British Council Future Leaders connect diaries! Part 1. – Application and selection process.

Hey blogfam, before I proceed, I would like to apologise for the rather long hiatus, believe me, it was not intentional, I was very overwhelmed! And I promise to make it up to you.

As some of you may know, earlier this year I alongside 5 other AMAZING Nigerians were selected out of over 4000 applications to join the Future leaders connect – a network of about 50 emerging policy leaders from across the world. A couple of days ago, we arrived cambridge to begin the programme and I have not stopped thanking God for the amazing opportunity to be a part of this select group!

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During the selection phase, I committed to cascading all my learnings on my blog but unfortunately I have not gotten around to doing so. Also given how comprehensive the program is, it has been a bit of a struggle deciding exactly how to share my experience. So I have decided to split it into three parts (for now): the selection phase; training at the Moller Centre in Cambridge and our London experience.

So let’s go!

What is the British Council Future Leaders Connect? 

The British Council Future Leaders Connect is a new initiative by the British Council to identify exceptional individuals between 18 -35 who have the potential to be future leaders of their countries in the fields of politics and policy, and who will be amongst the shapers of global policy making in the years ahead.  This year, the cohort comprise 50 delegates from Nigeria, Kenya, Morroco, Tunisia, Egypt, Mexico, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, United States and the United Kingdom. The programme includes a leadership training programme at the Moller Centre, Churchill College, University of Cambridge and a range of inspirational activities in London (which I shall blog on later). But the program doesn’t end in London or Cambridge, you are expected to cascade the learnings from the program in your home country and use it to influence the work you do. You can learn more about the program here.

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The Selection process – online application

Perhaps, this is the part where you will be most interested in. I think the call for applications was made sometime in March or April (honestly, I can’t recall) but for 2018, applications begin in February. The first stage of the application comprised an online application process which consisted of questions about yourself and your leadership journey but the 5 main questions were:

  • Please tell us one significant success you have achieved while demonstrating leadership?
  • Please tell us about one major global change you will like to see over the next 5 years. How will this impact your country ?
  • How would you use policy making or influencing to achieve this change ?
  • Please tell us  how you might cascade or share what you learn as part of this programme? What network or groups might you share this with ?

These were the major questions that were asked on the online application. Although I cannot guarantee that they will be repeated in 2018, I supposed it is helpful to start thinking along these lines if you are considering applying for the programme.

my profile.png

For me, my policy agenda was focused on industrialisation and job creation given the crash of commodity prices in Africa and the youth bulge. In Nigeria for instance, we are projected to surpass 300 million by 2050 and overtake the USA as the world’s third most populous country. If we do not reduce our dependence on oil, diversify our economy and build industries that will create jobs, we will have a huge disaster on our hands.  It is for this reason that I am highly interested and passionate about industrial policy in Africa. You can read my latest article on the topic here.


The Selection process – the presentation

Towards the end of june, I got an email saying I had been shortlisted among the 12 finalists out of over 4000 applications from Nigeria, yes you heard right! it was that competitive. Alongside the other 12 Finalist, we were I was then invited to Abuja to deliver a 5 min speech and were told that after the presentations, only 6 people will be selected. The topic of the speech was “Please tell us about one major global change you would like to see over the next five years. How will this impact your country? How would you use policy making or influencing to achieve this change?

There was a panel of judges of about three people (I think), from the British Council/ British High Commission. Their role was to listen to the speeches, ask questions and off course make a decision,  the audience was also allowed to ask questions. The judges had 5 votes while the audience had 1 – the audience vote. The event was perhaps that most tense/nerve wracking thing I have participated in the entire year – the other candidates had outstanding educational and professional accomplishments and were able to provide tangible evidence of the work they are currently doing in their respective communities. Clearly I felt intimidated for the most part but I also felt pride, for being among such a distinguished lot!

Anyway, I made my presentation and to my surprise, the judges had no questions for me. I was voted the ‘audience choice’ and 5 other AMAZING people were chosen by the Judges to represent Nigeria.



We have now completed the first phase of the programme and I can’t but think of how much I put off applying for this life-changing programme simply because I felt unqualified. I thought it was so out of reach for me that I only begun and submitted my application about 15 mins to the deadline. It makes me wonder how many opportunities some of us miss because of how much we underestimate our own potentials and ability. I know the application for the next cohort is still in February but I encourage you to apply. The global changes that our world faces today, requires a new generation of leaders who are able to appreciate this issues and address them with new and creative solutions.

Who knows you just might be the one to transform Nigeria, Africa or the world! Off course, I am willing to guide you through the application process.

Be sure to follow this blog closely as I will be sharing amazing insights from my learnings in Cambridge and off course the fun things like punting and our Harry Porter style dinner.

Have a great day.




5 thoughts on “British Council Future Leaders connect diaries! Part 1. – Application and selection process.

  1. Hello Amaka,

    I was really surprised when I read your profile and then I heard you say you were sure you not qualified to be a finalist. That was funny.
    I’m about applying this year and unlike you, I’m genuinely concerned. I don’t think I measure up to the calibre of contestants that would be applying from Nigeria.
    However, I have a question. I’m a little bit confused about the third question: ‘How would you use policy making or influencing to achieve this change ?’
    Is it that I’m to answer that question from the perspective of already being a policy maker already or from the perspective of what I can do right now, as I am, to influence the policy in question.

    Your input would be greatly appreciated.

    God bless you, Ma.


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