One Young World Co-Founder Kate Robertson Shares Most Fulfilling Aspects of Being Global Changemakers

Co-founding a youth leadership movement that’s affected over 41.6 million lives since its inception in 2010 is hard work, but the rewards of spearheading such a noble task are priceless. Just ask Kate Robertson.

Co-founding a youth leadership movement that’s affected over 41.6 million lives since its inception in 2010 is hard work, but the rewards of spearheading such a noble task are priceless. Just ask Kate Robertson.

The fierce, fearless business exec was chairman of the Havas Group of companies in the U.K. when the idea to launch One Young World came to her. This unexpected dose of inspiration redefined her career while offering a global platform for young leaders to influence change across continents.

Robertson says her love for the Olympics is what initially sparked the idea of having fresh voices representing every country in the world. One Young World has since grown into an international movement paving a brighter future for all.

“One Young World is the global forum for young leaders already making their mark,” Kate Robertson said in a YouTube video.

Growing up in apartheid South Africa, Robertson was deeply influenced by the work of Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu and quickly developed her own vision and appreciation for humanitarian work.

Dreaming Big and Facilitating Change

For Robertson, that dream has carried over to One Young World’s summits, and it’s those moments that have brought her the most joy. One Young World’s team works all year long to maintain engagement with its more than 17,000 ambassadors and to build momentum for the latest One Young World Summit, which will take place Sept. 18-21 in Montreal.

“I think what’s fulfilling for me is when I see what attendance at the summits actually means to these young leaders,” Kate Robertson explains. “The value and excitement they put on being there with some incredibly famous world leaders, but also what they derive from seeing the whole world physically in one place, is really … It’s a magic thing.”

Although Robertson acknowledges the significance of each summit and the wonder it brings, she never tires of seeing it in action.

“It’s fulfilling to me to actually … You take the dream and see it,” she says.

Through the years, One Young World has hosted epic gatherings in Canada, Ireland, Colombia, Germany, and other global hot spots. Some of the planet’s most influential leaders have graced the stage including Queen Rania of Jordan, the Duchess of Sussex, Harry Potter actress Emma Watson, iconic primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall, late former Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan, singer Ellie Goulding, Professor Muhammad Yunus, and the legendary Cher, just to name a few.

Former President Bill Clinton declared One Young World’s summit: “Stimulating exciting and wonderful — full of ideas and entrepreneurialism.”

Robertson says she’s particularly proud of the ambassadors who return to One Young World’s London headquarters to catch up and talk about their progress.

“We are constantly having these young leaders, throughout the years, on their own free will and trajectory, get back in touch with us, come back here to the office to see us, tell us what they’ve done, write up and say publicly how much being part of the community has meant to them,” Kate Robertson describes.

“[They mention] how it’s changed their lives [and] you just go, ‘Oh my God, it’s so much more than you ever thought it was going to be.’”

One of those young leaders who gained a life-changing perspective on leadership is Stewart O’Callaghan. O’Callaghan, who was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia in 2016, is the founder and CEO of OUTpatients, the U.K.’s only LGBTIQ+ cancer charity.

O’Callaghan’s connection with One Young World began with Lead2030, a program for entrepreneurs under 30 launched to identify, finance, and propel the advancement of solutions for sustainable development goals, in which they were mentored by biotech company Roche.

“Having the ability to engage with One Young World and accept the Lead2030 award, it puts this very underrepresented topic in an international conversation,” O’Callaghan said in One Young World’s 2022 impact report. “I felt good, supported by Roche, and I felt like they took the time to understand who I am and why I was doing what I was doing.”

The measurable impact that One Young World ambassadors are making, according to Robertson, underscores the essence of One Young World’s mission to empower young leaders from all corners of the Earth. It’s about creating a platform where they can share their victories and challenges, learn from one another, and leave invigorated to tackle the world’s most pressing issues.

The Enduring Influence of One Young World

At the heart of this movement is a simple yet powerful realization: “It’s so much more than I would ever have thought,” Robertson muses, acknowledging the profound impact these summits have had on the lives of countless young individuals.

While the summits remain a key part of One Young World’s overall mission, it’s the legacy left behind that continues to fuel what was initially intended. And the proof is in the numbers.

According to its 2022 impact report, 86% of One Young World’s participants believe being an ambassador gave them the opportunity to promote their impact, and a whopping 92% said their ambassadorship with One Young World boosted their desire to make a difference.

“Beyond the summit, the delegates become One Young World ambassadors and everywhere around the world represent the highest values of their generation of young leaders,” Kate Robertson said.