UK Open Quest in Bradford

Bridging the divide

Open Quest

29 November - 02 December, 2017

Our Quest will be based in Bradford, one of the UK’s northern arterial cities and a fascinating microcosm of social change.

Why the UK?

The recent social, economic, ethnic and religious divisions seen in the UK mirror those sweeping across the rest of the world.

Last year’s Brexit vote uncovered a divide which caught many by surprise. A divide between affluent urban centres, and areas of the UK which feel left behind as technology and globalisation force the pace of change.

Leaders’ Quest was founded in the UK, but has grown into a global community. We believe now is the time to pause, and see what we can learn by exploring our own backyard.

Why Bradford?

Bradford is a microcosm of the tensions playing out in the UK as a whole.

Formerly an Industrial Revolution boomtown – the ‘wool capital of the world’ – it’s now a diverse UK metropolis. A third of its citizens come from non-white ethnic groups.

The face of the city has been reshaped – much as the global economy has changed. Bradford faces problems that are common across northern England, including deindustrialisation, social unrest and economic deprivation.

Ambitious urban regeneration projects sit alongside pockets of abject poverty suffering 25% unemployment. Community cohesion initiatives are trying to bridge the gap.

This makes Bradford a compelling place to explore inclusive growth, and a fertile environment for each of us to explore strong leadership.

“A Quest gives you the confidence to really push the boundaries of comfort, how you think about yourself, your role in the world and what it takes to achieve the things you want to achieve.”

Peter Wheeler,

Executive Vice President

The Nature Conservancy

“I gained an understanding of leadership in life as opposed to just in business. I came to the realisation that I am only applying a small capacity of my energy and influence as a leader.”

Michelle Moore,



During our three days together we will:

  1. Immerse ourselves in the perspectives of communities beyond the London bubble. Explore local and regional identities at a time when the concept of a ‘United Kingdom’ is far from certain.
  2. Discover first-hand how local business, government, civic and faith leaders are responding to national demographic and economic change.
  3. Tap into these experiences to trigger breakthroughs in our personal transformation. The Quest will comprise a mix of experiential visits, alongside bold workshops to explore our own leadership and purpose.

Who we’ll meet on the Quest

We’ll visit organisations with a strong sense of purpose, and people wrestling with tough internal and external challenges.

These individuals are excited to meet us, share their stories and hear ours.

Examples of visits include:

  • Local business leaders and entrepreneurs building Bradford’s economy and driving urban regeneration.
  • Political and faith leaders grappling with economic, cultural and religious cohesion.
  • Artists following the footsteps of David Hockney – an iconic Bradford native.
  • Football and rugby fans with fierce local allegiances.
  • Political activists from all sides.
  • Military veterans who have served abroad and returned home.
  • Youth associations and civic clubs

Themes of the Quest

While the Quest will invite us to explore a wide range of topics, three themes will be in primary focus – disruption, belonging and aspirations.

1. Disruption

In the 1800s, innovation in the local textile industry brought wealth and recognition to Bradford. In the 20th century, new technology and globalisation led to its sharp decline.

Bradford is forging a new path in construction, manufacturing and engineering. Headline names such as Morrisons, Yorkshire Building Society, Santander and Hallmark are headquartered here.

But what will the future bring as automation looks set to replace up to 30% of UK jobs over the next 15 years (PwC, 2017)?

How do we replace the wool, cars, ships, mines and factories that brought prosperity in the past? How do industrial cities strive for productivity and not leave people behind? How do I adapt?

2. Belonging

Demographic change has brought with it the challenges of ‘one city, two cultures’.

New arrivals – especially from South Asia –have encountered a resurgent nationalist movement, resulting in fear and suspicion on both sides.

Yet Bradford was an early ‘Sanctuary City’ proponent, ready to welcome refugees. Many courageous local leaders are building bridges – across an urban centre with the fastest-growing population in the UK outside of London.

What does it mean to be ‘from’ a place?How do we make space in packed urban areas for everyone to feel welcome? Where do I belong?

3. Aspirations

Bradford has the UK’s youngest city population, with 29% aged 20 years or under. Young people have different aspirations than past generations.

Mean weekly full-time earnings in Bradford are £427, well below regional and national averages. Many young people have low hopes for their future, or are looking for a way out.

54% of Bradford residents voted to leave the EU last year.

How do we move from competitive aspirations, to cumulative aspirations? Who needs my help to pursue their aspirations? What aspirations do I hold for myself?

The path to meaningful change starts here.
Get in touch to find out more about this Quest.