Future Leaders Connect is a pioneering policy and leadership programme for exceptional individuals from around the world aged between 18-35. We are building a global network of emerging policy leaders connected over the long term to realise substantial change on today’s global challenges. With 150 members so far and tens of thousands of people involved in our online community, Future Leaders Connect is bringing people together to lead change through policymaking.

This year we have four exceptional young leaders joining the programme from across England. We caught up with two of them in the run up to the exciting programme activity taking place in October…

Future Leaders Connect participants: Lusine Manukyan (left) and Chris Maughan (right).

Lusine Manukyan

Tell us about yourself…

I am a public servant, passionate about youth, gender equality and climate action. Having started my career in the youth sector, I care deeply about giving young people the opportunities to flourish and develop in a supportive environment. I currently work as an Improvement Strategy Adviser at the Local Government Association, helping local councils improve their places and the lives of their communities.

My educational background is in politics and international relations and having studied at Newcastle and Cambridge Universities, I hope to pursue a career in international policy making, particularly supporting newly democratic states in the development of their governance and infrastructure at a local level.

Why did you apply for the Future Leaders Connect programme?

A global network of emerging policy leaders! What’s not to like?! For me, the programme was an incredible opportunity to meet like-minded people and to learn how to truly influence and change policy at a national level. I’m also a massive language geek, and thought this would give me a chance to learn a few new phrases and maybe brush up on my existing vocab.

What do you hope to learn from the programme and apply to your future practice?

I hope to develop my policymaking skills and particularly to learn from the experience of the diverse group of people that will also be part of the programme. I am excited about the prospect of hearing stories and sharing our varied understanding of similar issues, debating about complex problems and learning about tackling these in innovative ways. I hope this will enable me to take on new challenges and inform my future work to create smarter policies with better outcomes.

Chris Maughan

Tell us about yourself…

My background was pretty similar to my peer group – I grew up in a low income, single parent household; attended a poorly performing secondary school (mine no longer exists due to successive failures); and had no ‘professional class’ role models.

So for me, having a low-socio economic background and social mobility wasn’t apparent growing up. It wasn’t until university and the world of work where such things become apparent.

In Blackpool, where I was born, grew up and later served on the council, there is little disparity – many are working poor or out of work; there is not much of a ‘middle class’. According to the governments’ Social Mobility Index: “Places like Blackpool… are becoming entrenched social mobility cold pots” (ranking 11th off bottom for local authorities in 2017) to give a picture of the town.

I returned to Blackpool after completing my Masters in Chemistry at the University of York. In Blackpool, I had a single vision – addressing the deep inequality and poor prospects of the young people of the town. I led a call to action, creating jobs and opportunities against a backdrop of recession and austerity. I made it easier for young people to set up their own business and worked closely with the Princes Trust and Groundwork to improve their presence in the town. I linked together disparate workstreams and organisations to deliver a shared vision: reduce youth unemployment, give young people the dignity of decent work.

My career, which I see as more of a vocation than 9 to 5, has spanned local government, the railways and international development. I’ve been a UK Civil Servant since 2016, starting at the Cabinet Office before moving into the Department for Transport. I currently represent the UK’s Department for International Development on the aid dependent island of St Helena.

My interests lie in making a positive difference, leading change, and ensuring fairness and equality of opportunity. As a public servant I have been privileged to be able to have a positive impact on people’s lives: giving the people a voice, keeping them safe and providing opportunities for engagement and development. I see myself as current and future leader.

Why did you apply for the Future Leaders Connect programme?

Reading the biographies of past members was enough for me; this is very much a group I wanted to be a part of. I applied for the opportunity to work with, learn from and work alongside some of the highest calibre future leaders from across the globe; a network that I can share my ideas, understanding and experiences with. The international network and programme will allow me to develop further in my field, give me exposure to policy and leadership development at Cambridge University and explore and debate ideas in the home of modern democracy.

What do you hope to learn from the programme and apply to your future practice?

I hope to gain a lasting network of leaders from around the globe - colleagues, and I hope friends, who I can share and develop ideas with. I hope to develop with the programme and fellow members. This is valuable step which I hope helps me in delivering the lasting change I want to see.

Applications to become a Future Leaders Connect member will open again in 2020.

Our free online course – Ideas for a Better World starts again on 25 November 2019.