In the autumn of 2011, Professor Shervanthi Homer-Vanniasinkam, co-director of the EXSEL scholarship scheme, met with Professor Richard Thorpe from the Leeds University Business School (LUBS) to discuss a leadership initiative for University undergraduates. She envisaged that five scholars from Leeds School of Medicine would join with their peers in LUBS and Engineering (ICLP) for a week-long immersion programme, during which the students would have the unique opportunity to listen to senior alumni and leaders address them on a number of global themes, and also for them to learn from each other.
The Leadership Ambassadors' Programme (LAP) takes place every year in late June.
The Faculty of Engineering selects five students from the International Corporate Leadership Programme (ICLP) and LUBS chooses five talented second-year undergraduates. The medical students were all second-year EXSEL scholars who were just starting their summer research project.
Working in interdisciplinary group teams the students discussed a set of problems designed to challenge their perceptions, for example, students tackled a scenario planning task set by GSK Diagnostics Development Head, Mark Phillips.
During the week, twelve alumni and senior leaders made presentations to the mixed group of students and then set them wide-ranging problems to solve in smaller groups. There was a webinar from Jonathan Allan, Associate Director, Innovation Programs at Chicago Booth School of Business, Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship. He develops and commercialises new business ventures around University technologies by bringing together interdisciplinary teams of faculty, staff and students at the University of Chicago and the Argonne National Laboratory. His ultimate goal is to foster collaboration among seemingly disparate groups at the University to develop novel ways to make a positive and meaningful impact in the world. Jonathan’s advice to the undergraduate students was to look at the world carefully and to see if they could see problems and solutions.