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Some of you reading this will know UFA well, some won’t. But I know that my passion for UFA will shine through in this blog. Having the chance to talk about my experience within the organisation in such a personal way is very exciting for me and I hope you enjoy reading what I have to say.

Today I’m leaving my post as Marketing Officer at UFA, but this isn’t where my UFA journey started.


My first experieScreen Shot 2015-07-08 at 14.01.30nce of UFA was as a participant on a summer challenge when I was in Year 9. From there I went on to be a UFA Peer Tutor, Lead Learner, YoUFA Rep, YoUFA Board Member, Volunteer, Administrator and Leadership Training Facilitator for Step Up. Each one of these means something different to me and has added value to me as a person through the experiences and challenges it has offered. It has given me an understanding of the breadth and depth of the working world and taken me from secondary school student through to university graduate.

My next step, progressing from UFA onto a graduate scheme is one of my proudest achievements so far, being selected to join an Operations Leadership Scheme and be part of a cohort of 7 people across the UK working in leadership sounds great and I’m sure it will be rewarding. This would not have been possible without the coaching, support and experience I have gained from UFA.

I will take away with me skills that can’t easily be taught in an academic setting that enable me to engage with people in a friendly, purposeful and open way. When I transitioned from being a young person who worked with UFA through my school time as a Peer Tutor to a young person who was employed and had responsibility, there was potential for me to struggle to adapt into working life and the culture that came with it. Taking part in residential activities and working through team building but most importantly being given the chance to try were the most rewarding things about UFA programmes. It wasn’t clear until a few months into the paid work that I realised much of this culture transferred into the office and leadership culture of the whole organisation.

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Witnessing the whole team at UFA pulling together to keep the organisation at the top of its game strategically and developing new ideas to keep pushing the boundaries of young peoples’ leadership has been truly inspiring. Working amongst so many people with such experience and wisdom has rubbed off on me no end. If I can take a little piece of the culture with me in my next steps, I know it will help me to stand out from the crowd.

The thing that stands out to me as my highlight is the leadership within UFA, and this starts from the top. Having an open door policy and modelling good leadership whilst cascading information out to a whole team is surely the way to get the best out of everyone for any leader. The senior team have always been more than happy to hear new ideas and work with me to find out how feasible they would be. Each person offering coaching on how to problem solve. UFA is truly an organisation where the coaching model comes to life and is encouraged, this makes the team so strong and will definitely be something I will aim to do when I am a manager. I have been so lucky to have the opportunity to do things that many young people my age wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do, such as attending conferences and thinking strategically about marketing positioning and budgets. I can only credit that to UFA acting on their own values and believing in me as an individual with a passion to make a difference. At each progression stage of my journey, I never had the complete skill set required for the step up, but I was 80% there and then accelerated much more quickly because of this exposure to new situations.

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 13.42.09I will honestly carry with me a passion for young people’s leadership and a desire within me to fight for young people who can sometimes be unfairly judged in situations beyond their control. I will strive to create the best performance in myself and in the others I meet along the way by inspiring them and coaching them as I have been coached. I have an unshakable belief in the potential of all people and what makes them so special and talented in different ways – and that’s because of my UFA experience. Thank you.

Kyle Smith

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