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.

Modern organizations need modern leaders.

Leaders who are inclusive and agile. Leaders who can lead diverse teams, serve diverse customers and work with diverse stakeholders. That’s why Common Purpose is running the streetwise mba.

Inclusive leadership: the next step

In a disrupted, fluid, fast-changing environment, organizations need their leaders to tackle challenges and grasp opportunities that do not fit neatly within the boundaries of team, department, function, organization or sector. Common Purpose passionately believes we need to empower leaders to cross these boundaries, just as challenges and opportunities do, to increase their impact and the value they can create for organizations and society.

The streetwise mba achieves this objective through Cultural Intelligence (CQ). CQ doesn’t just encourage inclusive thinking, it translates it into action. CQ enables leaders to work across different cultural boundaries: geographies, generations, sectors, specializations, backgrounds and beliefs.

The Group

Participants work within a group who could well be the most diverse community they will ever be a part of. The diversity of the group helps emerging leaders reframe cultural collision points from a source of tension and potential negativity to a source of innovation and benefit—from a risk to an asset.

Mike Brown, Commissioner of Transport for London

"Common Purpose creates experiences so powerful that the things you learn about leadership and yourself will last a lifetime.” 

Who is it for?

Emerging leaders.

They could be leaders who:
  • about to take on a bigger role
  • leading colleagues from many different cultures
  • being challenged to operate outside their specialism
  • working with customers or stakeholders from different sectors
  • in transition and know they need to adapt fast
  • determined to succeed despite ambiguous environments
  • acting as innovators—even disruptors—of systems.

The Group

Every streetwise mba includes participants: all from different backgrounds and with hugely varied experiences; all leaders from across the public, private and NGO sectors.

Past Participants include:
  • Founders of start-ups and young organizations
  • Communications Officers in large charities
  • Representatives in religious organizations
  • Detective Chief Inspectors
  • Special Advisors to city officials
  • Senior Officers in financial institutions
  • Heads of Operations in prison services
  • HR professionals in global banks and consultancy firms
  • Civil servants
  • Heads of Digital Content
  • Programme Directors in the Health Service
Amy Kellehar, Associate Director, Associate Director, Events & Engagement, King’s College London and graduate, streetwise mba March 2017

"It’s rare for us leaders to find time to reflect, but the streetwise mba provided a unique opportunity for both learning and self-reflection. The programme encouraged open and direct questioning amongst the participants in our group which included representatives from a wide range of organizations.”

Leslie Perry, Chief of Staff and Operational Risk Programme Manager, UBS

I think I’m so open minded, I try to be politically correct, I’m sensitive to other people’s views and opinions, so I don’t really need to work on anything. But only because I had that experience I realized, Leslie you do sometimes have more bias than you realize. Even sometimes having the expectation of people acting like you do. One important aspect that I took away was the aspect of not assuming that you’re getting it right.

Jonathan Suffolk Technical Director, National Theatre

Experiences, like the ones we had on the course, are some of the most valuable experiences one can have. The variety of people in there, on every level, was extraordinary and it was an opportunity to be much more accepting across the board, in all sorts of nuanced ways. The walls came down – my walls, everyone walls - and we just became much more porous.

The outcomes

The streetwise mba develops leaders to become inclusive and agile, with the CQ to work more effectively with diverse colleagues, customers and stakeholders. They will:

Develop as leaders

Becoming inclusive leaders, with the skills and the understanding to inspire different people in uncertain, complex environments.


Make better decisions

Learning to recognize their biases and blind spots—and even move beyond them—so they can make better decisions. 

Gain broader networks

Seeing the world through other people’s eyes; and forging new relationships with a broader range of people.


Drive bold innovation

Learning how to lead diverse groups to create innovative solutions by seeking out difference and even discord, instead of avoiding them.


of participants say they have developed their leadership skills after the programme


of participants say their ability to make better decisions has improved.


of participants say they now have broader, more diverse networks


of participants say their ability to drive innovation has significantly improved.

Jonathan Harvey, Managing Director – Global Head of Talent and Culture, Barclays

“What do we need from the next generation of leaders? I believe we need adaptability, a genuine love of—as opposed to comfort with—change and ambiguity and a broad intelligence encompassing the practical, the emotional and the cultural. The capability is there, but we do need to hone it.”

The programme

Throughout the streetwise mba, participants investigate CQ. They use the Core and Flex®framework to digest their learning, explore their own culture (its strengths and weaknesses) and translate this learning into changed leadership behaviours. Most of all, participants learn from each other, in possibly one of the most diverse groups they will ever be a part of. They use the Core and Flex language to hold difficult conversations with peers from very different backgrounds. 

Our online accelerator allows time-poor participants to maximize the face-to-face experience that follows. The accelerator requires participants to work as a group but can be completed in their own time. It starts with the whole group convening for a short webinar, before they access the online platform where they are guided through a series of short films, exercises and stories that stimulate their thinking about their own leadership, help them connect and start learning from each other.

(Three days)

Our participants want maximum access to the city and leaders in it; each day is hosted in venues across the city.

Masterclasses allow participants engage with leaders in the city who have learned to work in places where cultures collide. They may have had to overcome the constraints of their own culture, recover from knocks, reconcile worlds, stand up in difficult situations or adapt and flex without compromising on who they are.

Immersions place participants at the centre of the city’s cultural collision points, to learn from the successes and the failures of the people who lead there—whether that’s bankers, police, artists, activists or religious leaders.

Peer coaching allows participants to unpick leadership challenges—and reflect on their streetwise assessments—within a group of people from different backgrounds, who approach problems in completely different ways.

The streetwise mba sustains the impact of the programme as participants apply their learning back to their organization. Our light but structured post-programme follow-through allow our participants to do that in the following ways:

360 Assessment (online) Gives participants valuable information to help them identify possible leadership blind spots that they can work on. The process of inviting feedback for the Assessment, also helps the participant to start conversations about their experience on the programme with a range of people back in their organisation.

Translate (face-to-face: one evening) Participants attend with their line manager, mentor or coach, who will be helping them translate the learning back into the organization.

Re-assess (online) Participants complete a second streetwise assessment a few months later to identify where they need to place renewed energy.

Network (continuous) Participants become Common Purpose Alumni, continuing their learning in a community of over 80,000 leaders worldwide.

Upcoming programmes

Programme Start date Audience
Manchester 2 April 2019 Emerging Contact us
Johannesburg 9 April 2019 Emerging Contact us
Dublin 22 May 2019 Emerging Contact us
Hong Kong 13 June 2019 Emerging Contact us
London 18 June 2019 Emerging Contact us
Birmingham 1 July 2019 Emerging Contact us
Johannesburg 30 July 2019 Emerging Contact us
London 19 November 2019 Emerging Contact us

Working with you

We work with many organizations who see the streetwise mba as a way of delivering current strategies in Talent, Leadership and Diversity & Inclusion.

The programme’s focus on real-world experiential learning as part of a diverse group can be a highly effective way of supporting existing initiatives. We work with you to understand your objectives and offer ways to create organizational impact.

Cohorts: Our cohort model is designed to ensure that learning is embedded within the organization. Nominate a cohort of people across different departments who, together, could use their learning to promote a more inclusive culture. The streetwise mba runs multiple times a year and can support six members of the cohort in each instance.

Assessments: We compile comprehensive reports based on assessment data taken during the programme. As a result, you can track individual or cohort’s behaviour change during and after the programme, and how that change can create impact in their organizations.

Workshop: After the cohort has completed the streetwise mba, we host a post-course event for the participant and their line manager. This helps to ensure that the learning is translated back to their teams.

Richie MacDonald, Royal Mail

“The learning from the course has enabled me to significantly challenge myself, and my team, to work more collectively and inclusively.”

Rakesh Khurana, Dean, Harvard College

“In our ever more complex and interconnected world which has no obvious historical parallel, Common Purpose has developed a breakthrough idea about the importance of Cultural Intelligence (CQ) in order to navigate both this new world and its contradictions.”