Impact Stories

Explore our archive of impact stories – which includes testimonials from global brands, as well as personal reflections from Common Purpose alumni who have used their learning and development to make a wider impact.

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.”

Julie Sanders, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Newcastle University
CSCLeaders 2018

After I attended the first phase of my global leadership programme with Common Purpose, it was clear to me that we could take some fresh approaches to developing our new place-based Higher Education strategy.


The learning has been immensely useful in working across different sectors


I am currently the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Newcastle University. Shortly after returning from the programme, I took on full line management for all three of our big faculties with special responsibilities for academic strategy, the university's work and commitment to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, and Environmental Sustainability.

Working within the ecosystem of the community, Julie Sanders and her team established an inclusive placebased strategy that is bringing together students, partners and the community to build a better future.

Another of my responsibilities is with our Engagement and Place substrategy with its focus on social justice. I was actively leading on this project when I returned from the programme. I knew that this strategy couldn’t just be written within the university itself. It would involve working across different sectors in the community in order to promote learning and research that is rooted in the local – the unique history, environment and culture of Newcastle and our wider region, which our university is deeply invested in.

The learning from the Common Purpose programme, especially on Cultural Intelligence, has been immensely useful in working across different sectors. It helped me recognize the challenges and significance of cross-sectoral working and co-production.


Hearing the different voices in the room (especially the muted ones)

My time on the programme brought to focus different ways of working across sectors, all the different constituencies with different needs, and the importance of being inclusive. Being inclusive means hearing all the different voices in the room, even the voices that are absent.

I found myself really thinking about those voices that are often not in the room. I realized that if you focus only on the voices you hear, you often find yourself talking to the usual suspects and hearing the same things being said.

However good we are at creating and planning in universities, we need to be able to hear all the other voices, especially the absent ones.

Newcastle University has always been committed to co-production with the community. But the programme has really helped me to put that in action within my role. I have understood that for a place-based strategy to really thrive and be meaningful, we can’t sit alone in our offices and come up with targets and goals.


 We can’t sit alone in our offices and come up with targets


Creating new positions to be more inclusive

In order to be able to hear all the other voices around us, we brought people from a wide range of background across all sectors into the conversation. We created some new positions in the university and now have eight deans operating across the university but also with external partners to help us achieve our vision.

Our Dean of Innovation and Business has industry experience, while our Dean of Engagement and Place has worked extensively in the local authority sector among other things. We also have a Dean of Sport, a Dean of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, a Dean of Culture and Creative Arts, a Dean of Social Justice, a Dean of Advancement, and now a Dean of Lifelong Learning and Professional Practice. Each one brings with them their own expertise, perspective and voice.

The programme allowed me to have the time and the headspace to think on a deep level, to observe how diverse groups of people interact and to understand how each person’s role plays a part in completing the whole. As a result, I have made personal commitments to work on the inclusion agenda at Newcastle that Common Purpose is still helping me to act on and realize.


Climate emergency

The success of Newcastle University’s ongoing climate emergency work and our broader work on global social justice issues is a direct result of our new strategy.

The university, our local National Health Trust and the city council simultaneously declared a climate emergency. Instead of working on different plans, we all came together and are now working as a team. The work becomes much more complex because we are navigating between different timetables, styles of working, communication and preferences; however, it also becomes much more meaningful and impactful as a result of it.


Working in an ecosystem

I can remember sitting in the room during the programme and watching all the different presentations on working with local communities. What I observed was that regardless of which country or sector they were coming from, the need to work within an ecosystem was a common theme.

By working within the ecosystem of our community, this has allowed Newcastle University to create and enable an inclusive place-based strategy that is helping the people in our community, our partners and our students be an active part of building a better future.


Julie Sanders is Professor of English Literature and Drama at Newcastle University, specializing in early modern literature and adaptation studies. She is the university's Deputy Vice-Chancellor. Julie is an English Literature and Drama specialist with an international reputation in early modern literature and in adaptation studies.

Newcastle University and Common Purpose are partnering on several programmes at a regional and national level to raise diverse educational attainment and progression for the students. The programmes incorporate conceptual-based projects, experiential learning, and legacy projects and partnerships with other universities for study abroad placements


When her organization had problems finding office space for their alumni network, Rashidatu Iddrisah spotted the perfect opportunity for a cross-sectoral partnership.


Rashidatu Iddrisah, CAMFED

I believe that every leader needs the right partnership and the right networks in order to succeed. From my experience, leaders are able to achieve greater and far reaching results, even with minimal resources, when there’s collaboration. This was my biggest takeaway from the Africa Venture. I saw first-hand how leaders from across all sectors shared the importance of building longlasting partnerships. As each leader spoke, I saw a pattern emerging – each one of them didn’t achieve success on their own; instead they achieved it through partnership and collaboration.


When you educate a girl, everything changes

I work for CAMFED (Campaign for Female Education), an international not-for-profit organization tackling poverty and inequality by supporting girls to go to school and succeed. For me, my job is more than a job: it’s my calling. I was one of the girls that the organization supported to complete my education. Through the little interventions that CAMFED puts in place, a young girl’s story, like mine, changes for the better.

Before the Africa Venture, I wasn’t thinking about expanding my network and actively seeking out potential partners. Sure, I have always been the type of person who genuinely loves meeting new people. And it wouldn’t take long for me to turn the conversation around to my passion for young women’s education. However, after the programme, I realized how much I have underutilized this leadership strength – my innate ability to connect with people.

The programme reinforced some of my strengths as a leader. I knew that I was good at communicating and meeting new people. What I didn’t realize was how powerful those skills are when used with an end goal in mind. I became more deliberate about using them to my advantage.


I realized how much I have underutilized this leadership strength.


Securing office space for alumni

This is something I’ve been able to take back into my role. For example, back in 2018, CAMA, the CAMFED alumnae association for graduates, had problems securing an office space in the upper east region of Ghana. CAMA is the largest alumni network in Africa – it’s spurring remarkable change because of the work that our alumni do. However, we were unable to maximize our efforts because we didn’t have a permanent office space. It was up to me (as the chairperson at that time) to think of a way to secure the space, essentially for free, due to lack of resources.

I knew that in order to take on this challenge, I needed to be deliberate about approaching the right people within my network.


Partnership between CAMA and the government

As a result of the new perspective I gained on the Africa Venture, it became easier for me to spot possible partnerships with the government. In Ghana, CAMA members are making enormous strides in improving the quality of education in the region. By focusing on our goals, we were also helping the government achieve theirs. I realized that I could leverage this to secure a partnership.

A few weeks after the Africa Venture ended, CAMA hosted an alumni event and invited prominent government officials of the region; one of those who accepted was the regional minister. After the event, I approached him and gave a convincing argument on why a cross-sector partnership was necessary in order for both CAMA and the government to further improve education in Ghana. By the end of the conversation, the regional minister agreed to allocate an office space for us in one of their buildings.


It became easier for me to spot possible partnerships 


Partnerships that create change

I strongly believe that in our quest to develop as leaders, we need to get better at seeking and building our networks. We need to be able to spot those possible partnerships with others. In this globally connected world, we need collaboration and partnerships in order to maximize resources, streamline work and achieve greater results.

I wish every young leader could have the opportunity to go through the Africa Venture as I did – it is empowering. I describe it as a hub of solutions. It brings together brainy young people to share experiences that translate into solutions for the different problems we face.


CAMFED is a not-for-profit organization that supports marginalized girls to go to school, succeed and lead. To learn more about how you can take action for girls’ education in Africa, please visit

Michael Ewing, Team Manager, Renewal Management, HubSpot Ireland

"I was inspired to discover and gain a more thorough understanding of my core values, which I am happy to say I can better articulate and lead with. I took these learnings from the streetwise mba and have applied them at HubSpot. These sessions have led to transformative experiences that strengthen our teams and make a better work environment."

In Turkey, Common Purpose has been working with MTU Motor Türbin A.Ş. (Rolls–Royce Power Systems) in helping their senior management to broaden their horizons, promote collaborations across teams and increase social responsibility awareness.

Since 2017, the company has been sending its senior leaders on the Meridyen programme to equip them with the skills, networks and understanding to make an impact in their organization and across their city.


This exposure helps our senior management broaden their horizons


As a result of the positive feedback from their senior management, MTU Motor Türbin A.Ş. decided to partner with Common Purpose to run a customized programme for the wider organization.


“The main value from the programme is that it gives our senior leaders an opportunity to experience leadership, not as a given authority, but as a self-driven action. In addition, the employees gain situational leadership capabilities to handle and manage complex challenges through the programme. This exposure helps our senior management broaden their horizons and widen their way of thinking.”


Individual Impact

These are the behaviour changes that top management has noticed from the senior staff that attended the Common Purpose programme:

1. Increased cooperation between different leaders and colleagues from across departments
2. Awareness of their social and environmental capabilities
3. Willingness to understand different opinions and viewpoints
4. Exploration of career paths as well as other aspects of their lives


“I had the chance to meet people from different groups during this programme. I have seen how we are "one" for the same purpose as these people from different backgrounds. I've seen how our differences enrich our society. I managed to break down my prejudices against some groups.” 
N TUBA DURMAZ, Finance Director


I managed to break down my prejudices 


Organizational impact

Working with MTU Motor Türbin A.Ş.’s senior management, Common Purpose delivered a customized programme designed to help teams collaborate better and work more efficiently. The programme allowed participants to better understand each other through giving and receiving honest feedback and applying Cultural Intelligence in their interactions.


This is the positive impact on the organization:

1. Created a more collaborative working environment by achieving synergy between the individual managers and bringing out the potential of managing leaders
2. The feedback session within the programme resulted in more open communication within the management team
3. Social responsibility awareness has increased
4. Differences in perspectives and opinions is a clear advantage to bring out energy for reaching their corporate goals


“Common Purpose has the capability to connect diverse leaders and to make them accept and respect differences in people, views and ideas. This leads them to be resilient and successful in a complex business environment. The programme has a positive impact on the way they do their jobs and lead their teams.”

In February 2019, Springer Nature and Common Purpose collaborated on a project to create more inclusive leaders with Cultural Intelligence (CQ). We ran an online programme, CQ Accelerator, targeted at up to 200 staff of Springer Nature globally. Emerging and senior leaders from Africa, Europe, Asia-Pacific and the Americas accessed the online platform.

As a result of the social learning experience on the CQ Accelerator, Springer Nature leaders had the opportunity to explore and develop their Cultural Intelligence. The Accelerator helped them to develop their selfawareness and better understand how to effectively work with difference. Using our Core and Flex framework as its key learning methodology, the CQ Accelerator encouraged the group to connect using a common language.


“Our experience with Common Purpose has been very good from beginning to end. I appreciate the thought that was put into the content of the CQ Accelerator and its applicability to leadership in a global organization. The training generated many discussions about how to lead more inclusively, and participants found the Core and Flex Framework particularly informative.”


Furthermore, the CQ Accelerator gave participants an opportunity to unpick their leadership styles, redefining and broadening their understanding and interpretation. Participants shared their personal experiences and perspectives with each other, resulting in a rich source of learning for the cohort – the number of comments captured on the platform was well above the industry standard. They came from a range of diverse countries, backgrounds, beliefs, generations and business units.

Having a common language encouraged the participants to have courageous conversations with each other and discuss similar challenges they faced.


“I realized that, in truth, we are the result of probably thousands of small tweaks that may make each of us unique. I find this really interesting because it gives me a new layer to my thinking of each person as I move forward.”


The training generated many discussions about how to lead more inclusively


Programme assessment results:

90% are better able to adjust their behaviours in culturally diverse situations
80% are better able to spot common ground and make connections between people
78% are better able to recognize their biases and minimize their effects
85% are able to lead or operate within a diverse team
83% are better able to lead or operate within a diverse team
85% said they would be more actively seeking to promote the progressions of diverse members of their teams
88% said they would be more actively playing their part in creating the conditions for an inclusive work environment


 “I have found the Core and Flex model very useful and I have now internalized it as part of my belief system. I've always prided myself on being a strong, principled, reflective person, but Core and Flex has afforded me options to be less forthright and more flexible/accommodating without losing something of myself in the process.”


“I completely agree that innovation will not come from working with people who think like we do, or who operate in the same way, or in the same space. It comes from diverse groups, and to work with diverse groups a high level of CQ is going to be very important.”


“Having more CQ in the organization would help us understand not only our internal stakeholders but the external market itself. This would open our minds to who we hire to deal with various stakeholders.”

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."

Lynn Perry, Chief Executive, Barnardo's
The streetwisemba 2018 / Greater Manchester TheKNOW 2008/09

A new operational model gave Lynn an opportunity to unite three functions towards the organization’s purpose. The result is an inclusive model that recognizes talent and maximizes potential.


The programme gave me an opportunity to really look at different ways of working.


I was struck by how the leaders I met during the streetwise mba used Cultural Intelligence to lead and connect different functions, valuing the learning that comes from wider perspectives. There was also a focus on collective impact and long term ambition rather than an orientation to individual tasks. In short, this learning from the Common Purpose programme has enabled me to refocus – and to develop my leadership skills by working beyond authority across different departments, and supporting others to do so, with an emphasis on corporate goals rather than individual roles.


Protecting the UK’s most vulnerable children

Barnardo’s is the largest leading children’s charity across the UK. We work with some of the most disadvantaged children and young people, many of whom have adverse life experiences. Because of the scale of our organization, we have unique opportunities to influence change, not just for children we work with, but in wider society too.

My role, principally, is to make sure that our services are safe, effective and meet the needs of the children, young people and families we serve. I’ve been here 11 years now and in a lot of respects, I feel I have found my professional home. Our values as an organization echo with my own passion for social justice; working with hope, valuing the unique worth of all and supporting people to fulfill their potential. There’s a synergy between what Barnardo’s aspires to achieve and what I want to do with my life.


Three departments, one purpose

Whilst I was on the programme, I was working on a new operational delivery model that gave me an opportunity in real time to start doing things differently.

My goal was to bring together three different parts of our organization in the region – business development, finance and management information – under one operational hub. All three play key roles in developing our work in the organization, expanding our reach and impact. I thought there was a real opportunity to bring these teams together physically to create a continuous and virtuous cycle of improvement on a daily basis through greater connectivity and real time sharing and shaping of ideas, knowledge and skills.


Developing CQ gives leaders the edge that will help ensure they can navigate the unpredictable.


The programme gave me an opportunity to really look at different ways of working in various organizations and industries. It enabled me to see more clearly the parallels across what might appear to be disparate functions or purposes. It emphasized the value of bringing diverse groups and individuals together and to looking at things through different lenses, changing and expanding our own viewing platform and that of others.


Values-led leadership

Without exception, everyone I met on the programme embodied what I describe as a values-led leadership. They had a clear set of values driving them as individuals, often congruent with the values that drive their organization. Not only was there a clear sense of purpose, there was a passion to that purpose. Passion and purpose is a powerful combination, exhibited by many people I have worked with in the charity sector, but harnessing that in more of an explicit way was something I became more focused on during this programme.

In any change it is important to be explicitly focused on the organization’s purpose and ambitions. For us that means a focus on stronger families, safer childhoods and positive futures and everything we do needs to coalesce around achieving those ambitions.

Some programmes create an opportunity to reflect and to learn, but not all of them take you to a place where you are sufficiently inspired and motivated to then respond differently. For me, the Common Purpose programme did all three – it took me into that reflective space, inspired me and then led me to respond.

 Like me, most people at Barnardo’s are mission driven. By shifting the focus explicitly back to our purpose (our 'why') and co-locating the teams, we refreshed what we did and how we did it with a shared goal to increase our reach and continuously improve our impact. We did a lot of work focused on business partnering and created a new way of working that better recognized, reflected and harnessed the talent across the teams and improved our learning, individually and collectively.

In keeping our purpose a top priority as a team, we were able to explicitly re-establish a shared vision that we collectively pursued, with each team being able to clearly see their contribution to the whole. This has been critical to the success of our work and the creation of a thriving culture within the regional hub.


“At Barnardo’s we are committed to developing ourselves as a learning organization, and helping colleagues develop their Cultural Intelligence is a key part of this journey. In today’s complex and ever changing world, developing CQ gives leaders the edge that will help ensure they can navigate the unpredictable. Lynn is a great example of a leader who has embraced this challenge and we have all benefited along the way.”
JAVED KHAN, CEO, Barnardo’s


Barnardo’s is a British charity founded in 1896 that aims to protect, support and nurture the UK’s most vulnerable children.

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

Over the past four years, FWD Insurance (“FWD”) has supported Common Purpose in delivering leadership programmes for a different generation of leaders: from students in universities to senior leaders in organizations and society.

"FWD is building a pan-Asian insurance business and ASEAN is crucial for our growth, so the development of leadership in this region really resonates with us,” shares Huynh Thanh Phong, Group CEO of FWD Insurance. Phong continues on to say that the company is glad to have partnered with Common Purpose in developing leaders at every level.


The programme can be a huge stimulus and catalyst in developing the next level of thinking


Bringing together senior leaders in the region

Last year, FWD sponsored the ASEAN Leaders Programme, an annual programme that brings together senior leaders from across the Southeast Asian region. The programme helps leaders in the region build strong connections, share knowledge, and develop the Cultural Intelligence required to grow ASEAN’s cities.

Abhishek Bhatia, Group Chief Officer (New Business Models) for FWD believes that leaders throughout the ASEAN region face common challenges and a programme like this gives them the opportunity to collaborate on solutions. He adds, “If leaders join with open minds and a willingness to challenge the preconceived notions and mental models that we have, the programme can be a huge stimulus and catalyst in developing the next level of thinking.”


Supporting next generation leaders

In addition to partnering with Common Purpose on programmes for senior leaders, FWD has also sponsored Common Purpose student programmes that develop the next generation of leaders.

In 2019, FWD supported four Global Leader Experience (GLE) programmes across Asia. A total of 320 students across Bangkok, Jakarta, Hong Kong and Ho Chi Minh City participated in the programmes.

The GLE programmes 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.

As a result of the programme’s immersive and experiential learning techniques, students have developed, and are able to demonstrate, the skills and capabilities required to be successful in the 21st century.

“Problem-solving has a lot to deal with the approach with which we look at the problem at hand. Working with a group of diverse people, I came to understand that embracing the different aspects of your team and putting together the positive sides of your team complex problems can be broken down into simple task executable by a few members thereby contributing to a way of solving the problem. This I learned through the Common Purpose programme.”
DANIEL YAMOAH AGYEMANG, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University


Programme assessment results:

ASEAN Leaders Programme:
90% recognize the value of bringing in wider perspectives when making key decisions
96% have developed a better network of peers
86% are better able to create conditions for innovation to occur
88% feel better prepared to lead a diverse team

Student programmes:
98% became more empathetic by deepening their understanding of other cultures
98% became more agile by working with difference
97% became more influential by solving complex problems
320 students participated in the programmes


“I got the great opportunity to work with teammates that were from a broad range of cultures as well as majors in the university. I learned that every culture has their own way of working, communicating, having fun and it’s up to us to prepare ourselves to deal with those situations.”
SETHAREACH SOK, Participant, Panyapiwat Institute of Management (Bangkok)


“It’s been great to 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


“It’s been a pleasure working with Common Purpose to contribute our part in developing the young future leaders. The programme helped the students get exposure to the city, the organizations and its people and at the same time work together as a team and learn much more about themselves.”
VO THI KIM LOAN, Associate Director - Talent & Organizational Development FWD Vietnam


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.” 

At Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM), social contribution activities are a vital part of their business DNA. The company has always believed that their growth is tied to the development of society. Since 2001, TKM has focused on the holistic development of the community – working towards improving the status of education, health and hygiene, road safety and upskilling. The company has influenced over 1 400 000 lives to date.


Developing leaders who can cross boundaries of sector

As a result of this holistic approach to development, TKM’s leadership and strategy team works with different sectors, from government institutions to not-for-profit organizations, to implement their social contribution activities. Therefore, it is crucial that senior leaders are able to thrive in multiple cultures and cross boundaries between sectors.

Since 2008, TKM has been sending their senior leaders to attend Common Purpose programmes to broaden their horizons, develop Cultural Intelligence and build long-lasting relationships across the region. These skills allow them to work fluidly and flexibly across sectors.


“Through the programme, I engaged with many leaders from not-for-profit, government and corporate sectors. I was able to experience the challenges that each sector faces by visiting the different institutions. This led to better understanding and gave me new perspectives. The experience shifted my thinking on how the company can have a larger impact in society.”
SP MOHAPATRA, Senior Manager


“I keep sending my staff to participate because the programme gives them a deeper understanding of the different perspectives from other sectors. This understanding results in being able to empathize better with the other person.”
NAVEEN SONI, Senior Vice President Sales & Service


“TKM has a long association with Common Purpose since their inception in India. Their leadership programmes are unique and develops leaders to think beyond their domain to address complex and dynamic societal issues. Over the past ten years, TKM employees have immensely benefited from participating in the programmes.”


The experience shifted my thinking on how the company can have a larger impact in society


At its core, the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility is to enhance community development activities and contribute to the progress of the region. TKM has partnered with not-for-profit organizations through the Common Purpose network for some of their community engagement activities.

One of these was a partnership with The Association of People with Disability (APD), a not-for-profit organization in Bangalore that works extensively to reach and rehabilitate people with disability. APD needed a vehicle to help ferry the PWD stakeholders. Through the Common Purpose programme, the two organizations were connected and TKM offered to sponsor a bus for the organization.


“The donation of the bus from Toyota will be a great help for APD. It will help us bring more children to school thereby changing lives of many children with disabilities. As you know bringing children with disabilities out of their homes is the first step to education. Thank you Common Purpose and thank you Toyota for being part of our effort to change the lives of children with disabilities.”
USHA RANI, Assistant Director – Education The Association of People with Disability (APD)


Capacity building for not-for-profit leaders

In 2020, Common Purpose and TKM, together with KPMG, are partnering once more to build leadership capacity for not-for-profit leaders in India. Social Academy of Learning by Toyota (SALT) aims to help not-forprofit organizations to shift from philanthropy to an impact-based approach. It will also help to strengthen the relation between government, corporate and not-for-profit sectors.


“We are very excited to partner with Common Purpose to launch SALT. Common Purpose has years of experience in developing the notfor-profit sector. When combined Toyota’s quality orientation, we are confident that this natural partnership will be successful.”
SP MOHAPATRA, Senior Manager Vice Chairman’s Office


The Academy has had over 560 not-for-profit organizations expressing their interest and over 100 leaders applying. Thirty senior leaders participated in the first  programme in February 2020.

Toyota Kirloskar Motors continues its work towards creating a vibrant world through socially responsible and sustainable approaches of giving back to the community. As it grows, the company needs more leaders that are better able to cross boundaries. This enables them solve complex problems within the organization as well as in society.

Zero Waste Europe is leading a fast-growing movement of communities, local leaders, businesses, experts, influencers and other “change agents” working towards the same vision: eliminating waste in our society.

Four professionals from Zero Waste Europe participated in the MAVA Leaders for Nature Academy. Through the Academy, they developed behavioural competencies to lead more effectively within their organization. Each participant applied the skills in their roles, which led to significant and positive impact within the organization.

Duo for 2018:
Ferran Rosa, former Policy Officer
Joan-Marc Simon, Executive Director

Duo for 2019:
Pierre Condamine, Waste Policy Officer
Esra Tat, Associate Director


Joan-Marc Simon: Adapting to the needs of a changing organization

Ten years ago, Joan-Marc Simon started Zero Waste Europe by himself. As the organization grew, there’s been a struggle to shift from a one-man operation to sharing responsibilities with a large team.

When Esra Tat, Associate Director, arrived three years ago, she said it seemed like Joan-Marc hadn’t yet figured out the kind of leader he wanted to be within the growing organization. It was clear though that he didn’t want to be a traditional manager nor, did he think a flat organizational hierarchy would work for the organization.

Esra believes that through the Academy, Joan-Marc discovered a middle ground between these two managing styles. He identified the kind of leadership that Zero Waste Europe needed.


“I didn't know what to expect from mentoring only 18 months ago, but I'm very happy that I 'trusted the process', for it helped me detect and develop skills that are very necessary for my professional and personal development."


The Academy gave him confidence and clarity in his leadership abilities. Where other not-for-profit founders his age contend with finding their value in a growing team, Joan-Marc figured out how to adapt his leadership style to suit the changing needs of the organization.

As a result, Joan-Marc applied his knowledge of LBA competencies to create changes after he joined the Academy. These changes led to significant impact in the organization:

Greater self-awareness leading to a more inclusive leadership style:
• Line managers, who provided a second support system to the team, were appointed, which showed that Joan-Marc formally shared the responsibilities within the team
• Senior managers felt trusted and empowered
• Regular one-on-one sessions established a personal relationship with each team member

Fostering intergenerational work for an impact focused management approach:
• Annual evaluation process was implemented based on the ‘wheel of life’ concept adapted from the Academy
• Mentoring and coaching staff to ensure that everyone felt supported


Esra Tat: Leading with openness and empathy

Within the last year, Esra’s position in the organization changed from informal to a formal one when she became Associate Director. This was a huge shift for her. She struggled with colleagues applying the ‘filter’ of her new role to her words and actions.

Esra acknowledges that the mentoring component of the Academy greatly helped her in developing the two skills she needed to adapt to her new role – openness and empathy.


“As a senior manager, I was already trying this mentoring approach but the Academy gave me proof that this can be effective. It also gave me the structure and practical examples that allowed me to improve my mentoring.”


As a mentor in the Academy, Esra supported her mentee in developing and working on her goals. In the process, she made a painful but necessary realization. She admits that she can be demanding of people who, like her mentee, work differently than her.

Esra understood that people could have different working styles and still arrive at the same goal. She goes on to say that the Academy has increased her empathy for other people’s working styles.

Through mentoring, Esra has learned to become a more open and empathetic leader.


Pierre Condamine: Finding self-confidence and legitimacy

As a young professional on his first job, Pierre often found it challenging to be confident in a room full of senior professionals. Through the Academy, he has learned to develop the following skills to find his place in the organization:

Self-confidence: Pierre shares that his biggest takeaway from the Academy was gaining confidence in himself and his abilities. He stopped questioning his youth and inexperience; he realized he had a lot to contribute to the team. By pushing aside self-doubt, he stopped limiting himself and obtained the courage to go after what he wants to achieve.

As a result of this confidence, Pierre attained the inner legitimacy he needed to thrive in his job.

Open communication: Not a very communicative person by nature, Pierre says that the Academy has helped him express opinions effectively, listen attentively and ask different questions.

A specific group exercise from the Academy that helped Pierre was when one person shared their problem and the group asked questions to help find the solution. Through this exercise, he learned that the best approach is not to offer suggestion or solutions outright, but to listen first and ask effective questions.

Embracing vulnerability: From the Academy, Pierre realized the power of vulnerability. Pierre learned that vulnerability is only a weakness as long as you hide it. By embracing your vulnerability, you’re sending a strong sign to people that you’re honest and open.


“I’ve seen Pierre’s self-confidence grow over the course of the Academy. When he stopped questioning himself, he began to really lead on his work. I’ve also noticed that by embracing his vulnerability and being open to the possibility of failure, he’s actually achieving more because he’s not burdened by the prospect of failing.”
Esra’s observation of Pierre’s behaviour after the Academy


Zero Waste Europe implemented changes to the organization inspired by what leaders learned from the Academy: From traditional to shared leadership

They shifted from traditional management to a line management system, where line managers mentor and support the staff instead of directly managing them. This also means that a team member doesn’t have only one expertise. When working on projects, they self-coordinate to create a team.


Developing inter-generational understanding and cooperation

In addition to line managers, Zero Waste Europe has started to implement a mentoring and buddy system to provide additional support to the staff. In this system, you can be a buddy to anyone in the organization regardless of position or responsibility.


“There has been a need to rethink the responsibility, accountability and power structure for some time. I believe that the Academy helped to convince Joan-Marc that this approach is not only possible but could be effective for the team.”


“The new system is empowering for me because of the responsibilities that senior management trusts us with.”

Nick Price, COO, The Neighborhood, WPP

“The biggest benefit we see from staff who attend Common Purpose programmes is their growth in perspective. That development of perspective, and ability to understand and empathize with the positions of others (in different situations), is such an invaluable leadership trait.”

A diverse network of diaspora leaders has given Nusrat inspiration on how she can make an impact in her work, diaspora community and Pakistan.

Even before the Pakistani Diaspora Leaders Programme started, it already made me reflect on what it means to be a diaspora and how this impacts my role in society. How can I as a diaspora leader use my skills, talents and networks to benefit Pakistan and the diaspora community?


Bringing together Pakistani Diaspora leaders

The programme brought together over 40 leaders; from different backgrounds, of different ages, with different beliefs, job roles and careers, both from the UK and Pakistan – all united in being part of the Pakistani diaspora.

Over four days, we were guided through a process of creativity and innovation as we explored how we can increase our impact as leaders. We also met other leaders who shared valuable insights on overcoming challenges faced by the Pakistani diaspora. Then, we worked in smaller groups to focus on practical ideas on how we can maximize our impact in Pakistan and the diaspora community.

As we were working in groups, I looked around and was struck by the number of individuals that were willing to support, collaborate and share ideas. There was a real desire and willingness to make an impact in the diaspora community.


Aghay Baroh (Move Forward)

During the programme, our group developed the project ‘Aghay Baroh’, a model aimed at developing Pakistani talent to be future social leaders through social and capacity-building projects, via a nationally recognized qualification. The project would be delivered via a leadership programme that works directly with universities in the UK and Pakistan to highlight and tackle social issues.

Through working on this project idea, our group was able to better understand the issues that affect the lives of people both in UK and Pakistan. More importantly, it was about a group of leaders from diverse backgrounds and beliefs connecting and collaborating towards a common goal.

While we started the programme as a group of individuals working in our own fields, we have now come together and created a network of people; utilizing skills and expertise beyond the programme. It is this positive action that will have the greatest impact for the development of projects that can then be prototyped in our communities.


Everything I’ve learned from the programme will shape my work


Bringing the learning to my leadership role

Taking part in the leadership programme has made me reflect on our work at Manchester Museum and the South Asia Gallery (SAG) Collective.

The Collective is made up of a diverse but unified group of people and, for many, it is the common experience of being of South Asian diaspora that brings us together. It’s what drives us in wanting to shape SAG. This is not just about representing us now, but is also about helping future generations to stay connected to their heritage and identity.

I am optimistic that everything I’ve learned from the programme will shape my work at Manchester Museum. A new and wider network of diaspora leaders will help me to develop opportunities and partnerships both in and between the UK and Pakistan in the future.

Years after she attended the programme, Rosalyn reflects on how she has incorporated the concepts of Leading Beyond Authority, collaboration and partnerships in her leadership role and the positive outcomes that resulted.

It's interesting how over the years little bits and pieces of insight from the programme come back to me. I'm reminded how I've taken to heart the learning from the programme on the importance of the right kind of networks, and the collaboration and partnership that happens as a result of that. It has become a big part of the way that I like to work and I see benefit in it.

One of the things that keeps coming back to me from the Common Purpose programme I attended almost eight years ago is the importance of broadening your horizon, of not being afraid to go into a completely different area. Admittedly, this was not something I utilized in the beginning when I took part in the programme. Later on I realized that the programme planted the seed that would give me the confidence to make a move into the housing sector, without fear.

I definitely think that the programme was the first opportunity I had to be exposed to different leadership ideas – ideas on broadening horizons, networking, collaboration and partnership. It was eye-opening in that way.


In my role, I have to be very mindful in making decisions


Providing homes for lower income households

At Notting Hill Genesis, I work in the social and economic regeneration team, where we work with local communities to help them reach their aims and goals in life. Our team is responsible for carrying out a 30-year regeneration scheme that is deeply embedded in the community. We have a lot of competing priorities, opposing pressures and a very diverse group of stakeholders, each of them having different priorities they’re trying to achieve.

In my role, I have to be very mindful in making decisions and considering how those decisions affect the different stakeholders and their goals.


Building deep networks in the community

For the community I work with, I can’t just go to a community and offer solutions and projects straight away. In order to help and empower residents, I have to look deeper into the residents’ lives to gain a deep understanding of their needs. Once I do this, I realize that they're not just concerned about keeping their job or what they’re going to eat that day – they're also concerned about the leaking roof or the fact that they may not be able to pay their bills this month. It’s a multitude of issues that each resident faces.

If I have a better understanding of residents’ lives and their challenges, it enables me to offer effective solutions to help them achieve their goals. In the end, this creates a more meaningful partnership between the community and our organization.


Seeing how it all fits together

Within the organization, I recognize that I’m not an expert in all fields. I’ve only been in the housing sector for three years. However in those years, I’ve been part of three different teams and worked closely with others with different specialisms.

I find that working across teams allows me to see how each piece of the puzzle fits together. It enriches my knowledge, gives me more confidence in speaking about things I may not be an expert in and enables me to collaborate and communicate with colleagues better.


Becoming a subscriber of change

When presented with challenges, I try to have an open way of thinking and become a subscriber of change. This encourages me to look at the positive and look for opportunities instead of focusing on the negative. I think that having this approach leaves you a little bit more open, a little bit more resilient.

The Common Purpose programme instilled in me the importance of broadening your network, although admittedly it has taken some years to truly understand this. Even now I continue to still work on that. It’s all a learning process!

Essentially, collaborating and networking with different people expands your horizons and enriches your learning. This improves your ability to lead beyond your authority. That’s priceless and I was first exposed to that through Common Purpose.


Notting Hill Genesis (NHG) works in the community, providing homes for lower-income households. They are one of the largest housing associations in London and the southeast, providing homes for around 170,000 people. To know more, you can visit:

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; Founder, Code Club Bangladesh

Graduate, Pakistani and Bangladeshi Diaspora Leaders Programme 2015

Shajan Miah lost his sister, Khela Begum, when she was only 12 years old. This tragedy shaped his mission to inspire a new generation of young people in Bangladesh as a tribute to his sister.

In November 2015, Shajan took part in the Pakistani and Bangladeshi Diaspora Leaders Programme. The programme, supported by the British Council, focused on helping Bangladeshi and Pakistani diaspora leaders to build their capacity to contribute to development in their home countries. Participants were guided through a process of creativity and innovation, including visits to organizations and sessions with senior leaders with knowledge of Bangladesh and Pakistan and of developmental challenges.

Inspired by the programme to take risks and step out of his comfort zone, Shajan took 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. It is 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 years, Teach Skills International has engaged over 140 schools in Bangladesh and developed a partnership with other non-profit organizations and the Bangladeshi government, inspiring and helping the young people of Bangladesh through quality workshops and educational programmes.

Continuing with his ambition to create lasting social impact in Bangladesh, in 2017, Shajan founded Code Club Bangladesh, an initiative that provides opportunities for children aged 9 to 13 to develop coding skills through free after-school clubs. Code Club was founded in the UK in 2012 and now more than 13,000 Code Clubs operate worldwide.

Code Club Bangladesh provides children with the opportunity to learn coding skills and opens their eyes to the wide range of career possibilities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.

In 2019, after two years of dedication and growth, Shajan passed the day-to-day running of CCBD activities to the team at Code Club International. As part of his exit plan, Code Club International and Shajan devised a ‘growth leaders’ model which has enabled CCBD to reach many more children across the country. Today, the growth continues to happen mostly organically. Through word of mouth, online membership and strategic partnerships with educational institutions, the organization reaches large numbers of Bangladesh’s children and inspires them to learn new skills and explore new opportunities.

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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