About Us

Common Purpose in cities

Cities around the world host Common Purpose programmes.

Nearly 3,000 leaders—from every part of a city—open their doors each year to host immersion experiences; they speak regularly, contribute their time and generously share their insights because they believe in the importance of what we do.

Common Purpose aims to build leadership capacity within cities. We believe leaders who cross boundaries make cities work better; and cities that work better will be better at dealing with their own problems, and the world’s.

We develop leaders from different life stages, from students to senior leaders. Our real-world experiential approach involves taking leaders to places in their city they would never otherwise go: hospitals, civic buildings, trading floors, prisons, businesses and places of worship. By using the city as our classroom, leaders feel more inclined to engage with their city, and take responsibility for problems they see.

Mustafa Kemal Isler, Director of Planning and Strategy Department, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality

"I started work straight after graduating from university, like many of my colleagues. Since then, we have been sitting in the ivory towers of the Metropolitan Municipality and trying to manage the city’s problems by ourselves. The programme has made me realize that we need to be out there and learn about the needs of the city, and work together with other people.”

94%

of participants say they are better able to contribute to their cities and communities as a result of our programmes

96%

are better able to spot common ground and make connections between people

93%

are better able to create the conditions required for innovation to occur

In 2018, Common Purpose delivered programmes for 7,167 leaders

In 52 cities

They came from 113 countries

Ronald Arculli, Senior Partner, King & Wood Mallesons

“Common Purpose is quite unique in that it provides a cross-sector platform to engage, empower and inspire people from the private, public and not-for-profit sectors to combine efforts and make cities work better. In doing so, participants enhance their confidence to make changes for the greater good of their organizations.”

We believe that it is through leadership that we can help address cohesion in cities and break down divides. We deliver programmes designed to help leaders cross boundaries between sectors, specializations, geographies, generations, backgrounds and beliefs. We’re committed to developing new generations of inclusive, culturally intelligent leaders who can thrive in an increasingly diverse world.

We connect cities internationally. Our global programmes take leaders to cities around the world to see leadership from a completely different context. Here they build the networks and skills to tackle global challenges, as well as gaining a fresh perspective, which they use to approach leadership in their own city.

Derek R.B. Douglas, Vice President for Civic Engagement, The University of Chicago

“We chose to partner with Common Purpose because of the depth of their experience and their understanding of civic and city leadership. The Fellows' trip to Johannesburg provided an unique opportunity for them to learn about civic leadership from an international perspective, which will help them make a greater impact in their own communities.”

Which cities?

Common Purpose delivers leadership programmes in over 100 cities worldwide: whether that’s programmes for university students or senior leaders.

Abu Dhabi
Abuja
Accra
Addis Ababa
Adelaide
Ahmedabad
Alexandria
Amman
Amsterdam
Ankara
Auckland
Bandung
Bangalore
Bangkok
Barcelona
Beijing
Beirut
Belfast
Belo Horizonte
Berlin
Birmingham
Boston
Bradford
Bristol
Budapest
Cairo
Cambridge

Canberra
Cape Town
Cardiff
Casablanca
Chennai
Chicago
Colombo
Coventry
Dakar
Derby
Dhaka
Doha
Dresden
Dubai
Dublin
Durban
Durham
Edinburgh
Exeter
Frankfurt
Gaborone
Glasgow
Hamburg
Hanoi
Harare
Hong Kong
Houston

Hyderabad
Istanbul
Jakarta
Johannesburg
Kampala
Kigali
Kolkata
Kuala Lumpur
Lagos
Leeds
Leicester
Leipzig
Lille
Liverpool
London
Lusaka
Manchester
Manila
Melbourne
Montreal
Mumbai
Nairobi
New Delhi
New York
Newcastle Upon Tyne
Nottingham
Oxford

Perth
Philadelphia
Phnom Penh
Plymouth
Pretoria
Pune
Quezon City
Rabat
Rio De Janeiro
San Francisco
Santiago
Sao Paulo
Seoul
Shanghai
Sharjah
Sheffield
Singapore
Stuttgart
Sydney
Toronto
Warwick
Windhoek
Yangon
Yerevan
York

Iris Sibanda, Director, Brunswick Group, South Africa

“In Johannesburg, I can meet people from Nigeria or Kenya, but they are living where I am so I’m not getting the full view of the differences. For me, the networks formed here will assist me in understanding how different markets operate and understanding a lot more about other people’s cultures, which in turn will inform how I approach my work.” 

Several Common Purpose alumni from Yangon have collaborated on a project to address Yangon’s waste management issue. The group were left inspired after immersions into two different organizations in Jakarta – Qlue, a smart city solutions provider, and Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI).

Due to the Yangon municipality’s lack of resources and facilities, the garbage collection system could not cover every street corner of the city. The government was already engaging and educating the community; however, the group felt that the city could implement smarter and more effective actions in order to make a significant impact.

On their Common Purpose programme, the participants learned how, as part of its smart city development, the city of Jakarta in partnership with Qlue launched the smart city app, a dedicated communication app for citizens to report problems directly to the local government and businesses. The smart city app allows citizens to report rubbish disposal problems in real time and will allow authorities to take immediate action. The Yangon alumni saw this as a possible solution for their city’s waste problem.

Another immersion visit to Bank Negara Indonesia introduced a second solution for the Yangon cohort. The state-owned bank began accepting rubbish in exchange for money to reap economic benefits from managing waste.

At the time of writing, the group has sent its waste management proposal to the Governor’s office and is hopeful that they can take the idea forward.

“Qlue and BNI’s solution are beneficial for both the Yangon government and its citizens. The feedback system provides accountability and real-time action from the government, which in turn earns the citizens’ trust in their government. At the same time, the reward system will ensure that the citizens will take action even without the government’s help.”
Khin Suu Yin, Deputy General Manager, KBZ Technology Engineering

Shazia Nizam, Creative Director and Owner, My Kolachi

Shazia Nizam attended the Pakistani and Bangladeshi Diaspora leadership programme in November 2015. We connected with her after two and a half years to find out how the programme has changed her thinking, both about her social enterprise My Kolachi as well as her new coaching venture.

“The programme led me to go back to Pakistan to focus on my social enterprise – My Kolachi. It gave me the idea to establish a legacy. Rather than just doing good, I should be thinking about how to ensure that My Kolachi is going to be self-sufficient and enduring. What is also really interesting about the point in time when I did the programme was that I had just begun training to be a coach and I was trying to figure out my coaching career.

“Fast forward to today: I’ve gone back to Pakistan to set up a coaching body there. The leaders that I teach fund me to teach young people. In this way, we can grow in two ways: top down and bottom up. I think that the programme I did with Common Purpose was really the water that flowered the seeds of my idea. It was really, really beneficial for me.”

Get in contact:

T: +44 (0) 78 8965 0275