The streetwise mba: Johannesburg

A programme for leaders who want to be more inclusive: to lead diverse teams, serve diverse customers and work with diverse stakeholders.

Modern organizations need modern leaders.

Leaders who are inclusive and agile. Leaders who can lead diverse teams, serve diverse customers and work with diverse stakeholders. That’s why Common Purpose is running the streetwise mba.

Inclusive leadership: the next step

In a disrupted, fluid, fast-changing environment, organizations need their leaders to tackle challenges and grasp opportunities that do not fit neatly within the boundaries of team, department, function, organization or sector. Common Purpose passionately believes we need to empower leaders to cross these boundaries, just as challenges and opportunities do, to increase their impact and the value they can create for organizations and society.

The streetwise mba achieves this objective through Cultural Intelligence (CQ). CQ doesn’t just encourage inclusive thinking, it translates it into action. CQ enables leaders to work across different cultural boundaries: geographies, generations, sectors, specializations, backgrounds and beliefs.

The Group

Participants work within a group who could well be the most diverse community they will ever be a part of. The diversity of the group helps emerging leaders reframe cultural collision points from a source of tension and potential negativity to a source of innovation and benefit—from a risk to an asset.

Lesiba Tsebe, Regional Head, Liberty Group Limited, South Africa

“Collective leadership propels us to heights we never knew were possible in our individual capacity.”

Who is it for?

Emerging leaders in Johannesburg.

They could be leaders who are:

  • about to take on a bigger role
  • leading colleagues from many different cultures
  • being challenged to operate outside their specialism
  • working with customers or stakeholders from different sectors
  • in transition and know they need to adapt fast
  • determined to succeed despite ambiguous environments
  • acting as innovators—even disruptors—of systems.

The Group

Every streetwise mba includes up to 50 participants: all from different backgrounds and with hugely varied experiences; all leaders from across the public, private and NGO sectors. Past Participants include:

  • Founders of start-ups and young organizations
  • Communications Officers in large charities
  • Representatives in religious organizations
  • Detective Chief Inspectors
  • Special Advisors to city officials
  • Senior Officers in financial institutions
  • Heads of Operations in prison services
  • HR professionals in global banks and consultancy firms
  • Civil servants
  • Heads of Digital Content
  • Programme Directors in the Health Service

Programme Information


July 2019
Programme: 30 July 2019 - 1 August 2019
Translate: 17 September 2019

October 2019
Programme: 15 October - 17 October 2019
Translate: 26 November 2019



A diverse group of up to 50 emerging leaders on each programme from different sectors, specializations, backgrounds and beliefs.

Arnold Muhlare, Senior Process Engineer, Weir Minerals, South Africa

“An experience of a life time to change my life positively. A chance to lead,to take charge, to innovate and challenge myself to be better.”

The outcomes

The streetwise mba develops leaders to become inclusive and agile, with the CQ to work more effectively with diverse colleagues, customers and stakeholders. They will:

Develop as leaders

Becoming inclusive leaders, with the skills and the understanding to inspire different people in uncertain, complex environments.


Make better decisions

Learning to recognize their biases and blind spots—and even move beyond them—so they can make better decisions. 

Gain broader networks

Seeing the world through other people’s eyes; and forging new relationships with a broader range of people.


Drive bold innovation

Learning how to lead diverse groups to create innovative solutions by seeking out difference and even discord, instead of avoiding them.


of participants say they have developed their leadership skills after the programme


of participants say their ability to make better decisions has improved.


of participants say they now have broader, more diverse networks


of participants say their ability to drive innovation has significantly improved.

Andrew Ihsaan Gasnolar, Management Consultant, Pegasys and Development, South Africa

“Cultural intelligence is my biggest take away. I am more confident. I came in doubting myself a little being in the mist of accomplished people from a corporate background. I leave here having made friends and partners despite our background.”

The programme

Throughout the streetwise mba, participants investigate CQ. They use the Core and Flex® framework to digest their learning, explore their own culture (its strengths and weaknesses) and translate this learning into changed leadership behaviours. Most of all, participants learn from each other, in possibly one of the most diverse groups they will ever be a part of. They use the Core and Flex language to hold difficult conversations with peers from very different backgrounds. 

Our online accelerator allows time-poor participants to maximize the face-to-face experience that follows. The accelerator requires participants to work as a group but can be completed in their own time. It starts with the whole group convening for a short webinar, before they access the online platform where they are guided through a series of short films, exercises and stories that stimulate their thinking about their own leadership, help them connect and start learning from each other.

(Three days)

Our participants want maximum access to Johannesburg and leaders inJohannesburg ; each day is hosted in a different venue in a different part of Johannesburg .

Masterclasses allow participants engage with leaders in Johannesburg who have learned to work in places where cultures collide. They may have had to overcome the constraints of their own culture, recover from knocks, reconcile worlds, stand up in difficult situations or adapt and flex without compromising on who they are.

Immersions place participants at the Johannesburg’s cultural collision points, to learn from the successes and the failures of the people who lead there— whether that’s bankers, police, artists, activists or religious leaders.

Peer coaching allows participants to unpick leadership challenges—and reflect on their streetwise assessments—within a group of people from different backgrounds, who approach problems in completely different ways.

The streetwise mba sustains the impact of the programme as participants apply their learning back to their organization. Our light but structured post-programme follow-through allow our participants to do that in the following ways:

360 Assessment (online) Gives participants valuable information to help them identify possible leadership blind spots that they can work on. The process of inviting feedback for the Assessment, also helps the participant to start conversations about their experience on the programme with a range of people back in their organisation.

Translate (face-to-face: one evening) Participants attend with their line manager, mentor or coach, who will be helping them translate the learning back into the organization.

Re-assess (online) Participants complete a second streetwise assessment a few months later to identify where they need to place renewed energy.

Network (continuous) Participants become Common Purpose Alumni, continuing their learning in a community of over 75,000 leaders worldwide.

Working with you

We work with many organizations who see the streetwise mba as a way of delivering current strategies in Talent, Leadership and Diversity & Inclusion.

The programme’s focus on real-world experiential learning as part of a diverse group can be a highly effective way of supporting existing initiatives. We work with you to understand your objectives and offer ways to create organizational impact.

Cohorts: Our cohort model is designed to ensure that learning is embedded within the organization. Nominate a cohort of people across different departments who, together, could use their learning to promote a more inclusive culture. The streetwise mba runs multiple times a year and can support six members of the cohort in each instance.

Assessments: We compile comprehensive reports based on assessment data taken during the programme. As a result, you can track individual or cohort’s behaviour change during and after the programme, and how that change can create impact in their organizations.

Workshop: After the cohort has completed the streetwise mba, we host a post-course event for the participant and their line manager. This helps to ensure that the learning is translated back to their teams.

Jo Maharaj, Transactor, Rand Merchant Bank, South Africa

“The way in which personal leadership aligns to public, political and professional is something I did not expect. In that way the programme exceeded my expectations.”

Molebogeng Lekala , Senior Manager, Accenture, South Africa

“There are moments where you will be challenged to perform a task you are not familiar with, with people for whom it’s a core strength. Believe that in all situations you have something to contribute and they will listen because there is always an opportunity to learn something new.”

If you are interested in this programme please contact:  

or call +27 (0) 11 836 6348