My Journey through the Circl Leadership Programme Application

Ela Heeley
January 24, 2024

I first came across the Circl Leadership Programme through the newsletter of an external organisation. I was immediately intrigued - a programme to support young people from disadvantaged backgrounds? A professional leadership qualification for free? As a university student from a low-income household who’d been looking for opportunities to develop my skills, it seemed almost too good to be true. I especially loved that Circl included ethnic minority students and those who were the first in their families to go to university; I know firsthand how difficult it can be to succeed in the professional world without necessarily having connections, or being represented in traditional ideas of success. With companies such as Meta, Google, and McKinsey involved, I was sold, and applying was a no-brainer. Embarking on the journey to secure a place in this prestigious programme was a blend of excitement and nerves. 

Of course, I still had a lot of questions. How exactly could the Leadership Programme help people like me to develop skills? Would the commitment be too large alongside juggling academic commitments and financial responsibilities? In short - was it worth it? Luckily, all I needed to do was register my interest, and the Circl team were in contact in just a few days with all the information I needed. I learned the programme involved just 18 hours of total commitment, which fit perfectly around my busy schedule. Personally, a lot of my time outside of my studies is filled by managing chronic illnesses and volunteering, so it was reassuring to see just how flexible the programme is. The six two-hour group sessions and six one-to-ones promised a wide range of upskilling opportunities, covering many aspects of leadership from personal goals to active listening. As advised, I researched a little more into Circl and the TGROW model of leadership to prepare for a quick, 20-minute online interview the following month. The email even contained a ‘Future Leader interview prep book’ including a checklist, which relieved my worries about the interview and eased the process.

By the time the interview came around in November, I felt nervous but prepared. My interviewer, Eve, was really personable, and the call had a casual tone which felt easy to engage with. By the end of the interview, I had no questions left unanswered. The interview itself was more focused on character than qualifications, which I was pleasantly surprised by. These kinds of considerations served to give validity to Circl’s message that the Leadership Programme is for anyone, regardless of their background. I was quickly offered a place in the programme, meaning I didn’t have to sit through a nerve-wracking wait to find out whether I’d been accepted.

Reflecting on my journey with the Circl Leadership Programme makes me all the more grateful for such a great opportunity, and I’m excited to begin my programme with Wieden+Kennedy in the new year.