Pathway 2021 leaders take charge for the future | Lord Simon Woolley


After an intense week of jointly hosting Pathway to Success with Professor Chris Stone I’m taking the day off. This allows me to reflect on the magnitude, pleasure and hope this project brings to the 30 participants, its partners and wider society; that nurturing Black, Asian and minority ethnic political and civic senior talent is a key element for societal change.

After receiving 900 applications for thirty places we quickly decided to have two cohorts instead of one, such was the deluge of talent.

Then we set about bringing the very top experts in their fields to give a 5-star Masterclass that would help the thirty on their way to great success.

They included: Professor Ngaire Woods, Dean at the Blavatnik School of Government who began as we always do instilling the virtues of integrity, competence, and ethics. Magdalen President and QC Barrister, Dinah Rose gave a tour-de-force on our British constitution, its weaknesses and strengths. Head of the Cabinet Office, Race Disparity Unit, Marcus Bell spoke about how policy is made across Whitehall. Former 10 Downing Street Special Advisor, Nick Timothy gave us a behind the scenes look at what it is to be in that role.

Former Bill Clinton and Barack Obama campaign strategist, Parag Metha was on hand to better understand the political machinations of an electoral campaign. Day after day experts gave advice, were asked questions, shared personal stories with one goal in mind. That this group learn the key elements to ensure their success comes sooner rather than later.

During the evening we had “Fireside Chats” with extraordinary political individuals such as Mayor Marvin Rees, Baroness Floella Benjamin and former Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon Theresa May MP. All spoke passionately about their own journeys - the triumphs, the regrets and the defeats.

The cohort fizzed with excitement, interest and ambition during the whole time. From being moved to tears to declaring (like Mayor Marvin Rees did 20 years ago) that they will change the world.

It was a week to truly remember, but it’s not over yet. They all become alumni of the two great Oxford Colleges: Blavatnik and Magdalen, with the latter offering a year-long mentor from their illustrious list of former Government Cabinet members, successful entrepreneurs and CEOs.

All I can say with this next generation of leaders is - watch this space! This cohort of dynamism just got turbo-charged.

Full list of Partners, and Speakers in of order of appearance:


Blavatnik School of Government

House of Commons

Lloyds Banking Group

Magdalen College

Operation Black Vote



Kamran Ullah, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of De Telegraaf in the Netherlands 

Lord Simon Woolley, Director, Operation Black Vote

Professor Ngaire Woods, Dean, Blavatnik School of Government

Dinah Rose QC, President, Magdalen College, the University of Oxford

Fiona Cannon OBE, Director, Sustainable Business for Lloyds Banking Group

Minna Salami, Multiple award-winning Blogger and Founder of Ms Afropolitan

Marcus Bell, Director, Equality Hub, Cabinet Office

Mayor Marvin Rees, Bristol

Nick Timothy, Former British Political Adviser to No 10 Downing Street 

Rt Hon Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP, Chief Officer House of Commons

Seema Malhotra MP

Bim Afolami MP

Rt Hon David Lammy MP

Rt Hon Theresa May MP

Dominic O’Connell, Business Journalist, and Business Presenter on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme

Councillor Rabina Khan, Tower Hamlets

Zeljko Jovanovic, Director of the Open Society Roma Initiatives Office 

Baroness Floella Benjamin DBE DL, Actress, Author, Television Presenter, Singer, Business Woman and Politician

Professor Christopher Stone, Professor of Practice of Public Integrity, Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford

Parag Mehta, Executive Director of the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth

Professor Jeremias Adams-Prassl, Deputy Director of the Faculty’s Institute of European and Comparative Law, Magdalen College, University of Oxford.

Simon Woolley


A call to action...

For nearly 25 years, OBV have fought to ensure black and minority ethnic participation and representation in civic society. Efforts in continuing to do so though, relies on your help. That way we can continue this fight for greater race equality. What would give us a tremendous boost is if today, you made that small donation yourselves, but even more importantly if you encouraged others to do likewise.