On Purpose


What sorts of things will I be involved in as an Associate?

Associates can help with discrete projects as well as learning about the day-to-day running of the organisation. 

For example, at HCT Group one of our Associates developed and implemented the first framework for measuring social impact with the Deputy CEO, and our Associate at O2 created and launched O2Learn together with the Head of Brand Strategy. 

Here is a more detailed description of what work you could be doing in your placements.

What support will I get?

In both your placements you'll be assigned a line manager who will help ensure that both you and the placement organisation benefit from your experience. You will meet this manager at least once a week. 

In addition, On Purpose provides support through your cohort and peers, via our mentoring and coaching offer, through our Learning & Development programme, and through the On Purpose community.

Do I get to choose my placements?

On Purpose works with both our Associates and our placement hosts to determine which Associates will work with each placement over the course of their year on the Associate Programme. We take your background and interests into account, as it might be that you want to make use of your existing skills and experience, or to try something different.

On Purpose allocates placements through a two-stage matching process which takes into account Associates’ and placements’ preferences and finds a combination that works for the entire group, ensuring each Associate works with two placements and vice versa.

Will I gain some insight into the placements the other Associates are on?

Yes, during our Learning & Development sessions, delivered on a Friday afternoon, time is set aside for Associates to share their experiences and learn from each other. 

This is often one of the best ways to learn and we will help and encourage Associates to share their experiences. We also make sure that you have the opportunity to meet people from other placement organisations.

Will I get time off?

Yes, you will get a normal UK holiday allowance.

Does On Purpose prefer people from the private sector?

No. On Purpose is designed to provide opportunities for anyone who has at least three years’ work experience, regardless of what sector that experience is in. We look for people who have the potential to become leaders. Whatever sector you have worked in, you will bring valuable experience and insights.

Will I get paid?

You will be paid £22,500 per annum pro rata as a living allowance. This will be adjusted because the programme lasts for a little under a year. The fact that you have half a day of training will, however, not affect this amount.

Why only £22,500? I currently earn much more than this!
On Purpose believes that it is right to reward high-calibre people appropriately. However, many organisations in this sector are able to attract volunteers for free, so £22,500 pro rata is a big commitment for them.

On Purpose offers a unique combination of on-the-job experience, rigorous training by both professionals and academics and access to powerful networks. The mentoring and coaching add an extra layer to create a comprehensive learning experience beyond that of other academic or training programmes.

We believe that we are striking the right balance by ensuring On Purpose Associates have enough to live on and not making it prohibitive for all kinds of purpose-driven organisations to take part.

Where will the projects be?

All of the placements will be in or around London. If you have to commute out of London on a regular basis, the placement host usually allows you to work from London some of the time and reimburses your travel costs.

Is this programme full-time?

Yes. The programme is full-time, and Associates work in their placements 4.5 days a week, joining their cohort and On Purpose for our Learning & Development programme every Friday afternoon.

When does the programme happen?

We launch two cohorts each year, one in April and the second in October. The programme runs for a year, and you can view whether applications are currently open, and apply, here.

Why do you have companies like Interface and charities like Comic Relief in your placements? They’re not social enterprises.

On Purpose aims to develop the next generation of leaders across all kinds of purpose-driven organisations. These include social divisions of profit seeking companies and charities. Also, we believe that the next generation of leaders will need to bring together the best from all sectors. Placements in the private and charitable sectors will help you learn and develop the skills you will need to overcome challenges that social enterprises and other purpose-driven organisations face.

What do you mean by coaching?

All our coaches are experienced professionals who have not only done significant amounts of coaching at senior and executive levels in organisations, but often have also had careers in business themselves.

You’ll meet with your coach every two months, on average, on a one-to-one basis. This is an opportunity for you to take a step back from the details of your placement and the pace of the year. You’ll be able to discuss what it is you’re taking from the year and what areas you feel you need to be making a more concerted effort with given your goals.You might find, like Associates have in the past, it’s a good time to consider decisions around your career.

The coaches are independent of On Purpose and their objective is to support your leadership development; expect to be challenged to find your own solutions based on your own strengths and values.

Who is behind On Purpose?

On Purpose was set up in London in 2010 by Tom Rippin. We expanded to Paris in 2015 and Berlin in 2016. For details about the On Purpose core team, and the rest of our community members, click here

On Purpose is supported by leaders across the private and social sectors, who are providing placements, training or both.

Is On Purpose a charity?

We are a company limited by guarantee that specifies that it is non-profit. That means we have no shareholders and re-invest any profits we make back into the organisation. Because we are a social enterprise programme, we have taken care to design a business model that can operate in a financially sustainable way.

What is On Purpose’s business model?

We are a social enterprise ourselves, so we aspire to cover our own costs without needing to rely on grants or donations. Our income comes mainly from placements hosts, in two ways: First, placement hosts pay On Purpose a fee (£7.5K-£12.5k) for being part of the programme; second, if they hire an Associate after the programme, they pay On Purpose another fee (of £11k-£16.5k).

Will you help me find a job after the placements end?

We will certainly help you find a job after On Purpose. We hope that it might be in one of the placement organisations or other organisations in the On Purpose network. Obviously, we can’t guarantee you a job, but you will be part of a powerful network.

Do people stay in touch after they leave On Purpose?

On Purpose’s growing alumni network is one of the programme’s core strengths. Once you complete the leadership programme you become an On Purpose Fellow. We keep in close touch with Fellows through social events and including them in the selection, training and mentoring of new Associates.

How does Brexit impact EU applicants?

Please see the UK Goverment website for the latest information on Brexit, and for details of working and living in the UK:


On Purpose cannot accept applications for the Associate Programme from anyone who does not have the right to work in the UK at the time they make their application. We are unable to sponsor visas, and cannot make exceptions.