Leadership programmes


Develop the next generation of inclusive leaders

The next generation of leaders – many of whom are studying at university now – are preparing to live and work in a fast, fluid and disrupted world; a world characterized by rapid advancements in technology known as the fourth industrial revolution. Whilst this offers many opportunities, it is also a world in which there will be huge challenges and increasing fragmentation in our communities, cities and societies. This next generation will need to be able to bring people together to solve the common problems we face – both at work and in society.

That's why Common Purpose delivers experiential leadership programmes that give students broader horizons and develop them with the skills and competencies to be inclusive leaders. Inclusive leaders are better able to work with difference, unlocking the innovation that comes from diverse teams and helping to drive innovative solutions to the complex problems we face. 

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 in order to navigate both this new world and its contradictions. It has important implications and raises questions about our current systems for those of us involved in educating and developing our future global citizens.” 

Did you know Common Purpose delivers programmes online?

We work with universities to create impact through a range of online learning methods. This includes innovative programmes delivered on digital platforms, where students can learn at their own pace. As well as interactive workshops where groups engage with inspiring leaders, and each other, in real-time. If you are looking for co-curricular learning solutions that create lasting value for your students, get in touch.

Our unique, transformative offering is built upon 30 years' experience working with students and senior leaders from over 100 universities worldwide such as Harvard, Oxford and National University of Singapore and global brands such as GE, EY and Tata. Our deep networks give students unrivalled access to senior leaders and organizations across the world.

Our cutting-edge thought leadership in Cultural Intelligence (CQ) underpins all of our programmes; it enables us to deliver powerful leadership programmes that create lasting impact. They are designed to deliver against our leadership competency framework, designed with experts and leading employers, ensuring that students develop, demonstrate and can articulate core skills and competencies needed in the world today. 

In 2019:


students completed face-to-face Common Purpose programmes


students completed online Common Purpose programmes


cities in which we delivered programmes globally

In 2019, we worked with universities including:

Aga Khan University

Bangkok University
Binghamton University
BINUS University
Birmingham City University
Boston University
Central European University
Chonbuk National University
City, University of London
Farmingdale State College
Fashion Institute of Technology
Fundação Dom Cabral
Glasgow Caledonian University

HAN University of Applied Sciences

Harvard University
Heriot-Watt University
International Institute of Information Technology Bangalore
KAIST University
King's College London
Kingston University London
Lancaster University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Monash University
Newcastle University Business School
Orange County Community College
Purchase College

RMIT University

SEGi University
Sheffield Hallam University
State University of New York
SUNY Maritime College
SUNY Plattsburgh
University at Albany
University at Buffalo
University of Birmingham
University of Bristol
University of Central Lancashire
University of Chicago
University of Dundee

University of East Anglia
University of Glasgow
University of Gloucestershire
University of Hong Kong
University of Leeds
University of Nottingham
University of Pardubice
University of Pretoria
University of Salford
University of Warwick
University of Western Australia
Western Sydney University
Winchester University

Our impact

Our leadership programmes are designed to deliver to our leadership competency framework. This framework has been developed with leading employers and experts to ensure that our programmes speak to the needs of employers, society and, ultimately, to students’ future success.

We use the framework to assess students' learning and development. Each student completes a longitudinal assessment and receives an individualized report on their development. Commissioning universities also receive an overall evaluation report on the development of the cohort.


Understand other cultures

Work with difference

Suspend assumptions

Build trust


Bring in wider perspectives

Adapt to new environments

Live with ambiguity

Solve complex problems


As a result students are more Empathetic, Agile, Open and Influential

Dene Cicci, Executive Director – Students, RMIT University

"RMIT University partners with Common Purpose to deliver immersive experiences for our students. These experiences help to prepare our graduates for the global workforce. They help our students and staff to develop a global mindset, to build Cultural Intelligence and to become effective leaders. These learning and networking experiences support RMIT to make a real and impactful contribution to addressing the challenges faced by government, industry and not-for-profits organizations in Australia and Asia.”

Our approach

Cultural Intelligence (CQ)

Our programmes are unpinned by our thought leadership in Cultural Intelligence (CQ) – the ability to cross boundaries and thrive in multiple cultures. Our simple, effective and empowering learning framework allows leaders to unpick their own culture and confidently work with other cultures. We bring this framework vividly to life on our experiential leadership programmes, which take leaders out into cities all over the world to develop their inclusive leadership skills.

Experiential Learning

Cities are our classrooms, in which we have established deep roots over the past 30 years. Our diverse global network of leaders care passionately about Common Purpose and contribute regularly on our programmes. Our experienced and inspiring staff around the world immerse participants in places they would not normally go, to meet leaders they would not normally meet and to gain insights they would not normally gain. Our access and convening power is almost unrivalled.

Our Programmes

Our suite of leadership programmes built on our CQ pedagogy help university students develop the skills and competencies they need to become inclusive leaders.

Global Citizenship

Global Citizenship is an experiential online programme which develops the skills and competencies students need to advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Global Leader Experiences: Home

We convene a diverse, multi-disciplinary, international group of students who go off campus to tackle a global challenge in the city in which they are studying.

Global Leader Experiences: Abroad

We take students abroad, immersing them in a major city to tackle a global challenge.

Future Leader Experiences

Students connect with senior leaders and go behind the scenes in their city to explore how to be a leader with CQ.

CQ Accelerator

The CQ Accelerator is an experiential online leadership programme designed to grow the CQ of your students at scale. 

Leadership Forums

We convene groups of 500 – 1,000 students for one day to examine the pressing issues faced by their city and the world, and explore how they can tackle them. 

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.” 

How do we support university priorities?

We work closely with our university partners to ensure that our programming aligns with and delivers against their strategic objectives. Our higher education sector expertise and flexible approach enables us to embed our programmes into our partners' existing co-curricular offerings, adding value to and complementing existing priorities. 

Offer development opportunities at genuine scale

We can design and deliver online and face to face programmes for up to 1,000 students per cohort to enable large groups of students to learn together. 

Develop students’ global leadership skills in the city which they are studying

Our CQ pedagogy and experiential learning techniques enable us to offer powerful global learning experiences in your city. 

Broaden the demographic of students who participate in outbound mobility

Our week-long outbound leadership programmes to 30 cities globally mean that students who can’t participate in traditional mobility programmes can benefit from a global experience. 

Create currency in co-curricular learning

We have a suite of inclusive leadership micro-credentials and digital badges which enable students to articulate and demonstrate their learning and development. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you have any questions or want to find out more:

Contact Andy Coxall, Chief Executive, Common Purpose Student Experiences.