In my search for wealth management firms enriching their local communities, I caught up with Graham Coxell, executive chairman of Rowan Dartington, to hear about the firm’s sponsorship of the Bristol Leadership Programme (BLP), writes Libby Ashby.
The programme takes 10-15 young adults, typically 17-year-olds from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds, into a two-week leadership development course. Afterwards, each student is assigned a mentor who will continue to provide coaching and guidance in the following months.
I spoke to the founder of the programme, Marvin Rees, who explained how it started. The BLP was inspired by Yale’s World Fellows Program, which Rees attended himself. On his return to the UK, he had the idea of a city intentionally setting out to produce world leaders, and teamed up with Coxell and the current programme’s director Tracie Joliff, to make it happen.
Rees outlined the type of candidate they look for. ‘We’re looking for those who have already achieved great things despite difficult circumstances. If they have done so much with so little, think of the enormous potential of what they could achieve given access to the right skills and opportunities.’
Now in its third year, the programme, which ran from 7-18 July for 14 candidates, provides group coaching, skills building, seminars and talks from distinguished speakers.
Coxell explained what the BLP hopes to achieve through these sessions. ‘We want to create the leaders of the future from more diversified backgrounds. We want to show them that society does care, people do believe in them and introduce them to people they would never usually have the opportunity to meet.’
During the programme, the students hear from the brightest and best in the Bristol area. Lucio Mesquita, the BBC West head of regional and local programming, led a session, as did Jon Reilly, Bristol area commander for Avon and Somerset Police, a range of professors from the city’s two universities, and Coxell himself.
Coxell said: ‘Ultimately I would love to recruit one of the students from the programme. It would be fantastic to have one of them join us at Rowan Dartington.’
The programme has been very successful helping the young adults. After completing the course, one student’s ambition changed from wanting to be a manager in a local shop to working in international business. Another, inspired to apply to major US universities after the course, had interviews for Harvard, Yale and Princeton and was offered a place at Cornell.
As well as sponsoring the programme, Rowan Dartington hosts many of the sessions at its offices. Coxell is passionate about the BLP and enjoys being a mentor. In time, he hopes that others from the firm will become mentors as well.
Coxell and Rees want to roll out the programme to other cities in the UK in the future. And Coxell would love other wealth management firms to be involved in setting up the programme nationally.
Rees greatly values the support Rowan Dartington provides and appreciates the investment they are making.
‘Through sponsoring the Bristol Leadership Programme, Rowan Dartington is investing in the context within which they do business and talent pool from which they will draw. They are making business more accessible to the young adults who have great potential but might not ordinarily have the opportunity to be involved in the business world,’ he said.
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