Connecting Commonwealth LEaders

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  • 5 Dec 2019 2:26 PM | Peter Laurent (Administrator)

    CSCLeaders Alumni+ Pop-up London May 2018

    Between the 18th and the 21st May 2018, a group of CSCLeaders alumni came together in London to reconnect and re-engage. The weekend allowed us to rekindled old friendships and make some new friends. Hopefully leading to further opportunities to solve the wicked problems facing us all in our own leadership journeys and our own projects.

    This, our third alumni+ pop-up, was again entirely made up of contributions from the alumni group and through the course of the weekend we got to engage with alumni from not only the UK programme but also people from ELD programmes and a long-lost friend from the original London programme (who heard about our pop up via a facebook group). Our alums had come from as far afield as Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and Germany (and Scotland and Ireland).


    The weekend was jam-packed with activities, conversations, visits and speakers. Starting on Friday we all met for a drink in the Duke of York Bar, followed by dinner up the road at the King’s Head. This gave everyone a chance to meet, reconnect and catch up on news.

    Thanks to Mike Wright and the two Ian’s, Saturday morning took us out to Elephant and Castle to see Lendlease’s ground-breaking project: Elephant Park. Inspired by the words of their founder Dick Dusseldorp, “Companies must start justifying their worth to society, with greater emphasis placed on environmental and social impact rather than straight economics,” there is little doubt of their vision and passion in bringing about sustainable living and working spaces.

    This also gave us a chance to hang out at The Artworks Elephant a dynamic container structure, housing great places for a quick bite and some browsing (oh, and a photo op in the park). My greatest take-out from the morning was a considered comment around the notion of being enlightened and how this is tied to time and place. This definitely left me considering the value of suspending judgement. Thanks to Mike for organising the visit but also for giving us a glimpse of the royal wedding and the kiss!

    We then went on to the Migration Museum at the Workshop. Liberty (what a fitting name) talked us through their current exhibition: 7 migration moments that changed Britain. How amazing to pause and reflect on our varied roots as an alumni group and just how that brought alternative perspectives to our time together. Sivanandan’s quote: “We are here because you were there” cemented this for me. It also gave us pause to consider how to continue finding ways to ensure the diversity of our group. Thank you to Claire for the inspired idea and the arrangements.

    Drinks at the local with the FA Cup blaring in the background was a natural place to pause for a bit before heading to Tayyab’s for dinner.  Firoz Patel always manages to find us the best spots for an Indian feast and a birthday sing-a-long (even when he is fasting)!

    On Sunday morning we regrouped at PWC where we got to spend time with Martin Kulungu-Banda. In sharing the three key issues that keep him awake, ensured that we are all now left awake thinking about 1.5: the fact that we need 1 and a half planets to sustain our current consumption patterns; 8: the fact that 8 human beings control more than 50% of global wealth; and the spiritual divide: the incredible number of human beings depressed or suicidal due to a lack of purpose and meaning in their lives. This definitely spurred our thinking about the importance of the Commonwealth in seeking to find answers to these wicked problems.

    Ronak Gopaldas then joined us to share his thoughts on the five key tensions that will shape Africa in 2018 and beyond. Highlighting that Africa is not homogenous, he challenged the often binary thinking when it comes to matters of politics, economics, generational differences, geopolitics and technology. We reflected on his ideas numerous times during the rest of the weekend in particular the facebook vs. the facelift generation, the power of tech to democratise and the difference between Big ‘L’ and little ‘l’ leadership. I personally took away his point about some groups being “too influential and too powerful to not do anything.”

    It was a pleasure to get to hear the incredible strides Andrew Larpent has made since 2013 in bringing to life his Commonwealth Study Conference idea. CommonAge is making a real difference in bringing the topic of the aged to the fore in order to develop an Age Friendly Commonwealth. I would recommend everyone reach out to him for a chat about this project. 

    The morning’s engagements gave us lots to play with as we spent the rest of the afternoon tussling with the question: What might a modern commonwealth look like and what role could we play in its future? Some key thoughts included:

    • creating a cultural change in the commonwealth through building community and sharing stories;
    • ensuring the commonwealth was the stage and not the play;
    • moving from aid to trade (the role of microfinance through the Commonwealth).

    On Sunday night we met the 2018 CSCLeaders group. It was exciting to hear their reflections on their first day and to fondly remember and share our own day one experiences of the programme.

    On Monday we got to engage in conversations around the work of Blue Coat and in particular Blue Room and the Out of the Blue project, an innovative initiative that partners disabled adults with children from disadvantaged backgrounds through the power of art. We collectively generated some thinking on how the project could expand its influence by sharing its learnings more broadly. Thank you to Mary Cloake (we missed you) and Caroline Marsh for organising. 

    The rest of Monday focused on leadership, looking specifically at leadership resilience and resource in times of complexity. A number of our alumni shared their own vulnerabilities in this space allowing for rich sharing and insight before Claire Hayward provided us with a moment of pause to find ways to engage our own internal resources in times of leadership crisis.

    The weekend then closed with a trip to Marlborough House to meet with Baroness Scotland and HRH, The Princess Royal, Princess Anne. All in all it was a whirlwind weekend and I truly hope that everyone has left with food for thought.

    Again, one of the strongest messages from the group was not to let this engagement fade, and a commitment was made by all in the room to be back in London to regroup in time for the 2019 CSCLeaders Programme. Please make a note in your diaries for next year! As soon as I have dates I will post an RSVP link for those who would like to join us.

    To further support the alumni, we plan to continue and start doing the following:      

    1. Continue to grow the broader CSC alumni network. This network includes all people who have been part of the CSC family since the programme first started in the 1950’s. We are therefore re-running our database survey. Please could you send out the following link to all alumni you might still be in touch with.
    2.  A call was made to host some additional alumni+ pop ups in other parts of the world. Chris Hartley is planning a pop up in Kuala Lampur in October this year and information about this will be sent out shortly. An additional pop up in South Africa will follow on from this in due course.
    3. All alumni in attendance have committed to hosting their own smaller alumni connection sessions. These pop ups will look to bring together locals in their own home towns.  After all alumni+ is all of us.
    4. We are exploring ways to keep the alumni connected more fluidly via social media. A small team of alums are working on this and we’ll give you an update as this progresses.

    Although these are small steps we hope that through them the alumni will continue to grow into a thriving engaged group. Through leveraging our social capital we hope to make a greater impact in the world. We would like to thank Common Purpose and the UK Trustees for always being so willing to support our efforts and PWC for always finding us a space to work. We deeply appreciate all the support we get. Looking forward to 2019!

    Warm regards

    Ilka Dunna

    CSC Leaders 2015


  • 5 Dec 2019 2:24 PM | Peter Laurent (Administrator)

    Greetings from Sri Lanka.

    The CSC Alumni + weekend events were brilliant. The first Alumni event I have been invited to since my CSC programme in 2006.

    Thirty Alumni flew in from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Pacific, UK, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, others joined us from Hong Kong. A number of us stayed for the AELD meeting, some came just for the weekend.


    At the close of the event we were asked to sum up the day in one word. Many of us used the same words:

    Connections, Challenging, Inspiring, Lessons, Powerful, Provocative, Encouraging, Reconnection, Exciting, Friends, Determination, Ideas, Empowering, Compassion, Connecting.

    The Sunday was like a mini Commonwealth Study Conference: there were inputs; we learnt; we were challenged; we shared; we worked together. We laughed, we ate and drunk and we emerged strong friends.

    The external inputs were of a very high calibre and the venue was outstanding. Although we all got to Hong Kong ourselves, we definitely would have paid to attend such a first-class programme.


    Amongst others, we heard from the Australian Consul General to China on security and trade, diplomacy and regional issues, North Korea and Trump. The Chairman of Swire China and former CEO of airline Cathy Pacific, briefed us on the unheralded changes to the Communist Party and the power of Chinese execution skills. A HASSALL architect detailed the Chinese infrastructure (China poured more concrete in three years than the US did in the 20th Century) and what makes a city great – “a unique cuisine and a football team”.


    The progress of many Alumni in their careers was outstanding and certainly fulfilled the promise of their CSC programme identification. We heard a brilliant summary on robotics and artificial intelligence from one Alumni, watched a moving film on modern day slavery sex trafficking and heard about an international campaign by another Alumni. Others helped guide and facilitate the day.

    We also spent some time thinking about the future of CSC programmes worldwide and the various Alumni experiences. We discussed what lies at the heart of these events and how to take these forward with a new generation of champions and leaders.

    We agreed to work together to include more Alumni from all CSC programmes on similar Alumni events and to meet again. Provisionally London in May, KL in October!

    A big thank you to Chris Hartley from Australia who invited us all, organised the speakers, the great venue and the catering.

    Thank you and come and see me in beautiful Sri Lanka soon.

    Marissa Jayamanne. 

    CSC Alumni 2006

  • 5 Dec 2019 2:23 PM | Peter Laurent (Administrator)

    CSCLeaders Alumni Pop-up London May 2017

    Between the 5 and the 8thMay 2017 a group of CSCLeaders Alumni came together in London to reconnect and re-engage. This, our second alumni pop-up, was again entirely made up of contributions from the alumni group and through the course of the weekend we got to engage with up to 30 alumni from the 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 programmes. Some of these alums had come from as far afield as Australia, South Africa and Singapore (and Scotland and Ireland). It was also lovely to have Julie join us, being an alumnus of the Emerging Leaders’ Dialogues Asia 2016 programme.

    The weekend was jam-packed with activities, conversations, visits and speakers. Starting on Friday we all met for a drink in the Duke of York Bar, followed by a dinner up the road at the King’s Head. This gave everyone a chance to meet, reconnect and catch up on news.


    Thanks to Mary Cloake’s fabulous arrangements, Saturday morning took us out to Rich Mix in Bethnal Green. There we got to spend some time with Eddie Berg, CEO of Rich Mix, a fabulous art project; went on a tour of Brick Lane to learn more about its fascinating cultural history; and spent some time at the Eduardo Paolozzi exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery. We also got to hear about the many projects Mary supports as CEO of Bluecoat in Liverpool. Their work with the disabled was hugely inspiring. This all provided rich food for thought, particularly in considering what leadership and the arts have in common.

    The rest of the afternoon was spent at Close-up cinema, where thanks to Mary and Firoz’s planning; we got to watch the movie Sold and Skype with the director Jeffrey Brown. This led to loads of conversation around the nature of wicked problems, in this instance the issue of child trafficking. This was then followed by the tradition of a meal at the Lahore Kebab house where we broke bread and had an impromptu birthday sing-a-long for Ian.

    On Sunday morning we regrouped at PWC for a conversation with Minister Counsellor, British Embassy, Paris, Susan le Jeune d’Allegeershecque CMG. Arranged and ably facilitated by Chris Hartley we got to share in her wealth of experience from her years in government (particularly as a woman leader).  Sunday afternoon was then spent visiting St. Martin-in-the-Fields where we were hosted by Sam Wells. St. Martin-in-the-Fields is an inspiring example of how good work and good business can enable each other.

    On Sunday night we met the 2017 CSCLeaders group back at PWC. It was exciting to hear their reflections on their first day and to fondly remember and share our own day one experiences of the programme.

    On Monday we returned to PWC for conversation around the wicked problems facing us all, either as individual leaders or in our businesses, communities and projects. We spent time exploring how we could support each other in solving these problems and numerous commitments were made. The afternoon took us to Australia House, thanks to David McCredie, to meet withMatt Anderson PSM, the Deputy High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. His reflections on the changing state of the world, and what we had termed the year of storms, made for interesting conversation.

    The weekend then closed with a trip to Marlborough House to meet with Baroness Scotland and HRH, The Princess Royal, Princess Anne. All in all it was a whirlwind weekend and I truly hope that everyone has left with food for thought. For me personally I have taken away four key things:

    1.      The importance of stepping away to get perspective. I am planning to 'do a Paolozzi' far more frequently

    2.      The importance of 'with' and 'we'. I thought the 'we' of the weekend was the most important part of it and I was blown away by the incredible levels of trust we had in the group so quickly. 

    3.      The value of not running ahead of the train. I realise that often that is exactly where I am, ahead of others, frustrated that they're not seeing what I'm seeing.

    4.      To know things are going to be messy sometimes and therefore I won't always have total security that all will turn out the way I imagine it. But that this is ok as it allows me to improvise.

    We also rekindled old friendships and met some new friends and possible partners. I hope these will lead to further opportunities to solve the wicked problems facing us all in our own leadership journeys and our own projects.

    Again one of the strongest messages from the group was not to let this engagement fade, and a commitment was made by all in the room to be back in London to regroup in time for the 2018 CSCLeaders Programme. Please make a note in your diaries for April next year! I will post an RSVP link later this year for those who would like to join us.

    To further support the alumni we plan to do the following:

    • 1.      Continue to grow the broader CSC alumni network. This network includes all people who have been part of the CSC family since the programme first started in the 1950’s.
    • 2.      We will endeavour to get you regular updates as to the other CSC programmes that are happening around the world. This will enable you to decide if you’d like to pop into any of them.
    • 3.      We are exploring ways to keep the alumni connected more fluidly. A small team of alums will be working on this and we’ll give you an update as this progresses.
    • 4.      There is a commitment to support CHOGM in some way in 2018. We’ll keep you updated as the alums make headway in this area.

    Although these are small steps we hope that through them the alumni will continue to grow into a thriving engaged group. Through leveraging our social capital we hope to make a greater impact in the world. We would like to thank Common Purpose and the UK Trustees for always being so willing to support our efforts and PWC for always finding us a space to work. We deeply appreciate all the support we get. Looking forward to April 2018!

    Warm regards from a chilly SA.

    Ilka Dunne

    CSC Leaders 2015


  • 1 Dec 2019 7:40 PM | Peter Laurent (Administrator)

    CSC Leaders LONDON POP UP: 8-10 April 2016

    A message from one of our alumni

    Between the 8 and 10 April 2016 a group of CSCLeaders alumni came together in London to reconnect and re-engage.

    Saturday was a busy day at the Houses of Parliament. It gave us great opportunity to explore the work of Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the WEF, on the 4th Industrial revolution. He highlighted that it is “characterised by a fusion of technologies that are blurring the lines between physical, digital and biological spheres” and that “may indeed have the potential to ‘robotize’ humanity and thus deprive us of our heart and soul.” This gave us a call to explore the kinds of leaders and leadership skills we need in this scary, yet exciting and exponential time.  

    At the same time 2016 also commemorated 400 years since the death of William Shakespeare and so it was an opportune time to celebrate his far-reaching impact than by using his play ‘The Tempest’ to make sense of our future/s. The overarching aim of the session invited us to consider change as a dynamic and collaborative process, informed by action that is strategic rather than reactive. ‘The Tempest’ with its rough magic was used to help frame thinking and prompt conversation around the importance of difference and diversity for organisational creativity. Through reflecting on the island as a metaphor we considered implications for our own style of leading and managing in the 21st century.

    Rachel Dickinson, the Assistant Dean of the Undergraduate programme and a Principal Teaching Fellow at WBS, also told us more about Warwick Business School’s Create Programme, which is renowned for its social and creative approaches to complex problem solving, innovation and the development of interpersonal competence and skills. 

    This was followed by a tour of the Houses of Parliament and a well-deserved snack or two with a glass of bubbles to celebrate our time together.


    Saturday night allowed us some downtime at the Lehore Kebab House where we celebrated over large plates of amazing food.

    Sunday morning was spent at PWC where we shared our current personal leadership challenges and opportunities. Using a marketplace for ideas process we teamed up to help each other out through valuable dialogue and ideas creation. Sunday afternoon we stretched our thinking further by devising a strategy for how we could take our alumni engagements forward.

    On Monday we travelled to the London offices of the Royal Bank of Scotland Meet to meet the RBC Global Head of Client Coverage, Francis Jackson, and hear his thoughts on leadership and innovation in the Financial markets. This enabled us to consider some of the practical aspects of leading an innovation team in times of turbulence and change. We finished up our pop up at St. James’s Palace with a high tea with HRH, Princess Anne.

    What a fabulous first pop up. Hope you’ll join us again next year!

    Warmest wishes

    Ilka

    CSCLeaders 2015



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