Against the spectacular backdrop of a London skyline, Unilever CEO, Paul Polman delivered an exceptional key note speech to this year’s CSCLeaders participants. The 87 senior leaders had gathered from across the Commonwealth to spend the week exploring the Challenge ‘What makes a city smart?’ The formal reception at the Unilever building in London was the perfect accompaniment to the participants’ week of leadership learning.

The Chief Executive of the multinational consumer goods company began with a statement of humility - “CEO is the easiest job at Unilever, my only role is to make sure others are successful”. He provided a fascinating insight into a range of topics from leadership – “leaders must be authentic, adaptable, resilient and systemic thinkers” to sustainability – declaring that the “era of abundance is over”.

Paul Polman was not the only notable leader to address the CSCLeaders participants. During the week, delegates heard from a wealth of speakers including: Mayor of London, Boris Johnson; Arup Director, Volker Buscher; Prudential Group Communications Director, John Murray, as well as President of the HRH The Duke of Edinburgh’s Commonwealth Study Conferences, HRH The Princess Royal.

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson addressing participants at London City Hall

HRH The Princess Royal talking to participants at St James' Palace

As well as hearing from a variety of excellent speakers, participants also visited a range of organisations and locations in London, including The House of Commons, PwC and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Participants now look forward to exploring the Challenge and continuing their learning in their chosen Part Two visit to Singapore, Nairobi or Ahmedabad. They will also continue to collaborate and innovative on their responses to the Challenge as well as other real-life Challenges through the Common Purpose Massive Online Innovation Community (MOIC).

Find out more about CSCLeaders