The impact of our programmes

In 2018, Common Purpose delivered programmes in 52 cities for 7,167 leaders

They came from 113 countries, representing over 1,000 organizations and universities

They join over 85,000 Common Purpose alumni worldwide

Adirupa Sengupta, Group Chief Executive, talks us through Common Purpose's impact in 2018

We measure our impact through an online assessment system that specifically looks at participants’ leadership competencies in three areas. By developing these competencies, the participants become more inclusive, enabling them to lead innovative and resilient teams. They broaden their horizons, which helps them to make better decisions. And they become more collaborative, enabling them to accelerate complex change.


The following data is based on the self-assessment results from participants in 2018.


96% are better able to lead or operate within a diverse team

96% feel more able to engage with people who are different to them

93% are better able to create the conditions required for innovation to occur


95% are better able to adjust their behaviour to adapt to culturally diverse situations

96% are better able to spot common ground and make connections between people

92% can now recognize their biases and minimize their effects


91% are better able to navigate complex situations involving multiple stakeholders

96% feel more able to lead or operate beyond their area of authority

97% feel better able to contribute to their organization, city or country

Impact stories

Over the past two years, BNP Paribas has partnered with Common Purpose in Asia-Pacific to develop leaders at various levels to be able to cross boundaries and drive bold innovations. As the bank marches towards its 2020 ambitions, it has made innovation, diversity and inclusion a strong priority.

Over the course of two years, we worked with leaders at BNP Paribas to deliver a series of experiential customized programmes that help achieve the organization’s goals. Over 150 people participated in workshops and immersions in which they

  • explored models of innovative leadership in different cultural contexts
  • engaged with leaders from different organizations to understand their purpose and the impact they have on their organizations
  • moved beyond just an awareness of Diversity and Inclusion to practical action by developing their Cultural Intelligence.

“The need to culturally transform and prepare our employees is critical for connectivity and innovation in this journey. The learning on Cultural Intelligence and the benefits of collaborations are absolutely invaluable in building our bank for the future. We believe this programme has opened new avenues in the minds of our people to be able to rethink both the present and the future.”
Angelo Pinto, Regional Head of Learning & Development, Head of APAC Campus BNP Paribas

Some of the feedback from participants:

“There were very good opportunities to hear voices from powerful leaders. All of them have passion and vision. I can reconfirm it’s necessary to lead the organization and to make changes and innovation.”

“I think this programme marks a good starting point for certain new ideas as well as to reinforce existing ideas whereby action needs to be taken.”

“This programme gave us practical insight into the changing dynamics and we understood the meaning of innovation and disruption; I can immediately implement the mind-set into my workplace.”

“The broad thought process about the rapidly changing market landscape will surely help us in a relevant manner. Listening to the elite speakers, it did add a lot of value to our understanding.”

In 2018, MAVA, Fondation Pour la Nature, commissioned Common Purpose, in partnership with Mowgli Mentoring, to launch the MAVA Leaders for Nature Academy. The four year partnership aims to develop leaders who can take the nature conservation movement forward and train the next generation of leaders.

“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.”
Andre Hoffmann, MAVA, Fondation Pour la Nature

The Academy is intergenerational, bringing together young and senior leaders from the Foundation’s partner organizations through an experiential leadership programme, which includes 360 degree feedback, mentoring and executive coaching. The Academy is designed to help participants translate their learning back into their organizations and beyond.

“The Academy has definitely impacted me in the most profound and positive way. It has changed the way I think and how I perceive things in my work environment, as well as in my life in general. It brought out a new me that I knew existed, but I needed that push and guidance to make me feel more confident. My leadership skills have improved and I can assess and handle situations better by taking important decisions within my work environment and in my personal life.”
Konstantinos Perikleous, Terra Cypria

“Two of the employees that work in my organization have independently told me that lately they have noticed changes in the way I manage the organization and build relationships with colleagues. They say, “You have started to listen more since July” and “You give much more creative space to others.” I attribute these perceived changes to the impact that the Academy has had on me and my leadership practice.”
Aleksandër Trajçe, PPNEA

RMIT University is committed to offering all 85,000 of its students in Australia, Vietnam and other parts of Asia the opportunity to take up a global experience, so that they graduate ready for life and the globalized world of work. However, due to high costs of overseas travel and other barriers, traditional mobility will only ever be a part of this opportunity. In addition, RMIT wanted to create opportunities for staff to increase their leadership capability through participating in global experiences.

RMIT partnered with Common Purpose as it reframed global experience, and together we have developed and delivered a portfolio of online and face-to-face global leadership programmes. In 2018, over 4,300 students and staff participated in Common Purpose programmes and developed their CQ.

Over 1,000 students completed the CQ Accelerator, an experiential online programme that develops CQ at scale. Over 1,200 students participated in Global Leader Experience and City Challenge programmes where they tackled global challenges as part of a diverse group in Melbourne, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Singapore. Over 800 students took part in a one-day Leadership Forum in Melbourne. 3,856 micro-credentials have been issued to participants of Common Purpose programmes. 

35 senior university staff took part in our global programmes in Melbourne, Singapore and Jakarta, with over 100 more involved as Group Advisors for our student programmes. 140 industry leaders engaged with the students, including Uber, IBM, Westpac, United Nations Global Compact, Victorian Government, Melbourne City Mission and many more. 

“RMIT exists to create transformative experiences for our students, getting them ready for life and work. As a global university, we partner with leading organizations around the world to achieve this goal and create a variety of study, learning and internship opportunities. Common Purpose brings to us a deep and established understanding of the links between leadership and Cultural Intelligence, in the context of building the skills, experiences and networks that will benefit RMIT graduates. Through partnerships with business, industry, government, not-for-profit and social organizations, we both understand what they need of RMIT graduates and provide opportunities for them to participate in their development.”
Rachel Holthouse, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Global Development & Vice President,
RMIT University

  • 92% of students say our programmes have helped them develop as leaders
  • 98% of students say they better able to engage with people who are different from them
  • 99% of students say they are better able to adjust their behaviour in culturally diverse situations
  • 97% of students say they are better able to recognize their biases and minimize their effects

“This programme actually challenged my way of thinking to the extent that I had to rearrange my thoughts to come up with a better statement. Overall rating: 12 out of 10.”
Airlangga Festyanto, Student, RMIT–Universitas Pelita Harapan

“A really good experience that introduced me to very diverse people, and motivated and enthusiastic minds. I would highly recommend to anyone looking to put themselves out there and have their perspectives of the world challenged!”
Ruby Martin, Student, RMIT Melbourne City Campus

Ilka Dunne, Leadership, Culture and Young Talent, Corporate and Investment Banking, Rand Merchant Bank

“Common Purpose has partnered with us on a range of programmes for the bank, including our NGO leadership network, our Manager Programme and on various team sessions. Common Purpose is always open to co-creating a programme that truly fits the place, system and people, and is therefore able to deliver initiatives that deliver on some of the most subtle of outcomes.”

Narita Hang Chuon, Head of Local Corporates, ANZ Royal Bank

As the Head of Local Corporates for ANZ Royal Bank in Cambodia, Narita constantly works with numerous corporate clients and internal stakeholders that come from diverse backgrounds and cultures.

“Before joining the programme, I faced some challenges in dealing with people from different backgrounds and often faced a clash of priority with some stakeholders. With all these challenges I faced, I almost quit my workplace.”

For Narita, her biggest takeaway was how Cultural Intelligence can help to drive success in a leadership position where she faces diversity and differences in culture every day – whether that’s with work, priorities, language or background.

“After I attended the programme, I learned a new concept – Cultural Intelligence (CQ). I used CQ by first trying to understand the culture of my stakeholders. Only by understanding and listening would I then be able to apply the right strategy at the right time. I realized that by putting myself in other people shoes, helping them to understand my perspective while also understanding theirs was the key in crossing boundaries.”

Steve Morley, Business Development Director, Mitie Care & Custody

As an emerging leader that delivers public services to a diverse range of stakeholders, Steve Morley was searching for new tools and working practices that would enable him to refine his leadership style. He participated in the streetwise mba, a programme for leaders who want to be more inclusive: to lead diverse teams, serve diverse customers and work with diverse stakeholders.

“Since I attended the Common Purpose programme, I have been able to consistently reflect upon and challenge my core values, and have been more open, flexible and effective in delivering projects involving people from different backgrounds and cultures.

“The streetwise mba provided me with a unique opportunity to work collaboratively with participants from hugely varied backgrounds and cultures, and meet established leaders with a wealth of experience, to broaden my understanding and reflect upon my own Cultural Intelligence.

“Having the space to properly reflect, outside of the hustle and bustle of the normal work environment, whilst exposing myself to new outlooks and environments, proved to be invaluable.”

Felix Loh, Chief Executive, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

"Through CSCLeaders, I have seen that the most innovative solutions are usually high-touch (human touch). We have observed that when the design team involves everyone from the horticultural, marketing, procurement, engineering as well as the frontline staff, it often results in more robust and creative outcomes."

Common Purpose worked with PwC UK’s Forensics Services business unit to support their ‘Embracing difference’ initiative. Nearly 500 members of the business unit, from associates to partners, participated in our CQ Accelerator, an experiential online programme that provides participants with a common language and framework they can use to learn from one another.

This was followed by a one day workshop for the 500 participants, which used London as a classroom – taking them outside of their comfort zone and immersing them in a wide variety of organizations and places. These immersions allowed them to learn from real leaders across London – on how they embrace difference in the day to day – while working towards their purpose.

The online accelerator had an 81% engagement rate, and 95% of participants said it was a valuable learning experience. 

Over the years, The Hong Kong Police College has consistently sent its high ranking officers to participate in Common Purpose global programmes for senior leaders. The aim is that, after this programme, they will be even more open minded and persuasive while handling counterparts from different backgrounds.

“At Hong Kong Police, we do problem solving every day within our own context. We try to broaden our horizons but our work environment is primarily limited to our own city. It is therefore not easy to expand people’s mindsets to look at problems around the world, or even listen to what other people are facing.

“What sets the programme apart is the environment and context that Common Purpose creates – an environment in which diverse people come together to examine a common question that is so pressing in today’s world. Rarely in my experience have we attended a programme that brings that level of diversity – that of culture, sector, background and countries in the room.

“They certainly become better leaders after participating in the programme – it is an eye-opening experience for them. We may not immediately see or realize all the benefits of the programme in the individual, but the impact is far reaching. Every now and then, we can relate back to our experience and that helps us to make better decisions, be more open-minded and navigate uncertainties much better.”
Edwina Lau, Director, Hong Kong Police College

Queen Mary University of London, a leading university that continues to push the boundaries of research and innovation, partnered with Common Purpose to create QChallenge London. The extracurricular leadership programme offered their students a chance to work alongside inspiring London-based organizations.

The programme supported the university’s aim to embed extracurricular and employability programming into their offering to all undergraduate students.

“QChallenge London develops the entrepreneurialism, network building and multidisciplinary skills that help our graduates to be successful in whatever they choose to do after studying here at Queen Mary University of London. In particular, QChallenge London boosts our graduates’ leadership potential so that they can make a really positive societal impact.”
Professor Rebecca Lingwood, former Vice Principal (Student Experience, Teaching & Learning), Queen Mary University of London

For students, the programme helped them develop an entrepreneurial and problem-solving mindset and gave them the chance to form networks with potential employers.

  • 93% of students felt better able to make complex decisions involving multiple stakeholders
  • 96% of students felt better able to spot common ground and make connections between people
  • 95% of students felt better able to contribute to their organization, university or community

“I met with different stakeholders involving a wide range of professions and interests. Everyone viewed the same problem from very different angles and if you put the different views together you ended up with a more complete, well-rounded picture of the problem, which was then much easier to tackle.”
Klaudia Rodi, Student, Queen Mary University of London

“We were able to meet with people of all ages who are changing and having a big impact on the world. Eye-opening and inspiring to see so many people from all walks of life striving for social impact.”
Jennifer Son, Student, Queen Mary University of London

The contributing organizations also benefited from fresh ideas, new perspectives and innovative solutions from great young talent.

“It has been an absolute pleasure to work on the challenge and engage with the students. I have worked on something similar before but this programme was much better, as you are meeting with students who haven’t had the full experience of working in organizations – they were not held back by any red tape, bureaucracy or ideology.”
Damien McGlue, Project Manager, Electric Blue

“QChallenge London was a great experience for Oomph! In addition, the programme was a development opportunity for me and for the company. I was quickly and professionally brought up to speed. I always felt well informed from Common Purpose. It wasn’t too much of a drain on my time as the students were very proactive with both the contacts and their deliverables.”
David Terrace, Head of Community Partnerships, Oomph! Wellness

International consumer delivery specialist Hermes identified that their talented people must be agile and adaptive, ready to embrace leadership roles of increasing autonomy, complexity, responsibility and ambiguity. Hermes commissioned Common Purpose to deliver an experiential leadership programme for executive level leaders. The programme combined executive coaching with Immersions, which took participants out of their usual environments and challenged them to think about how they respond to unfamiliar cultures and leadership environments. We then used a series of techniques that encouraged participants to share new ideas and find creative ways to translate this learning back into their roles.

The programme was shortlisted for 'Best Leadership Programme' at the 2018 Yorkshire Leadership Awards. 

“Hermes is at the forefront of the logistics industry in the UK and Europe; we are a fast-paced business who demand a lot from our leaders. We chose to work with Common Purpose to develop a programme for our top talent group because we wanted an approach that would take people out of their usual environment and broaden their horizons. The programme challenged them to consider their own impact and developed their ability to collaborate with a wide range of people so they could make better decisions and accelerate complex change. As we track the impact of the programme we can really see the operational, cultural and commercial benefits of this investment.”
Leanne Hamley, Head of Talent Acquisition and Development, Hermes

The participants describe the impact, six months on:

“This trust in my leadership has given me great confidence to ensure that I do the right thing in all business decisions and activities. This has also reduced pressure on me and allowed me to make decisions that benefit our business strategy.”

“The programme has taught me to collaborate differently; to take that step back and not assume that my assessment and view is always 100% right; to listen to the people at the coalface; listen to their experience of the issue; not dictate but guide, support and encourage my team to come up with the ideas to change and fix the problems.”

“My team have begun to shine in ways I didn’t think would happen, meaning the business now has more capable people, and a pipeline of future senior managers they can look to if I were to move on.”

“Improving my abilities has allowed me to succeed with a specific project that in the past I have failed to get off the ground. The result of this has been an increased volume of parcel numbers and rate – basically, increased revenue.”

“I have become a more effective leader since my time with Common Purpose, which has led to better decisions, stronger development of my people and a more engaged team. All of the above drive better results for the business.”

Norman McKinley, Executive Director of UK Operations, British Red Cross

“Leadership development is a critical part of the British Red Cross Inclusion and Diversity strategy. One of the steps that we have taken to promote this has been through a partnership with Common Purpose to deliver development programmes on inclusive leadership and Cultural Intelligence. Taking part in the streetwise mba and an online version of this programme has helped our emerging leadership to take courageous steps to work effectively across boundaries, and has created more dialogue about inclusion across the organization.” 

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

Seán Mullan, Founder & Director, Third Space

“Back in the “noughties” my life in a Dublin suburb was quiet and reasonably predictable. I had worked for twenty years in leadership of a faith community and in a variety of voluntary roles in the community sector. Then in my forties I felt I was “doing my bit” and enjoying it. I was keen to lead and open to challenge but safe in my familiarity with a sector I understood.

“An invitation to one of the early Common Purpose programmes in Dublin in 2005 changed that. I was exposed to the city as a whole, to sectors I had never given much thought to and to people I would normally never have met. I worked with leaders from finance, government, education and business and discovered how little I really knew about the city. That programme proved to be a wind of change that led me in a new direction.

“Six years after the programme finished I opened the doors of a social enterprise centred on hospitality. Third Space seeks to change the city around the table. It is a financially self-sustaining business that mixes top-notch urban hospitality with many additional community benefits. These include space for local community initiatives, social employment programmes, financial support for small causes in the area and a welcoming “hub” for the local workers and residents. With 25 staff and hundreds of regular customers in our two venues, Third Space crosses the sectors of the city and exists to promote the wellbeing of the city. And I’m still meeting people from across the city’s many sectors—they’re coming through our doors every day.”

Will Somerville, UK Director, Unbound Philanthropy

“We supported Common Purpose because we were impressed by their programmes for diaspora leaders. What was most inspiring was the quality of the people taking part, and the way that the programmes unleashed their creativity and new energy to tackle the challenges in their communities in the UK, and their countries of origin. The value that diaspora leaders can bring was really evident.”

Commonwealth100 is a free, experiential online leadership programme that equips young people from across the Commonwealth with the competencies they need to be successful in 2031, when the Commonwealth turns 100. As part of this programme, we co-created a new model for leadership with over 1,000 young people across the world, called Open Source Leadership. This model forms the curriculum of this highly interactive and engaging online programme.

  • 12,148 participants enrolled in 2018
  • 48/53 Commonwealth countries represented through participants
  • 94% of participants found the course to be good value for their time
  • 37,050 total comments posted
  • 2,308 completion badges awarded

Commonwealth100 is just one of many Common Purpose Legacy programmes. Legacy programmes build a generation of leaders who connect up their communities, cities and countries and change the world. Connect across generations, so that leaders of every age learn to combine their efforts. Connect within their generation, so that young leaders are able to build on what they have in common.

“In becoming an Open Source Leader, I was afforded the opportunity to look inwards and ask myself relevant questions, and to measure where I was as a leader and where I needed to be. At the end of the course, there was no doubt that I had gained knowledge that empowered me to be interconnected, accessible, awake to intolerance, trustworthy and quick: an Open Source Leader.”
Titilope Adedokun, Participant, Commonwealth100

“I am excited about Commonwealth100 because leadership is something that can be easily overlooked. Commonwealth100 offers something that everyone can learn from and implement, whatever they do. I think it’s a key tool that is going to facilitate well-rounded learning for so many young people.”
Akashi Alam, Participant, Commonwealth100

“Through the Open Source Leadership concept, Commonwealth100 offers young people in all our member countries inclusive and participatory opportunities to take positive action and make lasting impact for the common good.”
Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, Secretary General of the Commonwealth

In addition to partnering with Common Purpose on programmes for professionals, Pan-Asian life insurer FWD Group has also sponsored Common Purpose student programmes, which develop the next generation of leaders. This enabled FWD leaders to work with students as they tackled a challenge within their city. For the FWD team, it provided a unique insight into this next generation of global leaders, while the students gained a hugely powerful coaching opportunity from insurance industry professionals.

Most recently, FWD sponsored our Global Leader Experience in Manila, delivered in partnership with De La Salle University, where the students tackled the challenge: “How do smart cities ensure they are inclusive?” This included an immersion in the FWD offices, where students explored the company’s culture of innovation.

“I think the programme is a good way for students to be exposed to external realities and be aware of what is happening in the country. I also value the role I had as a mentor as it helped me learn to focus on the developmental progress of the students, rather than giving too much emphasis on the group output, which is the default mode in the corporate setting.”
Queenie Chua, Head of Business Intelligence, FWD Philippines

“I learned a lot from the speakers and other student leaders about Cultural Intelligence, social issues, and especially about myself. I’m thankful that I was able to learn and know more about myself to become a good leader.”
Hannah Calinisan, Participant, De La Salle University

“What made the biggest impact on me today was the different ideas that my co-participants presented. We were able to look at different problems mentioned from different perspectives, and work with different people.”
Armina Felicci Lara, Participant, De La Salle University

“We fully support Common Purpose and its primary objective of developing leaders who can cross boundaries. We have been continually impressed with the quality of students that we’ve met. They are a unique network of students–the next generation of global leaders, who we wouldn’t normally be able to access. Through programmes like these, we will be able to equip the next generation with the skills they need to lead.”
Mervin Pobre, Chief of Staff, FWD Philippines

In 2017, Common Purpose partnered with JPMorgan Chase India to create an experiential and immersive learning experience for its leaders. The aim of the programme was to give them the opportunity to deeply engage with non-profit organizations in India.

The leadership programme incorporated experiential learning and a unique curriculum that blends online and offline methods to help the participants start thinking differently, and outside their own areas of specialism and formal authority. The virtual phase consisted of two half-days using a virtual platform. The online programme helped them to understand how to work better with the non-profit sector and set the context of the non-profit sectors in India and the socio-political impact of their work.

Feedback posted by participants included:

“This programme taught me to appreciate the ability of people to work and achieve in a highly constrained environment.”

“The bonding with others during the course of the programme has opened my eyes, mind and heart to cultural differences. The immersion workshop at the sites with the NGO has also helped me identify and acknowledge the extensive diversity in our culture. I am better prepared to handle cultural differences now.”

“I have seen value in seeking multiple views and thoughts, especially from a diverse group who have the ability to come up with something very radical and different.”

The JPMorgan Chase India team worked with SNEHA (Society for Nutrition Education & Health Action), a non-profit organization that works with women, children and public health and safety systems. SNEHA shared their thoughts on the collaboration with JPMorgan Chase India:

“The JPMorgan Chase team was instrumental in providing SNEHA with excellent inputs in key domains of finance and HR. Their inputs on the cost effectiveness of our mobile health van service will also be very useful to inform government on the effectiveness of such a model.”

Professor Ian Holliday, Vice-President (Teaching and Learning), The University of Hong Kong

“At the University of Hong Kong, we’re committed to leadership development and global experiences for both students and staff. We’ve been delighted to see how over the past three years our work with Common Purpose has broadened in scope, from a pilot student leadership programme in Manila to five programmes in five key Asian cities. They form a core part of our commitment to all our undergraduates undertaking a Mainland China and international learning experience during their time with us. Staff are also developing their CQ on programmes in Hong Kong and globally to ensure they are equipped to further our position as a truly global university. We’re now excited to add a student leadership programme to our prestigious new Bachelor of Arts & Sciences degrees, embedding leadership development at the start of students’ interdisciplinary learning.”

Leslie Perry, UK Head of Conduct Risk, UBS

Leslie joined the streetwise mba programme last year, a programme that develops leaders to become inclusive and agile, with the Cultural Intelligence (CQ) to work more effectively with diverse colleagues.

“The programme was very important because that put a framework around our discussions and what we cover. What I think that Common Purpose did so well was ensuring the diversity of the group of people they put together.”

Throughout the streetwise mba, participants explore CQ. They use the Core and Flex® Framework to digest their learning, explore their own cultures and translate this learning into leadership behaviours.

“I think I’m so open minded, I try to be politically correct. I try to be sensitive to other people’s views and opinions, so I did not think I really needed to work on anything. But only because I had the streetwise mba experience I realized that I sometimes have more bias than I realize. Even in the expectation that I’m expecting people to act the way I do.

“One important aspect that I took away was the importance of not assuming that you’re getting it right and the value of having courageous conversations with people to evaluate whether or not your attempt at being culturally sensitive is even working.”

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.”

Renee Hunt, Director, Sky Leeds

“The programme had immediate effect on the leaders that we sponsored to attend. They were recently promoted and faced challenges that would require new tools to navigate successfully. A young leader appeared to be overwhelmed before the programme and returned calmer and more balanced. They improved the performance of their teams and also of themselves.”


Nyimas Azizah Airin Aziz, Development Manager Group, PT Bank Negara Indonesia (Persero)

Airin leads a team tasked with implementing social and developmental projects for Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI), in Sumenep, East Java.

As task force leader, Airin holds multiple roles requiring her to build teams with the skills to work effectively in diverse communities. This is where learnings from the ASEAN Leaders Programme strengthened her hand.

“Leveraging the experiences and knowledge that I gained from participating in the ASEAN Leaders Programme, I had a new confidence to lead and manage the team to become the best performance achievers in East Java (a National area) for Micro Financing for Farmers, as well as for distributing Farming Cards. As a result of the programme, I was more open to listening to ideas from others within the team, and outside; to identify and locate bottle necks; and ensure a win-win strategy for all. Initially, the challenges to implement the programme appeared insurmountable, but by building trust, maintaining a constant flow of communication, and continually engaging with diverse parties, we pulled it off.”

According to Airin, recognizing the benefits of engaging with diverse groups of people, was a key learning from the programme, and a game changer at work. It drove her to develop a model framework to collaborate with multiple, influential groups, and community leaders, across sectors governing farming practices in Indonesia.

“I’m glad I was a part of the ASEAN Leaders Programme. It enriches your experience and learning journeys, helps you get to know more about yourself, improves the quality of your life, as well as teaches you how to influence, deal with, and engage better with those around you.”

Charles Asiedu, Managing Director, Ecobank

Prior to CSCLeaders 2016, Charles Asiedu, Managing Director at Ecobank, Malawi, was searching for ways to create a bigger impact – not only in his organization, but also in society. That year, his home country Malawi had faced severe hunger crises following adverse weather conditions, which negatively affected the production of maize, the staple food of the country. That meant having to import cereals at prohibitive costs in order to feed the population.

During his time on the programme, Charles, who was a quick thinker and used to acting immediately, saw the need to slow down and assess the problem to find an effective solution. He decided to take on the hunger issue using the things he learned about collaboration at CSCLeaders.

“I engaged the government agency responsible for the food procurement and suggested a collaborative approach involving the Ministry of Finance, the Central Bank, the agency and Ecobank to resolve the food crisis. We brought the partners together and, after sharing what role we each thought we could play, together we designed a solution. Now we are mobilizing $50 million to support the importation of maize to help feed eight million Malawians. Prior to CSCLeaders I wouldn’t have thought more broadly about bringing in other partners to handle the crisis.

“Collaboration – I thought I knew it and practiced it but now I understand the real meaning and potential impact on society.”

Joy Pamnani, Student, University of Hong Kong

“I was a participant of the University of Hong Kong - Common Purpose Leadership Development Programme this summer. This programme truly changed my life: it gave me exposure in leadership and provided opportunities to explore a new city and to meet wonderful people.

“I’ve learnt about myself as a leader and experienced different contexts in which to practice leadership. It was much easier to be a leader back in high school, because not many people were eager to take up the responsibility. In addition, we all came from similar backgrounds and communication was almost never an issue. This programme was a chance to communicate with people across cultures, with different academic backgrounds and walks of life in general. 

“More than learning about myself, I really cherish the friendships I’ve made along the way. For me, opening up to a group of people has always been an obstacle in forming friendships. The programme gave me an opportunity to spend more time with other students and I found myself opening up to a group of friends.

“I am so grateful for the wonderful friendships I know I’ll cherish for life. I’m grateful to the Common Purpose team and the University of Hong Kong team for organizing this programme.”

“International opportunities are so important as they broaden our students’ horizons. HKU students are likely to work and live in mainland China and overseas after they have graduated, and we want to prepare them for that. We’re committed to developing our students’ leadership skills, and the leadership dimension of the Common Purpose offering, with a focus on leading across boundaries, really delivers on that.”

Ian Holliday, Vice-President and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning), The University of Hong Kong

Jason Lane, Executive Director, SUNY Academic & Innovative Leadership Institute

“SUNY partners with Common Purpose to provide a unique leadership experience for students to build relationships with each other and learn how to drive innovation in the New York City environment. As a result of the Global Leader Experience, our students examined their own biases, strengthened their individual leadership networks and created new relationships that have outlasted the weeklong programme. The experience proved to be transformational for the student participants.”

Ololade Raji, Senior Manager, Accenture

Ololade’s passion is to find solutions to address the prevalent hunger epidemic in African cities. He leads a team of analysts, who explore opportunities to create an African Agricultural Exchange Programme to assist entrepreneurs in Nigeria. After participating in the Africa Venture, Ololade used collaborative and leadership skills developed on the programme to pursue his interest in regenerative agricultural practices further, with investments in local crop farming. The programme also enabled him to develop his Cultural Intelligence to work fluidly and flexibly across Africa.

“Emotional intelligence is vital for personal development but Cultural Intelligence is more important for effective leadership.”

Ololade also owns fish farms in Iyesi-Otta, located in the outskirts of Lagos, Nigeria. Here, he has made considerable efforts to understand local upstream farming pain points; become an active player in the sector; and to deploy the use of technology to provide workable agricultural solutions. In these efforts, he found his learnings on Cultural Intelligence helpful as he worked together with multiple people, with varied levels of knowledge, and expertise.

In the coming months, Ololade has fixed his eye on new targets—food processing, and harnessing industry knowledge to help reduce food-waste, and optimize the food production process. Like with his achievements in past ventures, Olalade aims to leverage diversity and utilize collaborative work in order to make these new targets a reality.

Shajan Miah, Founder, Teach Skills International

Shajan Miah lost his beloved sister, Khela Begum, when she was only 12 years old. The terrible tragedy has shaped his life’s mission – to inspire a new generation of young people of Bangladesh as a tribute to his sister.

In November 2015, Shajan attended the Pakistani and Bangladeshi Diaspora Leaders Programme. The programme, supported by the British Council, is focused on helping the many Bangladeshi and Pakistani diaspora leaders to build their capacity to contribute to development in their home countries.

The programme provided Shajan with the opportunity to create an inspiring vision and set clear, compelling goals to achieving his mission. He became inspired to take risks and step out of his comfort zone.

Shajan decided to take a six-month career break after the programme ended. He spent that time in Bangladesh to set up the non-profit organization Teach Skills International, an educational agency that provides talks, workshops and full-day activities for schools, colleges and university students. It aims to teach students the skills they need for the jobs of the future. Over the past few years, Teach Skills International has engaged 140 schools in Bangladesh and developed a partnership with other non-profit organizations and the Bangladeshi government.

“I understood that to be a great leader it was vital that I was on the ground using my leadership skills, resources and commitment to drive and deliver the best results for all stakeholders. It was brilliant to explore my own current challenges during the programme. I really appreciated the support from the other diaspora leaders and finding out about their ideas too helped provide me with some new insights.”

Abi Rajkumar, Student, The Australian National University

In 2017, Common Purpose partnered with Westpac Bicentennial Foundation to deliver a bespoke seven month leadership programme as part of the Westpac Asian Exchange Scholarship.

One of these scholars, Abi Rajkumar, a student at the Australian National University, was interested in understanding the significant role culture plays in cross-state negotiations, and how to ensure positive change for individuals across the globe.

“As an Australian with Sri Lankan heritage, I’ve never quite been Australian enough, or Sri Lankan enough, to identify completely with either nationality—I finally realized I was not alone. Sharing stories of embarrassments, uncertainty and moments of clarity made me realize how important it is to make a conscious effort to understand the idiosyncrasies of other cultures, and varying understandings that have stemmed from differing contexts. Not understanding one another, and not actually trying to, continues to tear our societies apart. In a world plagued by genocide, racism and ongoing abuses of power, culturally intelligent leadership is not just useful—it is vital.

“Our personal understandings of truth and reality that we hold so close to our hearts can be deeply destructive to our ability to see the world in different lights, our ability to lead, and to ensure better outcomes for a collective. Perhaps my biggest take away was understanding that leading is about caring. Sometimes, that simply means standing back and listening to what is happening around you.

“In just four days, we made the conscious effort to ‘try on different leadership shoes’. We learnt from each other, we helped each other face some of our biggest fears and amongst all the craziness, we grew closer together—and I couldn’t have been more wrong about how powerful a leadership programme can be.”

“Westpac is delighted to be partnering with Common Purpose to deliver the Westpac Asian Exchange Leadership Programme. Working with an organization who truly values the importance of cross-cultural intelligence has enabled us to design a development programme that nurtures Asia-capable leaders of the future. Seeing the impact the 2018 programme has had on the Westpac Scholars demonstrates how valuable immersive learning can be. In Singapore they had a rare opportunity to develop their Cultural Intelligence in a very practical setting. Also having the chance to reflect on themselves and their leadership capabilities was highly valuable. After just four days there was a marked difference across the entire group.”

Susan Bannigan, CEO, Westpac Bicentennial Foundation 

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