UCL Campaign


From Washington, D.C. to Toronto and back again: UCL alumni’s exclusive East Coast events

21 October 2019

Rare behind-the-scenes tours, intimate lectures and private events, hear about what our alumni have been up to.

Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic presenting to alumni

On 3 October, UCL alumni joined Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic for an exclusive event in New York about the title of his new book 'Why do so many incompetent men become leaders? (And how to fix it.)' A title that seems designed to provoke, but it’s a subtler matter than you might think...

Tomas, a lecturer at from UCL Psychology and Language Science and fellow UCL alumnus (MSc, PhD Psychology 2003), an author and entrepreneur uses science and technology to help predict human behaviour at work.  

“It’s a book that highlights the disconnect between the qualities that seduce us in a leader and those that are actually needed to be an effective leader. When we judge people for leadership we are seduced by people who have a lot of confidence, are charismatic, and actually quite narcissistic. But what we need in leaders is people who are confident, humble and who have integrity."

When asked what his definition of an incompetent leader is Tomas said: "An incompetent leader is someone who has a detrimental effect on those he/she leads. Somebody who instead of creating high levels of productivity, engagement, morale and outperforms their competitors actually causes high levels of anxiety, distrust, alienation and burnout."

The central message in his lecture was not to make a case for preferential treatment for women, but rather to “elevate the standards of leadership”. How we can become better at detecting true leadership potential, become better leaders ourselves, and as a side-effect improve gender balance.

An alumnus said, “Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic is a charismatic speaker who shined a light on the disparity between male and female leaders and how much more work we have to do to give competent female leaders more opportunities to thrive.”

If you missed the lecture, you can also watch Tomas’ Ted Talk on his new book. 

Washington, D.C.

Alumni in DC took the opportunity to take part in a rare behind-the-scenes event on 26 September: a tour of POLITICO, an award-winning political and policy journalism organisation. Hosted by POLITICO Chief Executive Officer, Patrick Steel (UCL Legal & Policy Theory 1990), alumni toured the newsroom and discovered some rather timely commentary on current affairs...

illustrations of the current political landscape in the US
Following the tour, alumni had an opportunity to ask Patrick questions and his thoughts on the global state of affairs: “As the country gets increasingly polarised, so do news organisations. For many of our competitors, it has been great for revenue, but not so great for the country though. Long term, it also means that news organisations come across as more political and less reliable. POLITICO data shows we’re right down the middle.” Patrick said. 

He also offered some useful advice to alumni: “In business, hiring and referencing great people is the only thing that matters. You need to find people who believe in your mission. My relationship with my HR director is one of my most important. Our mission is powerful and it attracts great people. All of us believe passionately in our mission, what we do and what the impact we have on our democracy.” Something to mull over and think about how you can use those thoughts in your career.

An alumnus said “What a great opportunity! And only made possible by a fellow UCL alumnus wanting to give something back.”


UCL’s academic partnership with the University of Toronto is growing from strength to strength addressing a range of global challenges together. We thought it was time to bring our successful alumni community in Toronto together as well, update them about UCLs growing ties to the city, and developing a platform for alumni to reconnect. As a result, we had a great evening at The Oxley in York Town with further planned in the near future.

One alumnus commented about the event “Getting back in touch with fellow alumni is honestly about reminiscing; it's reliving the experiences and bringing back the nostalgia.”

With another saying “It’s been a great evening reconnecting with people that met seven years ago. I’d love to see lots more of these events going forward."


Meanwhile, the UCL Boston Alumni Club organised a tour of one of the oldest libraries in the U.S.—the Boston Athenaeum—which was incredibly popular with fellow alumni. “I could get lost in here for hours and hours” an alumnus commented whilst touring the 12 floors of books stacks. 

It was wonderful to connect with so many UCL alumni and we’ll be back next year. In the meantime, keep in touch with UCL and get involved with alumni groups near you by joining future events or connect online