I had the great privilege of attending the Women of the Future (WOF) summit as one of the only two Weidenfeld-Hoffmann/Chevening scholars from India. The summit is a global event for current and future leaders to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. The event was a part of the Week of Women (12th – 15th November), a collaboration between the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, the GREATcampaign and the Women of the Future Programme. The Summit started with a formal reception and high tea at the House of Lords (British Parliament) on the13th of November and it was followed by the main conference at the Hilton Hotelon Park Lane, on the 14th of November. Around 350 delegates, a unique community ofdynamic high-achieving leaders from 40 countries, gathered at the venue.

It was an awesome experience to see women from different corners ofthe world, working together and creating a significant impact. The program wasled by Pinky Lilani CBE DL, who is the founder and chair of several awards, recognising influential women and leaders, including the Asian Women ofAchievement Awards. The event had many international delegates, fostering atruly global conversation. The aim was to establish and sustain the globalforum, through the Women of the Future Summit, to inspire and energise thewomen leaders of tomorrow. The conference started with an interestingdiscussion on artificial intelligence, machine learning and how its power canbe directed towards creating sustainable development in this world. The Summitanalysed how technology will evolve the information and intelligence we have inour reach. In the summit, the delegates discussed key issues faced by womentoday and how progress can be made. The program explored how the shifts inculture and leadership style could reflect global challenges in a differentlight and highlight new ideas and opportunities.

Jaspreet Sangha, a poet, talked about the importance of compassion and kindness for the building of trust. The discussion on trust and leadership was quite motivating. A panel also discussed how increased transparency has affected our confidence in institutions. Through a series of debates and discussion, the meeting considered who and what we will trust in the future and what this means for leadership. Elif Shafak, a novelist and a widely read female writer from Turkey discussed the importance of both pessimism of mind and optimism of the heart of future leaders. Speakers discussed how to tackle gender inequality and female empowerment through change at the individual and local levels. Dr. Tara Swart’s talk on building strong mental resilience and redirecting our brain’s activity to achieve our future goals was quite insightful. A memorable lesson was that in this era of a rapidly changing world, our experience can be our worst enemy. As such, leaders need to be very adaptive, innovative, collaborative and deliberate about their words and actions towards others.

Finally, the conference gave me the opportunity to interact with various international delegates and invaluable networking with future leaders from diverse backgrounds. I will always reflect on lessons learned about how to really ‘future proof’ our careers, how to engage meaningfully  in the age of political and cultural tribalism and how to carve new paths which will allow us all to manage the challenges and opportunities which arise in our respective leadership journeys.

About the Scholar

Priyadarshini Tripathy

Global Health Science and Epidemiology (MSc), 2019
Green Templeton College, Oxford
Weidenfeld-Hoffmann/Chevening Scholar