Common Purpose Alumni Through The Years

Common Purpose has had the pleasure of developing leaders for nearly 30 years, inspiring and equipping them to work across boundaries. Everyone has their own story to tell so that's why we've gathered stories from alumni who attended Common Purpose programmes throughout the years.

Nisha Narayan: 2017

Frontrunner programme 2017

As a recent graduate looking towards the future can be overwhelming and daunting.

The Common Purpose Frontrunner programme was everything I was promised it would be – empowering and engaging. I do feel like a different person after going through the programme, as it has given me the confidence to achieve my goals.

With a variety of interactive activities, great speakers and ‘raids’, it was inspiring to see how one could develop as a leader. The programme has also opened up a world of networking opportunities for me besides helping me understand how to make better decisions and drive innovation.

"The programme opened up a world of networking opportunities for me.”

Learnings from Frontrunner have equipped me to work within teams, confront bias, and be open to the unexpected, without being misled. I also learnt that leadership isn’t just about how much one knows, or how loud and confident one appears to be. Leadership isn’t about showing off but inspiring individuals in any given situation.

It was a pleasure taking part in a thought-provoking programme such as the Frontrunner. The effort that has gone into designing a programme such as the Frontrunner, to make it accessible to individuals like me, is commendable.

Philippa Ladd: 2015

American Express Leadership Academy 2015

In October 2015, I attended the American Express Leadership Academy – a development experience like no other. For four days, I, along with several emerging third sector leaders was immersed in an experience which was both inspiring and challenging.

Prior to enrolling in the Academy – as a manager working at a local branch of a national charity – I felt ready for a new challenge but was unsure of what it should be.  

As part of the Academy, I had the opportunity to interact with senior leaders, participate in collaboration exercises, support others through action learning sets, and experience coaching for the first time. These opportunities along with peer discussions, sharing of ideas, and structured reflection helped me understand my areas for improvement and how I could better realize my ambition. I also learnt a great deal about what it means to be a leader in the third sector and the idea of ‘authentic leadership’ which resonated strongly with me.

"The American Express Leadership Academy had a profound impact on me and my self-perspective. It helped me to ‘name’ my ambition and gave me the confidence to apply for my current role at a much earlier point then I ever anticipated”

The Academy, and particularly my coaching session, helped me ‘name my ambition’ – to become a senior leader within the third sector – and thereby, presented me a clear pathway for my career progression. My self-confidence and determination grew, and within nine months of attending the Academy, I was appointed the chief executive of a third sector organization.

I was also fortunate to secure development funding though the Academy to continue my coaching sessions – an incredible support during the first six months in my new role.

Rituparna Mandal: 2012

Meridian programme 2012

When I had landed a job at Texas Instruments fresh out of college as an electronics engineer in 1997, it was indeed a dream come true. I distinctly remember my ambitions in those early days  I wished to run my own company ten years down the line. All the same, with each passing year, mounting family responsibilities and hectic work schedules, my passion receded into the background.

It would not be a stretch to say that the Meridian programme  for which I had enrolled in my last year at the company in 2012  served as a wake-up call. While there’s no denying that over a period of 14 years I had matured in my role at Texas Instruments, I, nevertheless, wanted to break through the career inertia. The Meridian gave a timely boost to my confidence besides bringing in clarity of vision.

"The Meridian programme served as a wake-up call.”

I founded Immensa Semiconductors in 2013. When I had first mooted the idea, a woman entrepreneur stepping away from the corporate ladder – in my domain – was unheard of. But I haven’t looked back since. Immensa was subsequently acquired by Mediatek. My journey into entrepreneurship has made me stronger, and more confident of charting my own path.

A.L Janardhana: 2011

Navigator programme 2011

Community mobilization has always been my lifelong passion. When I attended the Common Purpose Navigator programme in 2011, I was the programme manager with the Association of People with Disability (APD), a Bangalore based NGO, which promotes disability issues and disabled people organizations. I continue to work with APD as an assistant director, and I now head 2 verticals with a budget of 5 crores.

My takeaway from the Navigator has been the ability to find solutions to different problems that we encounter in our line of work. During the programme, I interacted with people from different sectors, who, in some cases, faced bigger problems than us, which gave me a sense of perspective. As I’m responsible for running campaigns across Karnataka which involves multiple stakeholders, I now discuss the issues I face with people from diverse sectors to learn how they deal with a similar challenge or even bigger challenges. I then adapt my approach to my area of work to achieve results.

"I now communicate better with people from different backgrounds and cultures."

I feel better equipped now to lead beyond authority given that my responsibilities include negotiating with government officials and politicians, with whom I have to build a rapport within the first 5 to 10 minutes of our meetings. Also, I now communicate better with people from different backgrounds and cultures which has enabled me to find better solutions.

Evelyn Asante-Mensah: 2001

Greater Manchester programme 2001

I did the Common Purpose Greater Manchester programme more than a decade ago. One of my abiding memories of the programme was having to put on a ‘play’ where we examined the key events that shaped Manchester. I loved the programme, the networks it helped me build and the opportunity to study leadership across the NorthWest. It was a lot of hard work but worthwhile.

I met people from a wide range of sectors and backgrounds in the programme. The relationships I had developed then have not only been nothing short of transformational but also paved the way for my current areas of work. The Greater Manchester programme enabled me to become a more resilient leader. I’m now more confident of taking on challenges professionally as well as personally. 

"I’m now more confident of taking on challenges professionally as well as personally.”

The alumni networks have been fantastic – for practical help and assistance. They have also provided me with new opportunities for professional growth and learning.

I now have a better understanding of the context in which I work. I’m also more aware of my core and where I need to adapt.

Janice McNamara: 1993

Bristol Matrix 1993

In 1993  yes  24 years ago, I was the Arts Officer at the Bristol City Council, a leadership and strategic role. Having grown into the job through a number of cultural sector roles, my professional network and perspective was, therefore, limited.

In those early days of my career, Common Purpose ran one programme a year, with ten public, ten private and ten voluntary sector leaders. It was a residential weekend programme, playing the ‘city game’, plus, one day a month for the year to  enrich our understanding of the city while helping us build a strong network that cut across sectors and professional boundaries.  After the programme, I felt empowered. Common Purpose not only widened my horizons but also gave me the courage to take the leap.

"Common Purpose not only widened my horizons but also gave me the courage to take the leap."

I went to post-apartheid Namibia where I supported museum development for three years. In turn, came a tipping point in my career that informs all of my current work which is, building confidence and trust in others through increasing self-awareness and strengthening dialogue.

For almost 20 years, I have worked for myself with the confidence and skills necessary to support leadership development, across various  sectors from global engineering and utilities to international charities and the police service. My work has taken me to the Netherlands, Canada, Pakistan and China besides working virtually across the world including New York, Australia and Brazil.

Common Purpose continues to play an important role in my life. When I arrived in Manchester in 1999, my first port of call was Common Purpose. I attended several alumni events which connected me with people with shared values and a broad perspective. I now love the role of facilitating the Common Purpose Learning Groups, enriched and stimulated as I am, by the perspective gained through the dynamic and well-designed Common Purpose programmes.