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On the 10th and 11th July McKinsey & Company and Future Foundations had the pleasure of welcoming 100 extraordinary young people to the 2015 McKinsey Leadership Academy for two unforgettable, transformational days of leadership development training, inspiration and networking.

The two-day Launch Residential brings together high-achieving Year 12 students with McKinsey & Company professionals and Future Foundations coaches for an intensive programme of workshops, presentations, challenges and one-to-one mentoring. Hosted at Wellington College in Berkshire, the Academy enables participants from across the UK and Ireland to learn about leadership by working in small teams in a fun informal atmosphere, giving them a toolkit of approaches and an action plan for the coming year.

The McKinsey Leadership Academy has been set up by McKinsey & Company, a world-leading management consultancy who work with companies, governments and not-for-profit organisations to help them tackle their biggest challenges. Working alongside Future Foundations they deliver a range of sessions and consultations to participants throughout the programme offering a unique, insiders insight into the corporate world.

It provides young people with the opportunity to explore their future aspirations, build their employability and understand the experiences and opportunities to seek out now and at university that could open doors in the future. This year we were inundated with student applications from over 250 schools. In addition to academic excellence the 100 young people who were selected impressed the admissions board by demonstrating  their initiative, teamwork, creativity and impact in their leadership roles to date.

Wellington College, Berkshire

It was a beautiful blue sky morning as participants arrived at the College, met by an atmosphere of excited anticipation. After a quick meet and greet with their Future Foundations coaches and McKinsey staff the young people were thrown in at the deep end with a morning of energetic ice-breakers and team games to set the fun and collaborative tone for the coming days. The sun poured down into Wellington College’s central quad as they contorted themselves into human knots, ninja’s and huge team shapes (the 3D, interactive interpretations of ‘Ship’ and ‘Celebration’ were particular favourites of the judges!). The activities succeeded in shaking off any inhibitions and by the time they headed to the South Lawn the students were feeling warmed up physically and socially!

The session that followed gave our incoming McKinsey Leadership Academy participants the chance to meet and hear from last year’s graduates, who in the past year had carried out personal leadership projects inspired by their experiences on the programme. They explained how and where they had used the toolkit of leadership skills they acquired at the academy and discussed the lessons of their personal leadership journeys. The students also heard a presentation from Mohammed Lone, the graduate who won the McKinsey Leadership Award 2015 and had been awarded the Oscar Pearce Higgins Scholarship for his project ‘Poponomics‘.

After lunch it was time to take a metaphorical and actual leap of faith with the ‘Trust Fall’ challenge. Designed to build self confidence and the ability to confront and overcome fears this trust building team task requires individuals to fall backwards from a height into the arms of teammates.

The session began with a series of warm ups which gradually increased the level of risk for participants with each exercise. From ‘plank lift’ to ‘weeble’ they slowly learnt to put their trust in team mates they had only met a few hours previously. As the first volunteers gingerley climbed atop the 6ft wall over looking South Garden the atmosphere was electric and for the next hour laughter, shrieks and cries of ‘falling’ and ‘catching’ filled the air.

Every young person completed the Trust Fall safely and participants left the session for their afternoon workshops with an enormous sense of accomplishment, having tested their confidence, their ability to take risks and place trust in others and been amazed by the results!

Over the next day and a half participants took part in a number of workshops delivered by McKinsey consultants, who imparted their knowledge of leadership approaches and the problem solving techniques they employ in business. The programme of group workshops covered maximising personal impact and creative entrepreneurship in addition to one on one ‘coffee chats’ where young people had the opportunity to ask questions and receive guidance for their own leadership journey.

A highlight of the Leadership Academy was the Mckinsey Team Challenge, which involved participants competing against one another as countries bidding to host the 2026 Olympics. This was an opportunity to put into practice the skills they had developed over the programme.  The teams surpassed themselves with presentations that demonstrated team work, persuasive leadership and true creative ingenuity! The winning team, representing New York, blew the judges away with their pitch, resplendent in a creation of a NY yellow taxi and Statue of Liberty – both made from paper!

Alexandra Hay-Plumb and Lina Akbar

McKinsey Staff and Future Foundations Course Director

What makes the McKinsey Leadership Academy unique is the way it merges McKinsey's corporate staff with Future Foundations' experienced facilitators to offer young people the very best coaching and skills training.

Lina Akbar, Course Director

The stand out moment for me was watching last years' graduates address the Launch Academy and seeing the transformation they have undergone. It was incredibly inspiring to hear about the journeys they have been on and how they have developed and put to use the toolkit of skills we had given them. I can't wait to see what this year's young people come up with!

Lina Akbar, Course Director

Excitingly, the Launch Residential at Wellington College is just the beginning of the journey for this years participants. They have now become a part of the wider McKinsey Leadership Academy network (almost 500 members as of this year) and will receive ongoing support from McKinsey and Future Foundations over the coming year to achieve their leadership goals.

In the summer of 2016 McKinsey and Future Foundations will hold a two-day Graduate Residential where they will all come back together to share progress and reunite with the friends they have made on the programme. They will also have the chance to enter a competition for the McKinsey Leadership Award and the Oscar Pearce Higgins Scholarship.  The scholarship provides financial support of £1000 per year whilst the recipient is at university as well as a four week work experience opportunity at McKinsey in London.

The Future Foundations and McKinsey & Company Team

The McKinsey Leadership Academy is delivered in tandem by a hard working and passionate group of McKinsey & Company staff and experienced Future Foundations coaches.

From McKinsey & Company, the Launch Academy was led by Alexandra Hay-Plumb and supported by 20 McKinsey professionals who took on coaching and delivery roles.

From Future Foundations, the Course Director was Lina Akbar, the Operations Director was Amy Mander.  Our coaches were: Lucy Moses, Mark Corbett, Terence Lapidus, Andy Dunn, Bokani Tshidzu, Georgie Maddock, Jakub Goscinny, Chetna Bhatt, Laura Anhemann and Juliette Noske. Our pastoral team were Olivia Hildebrand and Martin Ramsey.

The programme was supported by the following returning McKinsey Leadership Academy Alumni; Phillip Samuel Hutchinson, Aine McCabe, Monics Gupta, Helen Knox, Anna Jones, Bronte Jones, Hannah Burnett, Emily Husband and Nicholas de Haes.

Thank you to everyone involved for making this such a memorable year for the McKinsey Leadership Academy. McKinsey and Future Foundations look forward to welcoming our graduates back in 2016 and wish you all the very best of luck with your individual Leadership projects over the coming year. Remember this is only the beginning of your leadership journey.

Now go and be leaders in life!