The streetwise mba
Birmingham, Dublin, Glasgow, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, London, Manchester, New York

A programme for leaders who want to be more inclusive: to lead diverse teams, serve diverse customers and work with diverse stakeholders.

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.

Who is it for?

Participants work within a group that could well be the most diverse community they will ever be a part of. Every streetwise mba includes participants from different backgrounds and with hugely varied experiences, all leaders from across the public, private and NGO sectors. The programme is best suited to leaders who are:

  • about to take on a bigger role
  • leading colleagues from many different cultures
  • being challenged to operate outside their specialization
  • 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.
Julie-Anne Johnston, CBS HR Business Consultant, EY

“Hearing so many different stories from people from vastly different backgrounds has brought home to me the fact that we can never know someone’s story so we need to approach each new person and situation with an open mind to counteract unconscious (and conscious) bias.”

The outcomes


Using this framework, we assess participants' development through the lens of six key leadership competencies:

Self aware

Programme experience

Our simple yet sophisticated Core and Flex ® learning framework is key to developing CQ and is used throughout the streetwise mba. This framework gives participants a structured way to unpack cultures – particularly their own culture. As they use the framework, they learn to deal effectively with difference within their teams or with their peers, partners, customers and stakeholders.

The online foundation module kicks off the programme for participants. 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.

Over three days, participants get maximum access to the city and leaders in it and each day is hosted in venues across the city. Some of the elements in the three days include:

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.

Our light but structured post-programme follow-through allow our participants to apply their learning back to their organizations 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 help them translate the learning back into the organization.

Network (continuous): Participants become Common Purpose Alumni, continuing their learning in a community of over 90,000 leaders worldwide.

Read more about the Core and Flex ® framework here

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.

Arnold Muhlare, Senior Process Engineer, Weir Minerals, Johannesburg

"An experience of a lifetime to change my life positively. A chance to lead, to take charge, to innovate and challenge myself to be better."