Global Leader Experiences

Over the next three years we will be running Global Leader Experiences regularly in 50 Magnet Cities of the world. A Magnet City has students from over 100 countries studying in it.

So that students don't just graduate as Economists and Engineers. They are also networked, responsible, global leaders with Cultural Intelligence.

Global Leader Experiences are...

  • leadership development programmes
  • over four consecutive days
  • for a group of 100 students
  • with students from at least 25 countries.
  • they work in project groups, each group has a Group Mentor who is a leader in the city.
  • they go off campus and out into the city
  • to find out how it works (and doesn't work)
  • to discover how its leaders lead (and don't lead)
  • and to investigate a Challenge which the city and its leaders face
  • we push students from many countries to learn from each other
  • we connect them to other students in the 50 other cities on GLEs
  • as a result of attending a GLE they develop Cultural Intelligence.


92% of students rate the leadership learning as 'excellent value for time'


"Most problems spread across boundaries, yet most leaders stay within them. We run Global Leader Experiences across the world to ensure that the next generation of leaders are better at crossing boundaries, be they geographical, sectoral, generational or between beliefs."

Julia Middleton founder and CEO common purpose charitable trust

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"Given the global challenges we face, universities have a responsibility to produce leaders with the values and skills to chart new paths. Common Purpose is helping universities to grow the exciting new leaders society needs."

Eric Thomas, Vice Chancellor, University of Bristol and President of Universities UK

"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."

Rakesh Khurana, dean-designate of Harvard College

Common Purpose brings to Global Leader Experiences its brand, scale, know how and networks. And works in partnership with...

Magnet Cities

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The Magnet Cities provide the context for the learning. The leaders of the Magnet Cities generously share their time, knowledge and experience. And the city provides the backdrop for the Challenge which the students will address while on the GLE.

Examples of recent challenges

Heart surgery at $1,000 (USD) - what has to change in how society operates and innovates to make this a reality?

How can we produce a step change in the interface between the private, public and not-for-profit sectors?

As water becomes increasingly scarce the importance of how it is managed grows exponentially. What innovative solutions can be developed to create a balanced ecosystem within cities?

Magnet cities in which we have run so far...

  • Hong Kong
  • Singapore
  • Shanghai
  • Dubai
  • London
  • Johannesburg
  • Oxford
  • Boston

Partner Universities

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In each Magnet City we work with a University Partner. The University hosts the programme, identifies the students from across the Magnet City. And often provides speakers and contributors who know the city or the issues surrounding the Challenge.

"We provide an excellent education for our students but it is challenging to prepare them fully for life beyond the university. Common Purpose gave our students incredible exposure to the challenges of broader society, and helped our students to begin learning from their international peers on campus"
Professor Rob Moore, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

Partner universities to date include...

  • Hong Kong University
  • National University of Singapore
  • Fudan (Shanghai)
  • University College London
  • Wits (Johannesburg)
  • Oxford
  • Harvard


Partner Sponsors

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The third key partner is the sponsor. They provide funding for the Global Leader Experience, give the students access to employers and provide Group Mentors and speakers. This last - far from being a burden - is one if the most powerful benefits for the sponsor because their own leaders  develop Cultural Intelligence through the experience.

"All of our leaders enjoyed the opportunity to work with the students and we were very proud to sponsor and host it. What began for many as 'yet another item in the calendar' soon became so compelling that Group Advisors gave up additional time from their busy days to continue coaching their groups."

Hayden Majajas, D&I Director, BP, Asia-Pacific

Partner sponsors to date include...

  • Diageo
  • BP
  • Goldman
  • DP World
  • Weir Group
  • Santander


Students say that they go on a Global Leader Experience because they want to be global leaders (not just in the future but now), they want to change the world and they want to develop their networks.


Magnet Cities

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Magnet cities benefit because more students engage as citizens while they are there. The Magnet City also develops international links when students complete their studies. City Leaders also find the feedback and findings from students on the Challenge - which has been chosen because it is important to the city - practical, innovative and insightful.

"I feel I was on the right track but didn't know how to bring it all together. This course has helped me do that and organise myself. I've also learned to lift self-imposed limitations."

Mome Gul Hussain, Student, Effat University, Saudi Arabia

Partner Universities

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Today Universities are competing in a global market in which they must stand out. They are determined to be more international and hosting a GLE is a very practical way of getting learning across student groups from many countries. They are also committed to making their students ever more employable as future leaders. For these reasons they are enthusiastic and committed GLE partners.

"We attach huge importance to the development of a broad range of skills and competences which will help students develop fully as global citizens. In the context of this aspiration, Common Purpose's courses offered an exciting, different and insightful experience to our students"

Professor Christine Ennew, Pro Vice Chancellor, University of Nottingham

Corporate Partners


Sponsors are generous in their support because it gives them access to this new - culturally aware - global talent. It associates the sponsor with cutting edge leadership development and, with this, identifies them as an employer of choice. And it provides a unique opportunity to develop their own leaders.

"Too often university students almost behave like armies of occupation in a city. They leave after years of study knowing as little about the city as when they arrived. And they miss the opportunity to learn from studying alongside students from many other countries."

Andy Coxall, Director, Common Purpose Student Experiences

Our Global Students Team is based across a number of countries and has a shared passion to develop the next generation of student leaders


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Andy Coxall
Director, Common Purpose Student Experiences

Picture of Genevieve Barr

Genevieve Barr
Course Manager, Global Student Team

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Kirsten Johnson
Course Manager, Global Student Team

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Sophie Campbell
Course Project Manager, Global Student Team

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Dr Elsbeth Dixon
Chief Executive, Common Purpose South Africa

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Archana Bhaskar
Course Manager, Common Purpose Bangalore

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Ann Donner
Principal, Ann Donner Consulting



To enquire further about Global Leader Experiences, or to apply, please contact:

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.