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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership


What and why?

  • Trust-based international network to help influential families define their purpose and lead long-term transformation for people, nature and climate.
  • Structured opportunity to develop new models of stewardship around the strengths and ambitions of different generations.

Who is the programme for?

  • Highly influential families across the world, open to elders, current decision-makers and next generation members.


  • Six-month personalised programme combining network meetings in Cambridge, online workshops, expert advice from sector leaders, and guided one-to-one consultations.
  • Lifelong membership of CISL’s global network comprising of over 30,000 leaders, changemakers and experts in sustainable development.


Programme fees are £12,075 per person. This includes all faculty support and access (in-person or online) to all programme sessions and resources, all meals, gala dinners and day time venue costs. Accommodation is not included in the price but can be reserved at the conference venue.

If you are interested in joining the second cohort of the Multi-Generational Leadership Programme, please do get in touch.


Transformative family leadership for a sustainable economy

Family businesses and private wealth play a huge and growing role in the global economy. Across continents, new wealth creators and established influential families have shaped and benefited from an era of rapid innovation and progress in which millions of people have been lifted out of poverty and quality of life has improved for many.

Too often, however, global growth has come at a spiralling cost to communities, nature and climate, stoking drivers of division and conflict. Unsustainable practices trigger converging risks for people and planet. They generate tensions within families and within the communities and societies in which they are embedded, undermining opportunities for long-term value creation and balanced ways of living and working.

CISL’s new multi-year programme aims to equip families to define their purpose and make a difference, focusing on their unique context and potential to drive change. It positions the private wealth ecosystem within the broader economic and development context, drawing on expert perspectives in Cambridge University and CISL’s deep experience in leadership development, sustainable finance and business transformation.


“In a polarised world, the creation and use of wealth is a topic of intense scrutiny. Influential families are uniquely positioned to connect their vision and values to long-term solutions for society and the planet. Many, however, face complex dynamics across generations and cultures. This programme will help far-sighted families to address their barriers and unleash their potential for impact.”  

Clare Shine, Director and CEO of the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) 


The case for change

Influential families face unique responsibilities and pressures. Externally, they must navigate converging risks, system shocks and economic transformations to create and protect value over the long term in ways that are consistent with their purpose and values. Families will face increasing scrutiny in relation to growing inequality, demands for more equitable and inclusive models of wealth creation, and in some cases, the shift of ‘dirty’ (e.g. carbon intensive) assets and enterprises into private ownership. Collectively, these pressures will require a fundamental rethink of the nature of value, how value is created, and for whom.

Internally, many families also need to find ways to engage with the voices, values and priorities of new generations. Family wealth can be destructive or open pathways for collective impact and fulfilment. Understanding personal horizons and balancing the different perspectives of wealth creators and wealth inheritors and finding routes to ‘regenerative’ leadership that embraces the strengths and ambitions of different generations is fundamental to ensure that families and their capital (human, social and financial) evolve and flourish for long term success and impact.


"The more progressive families are consciously investing in themselves – building their capacity to lead change, but also learning how to unlearn, how to let go of their prevailing worldview or legacy behaviours, accepting the need sometimes to challenge the status quo, and taking stock of their values, their purpose and the contribution that they make to society through a fresh look at the notion of stewardship.”

Dame Polly Courtice DBE, LVO, Emeritus Director and Senior Ambassador, CISL


Watch CISL Founder and former Director, Dame Polly Courtice, at the Family Business Conference in February 2021.


The opportunity to lead from the front

Families often have the longest planning cycle in the economy. They have the ability and incentive to plan for operating contexts in and beyond 2050 and to prepare future generations to lead the family into the future. Compared to other economic actors, families’ routes to influence have unique potential because they can integrate:

  • Entrepreneurship and enterprise leadership. Many families have built businesses or have significant interests in major enterprises. This gives them the opportunity to be at the forefront of industrial and technological transformations, leading the transition of commercial strategies and business models and innovating for new, commercially-viable solutions to society’s most pressing challenges.
  • Asset management. Families are able to deploy their capital in purpose-driven ways that drive transformation for sustainable economies and societies and incentivise long term value creation.
  • Philanthropy, social investment and lifestyles. Families are able to make bold moves that accelerate awareness and action on societies’ most pressing needs. The way that influential families choose to live, and the values and priorities they display, have a profound impact in shaping social and cultural aspirations in their home countries and internationally.


Programme Goals and Design

The programme has a dual focus on external and internal leadership to optimise learning and practical impact. It aims to help families explore and define their purpose and to use this to drive sustainable transformation in the ways in which wealth and value are created, managed and deployed. Key benefits include:

  1. The opportunity to learn from international experts sharing evidence-based future-focused insights into the most relevant trends and challenges for families at global or regional level.
  2. Structured one-to-one support throughout the programme to help participants explore purpose specific to their context and develop transformative, commercially relevant strategies and tools that reflect family values and the needs and aspirations of the communities in which they are embedded.
  3. Faculty-facilitated opportunities to learn and co-create with peers, sharing existing solutions and working together to create new solutions.
  4. A safe space to hear radical voices and debate challenging and sensitive issues, such as the future of wealth in a context of growing inequality and new paradigms of power.
  5. Opportunities to explore and develop major long-term partnerships to drive impact on shared priorities, from education, health and migration to environmental regeneration.
  6. Membership of a trusted, international peer community for long term support, dialogue and sharing of experience.

The programme will complement existing family-focused networks, initiatives and programmes through its holistic collaborative approach to the future of wealth and business owning families and their impact on society.



"Family and business continuity is an inadequate goal for an ambitious wealth and business owning family. Families can enjoy the possibility of more than just continuity – families can regenerate and  benefit from igniting new generations of family stewards and entrepreneurs to not only steward and continue, but to build and contribute.”

Philip Marcovici, Founding Advisor to the Multi-Generational Leadership Programme


Who should attend?

It is our ambition to engage the most influential families internationally to build a leading forum for change which benefits from wide diversity of perspective and experience.

The programme is designed for influential family members - those responsible for shaping family purpose, values and priorities, for driving value creation or for stewarding assets. Participants may come from different generations, from family elders to those currently leading decision-making or next generation members preparing for a future leadership role. The programme is open to individual family members and to small groups of representatives from the same family (e.g. spanning different generations or responsibilities). The key criteria for participation are focused on the potential of those attending to contribute – to the programme and to our world.

In addition, all participants must:

  • Hold an undergraduate degree (or equivalent)
  • Be proficient in English
  • Be available to complete all key dimensions of the programme and contribute to peer-to-peer sessions.

The programme is not designed for multi-family offices, advisors or bankers (CISL is exploring complementary learning and networking opportunities for influential stakeholders from the wider private wealth ecosystem).

However, there will be a very limited number of single-family office representatives who hold senior roles with the families they serve and can accompany family members on the Multi-Generational Leadership journey. While not all sessions will be open to non-family participants (in order to ensure fully open dialogue), these representatives will benefit hugely from attendance and be able to help their respective families engage with this programme over the longer term, especially where families have different members participating from year to year.


Timeline and format

The programme spans six months, and the next cohort will commence in Spring 2023. The programme will include in-person meetings and networking gala dinners in Cambridge, UK as well as online thematic modules.

Over the course of the programme, participants will undertake up to 45 hours of learning in total, with guided opportunities to access further resources and find out more about CISL’s full range of courses for those seeking a more ambitious learning journey. If Covid restrictions prevent participants from attending the Cambridge meeting, we will support individuals to join remotely.

Key elements of the programme include:

  1. Building insight: In-person and online interactive modules with international experts, learning and engaging alongside peers to advance insight and strategic thinking in key thematic areas.
  2. Building purpose, strategy and solutions: A structured process to enable family members to explore meaningful and measurable purpose, identify priority areas for focus and action, access relevant evidence and methodologies, and develop and test a strategic pathway for impact. Participants will be further supported throughout their learning journey by provision of access to Cambridge academics and scholars as well as one-to-ones with leading experts in various sectors and industries. Where appropriate, this will include facilitated discussion with other families to explore potential collaborations in areas of mutual interest.
  3. Debate and networking: In-person and online peer exchange and community building, including the Cambridge meeting and gala dinner, and follow-up networking event.
  4. Enhancing leadership capability: Guided opportunities to engage in deep-dive capability building sessions tailored to the specific context and needs of influential families in areas such as: working with wicked problems, influencing across complex systems, high impact communications and building and maintaining high impact collaborations.


“Families must in parallel address internal issues which can become greater derailers than the challenges of the external environment. Families must ensure that they themselves are sustainable. Family continuity can be undermined without adequate preparation for succession.” 

Iraj Ispahani, Founding Advisor to the Multi-Generational Leadership Programme


Outcomes and Impact

Participants will engage in a structured blend of learning formats tailored to the specific context and needs of families, in order to:

  • Share / broaden awareness of common challenges and differences in lived experience
  • Deepen understanding of key social, environmental and economic indicators, including climate change, population growth and social cohesion
  • Improve systems thinking, identifying how key indicators such as food, energy and water interconnect and the enablers of systemic transformations, including private institutions, regulators and the finance sector
  • Explore key changes in the global economy, including shifts in the economic paradigm and the relationship between ‘value’ and ‘values’
  • Evaluate the implications of these changes on business and asset value and family values
  • Explore the purpose and dynamics of families, looking beyond financial stewardship to consider values, governance (including owner succession) and regenerative leadership approaches that can hold families together to drive change
  • Assess the role and opportunities for family wealth and family businesses as the 21st century progresses
  • Identify effective ways to lead and use agency in the new context and to enhance personal capabilities for this purpose
  • Build insight into changing stakeholder expectations and how to build effective stakeholder relationships
  • Build insight into strategic responses and commercially viable solutions to the leadership of enterprises and the stewardship of assets
  • Build strong international peer networks to provide a long-term forum for shared learning and collaboration.


Advisory Group

This programme is informed and supported by an international Advisory Group. These individuals will draw on their wealth of experience to inform the programme design and contribute to the programme. 


Who delivers the programme?

For over 30 years, CISL has worked at the heart of Cambridge University to deliver leadership and education programmes for some of the most influential individuals and organisations worldwide. We combine academic excellence, industry expertise and influential thinking to ensure the content is suitable, diverse and stretches thinking, shapes behaviours and informs practice.

This programme will be delivered by CISL’s international network of Senior AssociatesFellows and guest contributors with additional insights from University thought leaders and members of the Advisory Group.


"There is so much families can learn from each other and so much more wealth and business owning families can contribute to dialogue on all aspects of sustainability. CISL provides an academic voice and a safe environment to explore topics critical to families and to their communities and world. Our work on exploring how a circular economy mindset can impact governance and decision-making is exciting and is helping families to navigate an increasingly troubled world where risks to wealth and business owners abound.”

Philip Marcovici, Founding Advisor to the Multi-Generational Leadership Programme


Examples of key modules explored through the programme

The programme will be designed to reflect the priorities of the families which join, but it is anticipated that the following will be core themes:

1. System pressures and trends and the strategic implications for families

The changing social, environmental and economic context requires different strategic thinking and new knowledge. Remaining viable – or sustainable - requires many individuals to update their worldviews and ‘unlearn’ their perceptions about the economic context. Quite simply, issues such as climate change, Covid-19 and an increasing human population present risks and opportunities which have never been experienced.

2. Families in the 21st Century

Families hold disproportionate capability to lead the transition to a sustainable economy through the way they deploy assets, the causes they support and the behaviours they adopt and advocate. The programme will examine the fundamental importance of purpose in the new context, identifying how families can deploy assets in ways which are authentic and proactively support the transition to a sustainable economy. In doing so, we will assess the legacy of the business, identifying how assets can be passed to the next generation in a better state.

3. Financial Stewardship

Value is changing in the new context, with issues such as climate change presenting new risks and opportunities. This will affect all sectors and geographies. For families, the rate of change in the new context will pose fundamental challenges for financial stewardship. Impact investment may help this, but more strategically important questions will need to be asked about the role of families in being active owners of capital.

4. Stakeholder Relationships

Families have complex internal relationships and increasingly difficult relationships with the communities where they operate. Anticipating and responding to stakeholder expectations – especially in an interconnected world – will be essential to mitigate risk, identify future needs and support innovative ways to transition to a sustainable economy.



All nominations are subject to a robust vetting procedure to ensure delegates meet the criteria and that the cohort is a suitably diverse group.

Please note, travel and accommodation costs are not covered by the participation fee.

Apply here.

To learn more, please contact



Our executive education programmes offer senior leaders insight into innovative, commercially compelling ways to address global trends. They build the leadership capacity and skills to generate action.


Charlotte Hill, Project Co-ordinator

Contact Charlotte