One Young World September 2022 – Home from Manchester

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Last month, Rachel Harbers and Sarah Woodard, Co-Chairs of the Future Leaders Shadow Board, represented Women in Banking & Finance as delegates at the One Young World Summit in Manchester, UK.

WIBF was proud to be a partner of the Summit as the UK’s longest standing gender network and to have the opportunity to host a workshop on our Accelerating Change Together (ACT) Research Programme.

This year’s Summit brought together 2000 young leaders, both in-person and virtually, from over 195 countries and multiple sectors, working to accelerate social impact.

Day 1 – OYW Opening Ceremony

What an incredible start to an unforgettable week! Over 2,000 delegates gathered in Bridgewater Hall for an evening of speeches and performances from local Manchester artists. We were inspired to hear keynote speeches from Mary Robinson, Former President of Ireland, Sir Bob Geldof and Meghan Markle. Each shared anecdotes from their respective careers across politics, music and film, and reiterated the importance of youth leadership and possessing the confidence to enact change.

Meghan Markle spoke about her passion to improve gender equality; a poignant setting given Manchester was home to the Suffragette movement over 100 years ago. The ceremony culminated in a flag bearing ceremony, highlighting the individual nations in attendance (over 195!), but also serving as a reminder that all delegates shared a united mission: to create a more sustainable and better future for the planet that we all call home.

Following the ceremony, we attended a panel discussion and networking event, hosted by the U.S. Embassy, London. The special guests included two inspirational female speakers; Sylvia Earle, a marine biologist who spearheaded research on marine ecosystems with an emphasis on exploration and conservation, and Jamad Fiin, a US basketball player and social media influencer who has inspired young Muslim women by playing while wearing a hijab.

This was a great opportunity to meet with delegates from the UK and to begin to spread awareness of WIBF!

Day 2 – WIBF’s insights on The Future of Work

The highlight of day two, along with the speeches and sessions, was introducing WIBF and our mission to the OYW community via a workshop.

We applied in a competitive process and were proud to be selected. Anna Lane, President of WIBF, travelled to Manchester to host the workshop alongside us for delegates on the Accelerating Change Together (ACT) Research Programme.

The ACT research is the UK’s first cross-sector initiative designed to bring a gender lens to the UK financial services industry. The four-year programme harnesses the collective input from banking, asset management, professional services, fintech and insurance to address pressing gender and inclusion challenges. It has been quoted in the Financial Times, BBC, Bloomberg and New York Times and the programme’s next step is to inspire firms to try these actions in-house and to continue a dialogue with WIBF on their successes and findings.

There is always anticipation before an event waiting for the doors to open …. we were glad to have a very engaged and global group of delegates who attended our workshop. The discussion focused on the future of work, the impact of hybrid working and how to recruit and retain a pipeline of female talent. The same themes of the importance of mentoring, advocacy and visibility came up again and again. Volunteering with a UK-based gender network, it was insightful to see how the barriers perpetuate on a global scale which anchored our discussion on how the public sector, private sector and NGOs, are tackling diversity and inclusion challenges. Best practices were shared, and debate inspired.

We look forward to staying in touch with our workshop delegates and have invited them to join our community as members of WIBF and the Future Leaders Network, launching in November 2022.

Day 3 – The Power of Ethical Leadership

The Plenary Sessions were some of the most impactful speaker sessions and highlights of the One Young World Summit. The sessions showcased Delegate Speakers whose work and stories spoke to the topic at hand. The 2022 topics were:

  • Conflict Prevention: How can we prevent conflicts?

  • Gender Equality: How can we accelerate action to achieve gender equality?

  • Oceans: How can we safeguard and restore the world’s oceans?

  • Ethical Leadership: How can we be and develop ethical leaders – more responsible and effective than previous generations?

  • Health: How can we ensure health equity for all?

It became evident throughout the Summit that ethical leadership is a critical skill set and required now more than ever in an increasingly polarised and popularised world. Despite the current conflicts, such as the Russian / Ukraine war, we were reminded by Laura Chinchilla, former President of Costa Rica, that our generation is the most educated the world has ever seen. The power of education is universal; change for the better can occur, and hope is being placed in the hands of our generation. We heard repeatedly that age should not be a limiting factor for leadership and responsibility; and this was most evident hearing from the One Young World ‘Youth Politician of the Year’ Award winners and the positive impact they are having in their respective countries.

However, ethical leadership is not just important in the political sphere. We were reminded of how business leaders have a platform to be role models for their employees and customers on ethical leadership. John Roberts, CEO of, shared his advice on this topic. He spoke about the importance of spending time to train, develop and invest in his employees and the belief that talent is evenly distributed but opportunity is not. At the end of the day, we should all consider our impact on our colleagues, friends and family with the decisions we make in our work lives and how we can make the world a better place.

This sentiment was summed up best during the BMW session on sustainable project creation:

‘If you want to be the best in the world, you have to be the best for the world’.

Day 4 – Closing Ceremony

It was bittersweet coming to the final day of the Summit, knowing we had one more action-packed day of speakers, sessions and networking with delegates. We had a meet and greet with our European cohort and heard about how we can continue to partner with OYW as Ambassadors moving forward.

Due to the sad news of The Queen’s passing on Thursday evening our closing ceremony was cut short due to protocol. However, not before the hosts of the event screened The Queen’s COP26 speech. It was poignant as she called out the importance of youth leadership and action on climate change. It felt like coming full circle on the messages we had heard from influential politicians, activists and counsellors throughout the Summit. We would like to share the video with you here.

As Friday came around, our bags were packed for our journey back home to London. Hearts heavy but inspired and ready to continue championing gender equality throughout financial services in the UK.

Women In Banking & Finance (WIBF) is a gender network that has championed women in the financial services for over 40 years with branches in London, Bristol, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Glasgow, Norwich, Manchester and Belfast staffed primarily by voluntary Executive and Management Committees. Founded in 1980, WIBF aims to foster our members’ ambitious spirit, with networking events, development programmes and leadership opportunities. You can view the benefits of WIBF’s offering and personal membership here.

WIBF is always looking for new ways to engage its members and address current trends in the finance industry. Therefore, we are launching our Future Leaders Network to connect young professionals in the finance sector and we are delighted to extend the invitation to the WATC community.

The WIBF Future Leaders’ Shadow Board are excited to invite you to the launch of the inaugural Future Leaders’ Network.

Are you proudly ambitious? Looking to expand your network in financial services and share experiences? Wanting to access expertise and inspirational content from the UK’s leading gender network?

Then please join us on Thursday 3 November from 6pm at UBS, 5 Broadgate EC2M 2QS to celebrate and bring together young talent in the industry. Please register for the event here (spaces are limited).

About Rachel & Sarah

Rachel Harbers – Co-Chair, Future Leaders Shadow Board at Women in Banking & Finance

Rachel is an Associate at Blackstone, involved in the Product Strategy Group in Private Wealth Solutions. Prior to joining Blackstone, Rachel spent five years at Morgan Stanley in the Private Wealth Management and Investment Management divisions in Sydney and London respectively. Alongside her day job, Rachel is Co-Chair of the Women in Banking & Finance (WIBF) Future Leaders Shadow Board and in 2020 was Secretary to the President Nominations Committee. In 2019, Rachel was named a finalist in the Women in Investment Awards ‘Rising Star of the Year’, and in 2021, she was named a winner in the Rising Star Awards for Investment Management for WeAreTheCity.

Rachel holds a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Sydney. She is passionate about raising the profile of financial services as a career path for women and empowering women to invest.

Sarah Woodard – Co-Chair, Future Leaders Shadow Board at Women in Banking & Finance

Sarah is an analyst at H.I.G Capital in their Capital Formation Group. Sarah works with European investors to help fundraise for H.I.G Capital’s private market funds and manage existing client relationships. Previously, Sarah was an analyst on the UK and Ireland Institutional Business team at Goldman Sachs Asset Management.

In 2022, she was named a winner in the Rising Star Awards for Investment Management for WeAreTheCity.

Sarah graduated from Bristol University with a degree in International Business Management and is committed to broadening the pool of female talent in finance. Sarah believes through education and inspiration we can achieve progress with the hiring and retention of females in this sector.

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