Powerlist Foundation and Accenture Leadership Programme

For the first time, we saw a January Leadership programme, in partnership with Accenture. The two-day programme was organised by Rachael Owhin – Head of Programmes at the Powerlist Foundation. This event was open to alumni of the summer programme, as well as those who were unable to do the programme in their chosen year. This was a great opportunity to network with other like-minded people, as well as continue to be shaped into the leaders of tomorrow.

The first day consisted of a message from keynote speakers including Janet Thomas – one of the Powerlist Foundation trustees, a group mentoring session, a panel discussion from the Accenture African Caribbean network and a visit to the Accenture Fenchchurch office, for a tour of the innovation centre and some more networking! On the second day, there was a panel discussion from the mentors and alumni of the leadership programme. We also heard from another keynote speaker, Hashi Mohammad, a Barrister at No 5 Chambers and BBC Broadcaster, and had our team challenge presentations. Each group was required to create a platform or programme that would help develop meaningful mentoring relationships. It was great to see how dedicated and competitive everyone was to ensure that their group were the winners. Unfortunately, there could only be one winner and this was the group led by Ben Ackim.

From two days alone, I am sure each participant can agree that they learnt a lot. From the wise words of Janet Thomas on mentoring to Hashi Mohammad’s bold statements on self-belief and understanding that “your circumstances do not determine who you are.”, there was lots of inspiring and encouraging advice given to us. For me, there were three things that I believe that the programme really emphasised. These are:

1. The Importance of mentorship

Janet Thomas gave us a very insightful presentation on a mentor/mentee relationship. For those who do not know, a mentor is a trusted or experienced advisor in different aspects of your life. Some people have a mentor(s) for their personal life, their work life or just for general advice. Janet Thomas explained the key phases to mentoring – which are: focus on growth, building rapport, setting direction, progression and advancement. There are more benefits than we could ever imagine to having a mentor, for example, the chance to learn valuable business/life skills. Additionally, gaining a new insight into different experiences to ensure you avoid common mistakes and you can meet important contacts and attain great opportunities. It can be difficult to find the courage to ask someone to be your mentor, however, it is important to always remember the future benefits. For tips on how to ask for a mentor, read the following article.

However, everyone is different and what might work for one person may not work for the other. It is not impossible to be successful without a mentor, but having one can open doors that you may not have been able to find alone or make the journey to success smoother.

2. Networking

I am sure that the majority of us have heard the phrase “Your network is your net worth.” This statement is extremely true. You never know what impact the person next to you could have in your life. For example, think about the people who went to school with Barack Obama or Steve Jobs. In every situation, there are always people who probably thought they would amount to nothing and probably judged them before getting to know them. But look at how successful both figures turned out to be.
I am not saying that you should form every relationship with the expectation of receiving or automatically benefitting from their success, but it is important to keep an open mind to the people you come across. We can be quick to judge a book by its cover and forget about the content. Do not be that person. You are only hindering your progression.

3. Believing you can achieve anything you can put your mind to

Hashi Mohammad is a good example of this. Throughout his speech, he constantly reminded us that no matter how bad your existing circumstances is, it can never stop you from achieving great success. He told us about two retail jobs he had when he was younger. After working for a couple of months both were willing to offer him a managerial position and his own store if he did not go to university. He did not take either offer, but it was a good indication that he was destined for greater things. Similar to Hashi, we are all destined for great things but it is easy to forget this when things do not go as we have planned.

One of the attributes to achieving success is having the correct mentality. Our minds are so powerful as we are able to convince or discourage ourselves of anything. Your thoughts influence your actions, so you need to mentally believe to can do whatever you want to do. Obviously, there are other things you need to do to achieve your goal, but the correct mind-set is one of the starting points.

I would like to end on this, make sure you take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way.

Ben Ackim said “Every Opportunity is an opportunity; how many times did I say Opportunity?

The majority of the audience said twice, however the correct answer was three times. This is symbolic for how people commonly miss out on opportunities. They can be right in front of us, but due to other factors such as fear, lack determination and motivation, we miss out on them. You never know where one opportunity could lead you to. It is better to take the risk, than to not try and be unaware of what the outcome could have been.

Attending both the summer and winter Leadership Programme has been beneficial for me. Having the platform keeps me motivated towards achieving my goals and aspirations. It is important to surround yourself with the right people, and this is what happens on the programme. Being surrounded by inspirational peers acts as a constant reminder as to why I strive to do what I want to do.