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The Future Leaders Shadow Board and International Women’s Day

news published date 4 March 2024
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The IWD theme for 2024 to #InspireInclusion is one which we are extremely passionate about, and the WIBF UK Future Leaders Shadow Board is a fantastic initiative that demonstrates how diversity in thought and perspective can add immense value to any organisation.

We are extremely proud to be co-authoring this blog to highlight the impact a shadow board can have both in building a future pipeline of strong talent and also to strategically challenge and support the management board with its direction. We are hugely grateful to our fantastic FLSB members for their ongoing commitment to WIBF and for their contributions to this blog for IWD!

Reflecting on the theme for International Women’s Day 2024 #InspireInclusion, we are celebrating the fantastic members of our Future Leaders Shadow Board and sharing insights into the work we have been driving to inspire inclusivity for women across the banking and finance sector. As co-chairs of the shadow board, it is a privilege and a pleasure to work with such a diverse representation of colleagues, skillsets and organisations across the banking and finance sector, and are hugely grateful for the passion each and every member channels into the work we collectively deliver to drive positive change. 

Lauren Cassells and Lucy Ellis Keeler

An article published on shadow boards bridging generational divides defines a shadow board as a group of young, nonexecutive employees tapped to work with the executive board on strategic initiatives. It’s designed to introduce a company’s (typically middle-aged) leadership team to new perspectives and insights, thereby helping to drive strategy. The shadow board might contribute to initiatives as significant as developing a new marketing plan, redesigning a business model, or updating key processes in the organisation’s value chain.

The FLSB operates in a similar manner and provides strategic input and executive support to the management board members, ensuring WIBF plans and strategy reflects the perspectives of those in the earlier stages of their careers. There is extensive research demonstrating the utility of shadow boards as an opportunity to support the future pipeline of leaders in any organisation, with various case studies from organisations such as Gucci highlighted in the article ‘Why You Should Create a “Shadow Board” of Younger Employees’ by Jennifer Jordan and Michael Sorell.

A strategic objective for the FLSB in 2024 is to build on the sharing of insights and learnings we have gained through implementing and operating a shadow board, and support organisations looking to pursue similar initiatives to support their future talent pipeline. We are extremely passionate about the fantastic opportunities shadow boards present, and what better way to kick off that work with IWD and hearing directly from our FLSB members! 

  1. How has your participation on the Women in Banking and Finance shadow board inspired a sense of inclusion, and how has this impacted your personal and professional growth?

Shannon Oleson, Co-Head of Future Leaders Network – Participating in the Women in Banking and Finance shadow board has not only inspired a sense of inclusion but has also significantly impacted my personal and professional growth, providing a unique space focused on female empowerment and fostering a strong sense of community.

Andriana Stampoli, Co-Head of Student Engagement Strategy – I feel privileged working with so many inspiring female future leaders and to be part of such a safe environment where we can all develop and grow by learning and pushing each other to achieve. I look forward to “growing up” with everyone on the shadow board throughout our careers and to see the amazing things I know each and every one of the members will achieve.

Lauren Smith, Corporate Partners Relationship Manager – Shadowing and supporting the Corporate Partnerships team has enabled me to contribute to delivering high-quality member experiences, ensuring both companies and their colleagues have access to best practice and industry leaders in key DEI themes via WIBF’s initiatives and has helped expand my own knowledge of inclusion initiatives within organisations of varying sizes.

Enya Gubbins, Operations & Technology – This experience has not only expanded my professional network and leadership skills but also deepened my understanding of gender diversity issues within the banking and finance industry, enriching both my personal and professional growth being part of this inclusive environment has empowered me to advocate for gender equality and drive positive change within the industry.


  1. In what ways does the diverse representation of skills and organisations within the shadow board contribute to fostering an inclusive environment for women in banking and finance, aligning with the spirit of International Women’s Day?

Poppy Small, Mentoring – Working on the shadow board alongside others from such a broad array of areas within finance opens us up to a wider range of perspectives and ideas working towards a common goal. Each of us has a unique skill set and different ideas and bringing these together widens our impact across the banking and finance sector. 

Chloe Canham, Partnerships – Being able to collaborate with women I otherwise would not have come across is empowering and important in itself. On an individual basis, it not only broadens networks, but helps to understand different paths, different challenges and importantly, different ways women can work together to forge a more inclusive world for women. 

Philippa Marshall, Strategic & Thematic Events In my opinion the diverse representation of skills and organisations within the future leaders shadow board is key to fostering an inclusive environment for women in banking and finance. Diversity of both thought and experience allows the shadow board to both represent and serve the diverse needs of WIBF members, and helps to facilitate candid conversations that leads to impactful change for women in the industry. This aligns with the spirit of international women’s day which looks to celebrate the achievements of women whilst also raising awareness of where challenges still remain

Hajnalka Kardos, Finance – International Women’s Day reminds us all of our achievements and our success towards inclusivity and equality. The diverse skills and organisations within the shadow board are clear examples of the progress we have made, and the efforts to support one another.


  1. Reflecting on International Women’s Day, can you share a story or example highlighting how your involvement in the shadow board has inspired inclusivity and empowered women in the banking and finance sector, both within and beyond borders?

Mira Ratyal, Co-Head of Future Leaders Network – The Future Leaders Network (FLN) focus on fostering a sense of community with peers and role models in financial services to continue to break down career progression barriers.

Lizzy Merrall, Co-Head of Student Engagement Strategy – Being part of the Shadow Board has enabled me to work closely with other WIBF pillars to build and scale programmes for young undergraduate women that we wouldn’t have been able to do in isolation. 

Gabriella Kehily, Corporate Partners Relationship Manager – I represented WIBF at the One Young World (OYW) Summit in Belfast last October, whereby I hosted a workshop for 40 future female leaders from all across the world to inspire an inclusive and empowering workplace for all. This provided delegates with real life ideas of implementation to bring back to their respective countries and overcome these common barriers, aiding development, progression and overall bettering the workplace experience for all.

Rachel Seymour, Secretary – Having attended a few WIBF events and the WIBF Awards for Achievement online ceremony, a few other colleagues from work were invited to the in-person ceremony and after the event it was great to see that they started getting involved in some of the WIBF events and what the FLSB does.

The Future Leaders Network provides a space for young women to feel supported, share their goals, seek out advice, learn and grow together, and build connections. It offers a motivated and inspired community. Aimed at young professionals who are typically in the first 10 years of their career. If you are already a member and want to be part of the Future Leaders Network, please email [email protected].

If you’d like to join WIBF, find out more about our membership here.