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My time at the 33Sixty Leadership Programme

Sam Donnelly, 33Sixty Leadership Programme, Common Purpose

The 33Sixty programme is named so because 33% of the world’s population lives in the Commonwealth, of whom 60% are under the age of 30.

33Sixty brought together 100 young leaders from across the Commonwealth in order to teach them skills, allowing them through experience to cross boundaries, lead change, and use the Commonwealth’s networks effectively. Out of the 100 young adults, 1/3 were from the UK, 1/3 were from across the Commonwealth and currently studying or living in the UK, and 1/3 travelled to Glasgow from across the Commonwealth.

Unlike many of the other alumni present at 33Sixty, I’m not a student! I’m on a gap year. My story is that between travelling and working and everything else I’ve got up to this year, I discovered the treasure chest that is Young Scot Rewards. I was on it one day redeeming points that I earned from Gold DofE, and I noticed an application for the 33Sixty program. I had no idea what it was, but I did what anyone else would do and googled “33 Sixty”. One of the key things that I’ve learned this year is that very now and again you’ll be lucky enough to be presented with an amazing opportunity, and you’ve just got to grasp it- its payed off every time so far. So without hesitation I had sent away my application for 33Sixty through YoungScot Rewards.

When I found out that I had been successful with my application, I was chuffed, but to be honest, I still had no idea what I was in for. Little did I know it would be one of the most eye-opening milestones of my life.

On Monday 11th April I jumped on the train from Ayr (my hometown), and after a short run from Central Station, I arrived at the Technology & Innovation Centre at the University of Strathclyde for 8:30-m sharp-ish. Suddenly I was surrounded by tonnes of like-minded individuals who were all wanting to save the world in their own little way. I met people from New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, Nigeria, Barbados, Jamaica, South Africa, Malta… the list goes on. It quickly became very apparent that although being across the globe, together our nation’s problems were fundamentally the same. And it was this idea that we later came to explore.

Throughout the week we touched on leadership and personal development, we visited many public, private and NPO organisations across Glasgow (for me this way Clyde Gateway and Glasgow Life), but mostly we divided into sub teams of around 8-9 people and discussed our challenge brief (the reason for this programme). The brief was: “How do you create a step-change in the collaboration of private, public and NPO sectors.” With this in mind each group then sought out different personalised solutions to the brief using the classic method of brainstorming. At the end of the week, we presented our ideas to each other and a panel composed of experienced adults from a “high-up” business and political background.

My group, although wanting to solve every problem of the world via the collaboration of the 3 sectors, instead realised that it would be worthwhile finding one common problem between all of our shared nations, and starting there. We focused on rape. And to cut a very long technical story short, we developed the idea of a mobile phone application that could prevent rape and aid the caring of the victim subsequent to a rape, this app would theoretically be possible due to the collaboration of all 3 sectors. I’m not going to go into too much detail, but if you ever hear of an app taking off called “WRONG”, that tackles the taboo issue of Rape. You heard it here first!

There were other fantastic ideas generated at this programme. But apart from ideas, cultural awareness, and leadership skills gained, the most valuable part of this experience for me has been the networking. I have met some truly astounding and brilliant people through 33Sixty, some of whom I hope to stay in contact with for life. A few international friends have already booked tickets back to Glasgow for this summer, where I can finally give them the real tour of Scotland they deserve! And fingers crossed this means I have somewhere to crash if I’m ever in Hong Kong.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Young Scot Rewards for existing and for offering me the chance to be a part of a great programme, as without such a great organisation, I’d never have had such an enjoyable experience! I would thoroughly advise anyone who wants to meet some awesome people, and have a tour of the world without even leaving Glasgow to apply for next years 33Sixty programme. And for anyone that can, please sign up to Young Scot Rewards, you won’t regret it!

 For more information on Young Scot Rewards visit