MAVA Leaders for Nature Academy

MAVA Leaders for Nature Academy is a leadership development programme for professionals from partner organizations of the MAVA, Fondation pour la Nature. It brings together two generations of leaders – senior and young professionals.

Building a strong conservation community has always been core to MAVA's approach. Leaders that can carry on and multiply efficient and innovative initiatives, long after MAVA's closing, are a key component of this community. 

The Academy aims to develop leaders who can bring about positive change both within and across partner organizations to increase their sustainability and impact. 

Starting in 2018, the Academy will run each year until 2022, up to the foundation’s closure.

Applications for the fifth and final cohort of the MAVA Leaders for Nature Academy are now closed.

Mariel Vilella, Senior Professional, Zero Waste Europe

"The MAVA Academy has been a wonderful opportunity to reflect and improve my leadership skills and gain confidence and practical skills to mentor junior colleagues in my organization and beyond. A truly inspiring experience that I would strongly recommend!"

How does it work?

The thought leadership guiding the Academy is ‘Leading Beyond Authority’. People who can Lead Beyond Authority work with peers, partners and other stakeholders to produce change beyond their direct circle of control.

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The Academy combines the following key elements:

  • Leadership development customized for both senior and young professionals – which means that participants are able to work with and learn from colleagues at a similar stage in their career.
  • Inter-generational exchange and collaboration to generate innovative ideas


The approach is highly experiential – it will include exchanges with contributors and organizations from different sectors to explore leadership in practice.

Each participant will have opportunities for individual personal development through:

  • 360 feedback – a questionnaire based on Leading Beyond Authority will be completed at the beginning and end of the Academy and debriefed with a professional coach
  • Coaching – senior professionals will receive one-to-one development with a professional coach. Learn more about the coaching journey here

Senior and young professionals will get together during the first Virtual Cohort Gathering and will get to know each other better as we aim to build a sense of community.

All participants will then work together during the second Virtual Cohort Gathering to explore Leading Beyond Authority in practice.

The Academy then brings all the participants together for a third Face-to-Face Cohort Gathering (dependent on COVID-19 restrictions) where they will be guided through a process of innovation to develop ideas to meet a compelling challenge facing the nature conservation sector.

Senior professionals and young professionals will be ‘matched’ with someone from a different organization by Mowgli Mentoring, who use a tried and tested method. The matched pairs will work together as mentor and mentee during the Academy year. Senior professionals will receive mentor training at the start of this process and Mowgli Mentoring supports each pair throughout the Academy year.

Mentors support their mentees in developing and working on their goals, both personal and professional. The benefits for mentors can include developing their active listening and communication skills, as well as becoming more empathetic and self-aware. For mentees, the benefits can include increases in confidence, a clearer idea of the direction of their career and improved leadership skills. Through mentoring, both the young and senior professional co-create and develop a meaningful inter-generational relationship which enables them to support each other on their leadership journeys.

Learn more about the mentoring journey here

In order to help participants to reflect on what they have learnt from the Academy we have included an online module called Sharing Learning. This will provide participants with the tools to cascade the learning from the Academy within their teams and wider peer groups.

An optional two-hour virtual gathering is organized within 4-6 months following the participants' graduation from the Academy, providing a space for reconnection and exchange on how Academy learnings have been implemented.

Why should you apply? Here is a short film about the MAVA Leaders for Nature Academy. You will hear from some of the 2019 participants who share their experiences.

André Hoffmann, MAVA, Fondation pour la Nature

"Effective leadership in the conservation sector is essential if we are to protect biodiversity for the benefit of people and nature. This investment in our partners will build capacity and capability, both for the individuals who take part and for their organizations. We have chosen to work with Common Purpose and Mowgli Mentoring as leaders in their respective fields.”

Read the latest news about the MAVA Academy

Who is it for?

MAVA Leaders for Nature Academy is intended for senior and young professionals from all MAVA direct and sub-contracting partners, meaning any organization that receives directly or via sub-contracting funds from MAVA to implement their work.

One senior and one young professional must apply together as a ‘duo’ – they should be from the same organization. There can be more than one application per organization.

We are seeking highly motivated individuals who show commitment to bring about positive change, and who can demonstrate their leadership potential and/or capability.

Senior and young professionals do not need to be on the same team or have a direct management relationship. Applicants will also require:

  • Senior professionals – more than ten years of work experience
  • Young professionals – less than ten years of work experience

To learn more about who successfully completed the MAVA Leaders for Nature Academy, visit the alumni gallery page.

Why take part?

This Academy will equip the participants to lead more effectively within and beyond their organizations. Participants will:

  • Raise their awareness of leading self and impact on others
  • Develop greater inter-generational understanding and cooperation
  • Enhance their ability to Lead Beyond Authority – increasing their ability to lead and collaborate across boundaries
  • Experience the power and potential of mentoring which supports long term personal and professional growth
  • Stretch their problem-solving and creative skills – by being exposed to a new approach to innovation
  • Grow new networks – by connecting with diverse participants, contributors and speakers
  • Explore how to apply what they have learned to their own leadership and in their organization

Hear from one of our alumni as they recount their experience of the Academy here

Konstantinos Perikleous, Young Professional, Terra Cypria

"The most unexpected journey, to become the best version of yourself. Priceless training for a leader indeed!"

Common Purpose is a leadership development organization that specializes in cross-boundary leadership. A not-for-profit, we run programmes in over 100 cities worldwide. Founded in 1989, we have over 95,000 alumni globally. Our leadership development programmes inspire and equip people to work across boundaries. This enables them to solve complex problems in organizations and in society.

Mowgli Mentoring is a specialist mentoring organization which aims to unlock human potential to accelerate economic progress and social change. Our vision is to inspire and enable effective mentoring for entrepreneurs and leaders to better solve local and global challenges. Over the past 13 years, Mowgli Mentoring has run 130+ mentoring programmes accredited by the European Mentoring & Coaching Council in over 17 countries, across the Middle East, North and Sub-Saharan Africa.

MAVA, Fondation pour la Nature is a family-led, Swiss-based philanthropic foundation with an exclusive focus on the conservation of biodiversity. MAVA is active in four programmes: Mediterranean Basin, Coastal West Africa, Sustainable Economy and Switzerland. With these programmes, it supports around 200 partners for a total annual budget of 70 million CHF. MAVA Foundation is implementing its last strategic cycle 2016-2022, meaning that it will phase out its funding to all partners by 2022.