Young leaders addressed by record-holding polar guide Ann Daniels at mentoring event for change-makers

Sixth Form students from across the GDST network were challenged by change-makers and mentors from the British Army and Chartered Management Institute as well as a world record holder at this weekend’s annual Girls’ Day School Trust Young Leaders’ Conference, designed to inspire the next generation of future leaders. The Young Leaders’ Conference took place at the Royal High School Bath this weekend and was attended by more than 130 Head Girls and Senior Prefects.

Ann Daniels, one of the first women in history to reach the North and South Poles as part of an all women team, was one of several impressive role models who took part in this year’s event, which aimed to inspire students, while giving them a real experience of challenging leadership situations. Described by The Daily Telegraph as one of the top 20 Great British Adventurers of all time, Ann is a polar guide and the leader of four major scientific Arctic surveys.

Alongside a number of impressive female leaders, including Chartered Management Institute (CMI) CEO Ann Francke, Daniels drew on her own experience participating in a tough Dartmoor selection weekend as a mother of 18 month old triplets with no previous experience, and spoke with students about the importance of living life to the full, taking opportunities as they appear, and not letting a fear of failure stop you in your tracks.

British Army officers then led a series of team-building exercises before students were split into groups and tasked with developing their own digital fundraising campaigns to support the specific needs of four charities: United World Schools, FRANK Water, Rainbow Trust, and SOS Children’s Villages UK. In previous years, ideas proposed by students have inspired award-winning charity initiatives. Team Five were crowned the winners with their idea ‘Shades of Change’ to raise money for the Rainbow Trust by selling colouring books in family restaurants. Their campaign was based on encouraging families to spend quality time together. Read all about the event on the GDST website, see the highlights on twitter #GDSTyoungleaders and watch the finals on Youtube.

Cheryl Giovannoni, CEO of the GDST, said:

One of the problems we seek to address at the Young Leaders Conference is the distinct lack of great leadership in the world today. We want to help create the global leaders of tomorrow; leaders who look outward, not inward, who listen and learn and go on to create a better future for all. The best way to tackle the prejudice of today is to help develop the leaders of tomorrow, and this programme is designed to do exactly that.

Ann Francke, CEO, Chartered Management Institute, said:

It’s vital we give young women the leadership skills they need early on to fulfil their own potential and unlock the potential in others. The reality of today’s workplace is that young women are faced with a ‘glass pyramid’ where men dominate the majority of senior roles. Equipping young women with confidence, resilience, and the skills to lead will help give the next generation of female leaders the chance to thrive and benefit from a more gender inclusive environment.


Now in its eighth year, the GDST Young Leaders’ Conference, which takes place at The Royal High School Bath GDST, aims to help students develop tangible life and leadership skills, including teamwork, communication, negotiation, problem solving and financial management that will benefit them when they embark on their chosen careers.

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