Francis Gardener Trejo: 2015 Future Leader

Francis is participating in a part of the British Council Future Leaders scheme. He started at British Council in September 2015.

What were you doing before you applied to become a Future Leader?

Following graduating from a Spanish and Philosophy degree I became a translator in the south of Spain. I then moved into PR for a year and half before deciding to drop everything and travel around Australia.

What about the British Council Future Leaders Scheme attracted you?

The scheme is by far the most varied and open-ended young professionals scheme that I have ever come across. It opens up the whole organisation and is a great opportunity to experience how the many different facets that make up the British Council work independently and as a single unit in delivering the huge amount of projects we do every year. It really seeks to provide a holistic view of what it means to work in the British Council, both in the UK and abroad.

Can you briefly summarise the work you have done with British Council as a Future Leader and beyond?

I have worked in each of the three Strategic Business Units during my first six months in the organisation.

In Arts, I ran and delivered a research project for Shakespeare Lives, pulling togethe  a briefing pack for country directors to use to launch the programme abroad. I interviewed internal staff and directors we have worked with on Shakespeare productions over the years to provide a snapshot of how Shakespeare and the British Council have been making an impact across the world at key points in history since we began our work in cultural relations over 80 years ago.

In English and Exams I was involved in analysing data from our free online MOOCs courses, helping gain an unprecedented understanding of the demographics and countries using our resources, with a view to tailoring how we provide online courses and maintain relationships with emerging key demographics.

In Education and Society I managed a project to build a website that brings together the many different and varied pieces of key information that managers and wider Education and Society staff need to be aware of in carrying out their work.

In April I will be moving to India for 14 months to coordinate activity on Shakespeare Lives for the remainder of 2016, and start planning the delivery of the UK-India Year of Culture in 2017.

How has your time with British Council benefited you?

The training that the scheme provides is really in-depth, and has given me the tools to work confidently on a broad range of areas that are crucial to our work, from project management and evaluation, to working with others and controlling finances. The variety of the work I have done has also required a level of versatility and adaptability that I would never have expected from a single organisation, and I’ve been challenged and rewarded constantly as a result. This first six months has been a great introduction into the many ways in which the British Council works, and I couldn’t be better prepared to go into my new role abroad.

What has been the best part of working for British Council?

The best part of the British Council is the diversity and passion of the staff working here and the endless stories and experiences that people have had. If the work wasn’t enough in itself, the amount you can learn from the people you come across is phenomenal, whether it’s an ex director of Brunei or people influencing policy in Whitehall. The best project I have worked on so far has been helping launch two separate Shakespeare Lives events, in the Houses of Parliament and Middle Temple.

If you had to sum up your experience with British Council in one sentence, what would you say?

An exciting and richly diverse rollercoaster of projects, people and passion.

Francis is participating in the British Council Future Leaders Scheme, aimed at UK young professionals.