Leeds to New York Student Leadership programme 2017

15 undergraduate students were successful applicants to the Leeds to New York programme - spending time working and learning alongside our alumni, academics and leadership development organisation, Common Purpose in our exciting and innovative Leeds to New York Leadership programme delivered in June 2017.

Leeds to New York Leadership Programme

In June 2017, fifteen undergraduate students explored some of the challenges facing leaders in the business, community and cultural sectors in both Leeds and New York, by participating in the Leeds to New York Student Leadership programme.   This 7-day programme,  developed in partnership with Common Purpose, involved a series of intensive workshops, immersion visits, key speakers 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 has been designed to be an immersive experience that will take students out of their comfort zone and into a new city to develop their 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 students connect with leading academics and City business leaders, and in America they will connect with New York based Leeds alumni.  They will be introduced to a specific challenge which they will address and develop a response to throughout the programme.


Participants experienced a range of benefits including travelling to a new country and city, experiential learning with and from business leaders, academics and fellow students.  This international experience provides a real differentiator in the competitive graduate jobs market and far beyond.  The students who participated in the June 2017 programme:

  • worked with senior business leaders and Leeds alumni
  • developed their knowledge and understanding of some of the key issues faced by a range of business leaders in Leeds and New York
  • were supported by a Leeds Alumni Mentor in New York  
  • engaged with Common Purpose Study Abroad Experiences
  • developed Cultural Intelligence (CQ): the ability to cross divides and thrive in multiple cultures
  • gained an understanding of how to lead and bring about change
  • investigated and worked on a specific challenge in the context of inclusivity
  • enhanced their CVs by adding a valuable and unique international experience 
  • joined the Common Purpose online module - the online platform that connects Common Purpose alumni
  • were financially supported by the University's Footsteps Fund.


Programme Schedule

Programme briefing: Introduction to the programme (Leeds)
Students meet for the first time for an induction and briefing session.  The briefing will cover all pre-departure information and documentation, detailed programme overview and activities. 

Day 1: Understanding the context for Leeds (Leeds)
Introduction to Common Purpose staff who will be delivering the programme in New York. Students will hear from Leeds academics and senior leaders from the City of Leeds.  An introduction to the programme with time to reflect on learning and how it can be applied in a New York perspective.

Day 2: Exploring what we share as a group (New York City)
Students will explore the diversity within the larger group collectively and identify the skills individuals bring to the programme and the group.  Additionally, they'll explore the concept of Cultural Intelligence and 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)
Students will gain a broad overview of the challenge that they will be working on from experts, before visiting a range of organisations across the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.

Day 4: Going beneath the surface (New York City)
Following the introduction to the challenge, students begin to deepen their understanding through further external visits.  They will develop further insights around being a leader in the City, cultural intelligence, and begin to map the challenge.

Day 5: Developing prototypes (New York City)
Students will begin synthesising and distilling their knowledge into a project idea; they will meet and be coached by mentors from the City.

Day 6: Presenting responses to the Challenge (New York City)
Students will test their prototype idea on external experts and develop it further.  They will also receive a masterclass on pitching, fine tuning their 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, students will reflect on what they learnt in New York City and how that relates and differentiates from Leeds.  They will be working on developing their responses to a particular challenge from a Leeds perspective, and pitch their ideas to experts and senior leaders from Leeds. Students will also take some time to reflect on the programme and what they have learnt from the experience.

The programme is challenging and intensive, but very interactive.  Students will work in small groups, collaborating and sharing their learning journey.  They will participate in a number of workshops, discussion groups with Common Purpose and Leeds alumni business leaders, along with visiting a range of businesses in Leeds and New York, comparing and contrasting they two as they develop their response to the challenge.  In addition, they will have the opportunity for networking and social activities. 



  • 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.


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.