Back in March, somewhere between the first and second LG challenge, (and what now feels like a very long time ago) I wrote a blog called the inbetweeners.
Once the competition was over and back in the relative safety of my day job I think I’d forgotten what an intense experience the challenges were – and re-reading this first blog has reminded me just how exhausting, challenging and enjoyable a 6 months I had.
As the application process for the LGA challenge 2017 begins to pick up speed I thought I’d share a few nuggets of wisdom (apologies for the image) with prospective applicants.
If you’re not sure about entering, or you don’t think you have the time to write the application. My first nugget is JUST DO IT. I almost never submitted my application, and I would have missed out on so much opportunity if I hadn’t. Applicants in 2016 came from a really wide range of jobs, experience and backgrounds, and any one of the candidates could have won it in the end – so remember you have nothing to lose.
The assessment day that follows the application process is a good opportunity to get an early feel for what the actual challenges will be like. And in what will be a recurring nugget of wisdom – Talk to everyone – you never know who you’ll meet again, or how they might be able to help you. It was speaking to Jude Taylor (the LG Challenge Winner in 2015) at the assessment day that really made my competitive side kick in for the first time. She spoke of amazing opportunities that had come from winning, and I wanted in.
If after the assessment day you are lucky enough to become one of the final ten, then you are in for a bit of a 6 month roller coaster. It’s absolutely brilliant. As learning experiences go I don’t think it can be compared to anything I’ve ever encountered. You will stay in places you have never visited before (probably in weird hotels.) You will have exposure to leaders and chief execs from all sorts of different backgrounds. And you will share the highs and lows with 9 other talented contestants. The challenges are complex – so my nuggets of wisdom for them are (in no particular order): Think big – there’s no point playing safe. Be Brave – you might as well take a gamble. Talk to everyone – here it is again. Don’t forget to eat lunch – you will definitely forget to eat lunch.
After the final challenge, the four finalists are announced. In many ways this is when the most hectic part of the process begins and you only have a very short time to build a proposal. As sods law dictates the final will probably coincide with your busiest time at work. But sods law aside, the final is really fun, the task is to get delegates at the LG conference (made up of chief execs and leaders) to vote for your proposal, this is a chance to pick holes in your ideas, and all the practice you have had in talking to everyone in the previous challenges means this bit should be easy. You are joined by fellow contestants at this stage and I was really lucky to get Emily and Luke – whose combined charm offensive meant that the conference delegates stood no chance.
Whilst all this is going on, the prospect of a final presentation looms. My proposal was to eradicate Child Sexual Exploitation and I tried to strike a balance between an emotive and factual presentation in a topic I feel really passionately about. My nuggets of wisdom for this stage would be to choose something you care about and PRACTICE. It was a final presentation run through with Amy the night before, and Luke and Emily just before going into the judging room that really helped steady my nerves.
After all the finalists have presented, and the judges have considered, there is an LG challenge ceremony. It’s one last time for all the contestants to get together and wait for the winner to be announced. I was delighted and lucky enough to be the name in the golden envelope. And you also get a trophy!
The final evening is a bit of a blur, but in the months since winning I have started to try and turn my proposal into a real project. Winning has given me exposure that it would have taken years to replicate. And I have tried to make the most of this by pencilling in regular meetings with senior colleagues, including our chief exec. The opportunity to use 10k creatively is exciting and opens doors that wouldn’t have been available to me before. As an example, early next year I plan on heading to the states to visit an anti-exploitation project and try and bring invaluable learning back with me.
So if you are reading this blog, I hope I have swayed you to give it a go, if you manage to get through to the final stages – then good luck. Hopefully I’ll see you at next year’s conference!