WACL (Women in Advertising Communications London) in partnership with NABS, the support organisation for the advertising and media industry, have announced the winners of this year’s 15th annual Future Leaders Award (FLA). 

Thirty-one women in total were chosen from 230 applicants to receive bursaries of up to £3,000 each for training to help them achieve their leadership goals. 

The FLA’s committee praised this year’s winners as “exceptional” and were delighted at the diversity in age, profession and location of those who entered the competition. There was an increase in applicants from outside of London as well as those working in marketing in communications outside of the traditional brand and agency routes. 

Victoria Fox, CEO, AAR, chaired this year’s FLA committee. She said: “Each year on the FLA we spot new trends coming through the industry. This year we saw more people than ever before in self-reflective mode, taking a lot of time and thought to fill out our application form. The FLA application process is a self-reflective one, prompting applicants to evaluate if they’re on the right path – one that enables them to fulfil their potential.” 

Two exceptional FLA winners have also been awarded with the Patricia Mann Award, WACL’s award for women who champion change and challenge the status quo in order to support other women and make a positive impact on the marketing and advertising industry.

Debbie Phillips, RBS and Michaella Williams, Generation Media, won the award for being “pioneers who lit up the room”. 

Debbie said: “The application really forced me to evaluate what I’d achieved over the last few years and to celebrate it in a way I never would have given myself time to do. Having my manager sponsor me also meant he had visibility of my achievements.”

Victoria added: “Debbie and Michaella stood out with their contrasting stories of resilience and focus. With future leaders like this in the industry, we should be excited about what’s to come.”

All FLA winners are invited to join the Futures Network, through which this year’s and previous winners benefit from networking, support and exclusive speaker events. Each winner will also be awarded sponsored membership to the CMI (Chartered Management Institution). Thanks to the generosity of WACL member Ann Francke OBE, CMI membership will enable winners to gain professional management recognition, knowledge and practical skills and techniques to support their professional development. 

Launched by Tess Alps in 2005, the Future Leaders programme is designed to encourage talented and inspirational women to stop, reflect on and prioritise areas of their development in order to accelerate their careers and achieve their full potential. In the last 15 years, more than 200 women have received bursaries totalling over £300,000.