.  The recruitment and delivery by OBV initially, and the wider partners throughout the programme has been constantly encouraging, life-affirming and simply inspiring.  I’ve been seeking and identifying roles in civil leadership ever since.

Dr. Sheun Oke, Conservative Party Parliamentary Candidate (PPC) said:

I knew I was ready to step up to become a member of the UK Parliament, yet I knew there were a lot that I may have to learn. 'Pathway to Success’ gave me all the tools I needed compressed within a short impactful period. Thank you to all partners for being an enabler to my vision! This course: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Cllr Alex Yip, Birmingham Council shadow cabinet member and PPC said:

This brilliant programme gave me real opportunities otherwise out of reach; a deep insight in what leadership means from so many perspectives; and time together with other inspiring leaders also out to change the world. If you want to make a difference to things that you care about, this programme shows you the way while giving you the tools and the network to make it happen.

OBV alumnus Frank Starling, and global VP of WERKIN a London based tech company said:

Pathway to Success is a career changing opportunity geared at levelling the playing field and accelerating BAME leaders forward. Being a participant of the programme has helped me to access knowledge, networks and tools that have aided me to reach the next level.

OBV alumna Sonika Nirwal said:

I took part in the Pathway programme as I felt like a part of me had given up on my future and that my career had stalled.  For me the Pathway programme was like a reawakening.  I met people who every day were changing the world around them. Coming on the programme has completely changed my outlook and I now believe in myself again. Three months after attending the week in Oxford I found myself thinking about applying for an internal promotion within my organisation. Through the programme I received support in preparing for the assessment process. In the end I was successful and am now looking at my career in a totally different manner. I have made some friends for life on this programme, whilst accessing some of the finest minds in the country. I would highly recommend the programme.   You will not regret applying.

Cllr Mete Coban, Hackney Council and CEO of My Life My Say a youth-led charity said:

The Pathway to Success Leadership Programme with OBV, Oxford University and the House of Commons propelled my career in ways I could never have imagined. The level of exposure and skills it equipped me with created opportunities and developed connections that continue to fuel my professional growth and drive. Subsequent to the programme I was headhunted to a position on the Board of Directors for the Global Fund for Children. It’s an honour and privilege to represent my community as an alumnus of this programme.

A councillor and party political candidate at four elections said:

I first encountered OBV on one of their first leadership programmes in the 1990s. They have had my back since then. I have had to navigate my political career in a rural area in overwhelmingly mono-cultural institutions with privileged men who have had opportunities presented to them on a silver platter, and despite working twice as hard I often found myself in the political wilderness. I was bruised and battered, but not out - before I was encouraged to apply for this.  It has restarted my political career with booster rockets.  It has provided me with contacts, networks and social capital within a BAME fraternity, as well as in the wider world of politics. The work of the Pathway partners in delivering this programme from start to finish is exemplar. I simply cannot recommend it highly enough.

Quotes from Pathway Partners

John Benger, Clerk of the House of Commons

At the House of Commons, we believe that Parliament should reflect the democracy it serves. That is why we are proud to launch the 2nd year of the “Pathway to Success” leadership and development programme. Addressing underrepresentation in senior roles within the House of Commons is one of the priority actions of our Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2019-2022 and I look forward to welcoming the next generation of BAME leaders to Parliament.

Fiona Cannon, Lloyds Banking Group Sustainable Business Director:

We know that diverse and inclusive leadership is good for business and are pleased to support the Pathway to Success Leadership Programme to increase the representation of BAME people in senior leadership positions. As part of our on-going commitment to help Britain prosper, we have set our own goals to increase BAME representation across our whole workforce, as well as within senior management. We recognise that our ability to reflect and understand our customer base, and harness different perspectives is key to our success.

Professor Robin Cleveland, Tutorial Fellow and Access Fellow of Magdalen College, University of Oxford said:

Magdalen College is very enthusiastic to continue its with all our partners on the Pathway to Success programme.  The inaugural event in 2019 was a huge success and the academics from college found the engagement with the participants to be highly effective and deeply rewarding.  College alumni, who have been acting as mentors to the participants in Pathway to Success when they returned to their communities, are equally impressed by the participants and enthusiastic about the programme.  As the world copes with the Covid-19 pandemic, and realises that the effects fall disproportionately on BAME communities, the need for diversity in decision-making roles in society has been underscored.   Magdalen College fundamentally believes in empowering upcoming leaders from BAME communities and the outstanding success of the first Pathway to Success event resulted in Magdalen committing to supporting Pathway to Success for three more years.

Chris Stone, Professor of Practice of Public Integrity at the Blavatnik School of Government, said:

The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us of how high the stakes have become for BAME communities in every public policy decision, from access to healthcare to employment to housing.  The Blavatnik School of Government is a full partner in Pathway to Success because these policy decisions must be taken by leaders both grounded in the issues and grounded in these communities.

Lord Simon Woolley, OBV Director said:

We are excited to be embarking on Year Two of this very special leadership programme with our fantastic partners and led by first class speakers and world leading experts.  The programme is an opportunity to identify and carve out the BME leaders of the future. If you have the ambition and passion to lead at the very top - this programme was made for you.

Notes to Editors:

  • The House of Commons has committed to increasing the representation of BAME (Black, Asian and Ethnic-Minority) people within its workforce and in Parliament more widely. Through a comprehensive Diversity and Inclusion Strategy it aims to tackle under-representation at senior levels in the House of Commons by 2022.   As part of the strategy, it has committed to back the Pathway to Success Leadership programme pilot.

  • Operation Black Vote is Europe’s leading BAME organisation that has a proven history of nurturing BAME political and civic talent. Alumni of previous Operation Black Vote campaigns are now running big cities and boroughs, becoming Members of Parliament, Ministers and Shadow Ministers.

  • As one of the University of Oxford’s constituent Colleges, Magdalen has a strong commitment to academic excellence and diversity. Magdalen’s outreach and access strategy seeks to increase the diversity of students both within the College and across the University. A strategic priority of Magdalen’s outreach and access work is to redress the under-representation of BAME students, and black students in particular at Oxford.

  • The Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford exists to inspire and support better government and public policy around the world. The Blavatnik School teaches current and future public leaders through innovative programmes, conducts independent, evidence-based research into pressing issues facing policymakers – from improving education to reducing corruption – and convenes leaders and experts across disciplines and sectors to share knowledge, exchange ideas and identify solutions.

  • The Pathway to Success Leadership programme is supported by a number of Magdalen alumni who will act as mentors to the programme participants over the coming year. This will include: nine months intensive coaching (roughly six meetings over nine months); and a further four annual meetings over 2021-2025.

  • In 2018, Lloyds Banking Group became the first FTSE 100 Company to set public goals to increase BAME representation across the total workforce and within the senior management population. This includes a commitment to increase representation of BAME colleagues to 10% of all roles and 8% of senior management by 2020. To support this, the Group has:
    -Developed an “Authentic Leadership Programme” for BAME senior managers, who have the potential to reach executive level, allowing colleagues to express their true identity.
    -Created bespoke career development programmes for colleagues in middle management. - Launched Race to Work Charter and are already meeting all the commitments.