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Women+ Of Colour in Leadership - Part 3

Four women of diverse background and cultures holding their fists up in unity.
Four women of diverse background and cultures holding their fists up in unity.
Illustration by Nia Hefe Filiogianni, Illustration by Nia Hefe Filiogianni
Written by
Zahraa Karim
Published date
20 May 2021

University of the Arts London (UAL) launched the Women+ of Colour In Leadership programme in February, to inspire and empower women+ of colour to break through the glass ceiling and become the creative leaders of the future. Led by UAL Careers and Employability's Creative Shift team who champion diversity in the creative industries, the programme was launched in response to research showing that only 17% of creative directors are Women and only 3% of CEOs are Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (Creative Equals, 2020).

This exciting 8-week programme gives students the opportunity to develop different aspects of leadership from leading teams, build connections and understand their own leadership qualities through interactive and participant-focused workshops.

UAL Graduate Ambassador, Zahraa Karim guides us through the final weeks of the programme, and what we've learnt about ourselves and leadership.

Session 7 - 19th March 2021

Entering the final stages of the programme, today’s session was dedicated to the students practicing their presentations for the clients next week. We began with a 5-minute check-in from Jannett to see how the students were feeling, and it was certainly a mixed bag; some were excited to share what they’d been working on, whilst others felt the pressure of the 20-minute time restraint, or the nerves of presenting. Without giving time to overthink or doubt themselves, we dived straight into the presentations with the groups picked at random, with 10 minutes after each for feedback from the wider group.

Screenshot of a zoom conference call

First up… Change the game (CTG)

Now we all know how difficult it can be to go first, especially when you’re not volunteering yourself, but following their presentation, CTG did a great job in showcasing all their hard work! Exploring sides of history never taught in education, how to accept and embrace our ethic features, and manifestation, their 3 hour event had a brilliant line up of topics and influencers. Following their presentation, the wider group gave them constructive feedback and ‘feedforward’, a term coined by the one and only Jannett Morgan. Below is the feedback they received:

  • During the pitches, some of you did this well but others could improve - show passion for your work and make eye contact with the camera, as it seemed like some of you were reading from your screens, (I know it’s different presenting through video call, but the lack of eye contact still comes through) so try to make it less obvious to ensure engagement.
  • Plan your transitions from person to person into a running order so your delivery is smooth.
  • We really got to know you through your elevator pitches so well done! You all sold yourselves brilliantly, and we felt the passion for your subject specialism clearly.
  • Be careful with the branding of your presentation - ensure everything is easy to read.
  • Loved the nod to the Y2K aesthetic, showed your understanding of trends for the target audience. Your branding felt very futuristic and the gaming icons were really fun.
  • Great consideration and innovation put into the care packages, especially as you intend for them to be delivered virtually too. We really came to understand the emphasis and passion for community.
  • Take some time to think about the newsletter as a way to engage with your audience post event too.
  • Try to avoid saying “we were thinking to do this as well” too often as it makes things unclear.
  • Think about how you’ll measure your KPI’s (Key Performance indicators) - how can you show your clients that the event was a success?
  • Are your speakers confirmed?
  • Always bring your point back to the client and let them know why they should pick you.
  • Have a plan ready for the unexpected - if Amazon knocks on your door whilst you’re presenting, what’s your plan?
  • Think about your time management, as you always want to have time to ask if anyone has questions at the end.

Carefully consider your terminology regarding race and ethnicity - the word ‘coloured’ and ‘BAME’ were mentioned in the presentations. Jannett explained to the students that if you’re going to talk about people of colour (POC), be consistent and give context to your choice of words, because in the history segment of your event, language will play a role, so have a conversation as a group and see what your interpretation is. Also, maybe do some research and see how teens and the clients refer to themselves.

  • The digital pen pal idea really stood out! We’re all human and need to be able to talk to others and exchange experiences, so again you’ve come back to this idea of community building.

Wrapping up CTG’s feedback, we then went onto our next group, Women in Progress (WIP) to present. Focusing their event on food, a universal language that anyone from any part of the world can relate and enjoy, they hoped to bring people together through cooking. Their presentation was refreshingly wholesome and well thought out, and below is the feedback they received from the group:

  • Brilliant and concise elevator pitches that clearly outlined your individual roles in the brief - seemed well rehearsed!
  • Well structured presentation from start to finish
  • It’s amazing that you’ve already tested out the visual identity you created to show a better engagement with yours than the current branding - great way to measure your successes!
  • Your choice of presenter was fantastic - she’s a great advocate for natural hair and is very enthusiastic about the type of products Treasure Tress provide.
  • The stickers are amazing and super inclusive!
  • The information posters on conversions for cooking were a simple but well considered idea, and we loved that they were downloadable - wondered if it would be worth keeping this theme of ‘need to knows’ for the newsletters too as a small consistent segment?
  • We wondered about the practicalities of this 3 hour session - how long will the cooking segment be? Will the host be cooking? Do the participants have to source the ingredients themselves? What do you intend to cook? How do you choose one cuisine? Will you cater to special dietary needs? - Consider and explain the logistics of your event.
  • Your branding was very clear!
  • You referred back to the client brilliantly and allowed time for a conclusion and questions - time well managed.
  • There was no proper introduction of your group name - try to incorporate this next time.

After another great presentation, we move onto our third and final group, Women with Goals (WWG). WWG featured reading, yoga, and positive affirmations into their events, with an incredibly well thought out schedule focusing on education, wellness, and finance. Below you’ll find the feedback they received:

  • We’ve all experienced trying to talk whilst on mute before, but we liked how you managed that - you didn’t stutter or lose yourself, but rather made a joke of it and brought your personality into it from the get-go.
  • Loved the way you all had your own individualised introductions and tied it in with the clients!
  • You thought about intersectionality and it was explained and rationalised very well.
  • Your research really supported your goal and throughout the whole presentation I felt not only passion, but structure to that passion, which is really important when pitching - you all spoke with great clarity.
  • The research you presented was really engaging, and your choice of collaborators was well explained, but when it came to understanding the logistics of the workshop, we weren’t too sure how it would operate.
  • Teen is a large spectrum when you’ve got 12-19 year olds, so how might that differ in the literature workshop? How will you cater to each age?
  • You had a very strong visual language and identity - you ensured you used inclusive language such as womxn, and we were thrilled to see it as it made your stance clear.
  • What’s the link between each of your workshops?
  • You demonstrated that you understood the brand very well, from their brand values to their competitors.
  • Your ideas for a giveaway and goody bag are great, but how will you source all of it with no budget?
  • The Call to Action (CTA) mentioned and examples of the types of TikTok videos you wanted to be producing was great.
  • Why should the clients pick you? Part of this answer could be how you think to measure your KPI’s.
  • You bookended he whole presentation really well and showed great support for each other on the recoveries.

To round what was a very useful session for the students before their final pitch to the clients, we reflected on the presentations as a group, and opened up the floor to any final questions or concerns the students had.

Screenshot of a zoom conference call

With a session full of feedback, the students were excited to regroup and make their final amendments for next week. Anticipating the group chats to be buzzing away over the next couple of days, we can’t wait to see the students share all their hard work with the clients and blow them away - it’s the final countdown!

Session 8 - 26th March 2021

Well, here we are, after 7 weeks of collaboration, discussion, and self-discovery, we’re in our 8th and final week of the Women+ of Colour in Leadership Programme. With presentations sent ahead of today to give the clients a chance to familiarise themselves with each groups pitch, we welcomed the Treasure Tress team and Shannie into the call. With some encouraging words from Jamelia, and Shannie telling the group how excited her team are to know who wins, we head straight into the pitches with Women in Progress (WIP) kicking it off!

With an amazing start to the session, WIP did a brilliant job with their pitch, and the clients were ready to raise their questions following their presentation. Some of the questions and answers are mentioned below:

Q.1 With the cooking ingredients, was there any reason why it wasn’t an idea to send the ingredients out to the attendees before the workshop?

A.1 We just wanted to keep it as simple as possible, and not have too many packages going out.

Q.2 We really liked the sponsor idea, but was there any reason why this didn’t come to mind with your playlist idea? As it would have been great to reach out to Spotify or Apple music.

A.2 Honestly we didn’t think about that, but we’d love to reach out if we were given the chance!

Q.3 Why the change of the colour palette for our brand?

A.3 We wanted to create a more lively impression with colour and expression, so that it reflects the ideals of the Teen Experience as a brand. We wanted to express the essence of you.

Q.4 Would vegan options be the only options, or would there be scope to cater for a wider audience in regards to the lack of meat?

A.4 We went with vegan because it was the easiest way to cater to all dietary needs in one session.

WIP answered the client questions very well, and knowing how difficult it can be to be asked a question you may not have anticipated or considered yourself, we applaud their quick thinking! WIP could now watch and enjoy the rest of the presentations with ease and satisfaction to a job well done. Next up, we have Change the Game (CTG)!

Continuing to raise the bar, CTG did an excellent job with their pitch, and again the clients were eagerly waiting to ask their questions, some of which are mentioned below along with the groups answers:

Q.1 How many respondents did you get from the Google survey and Instagram?

A.1 We had 21 respondents from the Google survey and 40 respondents to Instagram, but only 20 were specific to the target audience.

Q.2 We really liked the plan for the day, but, do you think it may be too intense for some? Zoom fatigue is a real thing, so we just wondered how you decided the time length of each workshop?

A.2 We kept in contact with all the collaborators throughout the process to ensure all was okay time wise, as we had international hosts, but regarding the length or intensity, we just wanted to keep it exciting.

Q.3 We loved the pen pal idea a lot, but were wondering how it’ll work when they are matched?

A.3 The plan will be to give them a template so that they can have pointers when they’re talking to each other so it’s not awkward.

Q.4 It was a really great presentation with some brilliant ideas, but following the question on pen pals, we wondered how you’ll make sure it’s safe and there’s no trolling? Like have you considered GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation)?

A.4 To be honest we hadn’t actually considered this, but I don’t think trolls would pay to come to an event.

Q.5 Again you guys did great, and from the get-go gave huge detail of yourselves, it was inspiring, but I just had a question regarding the branding; you’ve done quite a remix of everything, so how do you see that marrying up to the teen experience? Does the Teen Exchange live separately?

A.5 We see the Teen Exchange as a digital baby of the Teen Experience.

Taking the clients questions in their stride, CTG kept their cool and delivered an exciting pitch! Now free to join WIP and enjoy the final pitch, Women with Goals (WWG) took to the virtual floor for our last presentation.

Nailing it after last weeks feedback, WWG couldn’t have ended the pitches any better! Shannie and Jamelia mentioned that when it came to thinking of questions, they struggled because every time they wrote one down, it got answered later on anyway. Nevertheless, a few of the questions the clients did ask are mentioned below with the groups answers.

Q.1 Has a sponsor in the literary space been considered?

A.1 Yes, so the book shop that India has has sponsored in the past, and they’re happy to sponsor us! They also have contacts to bigger stores who could potentially support us too.

Q.2 What was the response rate and where did you conduct your survey?

A.2 So we had 23 responses and we promoted the survey on Instagram, shared to people in our own lives, and asked them to send it on to others.

Q.3 What made you guys think of a virtual goodie bag instead of a physical one?

A.3 We wanted the workshop to be feasible, but also ensure a way for everyone to get that package.

Q.4 Why did you choose Sainsbury’s as your sponsor?

A.4 They’ve been doing a lot to help people and that can be seen in their more recent advertisements, but to be honest, we just figured that sometimes people might need support in other areas of their life. Food is so necessary to our survival and a basic necessity, so we’d rather help someone with food over hair products that may not go as long a way.

Answering their final question, WWG ended the pitches brilliantly, and now it was time for the clients to share some final comments with the wider group before leaving to deliberate the winner. So whilst the Treasure Tress team stepped out, we decided to reflect on the students progress and how their wheels had evolved since the beginning of the programme.

We asked each student to show their wheel and discuss what their confidence levels were on each quality in the beginning of the programme and what they are now. It was lovely to see that for most students the points on their wheels had become more rounded, and it opened up an interesting conversation on what they’d learnt through this workshop. Some students spoke about how they came to understand the importance of clear and consistent communication, and that they felt more confident now to work in a team and lead one. Others mentioned how much more comfortable they feel speaking in public, and that they understood it wasn’t something that might come naturally to everyone, but if you continue to practice and push yourself you can only get better.

Screenshot of a zoom conference call

Students also discussed time management; with some students in their first year and others in their last, priorities for everyone were different, and the students explained that this programme really encouraged self-discipline and accountability. They spoke on how they shocked themselves with how well they kept up with their studies, their personal lives, and this project, and were proud that on top of all of that, they’d also created a great support system within their teams. It’s safe to say that the group had learnt skills most of us are still trying to master ourselves, and although it’s a journey, they’re definitely on the right track to becoming well rounded, confident, and passionate leaders of the future. It was amazing to hear how far the students had come, it was inspiring to have seen the growth and self discovery in what felt like such a short period of time. With the clients heading back to the call, the results are now in.

The winner is…

Complicated. With each group having done such an amazing job, the clients struggled to pick just one winner. Instead, they changed it up a little. They decided that they wanted WIP to work with them to deliver their event for the teen experience, and have CTG support WIP in bringing this to life via content creation and marketing. Finally, they wanted WWG to work with them to deliver their event for Treasure Tress instead, as they felt their pitch was great but could work even better for a more mature audience.

Screenshot of a zoom conference call

So following the thrilling results from Treasure Tress, it looks like our 8 week programme has now come to an end. We can’t wait to see these events come to life this month, so stay tuned!

If you’d like to check out the students’ presentations, you can see them here.

Thanks for reading! Be sure to check out part 1 and part 2.

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