The School of Thinktankers: inspiring the leaders of the future

4 December 2014
On Think Tanks has partnered with Canning House to deliver an existing new course for future Latin American think tank leaders. The School of Thinktankers is designed to address a challenge that all think tanks in the world face: good think tank leaders are scarce. More details about The School will be shared soon but this is your chance to sign-up and express your interest in being part of it.

[Note: this is now closed]

On Think Tanks has partnered with Canning House to deliver an existing new course for future Latin American think tank leaders.

The School of Thinktankerswhich will take place in London, is designed to address a challenge that all think tanks in the world face: good think tank leaders are scarce -or better said, think tank leaders who have prepared for this challenge, are scarce. A think tank leader cannot rely on being just a great researcher and intellectual; he or she has to be an excellent manager, a political strategist, a great communicator, and a prolific networker, too. Unfortunately, this is not something that many researchers think about during their careers. By the time they are senior enough to take on these posts, it is (almost) too late.

On Think Tanks has interviewed think tank leaders over the last 4 years. This is a consistent message: there are no successful single-skill leaders.

This initiative aims to remedy this challenge.


The First School of Thinktankers is aimed at future Latin American think tank leaders but we are working on Schools for other regions (if you are interested please fill in the form at the bottom of this post). The School of Thinktankers aims to deliver the following:

  • Prepare and inspire the future generation of think tank leaders
  • Nurture a community of future think tank leaders that may support and learn from each other in the future
  • Help think tank staff to reflect on their own organisations and make recommendations to support their development
  • Establish new connections between Latin American and British think tanks

The key word, really, is ‘inspire‘.

The School is under no illusion that a 2 week workshop will give thinktankers all the skills that they will ever need. However, we hope to inspire the participants to embark in a life-long effort to develop those skills.


Who is this for?

  • Graduate students from Latin America enrolled in university with experience working in think tanks in their own countries or with the intention of going back to work there.
  • Thinktankers based in Latin American think tanks with the clear intention of pursuing a career as think tank leaders.

School for about 25 young thinktankers with a clear interest in pursuing a career path leading to becoming Executive Directors, Directors of Communication, Directors of Research, Directors of Operations or board members at a think tank.

The intervention consists of a combination of online, face-to-face and follow up activities.

Rather than the usual simplistic handbooks and theoretical lectures delivered by consultants, the participants will learn directly from the men and women leading think tanks and other relevant policy research bodies in Britain. The lecturers will be individuals with first hand knowledge of and/or experience in the subject matter; for example, heads of finance or HR of a think tank, heads of research, directors of communications, philanthropists, policymakers, etc.

The venue will rotate based on the lecturer. Every day, the participants will meet in the offices of a different think tank or organisation. This will give them the full think tank experience.

At the beginning and end of each week, the participants will meet at Canning House to identify lessons and share insights. Canning House will also organise events for the thinktankers to meet their members.

In summary, participants will get to experience the life of thinktankers in London.

We are crossing the Ts and dotting the Is of the programme but are looking for expressions of interest from potential candidates.

If you are interested in participating or would like to know more about the programme please visit Canning House’s page: The School of Thinktankers and complete the expression of interest form.


Editor’s note: If you are not from the region but would still be interested in participating in futureSchools (for other regions) please fill in this other form.