Chief Executive of Common Purpose South Africa, Elsbeth Dixon reflects on the journey of Common Purpose in South Africa and extends her thanks to the remarkable individuals who have helped to shape the organization into what it is today – from board members to partner organizations, from contributors to alumni. 

The 25th of July 2020 marks 20 years of Common Purpose South Africa’s existence. Our launch was a culmination of the determined efforts of our Global Co-Founder and Chief Executive of Common Purpose International, Alison Coburn. She secured the invaluable support of, amongst others, our then patrons, Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa and Nicky Oppenheimer, and our Chair, Barney Mthombothi, then Editor of the Financial Mail. Finally, we were out of the starting blocks.

The 20 years

Twenty years later, we’re proud to have developed over 2,600 leaders in South Africa, and hundreds more across the African continent. Reflecting on the past two decades, what comes powerfully to mind are the stories of the remarkable individuals who have come through our hands. They have grown in their ability to cross boundaries and solve complex problems in their organizations and in society; a sangoma turned school governing body chair, a business person who decided not to emigrate, a banker starting a feeding scheme, a policy maker rethinking their stance after a face-to-face encounter with an HIV-positive person.

We are grateful to the extremely diverse organizations – from Alex to Sandton, and downtown Johannesburg to Soweto – who have enabled us to make the city our classroom, delivering powerful immersive learning experiences. Think Johannesburg Correctional Services Facility, Johannesburg Stock Exchange, Alexsan Kopano Community Centre, Raizcorp business incubator, AngloGold Ashanti, the Brixton Mosque, the National Treasury and so very many more. Then there are the leaders who have shared their personal and professional leadership stories with our participants, inspiring them through conversations which are serious, passionate and real. Truly, what we have achieved in these 20 years together has been the result of much common purpose.

The journey continues

In these uniquely challenging times, the demand for effective leadership, in our organizations and in society, has never been greater. Leaders are being called upon to step up – to adapt quickly to changing situations, to tackle complex problems and produce real change. And so Common Purpose continues to evolve, ensuring that we are able to deliver relevant, edgy leadership learning, into this complex COVID context. We’re delighted to introduce to South Africa a brand new powerful online programme for high-potential leaders The Common Purpose Programme.

We know that good leaders can change the world. As we celebrate our 20 years of leadership development in South Africa, we are resolved to continue to equip them to do so.

The people who made it all possible

To our Patrons and Directors (past and present): We would like to convey our heartfelt gratitude to you for your commitment and invaluable support over the past 20 years. Your hard work and dedication has made possible the development many leaders who are able to bring new thinking to old problems, and who serve the country now in a myriad of different ways.

To our contributors: To all of our amazing contributors who have hosted our participants throughout these two decades, we thank you for your part in transforming the lives of our participants. It is truly an honour to have worked with you. Without your support, none of the provocative conversations and memorable engagements would have been possible. Thank you for inspiring and challenging our participants over the years to always find their voice and their truest purpose.

To our key clients: We would like to extend a word of gratitude to you for giving us the wonderful opportunity to develop your leaders. We are truly grateful for your unwavering support and for choosing us as your leadership development partner. It has been a great pleasure working with you all throughout these years and we look forward to co-creating more transformative experiences for your leaders in the future.

To our current and former staff: Thank you for your dedication and service to the organization. Your contribution over the years has helped build our organization into the strong and sustainable change agent it is now. And, you have changed the lives of many leaders, young and old across our country. It has been a great pleasure working with you to serve these leaders, and making many memories as a team! Thank you for your invaluable support.

Thank you for walking this journey with us and here’s to co-creating the next successful chapter together.