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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
CSC Leaders 2015