UK Strategy Challenge: Coming Full Circle with the Inaugural UK Strategy Challenge

UK Strategy Challenge: Coming Full Circle with the Inaugural UK Strategy Challenge

Wednesday, June 4, 2014 - 11:00am


Posted by Morgan Stanley Community Links Teams Members, London


Stepping off the London tube in Canning Town and making our way to Community Links head office to deliver our final presentation felt like a very different journey to the one we made seven weeks earlier.

That first meeting was exciting and nerve-racking in equal measure. Touring the old Victorian public hall that Community Links uses as its base in the heart of Newham, we struggled to get our heads around the scale and breadth of the services the charity offered. But even at that early stage, we had an idea that this could be a phenomenal partnership.

Seven weeks, and several hundred hours of work later, we returned to Community Links with a recommendation for growth into the neighbouring borough of Waltham Forest, which we presented to the senior management team including CEO Geraldine Blake and co-founder Kevin Jenkins. We had been tasked with addressing how they could most effectively expand their services into Waltham Forest. At the core of our recommendation were the two drivers of the charity: early action services, tackling the causes of social need, and specific intervention, tackling the consequences of social need. We delivered a recommendation that would allow Community Links to roll out early action and specific intervention services into Waltham Forest at the same time, with an immediately implementable plan that had been designed to preserve its existing services.

In our analysis, we demonstrated that there was a demand for Community Links services in Waltham Forest through a study of the local population and a detailed review of several hundred charities operating in the area. We also met with Waltham Forest council, which confirmed that there was a need for service delivery partners like Community Links in the area. After a lengthy walk-through of the analysis and our proposal, we were delighted that they received the proposal enthusiastically and invited us to present the recommendations to their board of trustees and wider organization.

Following our presentation to Community Links, we also had to prepare for the final Morgan Stanley event. Trying to condense 98 pages of recommendations into 15 minutes proved to be a challenge all on its own. We had to step back from the work we had done and reflect on the core of the recommendations.

With great team work, some firm but fair critique from our MD Advisor Tosin Ajayi, and plenty of practice sessions, we felt confident stepping up to the podium on May 15 for the final UK Strategy Challenge presentation. All the preparation was worth it as the presentation went smoothly. Seeing the three other fantastic presentations, each demonstrating their own in-depth analysis and recommendations for their charities, added to the intensity of the day. When Community Links was announced as the winning team, it was an incredible feeling.

The experience did not end on May 15. Since then we have met with James Gorman and the EMEA Management Committee, as they were interested to hear about our recommendations and experiences as the first winners of the UK Strategy Challenge. While winning has been a great achievement for the team, there is still work to do, including presenting our final proposal to the Community Links Board of Trustees and the wider organisation in the coming weeks.

We have enjoyed every moment of this journey; it was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I would encourage anyone considering getting involved in volunteering with a charity to go for it.


For more information about the Morgan Stanley Strategy Challenge, please visit: