Celebration of pioneering project to support students

Students, mentors and businesses came together to celebrate an award-winning programme that has helped empower and make a positive difference to graduates’ lives.

Leicester’s Future Leaders is an Office for Students-funded project which saw De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) be awarded £230,000 to work with students and Freeths LLP, Brewin Dolphin and Eileen Richards Recruitment.

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Its aims were to increase the numbers of black, Asian and minority ethnic graduates supported into roles within the city’s businesses – and help Leicester businesses attract more diverse candidates.

In the past three years Leicester’s Future Leaders has:

•    Brought students and businesses together to look at barriers to employment and how companies could unwittingly be putting diverse applicants off
•    Created a toolkit that helps businesses improve diversity and inclusion
•    Launched a new accelerator programme to support graduates into work in Leicester
•    Begun an in-work mentoring programme
•    Won a national award for Outstanding Student Support from Times Higher Education magazine

A packed celebration event at Trinity House saw project managers Rabeya Choudhury and Vanessa Haye be recognised for their leadership alongside Suraya Mayes, student lead Josiah Hyacinth, mentoring manager Andy Morris and former Head of Graduate Success Adele Browne.

Rabeya said: “We are all incredibly proud of Leicester’s Future Leaders and what it has achieved. It has been a real team effort and I think what we are most proud of is that students have helped to shape the programme.”


Vanessa said: “It has been the proudest moment of my career to work on Leicester’s Future Leaders and to be able to say that we have really made a difference to people’s lives is an amazing feeling. We have left a very, very good legacy.”

The project began life after an event held as part of Leicester Business Festival which looked at reasons behind why Leicester’s diverse communities were not reflected in its business community.

The following year, Blue Peter presenter Diane-Louise Jordan launched the project at another LBF event called Make Diversity Your Business, which was followed by a four-day conference at Leicester’s Marriott Hotel bringing students, businesses and recruitment experts together to share ideas for increasing diversity in graduate recruitment.  


Over the last three years, in consultation with DMU students and organisations such as the Prince’s Trust, Access Generation, Inclusive Grads and GradConsult, the project team developed a toolkit to support businesses to attract, recruit, retain and promote graduates from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.

Richard Bowden, interim Head of Graduate Success at DMU, said: “It is our duty at an institutional level to provide opportunities to support our graduates.
“We will take learnings from this amazing project and sow them into future projects at DMU the aim is to do what we can as a community. “

Law student Faira Ahmed was matched with solicitor Zainab Zaeem-Sattar in the mentoring strand of the programme. She said: “It has helped me so much with my confidence, my interview competency and networking. It has been such a positive experience.”

Posted on Monday 18th July 2022

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