Dao Xiang - for future leaders in London and Shanghai

What is Dao Xiang?

Dao Xiang is a programme that expands, enriches and energises relations between London and Shanghai. It brings together leaders from both cities to learn and work together in a fresh and exciting way, and as a result develop innovative approaches to new - and old - problems.

30 leaders (15 from London and 15 from Shanghai) will gather for four days to address a set challenge. The programme is aimed at people in the mid to senior stages of their career with a significant track record of leadership and success in their fields and professions. They will explore the context of the challenge in greater detail before working up ideas (whether big or small) to feed back to the Advisory Group.

dao xiang participants

Boris Johnson mayor of london

"Dao Xiang is a great project. Bringing together the brightest and best young leaders from Shanghai and London is a fantastic way to learn from each other and strengthen the developing bonds between our two great cities.I know previous Common Purpose projects have delivered some creative, innovative solutions to different problems and I can't wait to see the ideas that are produced this time."


Jude Kelly"Helping emerging leaders to lead internationally and build relationships across cultural boundaries has never been more important. Dao Xiang will connect future leaders from two of the most exciting cities in the world and create new opportunities for collaboration between London and Shanghai, growing and strengthening the bond between these two entrepreneurial cities."


What is the Challenge?

On each programme, the participants are immersed in a challenge and work together to come up with ideas and recommendations relevant to the challenge.

The Challenge is set by the Dao Xiang Advisory Group and is always:

  • A compelling issue for leaders that is common to both the UK and China
  • Significant and wide-reaching in its impact but contained in its focus to ensure the participant group can explore and present feasible and meaningful solutions.

Each year another challenge will be selected for that year's participants to investigate.

The 2013 challenge was:

"With London and Shanghai experiencing rapid demographic shifts, how do we produce integrated healthcare models to enhance quality of life and wellness in both cities?"

The next challenge for 2014 is yet to be set.

Past challenges include:

2012: With rapidly rising urbanisation (more than 50% of people now live in cities, expected to rise to 70% by 2050), we need to find new ways of making cities sustainable and resilient. What practical mechanisms for collaboration could be established that would allow ground breaking action on the social challenges facing London and Shanghai?

Expand, enhance and enrich London and Shanghai relations

How do I apply for Dao Xiang?

Applications are not currently open. For more information, please email us.

Applications are invited from exceptional leaders in the mid stages of their careers who are keen to develop as they move towards more senior roles within their organisations or sectors.

Applicants need to demonstrate:

  • a track record of leadership
  • ability to work with a diverse group to solve complex problems
  • commitment to engage with wider society/public life
  • interest in the London/Shanghai dimension of the network.

All applications are reviewed by the Dao Xiang Advisory Group after which some applicants may be invited to interview.

When and how much?

Course fees are as follows:

  • £4,000 plus VAT for UK participants
  • 30,000RMB for China participants

Cost includes food, accommodation and materials during the programme. Flights are NOT included.


Applicants who cannot pay the full fee should not be deterred from applying.

There are a few part-scholarship places available for applicants who can demonstrate a clear need for financial assistance and who are unable to meet the full fee.

Requests for scholarships can be made via the application form but if you would like to discuss this further then please contact the Dao Xiang team.

Dao Xiang helps participants to:

  • Broaden and deepen their knowledge by experiencing how another city or country works
  • Develop their Cultural Intelligence - the ability to thrive when working in and with different cultures
  • Build new networks by giving them access to a peer-group and leaders that they might otherwise never meet
  • Develop their problem solving and influencing skills by throwing them into a complex challenge, with a diverse group, under pressure
  • Stretch their analytical and creative skills by exposing them to new approaches to innovation

Who has attended Dao Xiang previously?

A strategy consultant from an international professional services firm, a programme lead in the health service, a desk editor in the national media, a programme manager in the public sector, a freelance producer and artist, an asset manager in the petroleum industry, a programme officer for a world leading economic development organisation, and a senior sales consultant for a large engineering company.

Dao Xiang alumni

Meet the Dao Xiang Advisory Group and the team

Our staff


Picture of Adirupa Sengupta

Adirupa Sengupta
Chief Executive, Common Purpose Asia-Pacific

Picture of David O'Connor

David O'Connor
Course Director

Picture of Tom Brind

Tom Brind
Senior Course Director

Picture of Emma Tidmarsh

Emma Tidmarsh
PA to CEO, Common Purpose UK

The Dao Xiang Advisory Group

Dao Xiang's Advisory Group includes senior leaders with expertise in the public, government, private, cultural and not-for-profit sectors in London and Shanghai.

The responsibility of the Advisory Group is to set the challenge, and select the participant group.

Picture of Jude Kelly OBE

Jude Kelly OBE
Artistic Director, South Bank Centre

Picture of Shirlene Goldsbrough

Shirlene Goldsbrough
VP, Supply Strategy, GlaxoSmithKline

Picture of Ernest Ip

Ernest Ip
PwC Senior Practitioner, China and Hong Kong

Picture of Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson
Mayor of London

Picture of Margaret Ma-Connolly

Margaret Ma-Connolly
Managing Director, UBM China

Picture of Ian Short

Ian Short
Chief Executive, Institute of Sustainability

Picture of Jon Williams

Jon Williams
World News Editor, BBC

London and Shanghai companies have come together to sponsor Dao Xiang

Dao Xiang sponsor PWC


PwC firms provide industry-focused assurance, tax and advisory services to enhance value for their clients. More than 163,000 people in 151 countries in firms across the PwC network share their thinking, experience and solutions to develop fresh perspectives and practical advice. See www.pwc.com for more information.


Dao Xiang sponsor UBM


UBM is a leading global media business which provides events; data, marketing and information products; print products; and targeting, distribution and monitoring services to specialist business communities. UBM employs more than 5,800 staff in more than 30 countries worldwide.

Dao Xiang sponsor Cisco


Cisco, (NASDAQ: CSCO), the worldwide leader in networking that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate, this year celebrates 25 years of technology innovation, operational excellence and corporate social responsibility. Information about Cisco can be found at www.cisco.com.

Dao Xiang has led to the following ideas to improve the quality of life and wellness in cities

"Be Your Family Project"

An educational programme to develop a community outreach model to connect rehabilitation, care, and health components


  • to provide community focused element to healthcare professional learning
  • an enhanced medical, social and therapy educational programme
  • to develop and cultivate citizenship and charitable awareness amongst students and student volunteers


Incorporating a community internship placement as part of compulsory healthcare/social training programmes in medicine, physio, social work, and nursing. The placements would involve visiting patients in their homes to conduct basic health assessments, care plans and rehab programmes for those with chronic but manageable conditions.


"Conscious Commuter"

An app based integrated healthcare solution for commuting in a mega city.

This app will provide a route map which is interesting and relatively traffic free to get from B to A.

"Health Watch"

Empowering people to take responsibility for their communities, engineering a spirit and system where individual health and social needs are met primarily by those within that community. The scheme is co-ordinated by a pioneer making use of a tool-kit incl:

  • brochures and forms to organise
  • ideas of involvement
  • tools for sharing
  • publicity/marketing

The central product is the healthwatch brand around which the building blocks of care and assistance are built, allowing for tailoring for local areas.


"Happy Health Share"

Happy health share is a p2p people's marketplace that connects the elderly and youth, traditional and the future. It will connect those that have learning and sharing potential in their communities

It will be both online and offline platform based. It will attempt to empower both the elderly and young to take charge of their own health and wellbeing.

Benefits of this scheme would include:

  • Integration and skill sharing potential e.g. TaiChi, social avenues
  • Beneficial to different stakeholders, community, youth, elderly, business, health systems
  • Connect people, build self esteem
  • Maintain traditions and empowering people to pass down information
  • Better healthier lifestyle - learning technology
  • Use technology to scale the project, facilitate sharing.

Cultural Intelligence (CQ) is the ability to cross divides and thrive in multiple cultures.

Visit our CQ section to find out how to develop and assess your CQ.

Find out more.