About WACL Talent Awards 2021 Last Updated: Oct 19, 2021

The WACL Talent Awards 2021/2022 opens on Friday, 17th September.

What is it?

The WACL Talent Awards (previously known as the Future Leaders Award) is a grant scheme for emerging female leaders working in media, marketing, advertising and communications. WACL awards it in partnership with NABS.

Why does it exist?

WACL’s purpose of accelerating gender equality for the benefit of all in our industry means we’re passionate about supporting as many emerging women leaders as possible. So we set up the WACL Talent Awards to foster great talent and support more women on their journey to leadership.

Each year we are proud to award grants to around 30 women to fund a training course they choose to support their goals for the future.

This year, we are open to offering 100% grants up to the value of £3000 to all our winners. We would, however, encourage all applicants to consider asking their employer to contribute 25% of the grant value, as this will help us offer more grants to more talented women future leaders in our industry. If asking your employer to contribute is not an option for you, no problem – please still apply for a 100% grant. Our judging process will not be affected either way.

Who can apply?

The WACL Talent Awards are open to all WACL Talent; that is, all ambitious and talented women in advertising and communications aspiring to achieve their leadership potential.

It doesn’t matter how old you are or what your background is – if you’re ambitious, want to make a difference and are motivated to succeed; you’re the perfect applicant for this awards scheme.

To be eligible to apply, you must:

  • identify as a woman
  • be currently or most recently employed or engaged in the media, marketing, advertising and communications industry
  • based in the UK
  • have at least 3 years of industry experience
  • committed to a career within this industry
  • have the application endorsed by your current/recent employer or sponsor.

What are we looking for?

Below are five questions that will help you explore whether the WACL Talent Awards are right for you. These questions are also designed to give you an insight into what the judges are looking for from applications.

  1. Are you passionate about the media, marketing, advertising, and communications industry and can you share examples that bring this passion to life?
  2. How will your chosen course stretch you beyond where you are today and why does it feel like the right opportunity for you and your career?
  3. What examples can you share of supporting, growing and inspiring other women and tackling inclusion for all in the industry?
  4. What have you achieved outside of your day job that you’re proud of (personally and professionally)?
  5. What does being a leader mean to you and what are your leadership ambitions in the future?

Simply put, we want to hear the story of what sort of leader you are, how you inspire others and how you want to progress as a leader.

How do I apply?

Click on the link here to access the application form.


All applications will be carefully reviewed, and a shortlist of candidates will be invited to meet with a group of WACL Leaders who will then select the award winners.

Key dates for your calendar

17th Sept – 1st November

Open for entries

Apply now

17th Sept – 1st November

Early December 2021

Notification of shortlisting for interviews

Early December 2021

24th / 25th / 27th January 2022


24th / 25th / 27th January 2022

February 2022

Notification of decision

February 2022


If you have questions, take a look at our FAQs that we’ve put together and feel free to get in touch with us at wacl_talent@nabs.org.uk.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you can’t find the answer to the question you have, or there’s something you’re still unsure about, do get in touch with us to ask us directly at wacl_talent@nabs.org.uk.

A reference is still required, but it can be from someone else within a senior position at your company or a previous employer or sponsor.

You could speak to your future employer or a sponsor about endorsing your application. You do not need to be in employment to apply for the awards, but you need to be committed to a career in the Advertising and Communications industry.

Apply now! Contact your current employer about how they can support your application.

To be eligible, the UK must be your primary residence, and you must have spent the majority of your career working within the UK Media, Marketing, Advertising and Communications industry.

We expect to offer in-person and virtual interviews to help make the process accessible to all. We will be following government guidance regarding social distancing and will confirm the plan for in-person interviews closer to the time.

We welcome applications from all industry sectors so long as your role is within media, marketing, advertising or communications, e.g. you would be eligible if you worked at a bank as Marketing Manager or worked on their paid search strategy but not if you worked in a bank within their HR function.

We welcome applications from people who have 3 years of experience. If you feel you are not quite at this point but are interested in applying, start the conversation with your company about getting you ready for next year’s Talent Awards.

Each year we make a special award to one or more of the outstanding winners in honour of a long-standing and influential member of WACL, Patricia Mann OBE, who died in 2006. She was truly a trailblazer for women in the industry. She was VP of JWT International & Head of External Affairs, one of the first women non-execs sitting on The Woolwich, British Gas, then Centrica and even Chaired the Parliamentary Debating Group. WACL’s values are inspired by how Patricia led her life – always ready with advice and guidance, no matter how busy, with a great sense of fun. Patricia opened the door for so many of us to follow through, and we look for someone to recognise with this award that embodies some of her spirits and can do for the women that follow what she did for us.

Wendy Braverman was a leading light in the advertising industry for more than 3 decades. A champion of talent, a dedicated supporter of NABS and a long term active WACL member, Wendy sadly passed away in the summer of 2020.

The award is given to someone who the panel believe truly reflects Wendy’s entrepreneurial flair. As the overall awards are targeted at Future Leaders, this could be someone who is showing entrepreneurial initiative and ambition but needs the award to develop their skills further, or it could be someone who is running/starting to run their own small company like Wendy did or someone wanting to lead an initiative that would create change for other future women leaders.

Unfortunately, we cannot accept any applications past the entry deadline; however, we encourage you to apply next year. Start now!

Yes, but you (or your employer) will have to cover the additional costs.

Only if the total cost is £3k inc VAT or less

We have no age limits, upper or lower! The only requirement is that you’ve worked in the industry for a minimum of three years.

Yes, you can if your business is rooted in Media, Marketing, Advertising and Communications.

Unfortunately, we cannot accept student applications, but when you have gained industry experience, we would love to see you apply in the future.

Unfortunately, we cannot commit funding towards a course you are already undertaking.

We are interested in hearing from you if you are involved in any forms of communications, whether in an ad agency, media company, digital or design agency, or within a brand. You may be from a charity or another sector but involved in this area, and we are open to supporting leaders in all communications roles.

No! All we ask is that courses are clearly able to benefit you as a future leader in the advertising and communications industry.

Each year we are excited to hear from more and more women, last year we had 216 applicants and 30 winners.

The panel is made up of WACL member volunteers. You can expect to meet c.5 friendly faces who are there to champion you. Sometimes you may not win the award, but we connect you to someone that we think can help you.

Diversity and authenticity. We don’t want cookie-cutter future leaders.

We are looking for clear-sightedness about who you are and what you are wanting to achieve with your leadership position for the benefit of yourself and others …and how the course you’ve chosen is going to help you move forward.

Talent Awards: how to ask your employer for support


Put yourself in their shoes

  • How will your team, manager and organisation benefit from your learning?
  • How could you share what you learn with other people?

Anticipate, acknowledge and address obstacles

  • What options and ideas can you suggest in response to potential challenges to supporting your learning?


It makes perfect o If you’re nervous about the conversation, it might be useful to practise what you’d like to say to someone else (a mentor, a work friend, even to yourself too. You don’t need to memorise an exact script. Decide the three key points you want to make in a conversation and then summarise each point into one word, so you have an easy ‘at a glance’ reminder in your notebook.


The art of asking: don’t and do’s o Don’t apologise or make excuses for asking for support. Do focus on why someone should support you (i.e. you’ll add more value to the team, share knowledge and upskill others) o Don’t over-explain or feel that you need to do all the talking. Do be clear on the support you’re hoping for and be prepared to listen to their response.

  • Don’t put pressure on yourself to resolve everything in one conversation. Do give yourself enough time to have a few conversations before asking your employer to commit to a decision
  • Don’t expect someone to remember everything you say. Do make sure you close a conversation by reiterating what support you’re looking for and when you need a decision by and it’s often useful to follow up the conversation with a summary over email)