The Future Leaders Fellowships Development Network

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UKRI Future Leaders Fellows (FLF) are a community of exceptional early career researchers and innovators working at academic, commercial, and independent research and innovation organisations across the UK. Fellows are pursuing ambitious, challenging research and innovation programmes as they become world-class leaders in their fields.

To support the Fellows, UKRI has created the FLF Development Network [FLFDN], a collaboration of eight UK universities and specialist consultants, led by the University of Edinburgh. Together, the FLFDN is providing a wide range of bespoke training, events, and opportunities designed to enable the Fellows to develop their leadership capacities within the research and innovation sectors.

Mentoring is central to the support offered to the Fellows. The aim is to give Fellows structured opportunities to interact with experienced individuals, in order to build their skills and confidence, expand their professional networks, spot new possibilities, and take advantage of them. As a mentor, you could have a significant impact on their thinking and development at this exciting point in their careers.


Here, Dr Kay Guccione, FLFDN Mentoring Lead, who currently leads the Research Development team at the University of Glasgow. shares more about the programme and why you should get involved as a mentor.

“I specialise in designing programme-level approaches to mentoring that support the development of the skills needed for leadership and career development. I am really enjoying working on a series of mentoring designs for the Fellows, alongside Co-Lead Charlotte Bonner-Evans at Cardiff University. We work in tandem to deliver the whole programme experience, from collecting data on the skills our Fellows want to develop, to building networks of outstanding mentors – all of them leaders in their field – to delivering a bespoke training, matching and support service.”

So why is this such a good thing for staff to get involved in? Kay explains: “Our programme designs are carefully structured to make sure every participant is trained and supported to set and achieve their own objectives for development. By offering choice and by placing the topics, mode and timing of engagement under each mentee’s control, the unique context of the mentee is set at the centre of each partnership. This means that we can focus the programme on what really matters – the quality of the mentoring conversation – rather than relying on a more traditional advice-based approach. Mentors use coaching skills to support mentees to evaluate and pursue what is important to them.”

This resource for mentors gives insight into the approach taken.

A key part of mentoring is giving time. Kay elaborates what is involved: “Being a mentor is about giving the mentee dedicated and protected time to talk and to think. The coaching skillset we develop means we don’t require the mentor to have had closely matching experience to that of the mentee, nor does it require the mentors to know everything, or to have all the right answers. A good mentor is somebody who listens well, allowing their mentee to consider their options and to choose their own best way forward. In terms of practicalities, what that looks like is around six hours’ commitment over six months, including all training, paperwork, and the one-to-one mentoring sessions.

Still unsure? Kay has some words of encouragement: “It’s a pretty safe thing to try out without too great a commitment! We don’t match you with a mentee until you’ve attended a Welcome Workshop to find out more, and if it’s not for you, no problem. If you do go ahead, the matching profile you create allows you to specify who you’d like to be matched with and what you can offer to a mentee. Charlotte and I broker the partnerships for you, so there is no awkwardness around who to pick, and no fear of not being picked. We also support you in your role for the duration of the programme. The short nature of the leadership mentoring programme also means that you can give it a go without fear of being stuck together in a long programme.

“Evaluation data collected from a range of different programmes show that the skillset mentors gain from being part of a formal programme also improves their ability to support their own students and junior colleagues,” she continues. “What we see happening is that mentors gain the tools, confidence and self-awareness to consider how they interact with and develop others.”


Learn more about becoming a mentor for the FLFDN, and the benefits of being a mentor, by visiting the website.

If you would be interested in becoming a mentor, please register for one of the upcoming mentoring workshops.

If you have any questions, you can contact

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