Interviews

Forging the future: Marcel Hedman on the Future Leaders Network Conference 2020

The Future Leaders Network is the organisation that selects and trains Britain’s delegates to the Y7 and Y20 Summits. It’s also committed to empowering the next generation of leaders – including university students – with the skills they need to succeed. I spoke to Marcel Hedman, the Head of Conference at FLN.

What is the Y7 and Y20?

Each year there is a gathering of seven major developed nations – including, among others, France, the UK, the US and Japan – to exchange ideas on possible solutions to global issues. This gathering is known as the G7, while the gathering of an expanded list of 20 nations is known as the G20. Excitingly, in the run up to these major conferences there are two youth summits known as the Y7 and Y20 which give the chance for young people to have their input on the pressing issues being discussed!

What is the Future Leaders Network and how do you link to the Y7/Y20?

Each year, delegates are chosen to represent the views of young people in the UK. The Future Leaders Network is the organisation responsible for the selection of these delegates. We also prepare them with training to ensure that they have the best chance of success throughout their summits. However, our work is not limited to these two summits and we have a deep commitment to ensure all young leaders have the training and network necessary for success.

Can you tell us about your role?

As Head of Conference, I am in an exciting and demanding role. I am responsible for bringing lots of stakeholders together to create the best possible conference! These stakeholders include your Y7 and Y20 delegates, firms offering opportunities for young leaders and great speakers such as James Uffindell, the CEO of Bright Network. In order to make this an outstanding conference we have a dedicated conference team working tirelessly as well.

What will happen at the FLN Annual Conference in November?

The Future Leaders Network Annual Conference is a virtual 2-day summit designed to equip the next generation of leaders with the skills needed to succeed. This is your chance to hear from your G7 and G20 youth delegates, influence outcomes for the Y7 2021 being hosted by FLN and find out how you can get involved in the process as well!

The Conference also includes the launch of the FLN Academy, where you will take part in interactive workshops to develop your leadership skills so you can make an impact no matter who you are. Finally, the conference will convene leading speakers such as Franz Paasche, the global head of social innovation at Paypal, and Kay Firth-Butterfield, Head of AI and ML for the World Economic Forum.

Can a virtual conference really achieve all of the above?

We believe so! Due to our innovative virtual conference platform, you really have the flexibility that an in-person conference would usually bring, along with the added benefit of interacting with speakers and attendees globally. Additionally, if anyone does find that finance is a barrier to attendance, please get in touch and we can find ways to support you. We have already launched a number of scholarships for attendees!

How can young leaders get involved?

To get involved, navigate to our website and become a member today! It is completely free and will allow you to see all the events we run such as breakfast clubs, panel talks and excitingly – for the first time – a conference platforming young and senior leaders on the same stage.

What are the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic to today’s future leaders and young people about to enter the world of work?

The pandemic has disrupted all aspects of society in a way that no one could have predicted and while large internet-based organisations such as Amazon have thrived, most businesses have been struggling. One of the biggest factors inhibiting the success of businesses is uncertainty; no business can effectively plan for the long term. For young people entering the world of work, this has translated into uncertainty and a reduction in the size of the job market. There has been research into the adverse effect of graduating into a recession and we at FLN are passionate about mitigating these negative effects. It is now more important than ever to find ways to demonstrate your talents and leadership ability and we want to support you to do so.

What has been your favourite memory of being involved with FLN?

Planning this conference!

This year’s conference will take place on 20-21 November. You can visit the FLN website to buy tickets or find out more at https://www.futureleaders.network/ and contact Marcel Hedman at marcel.hedman@futureleaders.network.

Oliver Shaw

Oliver (he/him) is the Senior Current Affairs Editor at The Oxford Blue for the summer vacation and Michaelmas 2020. Oliver lives in Warwickshire and is entering his final year studying History at Merton College.