My Patchwork Journey – From Ambition to Realisation

Subane Abdi is a 2023 Patchwork Masterclass Participant. He currently works as a civil servant, working for Wilton Park, an Executive Agency of the FCDO.

Overview: My Journey and what it has offered?

Participating in the Patchwork Foundation’s Masterclass programme nearly a year ago was truly the most significant moment in my life. The 10-month-long programme was a thrilling crash course into the complex and riveting world that is our democracy which was brilliantly captured in eight impactful Masterclasses, a tailored mentoring scheme that kickstarted my career, a series of rigorous and thought-provoking skills sessions, and a unique opportunity to present a speech to MPs in Speaker’s House. Here I recount my incredible journey through the sessions I attended and the things I learnt.

The Patchwork Masterclasses: Key Takeaways

Let’s begin with my first Masterclass with Adam Hawksbee, the Deputy Director of Onward. His insights into using failures as stepping stones to future successes left me inspired to do the same. Pippa Crerar from The Guardian brought a fresh perspective, emphasising the importance of experience and embodying traits like curiosity and a tenacious thirst for knowledge as key in any career. A pivotal moment for me – the Masterclass with the Permanent Secretary at the Department of Education, Susan Acland-Hood challenged my thinking, fostering creativity and earnest curiosity.

Midway through, Sir Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats, shared the intricacies of life as a politician, emphasising connecting with constituents on experiences over policies. Dame Liz Nicholl, President of World Netball, unveiled the complexities of sports governance and her unique approach to leadership of providing personal updates for team engagement. Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram shed light on devolved politics, reigniting optimism in the devolved process for me. The icing on the cake and a key highlight for many Patchworkers – the Masterclass at No. 10 Downing Street with Max Blain, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesperson, offered a behind-the-scenes look at the delicate balance of being a civil servant and party politics. Ending on a high note, Saqib Bhatti MP shared his journey, into politics being shaped by the career he has had outside of it, positively reinforcing my own belief and approach to politics.

Patchwork Mentoring Scheme

One of the most fruitful and impactful aspects of the Patchwork Programme was the mentoring programme. Patchwork connected me with a civil servant mentor who became a pivotal aspect of my career development. This partnership shaped my applications, pointed out key focus areas, and gave me the final push needed to become a civil servant. Trust me, the mentoring programme is a game-changer – a must for anyone looking to elevate their career.

Overall Impressions and Looking Ahead

Throughout the journey, I pushed boundaries, sought knowledge, and embraced different perspectives. My primary goal in joining the programme was a career in the Civil Service which became a reality – a feat I couldn’t achieve alone. Immense props go to the Patchwork Foundation, a powerhouse organisation with dedicated staff that has always gone above and beyond to make this journey the most fulfilling it could have been. From dynamic skills sessions to networking opportunities, there’ve been many hands that have provided a smooth journey.

Looking ahead, the decision to dive into the Patchwork application in December 2022 stands out as a pivotal moment. I’m excited about staying connected through the Alumni Network and eagerly anticipating the next adventure Patchwork has in store.

Finally, I recall what a fellow cohort said – #StayInvolved.