Leeds to New York Student Leadership programme 2017

Would you like to be one of the 15 undergraduate students who will work and learn alongside our alumni, academics and leadership development organisation, Common Purpose in our exciting and innovative Leeds to New York Leadership programme in June 2017?

Leeds to New York Leadership Programme

In June 2017 you could be one of 15 students exploring some of the challenges facing leaders in the business, community and cultural sectors in both Leeds and New York.   In partnership with Common Purpose, we have developed a 7-day structured programme of intensive workshops and events.

Common Purpose is a leadership development organisation that specialises in cross-boundary leadership.  A not-for-profit, they run programmes in over 70 cities worldwide.  Founded in 1989, they have over 66,000 alumni globally.  Common Purpose Student Experiences delivers student and youth programmes around the world.

The Leeds to New York Leadership programme is designed to be an immersive experience that will take you out of your comfort zone and into a new city to develop your Cultural Intelligence (CQ): the ability to cross divides and thrive in multiple cultures. 

To solve the major problems of the world, the next generation of leaders will need to work across boundaries and lead people who are different to them.  Global employers are looking for the kind of talent who can do exactly that, working fluidly across different geographies, sectors and generations.  Students who can do so are the ones who will find themselves not only employed, but quickly promoted within global organizations.

We are delighted to be working with the University again to support this incredible opportunity for students to develop an arrange of skills through and exciting and interactive learning environment.

Common Purpose

In partnership with our alumni and Common Purpose, we are building on last year’s successful student leadership programme.  Students will work alongside business and community leaders in Leeds and New York, gaining real-world insight into some of the challenges faced by today’s society.

Professor Tom Ward, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Student Education

Programme overview 

The Leeds to New York student leadership programme combines theory, innovative practice and hands-on experience.  In Leeds you will connect with leading academics and City business leaders, and in America you will connect with New York based Leeds alumni.  You will be introduced to a specific challenge which you will be working on throughout the programme.

This programme is open to all current University of Leeds undergraduate students. 

For further information and selection criteria, read the 'How to Apply' section below.


Through getting out into a new city, learning with and from its leaders, this international experience provides a real differentiator in the competitive graduate jobs market and far beyond.  You will:

  • work with senior business leaders and Leeds alumni
  • develop your knowledge and understanding of some of the key issues faced by business leaders in Leeds and New York
  • be supported by a Leeds Alumni Mentor in New York  
  • engage with Common Purpose Study Abroad Experiences
  • develop Cultural Intelligence (CQ): the ability to cross divides and thrive in multiple cultures
  • gain an understanding of how to lead and bring about change
  • investigate and work on a specific challenge in the context of inclusivity
  • enhance your CV by adding a valuable and unique international experience 
  • join the Common Purpose online module - the online platform that connects Common Purpose alumni
  • be financially supported by the Footsteps Fund which will cover the education programme, your flights and accommodation.  You will only need to the cover costs of food and any social activities.

We asked the group that went to New York last year to tell us about their experience -click here to hear what they said.

Programme Schedule

Programme briefing: Introduction to the programme (Leeds)
You will meet the wider group of students that you will work with in Leeds and New York, along with staff at Leeds who will be supporting you.  The briefing will also finalise all documentation (for example, visa and passport information, accommodation and flight details). 

Day 1: Understanding the context for Leeds (Leeds)
Introduction to Common Purpose staff who will be delivering the programme in New York.  Hear from senior leaders from the City of Leeds who will share their experiences.  Reflect on what you have learnt and how you can apply it in a New York perspective.

Day 2: Exploring what we share as a group (New York City)
You will explore and appreciate the diversity within the larger group collectively and identify the skills individuals bring to the programme and the group.  Explore the concept of Cultural Intelligence.  Hear from senior leaders from business, government and NGO sectors who will share their experience of how leaders operate in the city.

Day 3: Looking at the world through someone else’s eyes (New York City)
Get a broad overview of the challenge that you will be working on from experts before going on visits to organisations across the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.

Day 4: Going beneath the surface (ew York City)
Following the introduction to your challenge,  begin to deepen your understanding through further immersion visits.  Develop further insight about what it is like being a leader in the City and begin to map the challenge.

Day 5: Developing prototypes (New York City)
Begin synthesising and distilling all your knowledge into a project idea.  Meet and be coached by mentors from the City.

Day 6: Presenting responses to the Challenge (New York City)
Test your prototype idea on external experts and develop it further.  Receive a masterclass on pitching, fine tuning your idea and then pitch to experts and city leaders.

Day 7: Transferring the learning to a Leeds context (Leeds)
For the final day of the programme back in Leeds, you will reflect on what you learnt in New York City and how that relates and differentiates from Leeds.  You will be working on developing your responses to a particular challenge from a Leeds perspective, and pitch your ideas to experts and senior leaders from Leeds.  You will also take some time to reflect on the programme and what you have learnt from the experience.

The programme is challenging and intensive, but very interactive.  You will participate in workshops, discussion groups with Common Purpose and Leeds alumni business leaders.  There will be lots of time for you to network and work in small groups.

There will be refreshment breaks each morning and afternoon, with a break for lunch.  


Applicants must be able to commit to the full programme.  Before you apply, please ensure that you are available on each of the following dates:

  • Wednesday 7 June 2017 - Half-day briefing, programme overview and programme documentation at the University of Leeds 
  • Wednesday 14 June - First day of the programme at the University of Leeds  
  • Sunday 18 June - Travel to New York
  • Monday 19 to Friday 23 June - Days 2–6 in New York
  • Saturday 24 June - Return to the UK (arrive on 25 June)
  • Friday 30 June 2017 - Final day of the programme in Leeds.

Application information

  • The programme is open to all current University of Leeds undergraduate students
  • You should check with your School that you will be able to attend any sessions which take place during term time
  • As a major part of the programme will take place in New York, you will need to be able to travel to New York.  If you are successful in gaining a place on the programme, you will need to confirm that you have a current, valid passport; you will also need to provide all necessary visas to allow you to travel to New York (further information will be provided to successful applicants)
  • If you would like to apply to this programme, you will first need to register your application by completing a registration form once the programme is open for applications (from Friday 17 March 2017).  Following your registration, you will need to submit your video application.

Are you a UG student who is ready for a challenge?  Can you embrace and take full advantage of the opportunity of taking your learning outside your comfort zone?  Do you want to develop a range of skills including leadership, communication, presentation and networking in a unique environment?  If so, this programme could be for you!  As part of a group of 15 students across a range of disciplines, you will hear first hand from a number of alumni and business leaders in Leeds and New York, and be presented with a challenge - a chance for you to be creative, innovative and solution focused.   

We are not looking for students to demonstrate their proven leadership or international experience - we are looking for students who want to gain an understanding of how to lead in multi-disciplinary and cross-cultural environments.

Click here to hear last years' students share their experience.


You must demonstrate that you understand the programme objectives, can explain how it will benefit you personally, and how what you learn could be applied in your future studies or career.

How to apply

You will need to create a concise 2-minute video to apply for this programme.  This is a very competitive process and the video is your pitch to the shortlisting panel to demonstrate why you think you should be selected.  You can be as innovative as you like – it’s your video, but remember, you need you to meet the application criteria listed above, so ensure that you cover these in your video.  You can use your phone, your tablet, or whatever works for you to make the video.

Videos must be submitted by 1pm (13:00 hours) on Tuesday 11 April 2017
Any applications submitted after 1pm (13:00 hours) will not be accepted

Successful applicants will be notified by email on Friday 28 April 2017.  Please note - if you haven't received an email by 28 April, your application has been unsuccessful.  Due to the high volume of applications, we are unable to provide individual feedback to unsuccessful applicants.

Please use Media Site to upload your video.  We have created a step-by-step guide to using Media Site, click this link to download the Media Site video upload guidance.

Please be aware that uploading and processing of a recording could take up to 8 hours, so you may want to plan ahead and ensure that you submit your video at least 8 hours before the closing date and time.

If you submit just before the closing time, and the upload takes several hours, your video will not be accepted, as it has been received after the closing date and time. 

When planning to submit your video application, you should check that you are able to upload without any issues if you are not on campus. You may also wish to factor in additional time to first share your video with a friend to ensure that they can view the video, that picture and sound quality is clear.  You may also want to allow yourself time for contacting the IT helpdesk if you have any issues uploading your video. 

Funding for this programme is provided with the generous support of the alumni Footsteps Fund.

If you have any questions about the programme please contact Karen Shaw tel: 0113 343 0548.  

This is a fantastic opportunity to work with Leeds academics and alumni, business leaders and experts from Common Purpose.