David Mitchell

How Common Purpose inspired an international consultant to set up a local initiative developing leadership skills in 11-13 year olds

David Mitchell

David Mitchell is an independent International Development Consultant. He works for donor organisations like the Department for International Development (DFID) in the UK on projects that promote economic regeneration.

"Common Purpose changed the way that I think about my own role in the local community. With three other alunni, we ran a pilot project, Citizen 2000, soon after the course finished. This was an initiative to develop leadership skills in 11-13 year olds by using similar methods to those of Common Purpose. The pilot was greatly appreciated by the participants and was judged to have been very successful. I also believe this pilot project managed to influence government educational policy. I don't believe that this would have happened without my experiences on the Common Purpose course."

"I was given a great insight into the workings of my local community. I spend a great deal of my time abroad but I didn't appreciate the extent to which local organisations worked together to promote development in my own area; and Common Purpose really opened my eyes in that respect."

"I didn't know any of the other participants, but as we went on I built really good relationships with all of them. The course took us all far beyond our comfort zones, but this taught us a great deal about ourselves and how we work as leaders."

Common Purpose participants explore the importance of thinking broadly about their work and placing themselves in a wider context. David was no exception: "Working on development projects abroad means consulting with a large number of different bodies and organisations to make change happen on the ground. Prior to my time on Common Purpose, I had a narrower view of who it was important to network with, but now I'm much more open-minded. When embarking upon new projects aside from working with local counterparts I also consult with local academics, NGOs, community leaders and others who I would not have considered before. Common Purpose really changed the way I work in that respect."

Our courses also give leaders the confidence to follow their instincts, and to develop the leadership style that suits them best: "After going on the course, I understood that going with my gut instincts was important. Now, if I believe that there is a right way of doing things I have the self-belief to carry it through. But, this does not mean ignoring other people's opinions - on the contrary, it allows me to handle their criticisms in a constructive way and take them on board."