Pakistani Diaspora Leaders Programme

For leaders who want to increase their impact in Pakistan and the UK – and build bridges between the two. 

The collaboration between Common Purpose and the British Council began in 2015. Since then we have run four programmes. The aim is to build the capacity of Pakistani Diaspora leaders from different backgrounds, sectors and generations to have a greater impact both in Pakistan and in the diaspora community in the UK.

Who is it for?

Who takes part?

We invite applications from exceptional leaders from the Pakistani diaspora. Applicants can be in the early stage of their careers or more established leaders.

We are seeking a participant group that includes people from different generations. They may have experience of leadership from different walks of life and from any sector.

Why take part?

This experience will help participants to:

  • enhance their ability to Lead Beyond Authority – the ability to lead in situations where they have no formal authority, which is key for diaspora leaders
  • develop their thinking on possible futures for Pakistan – and grow their capacity to translate that thinking into positive action
  • build new networks – by giving them access to participants and contributors they might otherwise never meet
  • develop their Cultural Intelligence – the ability to cross boundaries and thrive in multiple cultures, by throwing them into a difficult task with a diverse group
  • stretch their analytical and creative skills – by exposing them to a new approach to innovation

The Challenge

The programme focuses on a challenge: “How can diaspora leaders use their skills, talents and networks to benefit Pakistan and the diaspora community?”  

This challenge will provide the framework for the programme. Over four days participants are guided through a process of creativity and innovation, to explore the challenge through every possible angle – visiting organizations and meeting leaders with knowledge of Pakistan, development challenges and/or diaspora leadership.

Participants work up practical ideas in response to the challenge, which they present to a panel of senior leaders at the end of the programme. They then work on their ideas individually and collectively, building long-lasting connections and developing projects that can be prototyped in the ‘real world’ beyond the programme.


“I feel inspired to continue leadership into my working life. I feel empowered to take on and talk about Pakistani diaspora narratives. I have created contacts that can help me filter the learning through to my work." 

Pakistani Diaspora Leaders Programme 2019 Outcomes


felt they had reconnected to their purpose as a result of the programme


said the diaspora network will help them to make a more positive contribution to their diaspora and/or country of heritage 


recognized that they could be a bridge builder


said they would recommend the programme to another person

Pakistani Diaspora Leaders Programme Impact

Shumailla's Pakistani Diaspora Leaders experience

Shumailla Dar participated in the 2018 Pakistani Diaspora Leaders programme in London, joining 29 other emerging leaders from different sectors and organizations. Here, Shumailla shares her experience of the programme in her own words. 

Nusrat's reflections on the 2019 Pakistani Diaspora Leaders Programme

Nusrat Ahmed, Manchester Museum's South Asia Gallery Community Producer, reflects on some of the ideas, connections and skills that she gained through the Pakistani Diaspora Leaders Programme.

Impact report



Read the Pakistani Diaspora Leaders Impact Report.


“I have never had the power of such a network available to me in one place at one time from so many different disciplines. It has enabled me to build alliances with people I would never have been able to before.”

The British Council creates international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and builds trust between them worldwide. Working in over 100 countries around the world.

British Council Pakistan manages a range of activities that sit within four strategic business units (SBUs): English, Arts, Education, and Society. We provide educational opportunities, build the capacity of educators, give voice to young people, strengthen links between universities, and develop cultural understanding through leadership training and education. We are committed to a brighter future for Pakistan through working with the diaspora.

Common Purpose is a leadership development organization that specializes in cross-boundary leadership. A not-for-profit, we run programmes in over 100 cities worldwide. Founded in 1989, we have over 110,000 alumni globally. Our leadership development programmes inspire and equip people to work across boundaries. This enables them to solve complex problems in organizations and in society.


Please contact us if you would like to find out more about this programme.