Our 50 Leading Lights
Valeria is Audit Director at M&G Investments and a member of the Executive Committee. She is a key driver of the diversity and inclusion agenda – she is the M&G Executive Sponsor for diversity and inclusion and sits on the D&I Advisory Committee at a Prudential Group level. Her passion to ensure that everyone can bring their whole selves to work is fully demonstrated by her actions – she is Co-executive Sponsor for Mind Matters, the employee-led mental health awareness network, and she has built a culture within her team that drives collaboration, celebrates success and encourages all members to develop to their full potential. Valeria also wants to help others across the industry as a whole and, to this end, founded the Audit Book Club, an initiative that seeks to encourage individuals from within the industry to be their best selves. Valeria is often asked to speak at both internal and external events, sharing her experience of cultural and gender equality issues.
Suzie de Rohan Willner
Suzie is the CEO of TOAST, a fashion and lifestyle brand renowned for its contemporary design. Suzie is an inspirational leader with a great passion for developing high-performing, innovative teams who can act nimbly and boldly in a competitive landscape. She has a proven track record of turning companies around and building positive workplaces including FitFlop, Timberland, Dockers and Levi Strauss. For all those who work with Suzie, it is abundantly clear that she values kindness, the wellbeing of her team and a supportive environment above all else. There is no traditional ‘hierarchy’ at TOAST; meetings are fair and supportive; everyone is allowed and encouraged to share their opinions and ideas, and there is business transparency and openness. Suzie develops meaningful relationships with her team, recognising each person’s strengths and helping them to develop and grow in these areas. She encourages everyone around her to be their ‘best self’, pushing them almost invisibly to reach their potential and it’s this potential that impacts so significantly on the success of business itself.
Steve leads the EMEA Market Development function for Refinitiv, responsible for generating over $2bn revenues by helping financial professionals succeed faster than the pace of change and better manage their governance, risk and compliance challenges. Integral to his leadership role, Steve chairs the Refinitiv Diversity and Inclusion Council which aims to ensure an inclusive, collaborative workplace where potential is realised. Steve also sits on the Corporate Executive Board SEC as a ‘sales guru’ where industry-wide best practices are identified and developed. Steve’s mantra for success is: play; be there; make their day, and choose your attitude. He has been with Thomson Reuters (now, Refinitiv) for over 20 years and has developed deep and long-lasting relationships with the people with whom he works. He cares for so much more than just the financial results – as an example, Steve recently worked with a junior team member to honour a man in his eighties, the oldest working user of a Thomson Reuters financial desktop product. Steve arranged for an iconic City of London photo to be taken, framed and signed for the user. These are the acts of kindness that speak louder than words to his team, colleagues and all those who are lucky to work with him.
Sean is CEO of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the leading global professional body in the built and natural environment. He leads a global team of 900 employees, located across 30 countries. Sean’s range of skills and attributes bring together sound business acumen with a strong commitment to pursuing the public interest. He is helping to build a global profession that will provide standards and ethical practice in real estate and land markets, which account for 70% of global wealth. He leads by example, placing great emphasis on people and culture, whether it be the importance he places on feedback, his expectations of an inclusive workplace or the way in which he spends half of his leadership meetings focusing on people and culture, and the other half on performance and planning. He sees people as the most important component of a successful organisation and he invests so much time in engagement, listening, consulting, mentoring and making sure he is an enabler. He is a shining light when it comes to women’s empowerment, enabling RICS to actively encourage women into promotion and leadership roles. Over and above all else, Sean’s ambition, enthusiasm and evident enjoyment of his work are infectious and he makes people want to succeed.
Sarah has responsibility for Lloyds Banking Group’s most valuable personal client relationships as well as advisors who give personal financial planning advice to any eligible customer of Lloyd’s, Bank of Scotland and Halifax. Sarah previously worked at RBS as Managing Director, Private Banking & Advice and at Coutts & Co where she was the first female Chief Executive. As Co-chair of Breakthrough, the largest gender diversity network in the UK with over 15,000 members, Sarah has played a huge part in setting the strategy and direction of the network. Sarah is a great example of somebody who leads with her own actions. As a kind, authentic and welcoming leader, she creates an environment where her wider team feel empowered to be themselves in the workplace and can thereby give their very best. She is not afraid to break down hierarchy and is always willing to get involved with tasks to support her teams, truly embodying the ‘leading by doing’ ethos. Sarah believes in helping everyone – she invests so much time in mentoring her team, her colleagues, graduates and interns.
After a successful career as a barrister, Sam joined the BBC in 2002. She has worked in a number of roles including reporter and producer on many high profile stories and programmes. For the past eight years, Sam has been a senior interviews editor with Britain’s leading current affairs programme, Newsnight. Kindness, empathy and a fierce passion for social justice are the hallmarks of Sam’s professional style. Across all teams, Sam takes special care of new starters and ensures team members have the emotional and intellectual support they need to succeed. She creates an atmosphere in which people feel valued, supported and cared for. Whilst at the BBC, Sam has been involved in choosing work experience candidates and has made it her personal mission to support these individuals, and many others, throughout their careers. She also volunteers for the BBC mentoring program and firmly places diversity and inclusion on the agenda, in all that she does. Sam helps run two primary schools and serves as a governor, working with the most socially deprived children in London and their families.
Sally is the Founder of Waterstons, an IT and business consultancy. She has always been on the board of directors at Waterstons, most notably as Customer Service Director and has more recently stepped into the role of Chairperson. As well as mentoring within her own organisation, Sally has been a mentor for the Prince’s Trust, and is currently a mentor at the East Durham Employability Trust. Sally set out to create a business that would put clients and employees first, rather than a company being driven solely by profit. Her ‘people first’ value is about seeing the human element in everything, from employees attending their child’s first sports day to client relationships. She is brilliant listener – she will tell you what you need to hear rather than what you want to hear but will do so with kindness and compassion. Acts of kindness are her hallmark with one example being that she knows when each of her 150 employees celebrate a birthday and she goes out of her way to give them something they will love.
Sally is one of the most senior women at Barclays, leading a global internal audit function of 650 employees. Her ability to influence from the most senior executive level to the most junior, across the company is significant. Demonstrating incredible leadership, Sally’s impact is driven by her openness, honesty and enthusiasm – ‘what you see really is what you get’ with Sally Clark. She believes that effective, high-performing teams are built on trust, mutual respect and, most importantly, by enabling individuals to bring their whole selves to work. On arrival at Barclays her first internal audit conference had dedicated sessions on ‘bringing your whole self to work’. Only two years later and her team’s employee engagement scores were the highest across the Group. Sally has established a ‘reverse mentor’ programme at Barclays and she champions the diversity and inclusivity agenda, encouraging colleagues to find innovative ways to focus and promote it. She is also the ExCo sponsor of the Barclays Be Well agenda and a sponsor of the internal diversity network, Emerge.
Saker was appointed acting CEO of Hermes Investment Management in 2011 and later confirmed as CEO in 2012. Today, Hermes is a completely different company to what it was in 2011 and this is credited to Saker, his vision, leadership, passion and unyielding belief that Hermes is a harbinger of change for the industry. An inspirational leader internally and externally, Saker has been a vanguard, advocating that the end beneficiary, the hundreds of thousands of pensioners on whose behalf Hermes is investing, should be at the front of the fund management industry’s mind at all times. Saker strongly advocates that environmental, social and governance integration and stewardship add value and provide positive returns for investors as well as society, and he has made it clear that the work carried out by Hermes Investment Management is to help people invest better, retire better and to create a better society for all. In 2015, Saker established the Hermes Pledge, now taken by every staff member, that reflects the values of respect, transparency and responsibility and makes kindness integral to the Hermes culture DNA.
Sacha is CEO of Grant Thornton, leading 42,000 employees across 130 countries. She is also on the UK National Advisory Board on Impact Investing; the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council, and the board of London & Partners. She is the first female boss of a top City accounting firm, with an ambition to change the culture of professional services as a whole. Under her leadership, Grant Thornton partners voted by over 95% to share profits among the whole team, not just the partnership – a significant step away from the traditional partnership model. She injects purpose into business and this affects everything from decisions on the clients Grant Thornton works with to the way in which those clients are cared for. Grant Thornton’s culture is fast becoming a beacon for those who value enterprise as a way to achieve positive impact in the world. Sacha is generous with her time, and brings a clarity of thought that inspires and helps others around her. When asked what trait she most dislikes in others, Sasha answered: ‘Unkindness… if we all made a little more effort to be kinder, the world would be a much better place’.
Ruth is the General Manager of the Premier League Charitable Fund, one of the biggest sports charities in the world, with an annual budget in excess of £35m. Prior to this role, Ruth held senior roles in government, most recently heading up the flagship Soft Power initiative at the Foreign Office. She is a passionate champion of gender equality and has made incredible efforts to promote this institutionally in each organisation in which she has worked. Ruth set up TedX Whitehall Women and, in the male-dominated world of football, she mentors a number of aspiring young women, also serving on the board of Women in Football. At the very heart of Ruth’s leadership approach is kindness. This includes taking a genuine interest in people; coaching and supporting those around her to help them achieve their potential and celebrating their success. Ruth’s leadership style is deft, she is firm but kind and is always calm and generous. She speaks truth to power when needed – a hugely important attribute in charitable and public service and she leads by example, creating working environments where staff feel engaged, valued and supported, thereby creating and sustaining high-performing teams.
As Head of Digital and Marketing Services, Robin is a consistent source of support for his team and the wider business as he drives deeper digital engagement by making client servicing activities easier to perform, improving efficiency and functionality and in turn delivering the enhanced experience clients expect from a global business. He is a passionate champion of the digital and wider marketing team, known as the ‘go-to’ for many colleagues on subjects ranging from strategy to personal development. He is eager to support his staff’s personal and professional development, encouraging training courses, conferences, work-life balance and the like. Robin has a calm and considered presence, always with a focus on people as well as ways in which to drive the business forward. He has been instrumental in creating a team structured for success, investing time in identifying strengths of each team member and developing the group as a whole. In the words one of Robin’s colleagues, ‘he is always the first to open the door and the last to walk through it’.
Rebecca has been a catalyst for Interbrand’s focus on learning and development through her dynamic leadership of the Interbrand Academy, a global learning platform and centre of excellence in brands and the business of branding. She has led numerous client engagements, including Interbrand’s luxury practice, working with brands from Burberry to LVMH. From guest lecturing at universities to her role as a board trustee of a social mobility foundation, Rebecca’s commitment to culture and learning runs deep. Rebecca is a member of Omnicom’s Omniwomen Committee and has spoken on culture and diversity in business at leading global conferences such as the New York Times Luxury Summit. Above all, Rebecca has held fast to the belief that brands have the power to change the world – and that begins with people. Indeed many of her colleagues see her leadership as a transformative power, for individuals, teams and the business as a whole.
Professor Mike Thomas
Mike is responsible for academic leadership and the smooth running and growth of the £200m+ turnover business. He is a thought leader on compassionate leadership and the co-author of a new book, Kindness in Leadership. After extensive consultation with staff, Mike has pioneered a set of five values by which the university now operates: common sense, compassion, teamwork, attention to detail and trust. These values have embedded kindness into the university’s culture and placed it above the sector average with a recent staff survey showing 93% enjoying their work. In the last 12 months, under Mike’s careful stewardship, the university recorded an operating surplus of £14m+ or 6.7% of turnover. Perhaps the greatest example of Mike’s kindness in leadership: in 2017, Hurricane Irma had a devastating impact on Sint Maarten, where the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine’s students complete years of medical school. With no power or running water, the university was displaced. Mike reached out and in a few days, 643 students transferred to Preston. The scale of the challenge made this a remarkable achievement and yet another example of Mike’s decisive and yet consultative and collaborative leadership style.
Professor Heather McGregor CBE
Heather is Executive Dean of Edinburgh Business School. The school has campuses in the UK, Dubai and Malaysia and is a leader in distance-learning, with over 10,000 active students and 21,000 alumni across 166 countries. Heather is also a non-executive director of two public companies and was a founding member of the steering group for the 30% Club. She was awarded a CBE for services to business, with reference to employment skills and diversity in the workplace. She is the Founder of the Taylor Bennett Foundation, an award-winning training and mentoring programme, encouraging black, Asian and ethnic minority graduates to pursue a career in communications. Whilst a powerful and decisive leader, Heather creates an environment where colleagues feel empowered to speak up with ideas and feedback, and are supported to take risks and learn from mistakes or setbacks. She leads by example, working to the highest level of performance whether amongst FTSE CEOs or academic leaders, yet taking time to build relationships at all levels and look after the human side of the business too.
Phil served as Chief Executive of Cisco UK & Ireland from 2008–2016. He has always had a passion for invoking societal change and has been instrumental in building Cisco’s relationships with government, business and academia to help change the way that people work, live, play and learn in the UK. In 2012, he led Cisco in the delivery of the most connected Olympic Games in London. He then spearheaded the legacy programme, committing $5m of investment and an ecosystem for innovation and STEM skills; and a $1bn investment to accelerate digitization in the UK. Phil was Chairman of Cisco UK & Ireland during 2017 and is now an advisor to Cisco’s UK and Ireland Chief Executive. He has made an incredible impact on the culture of the business but also on the thousands of individuals who partake in Cisco’s training programmes and skills initiatives. He is a celebrated mentor, determined to help others achieve their very best and has the ability to galvanise action – he founded the Leaderboard Challenge, which has now brought CEOs together from all over the country and raised over £1m for Sports Relief.
Paul has been CEO of Unilever since 2009. He is responsible for all matters relating to the strategic direction and operational running and performance of the company which operates in 190 countries and serves 2.5 billion consumers a day. He is a visionary business leader who has demonstrated that long-term business growth can and should exist with positive social impact. In 2010, he launched the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, which at the time was a radical new business model, aiming to decouple growth from environmental impact, while increasing the social impact of the business. Paul has led the diversity and inclusion agenda and today, 45% of Unilever’s non-executive directors and 47% of all Unilever managers are female, up from 38% when Paul joined as CEO. Unilever’s vision is to be the number one employer of choice for people with disabilities by 2025. An example of Paul’s unique leadership style? Everyday Paul writes handwritten notes to people in the business to show his appreciation for their work. Outside of Unilever, Paul runs his own foundation, the Kilimanjaro Blind Trust.
Patrick is the global Deputy COO of BlackRock, coordinating the most strategically important issues and opportunities facing the business globally including product, technology and operations. Amongst many other commitments, Patrick is a member of the EMEA Executive Committee; Corporate Operations Executive Committee; Global Operating Committee and Digital Wealth Executive Committee. Beyond his phenomenal business drive and achievements, Patrick embodies kindness in leadership. He is passionate about encouraging emerging talent and empowering individuals to take emotional ownership of what they do and the firm. He is the executive sponsor of BlackRock’s EMEA Women’s Network, and of BlackRock’s participation in the 30% Club. Receptive to the needs and challenges facing women in the industry, Patrick is a committed mentor and sponsor, determined to help others reach their potential.
Patricia is part of Visa’s senior leadership team, managing its core consumer solutions and leading a strategically important growth programme in key European markets. Patricia has led the Women in Business network at Visa since 2015 and seen the network grow both in terms of numbers (from 200 to over 436 members), and profile within the business. Under Patricia’s direction, the Women in Business network has become an influential forum, and an empowering, inspiring and motivating platform that gives members access to tools, services, networking events and knowledge to better themselves in the workplace. Through the network, Patricia has influenced the Mentoring Programme, the Return to Work scheme and the Support Framework for individuals on longer-term leave. Patricia has also been instrumental in increasing Visa’s focus on diversity. She is an exemplary leader with a highly-engaged team due largely to her nurturing approach, clear drive, ambitious nature and a focus that is always on both results and people.
Nigel leads the internal and external communications, PR, press, media and reputation teams for Aviva, covering 30,000 colleagues in 15 markets. He is a senior and respected role model and a guiding light externally in his profession and discipline, with his team winning multiple awards year after year. Nigel is relentless in his belief in kindness and leadership and it gets results as can be seen by the exceptional engagement scores of his team annually. He has the ability to make tough commercial judgements and decisions with kindness and, when considering customers and colleagues, is always asking ‘how would I like to be treated?’. He has a track record of leading in times of crisis and difficulty, both at home and work and, internally, his reputation is as a mentor who will coach with both care and edge.
Mina is a Partner in KPMG’s People Services in tax – a practice with 470 employees, responsible for building relationships with potential clients, advising existing clients on tax requirements, and representing KPMG in the market. She is also a Sponsoring Partner of KPMG’s Network of Women, empowering women’s career development and, since taking on this role, has seen membership increase by 20%. Mina’s work on women’s empowerment reaches far beyond KPMG – she has recently launched a programme with a FTSE 100 company to develop future female leaders. In 2010, Mina took a career break and volunteered as ambulance crew for St John Ambulance and as a listening volunteer for the Samaritans. When Mina returned to KPMG three years later, she became a Partner, bringing with her all the skills she’d learnt volunteering. She continues to volunteer extensively. As one of the few BAME female partners, Mina mentors several colleagues from under-represented categories. Her intelligent, compassionate leadership delivers real results, with many of her mentees flourishing and powering quickly through the ranks.
Melissa is a lead partner for KPMG’s finance and risk transformation services, working across the market with large, complex organisations. She is also the Client Lead Partner for the largest bank in the Eurozone, and for the last three years, she has led the UK Risk Consulting practice. In her first leadership role at KPMG, Melissa took on a challenging team situation. Her inclusive leadership style built a culture of trust and positive team spirit, which was later reflected in engagement scores (the most improved across the consulting business) and, importantly, financial results. Melissa is dedicated to KPMG’s LGBT network, Breathe, and believes wholeheartedly that diverse teams are more effective. She is a fantastic mentor and has supported the progression of men and women from graduate trainee level through to partnership level. Melissa is President-Elect of the Junior League of London, a charity working with community partners addressing poverty and driving social mobility. Working part-time at KPMG, Melissa sends a clear message that flexible working is possible, even at the most senior of levels. In all that she does, Melissa ‘pays it forward’, sharing her expertise for the benefit of others and helping to build strong, inclusive and diverse teams and communities.
By appreciating our differences and creating an inclusive environment where people are able to perform at their best, firms are more likely to see enhanced productivity, better ideas and sustained returns.
Matt is the Co-founder of Tandem Bank, a ‘challenger bank’ helping to redefine the sector. Matt has also served (and in many cases, continues to serve) as non-executive chairman and/or director at a range of public and private companies, including: Octopus Investments; the National Centre for Circus Arts; Nottingham Trent University and the Mental Health Foundation. He was Principal Managing Director of Capital One (Europe), one of the world’s leading credit card companies. His ability to achieve results is awe-inspiring and, having worked across so many organisations, his impact is not limited to one team, indeed his leadership has affected countless individuals, organisations and industries. He is kind-hearted and generous with his time, advising founders and CEOs as well as those just starting their careers. He uses a combination of intelligence, business expertise and humanity to drive social change and impact – bettering the lives of others through the transformational organisations he supports and chairs. He is not afraid to question industries as a whole, and recently challenged the leader of the British venture capital industry to expand their investments into social impact. Matt’s unwavering support, openness and honesty has helped so many individuals and businesses thrive.
Louise Kingham OBE
Louise is Chief Executive of the Energy Institute, a chartered professional membership body bringing together global energy expertise. Whilst driving the institute’s objectives forward with the senior leadership team, staff and volunteers, Louise is also passionate about the Powerful Women initiative to advance gender diversity within the energy sector as a whole. She sits on the board of this initiative and, with her thoughtful leadership, drives the project forward in order to see other women excel. Louise leads by example, with compassion, trust and understanding. She allows her team to freely express their views, and listens and acts upon ideas wherever she can. Under Louise’s leadership, the institute has transformed from a traditional hierarchical and male-dominated structure, where bureaucracy slowed down decision making to an organisation that listens to its members, puts trust in its employees and thereby allows them to develop and take on responsibility. The Energy Institute is now a diverse and vibrant place to work, where communication and close relationships between different roles are encouraged and values such as integrity, forward thinking, know-how and collaboration are key.
Liv is the FTSE 100’s youngest female CEO in her current role as Chief Executive of Severn Trent, a water company serving 4.5 million homes and employing over 6,500 people. She is passionate about delivering major infrastructure projects and making a difference to social mobility, ensuring that Severn Trent is involved with education in schools and seen as a great place to work. Liv is not afraid to get involved in all aspects of the business and, a few days a week, she spends time out of the office, visiting sites – including down the sewers. Prior to her work at Severn Trent, Liv was Head of Openreach. She believes that everyone deserves to know that their boss cares about them as a person and she does everything she can to ensure staff enjoy their work. Liv is also an inspirational role model and an advocate for inclusivity, believing that ‘the more that organisations can really go for inclusivity and thrive on more personalities and more difference, the better they will be’.
Katie joined the BBC in 2014 as Development Director in news and current affairs. She leads on a number of areas from leadership development to entry-level talent with a particular focus on diversity and culture. She has pioneered new initiatives such as the BBC News Women in Leadership programme; the Emerging Leaders programme and the under 30s panel. Katie also runs the pan-BBC outreach project, BBC School Report and has devised and launched the BBC’s recent work educating young people on how to identify ‘fake news’. Katie’s work has not only had a huge impact on the culture of her team and the division as a whole but it has also changed lives. She has transformed the culture of BBC News to be
more inclusive and creative; staff feel a sense of purpose and pride; diverse opinions are celebrated, and teams are more solutions focused.
Kate is the Group General Counsel for Lloyds Banking Group. She sits on the executive committee and is responsible for advising the board and senior executives on legal matters. She is also Co-chair of Breakthrough, the women’s network at Lloyds Banking Group. Under her leadership, the network has grown from just a dozen engaged women to 15,000 members, making it the largest gender diversity network in the UK. She is a trustee of the Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales; sponsor of Legal in the Community, and a supporter of the charity, Suited & Booted, which helps men who are out of work find employment. Kate has a proven track record of being an inspirational leader and has had a huge impact developing an inclusive culture. She is a positive agitator, always encouraging greater diversity across the business, and passionate about ensuring everybody has equal opportunities to succeed.
Joanna is the Founder of The Creative School, a company that helps school and university leavers and those looking for a career change to understand the ins and outs of agency life. Offering coaching and mentoring to support the leaders of tomorrow, The Creative School is the inside track for those starting out and it’s also importantly driving diversity in the industry. Joanna has over 20 years of agency experience, most recently as Managing Partner at BBH, where she headed up the Samsung account and an integrated team of 25. Prior to this, she was at Rufus Leonard where she moved from Account Director to Board Director in five years. Joanna’s greatest talent is the way in which she prioritises team happiness and manages to balance this with company productivity. She champions an empathetic style of leadership that puts her people and clients ahead of profit but she has managed to prove that this, in fact, serves the bottom line well. She led the more profitable side of the business at BBH for five years whilst cultivating the company’s happiest team. Joanna is never afraid to roll up her own sleeves; she’s ever cheerful; undaunted by any challenge, and unfailingly supportive of brave ideas and each member of her team.
Janet is the Director of Trade and Growth at London & Partners, the Mayor of London’s official promotional agency. She is also the Founder of the Silicon Valley Comes to the UK programme, a not-for-profit series of events that helps female founders from the US and London to support each other and grow their businesses. Janet works closely with City Hall on the ‘Behind Every Great City’ campaign to promote London’s female talent and has previously led the Mayor of London’s Business Programme during the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012. Janet is well-known and appreciated for the way in which she integrates kindness into her work and team. Under Janet’s leadership, her team receive excellent feedback on their trade delegations; they take time to listen to what entrepreneurs need to succeed and they are willing to go the extra mile to help these entrepreneurs and to develop long-lasting relationships. Janet’s leadership style sees her empowering all those who are lucky to work with her. Despite the heavy workload, she always prioritises her team and their well-being – from clear and inspiring goals, regular communication and personal time with individuals of all levels to flexible working, finding work and development opportunities, and regular team/individual recognition.
Jacqueline de Rojas CBE
Jacqueline is one of the UK’s most senior figures in tech. She is the President of techUK; a non executive director of Rightmove and the Costain Group; Chair of Digital Leaders and Co-chair of the Institute of Coding. Jacqueline is a strong advocate for the tech industry as a whole. As a leader, speaker and via her social media channels, she encourages behaviour within the community that is mutually supportive – whether that be from one entrepreneur to another or from government and major corporates. She focuses on helping those in the tech world provide proactive and practical opportunities that encourage diversity within the ecosystem, or that use tech for good to tackle the global challenges of our time. Despite her own success, Jacqueline is all about supporting others; she is generous with her time, advising and mentoring, and uses her network to help others. Yes, she can be tough and honest, especially about where the tech community is falling short, but she does so in a way that is encouraging. Kindness is at the heart of how she finds this balance.
As the Deputy Managing Director of a successful publishing agency, Jackie has the respect and the admiration of every single member of staff working with her. She makes every day count – there is a poster in the office that reads ‘Work hard and be nice to people’– and this reflects exactly what Jackie holds dear. From the small acts of kindness that see her baking cakes for staff birthdays and sharing in the highs and lows of life, to the way in which she acknowledges achievements, helps push individuals to do their very best or encourages everyone to take on a charity challenge, Jackie leads with kindness. Jackie explicitly understands the importance of a work-life balance. From a professional perspective, she’ll demonstrate this by identifying training opportunities for staff members so that there’s always extra support if needed, and on a personal level, flexible working is a given.
Guillermo is the Chief Investment Officer for AIG, the biggest insurer in the world. Earlier this year, his team won the highest honours at the Insurance Investment Exchange Awards – the Best General Insurer award. He is a dedicated executive sponsor and contributor to the work of the Women & Allies UK ERG, and a member of the UK ExCo. Guillermo has awoken consciousness around gender, diversity and inclusion, and sparked important conversations and initiatives. His openness about his own mental health has changed lives, encouraging greater awareness, transparency and support for those who need to seek help. Most importantly, he has established internal mentoring and is always inviting others to develop their emotional intelligence, ensuring a better managerial culture.
Gillian is Director of Regulatory and Corporate Affairs and a member of the executive team at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). RICS is the global professional body promoting and enforcing the highest international standards in the valuation, management and development of land, real estate, construction and infrastructure. With 125,000 members globally, and nearly a thousand employees, Gillian has a significant influence over many professionals, directly and indirectly. Working in collaboration with the executive team and other key players in the industry, Gillian is changing the image of the profession to one that is much more inclusive. Under her leaderships, RICS has enjoyed greater engagement from its members. She has also set up a Women of the Future network, consisting of the finalists from the real estate, infrastructure and construction category at the Women of the Future Awards. This network has empowered and coached women through the leadership pipeline and encouraged more women into the industry as a whole.
Since 2016, Gareth has been the Manager of the England national football team. Prior to this role, he served as Manager of Middlesbrough from 2006–2009 and Manager of the England U21 team from 2013–2016. Earlier this year at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, he became the third manager to reach a World Cup semi-final. Gareth knows only too well what it is like to be a player too. He enjoyed more than 500 league appearances, playing as a defender and midfielder for Aston Villa, Middlesbrough and Crystal Palace, as well as playing for the English team 57 times. Gareth has been credited for transforming the country’s relationship with its football team and demonstrating an ability to influence people far beyond the sport itself. Gareth is known for listening and learning from his players and, rather than ‘managing’, he leads with a calm, confident and quietly understated style – a style that is certainly delivering results.
Emma is incredibly senior within the DAS Group as the President of Europe. Her role is multifaceted and sees her working with both clients and agencies. She is a former Chair of Omniwomen UK, a diversity and inclusion initiative within Omnicom that aims to promote more women into leadership roles within the organisation, and she now sits on the global steering committee for Omniwomen. She is incredibly inclusive in her leadership; always finding time for others despite her busy schedule, and she drives the culture that she wants to see in her agencies. She is known for bringing the best out of people and allowing them to shine, and is well regarded throughout the world for her kindness, empathy and professionalism.
Doug is Managing Editor of the Evening Standard and The Independent. His role involves working closely with editorial executives and dealing daily with circulation, advertising and production directors, co-ordinating the complex operation of producing daily newspapers and their editorial digital channels. More than 900,000 copies of the Evening Standard are distributed every afternoon and its fast-expanding digital platforms exceed 11 million readers a month. Doug is passionate about the industry but it is always his team who he puts first. He is generous with his time, whether it be work experience students arriving for a day or long-term colleagues who he supports above all else, through thick and thin. He gets behind so many of the papers’ campaigns such as running the London Marathon earlier this year to raise much-needed funds for the Felix Project, the official charity of the Evening Standard’s ‘Help A Hungry Child’ appeal. He is also a trustee of the charity, Inspiring Girls International.
Following on stellar careers at Arthur Andersen and Field and Trek, Dereka joined Ground Control in 2008 as Finance Director, where she is an invaluable member of both the executive team and the board of directors. She directly manages over 30 finance professionals and is part of the senior team leading 1,100 employees and over 5,000 subcontracted operatives throughout the UK. Dereka has been instrumental in the business growth from £42m to £140m over the past ten years. She is a superb protector and advocate of Ground Control’s unique culture of putting people at the heart of its business – Ground Control is known for the calibre of people it is able to recruit, develop and retain and it has been recognised by the likes of the London Stock Exchange as one of the top 1000 Inspiring Businesses as well as numerous other industry and national awards for excellence. Dereka acts with kindness and collaboration in all interactions with staff, colleagues, suppliers and clients. She is immensely generous with her time and compassion and it’s easy to see the results of her leadership style. As one example, it’s because of her genuine warmth and care for others that she’s been especially effective in connecting with and integrating key staff in the four companies that have been acquired by Ground Control in recent years.
Darren is a senior civil servant, leading the Department of Trade’s ministerial strategy directorate. His team supports ministers in setting and articulating the department’s strategy, helping to ensure that activities are coordinated, connected across Whitehall, and in line with the overall vision. Darren makes a deliberate effort to encourage a culture of openness, fairness and kindness within his team. He encourages people to bring their ‘whole self’ to work, and he has an open door policy where staff are welcome to approach him with problems, ideas or questions at anytime. This working environment has helped his team achieve some of the highest engagement scores in the Department of International Trade. Darren has an ability to make all members of his directorate feel valued. He has shown a commitment to increasing diversity within the department, being a visible champion for the department’s apprenticeship scheme and the LGBTI+ network. His senior level sponsorship of these schemes and networks has helped drive their success.
Dame Sue Owen
Dame Sue is responsible for the overall management and leadership of the department for digital, culture, media and sport (DCMS), leading DCMS civil servants to ensure the arts, sport, tourism, digital, media and creative industries contribute to economic growth. Projects include promoting Britain all over the world and delivering major initiates such as broadband rollout; a legacy from the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and a series of events to mark the centenary of the First World War. Dame Sue is also the Civil Service Diversity & Inclusion Champion and LGB&TI Champion. Since taking on the role in 2013, Dame Sue has fostered an inclusive, encouraging, dynamic and ‘can do’ atmosphere at DCMS. She’s approachable, always encouraging learning and development as well as new ideas from staff, no matter their rank. She personally mentors staff despite all the time pressures she is under and goes above and beyond to fight for her department and employees so that they have the best opportunities, working conditions and knowledge to do their jobs well.
Dame Joan Stringer CBE
Dame Joan is a seasoned and strategic CEO, chair and non-executive director with a breadth of experience across different sectors. She has held senior roles in higher education for 25 years, most recently as Principal and Vice Chancellor of Edinburgh Napier University, and she currently holds a range of board appointments across the private, arts and not-for-profit sectors. She also undertakes advisory and consultancy work in change management, strategy development and governance. She has contributed to a wide range of public policy developments in Scotland, the UK and overseas and has successfully led change in complex environments. She is passionate about the transformational power of education and has actively promoted widening access to higher education. Dame Joan is consistently respectful and clear in her interactions with everyone she encounters, always treating colleagues with dignity and kindness and thereby creating a nurturing and supportive platform which brings out the best in people and organisations.
Chris’s initial career saw her pave the way to become a main board member of the billion pound retailer, Otto UK. With first-hand experience of running such a large commercial organisation, Chris then moved into the executive coaching space, initially setting-up her own coaching company and subsequently joining MROI. Her vast experience means that she is well placed to coach top talent in all aspects of career and personal development and it is this coaching and her leadership which has had such a significant impact over the years on so many. She has a unique skill – she is able to help clients and colleagues think deeper, gain confidence in their own abilities and thrive. Over and above all else, Chris is incredibly generous with her time, network and insights, always willing to give so that others can fulfil their own potential.
With less time to make decisions we all employ standard business filters to make those decisions and choices - will it be profitable?, will it add value?, will it impact stakeholders ?etc etc Maybe adding 'Is this a kind action’ as our primary filter, we will create a virtuous chain reaction. If it is kind in the first instance, it is very likely that good will follow for all outcomes.
The kindness filter is an essential leadership tool.
Why would we be harsher, tougher, less lenient or even unjoyful in our business interactions.?It makes no sense!
If we operate as our true selves and not some distorted ‘business’ version of ourself we will become liberated and amazed at the kindness chain reaction that our true selves unlock.
It takes less time to be kind - no complicated layered filtering.
It promotes a virtuous chain reaction.
It can be both an individual and a collective ‘sign up’ - kind Boards will bring rapid change to their businesses. Their actions will send ‘kind waves’ through their organisations.
Everyone will be happy in the knowledge that they have been guided in their actions form the most noble of instincts.
Why wouldn’t you be kind first!
Charlotte joined Visa as CEO of Europe in 2017, bringing with her 25 years of experience in financial services, bank operations and management consulting. She is an executive sponsor of Visa’s Young Professionals Group and a mentor for the Visa Mentoring Programme. She is also incredibly supportive of the work carried out by the employee communications and experience team. Charlotte places huge importance on employee well-being and personal development, believing that everyone has a valuable voice from the leadership team to the most junior level. She is acutely aware of the stresses of the job and the challenge to balance work and home life. She also supports Now Teach, an organisation that exists to help those who’ve already made a success of one profession to retrain as teachers.
Bronagh is Chief Counsel and Company Secretary at Severn Trent, the second largest water company in the UK. She heads up the social responsibility committee and, in her current role, is uniquely placed to impact culture, shape the company’s values and ensure focus is placed on the matters that mean the most to staff and customers. She is renowned for her warmth and desire to do the right thing and she has created an incredibly supportive and personally fulfilling culture within the organisation as a whole, evidenced by a score of 94% on the company wide anonymous engagement survey. Bronagh cares for every member of her team, investing time in their well-being, mental health, career development, and work-life balance management. Under her leadership, Severn Trent enjoys a culture that encourages proactive random acts of kindness, something which people thrive on.
Bill has clearly defined well-being as one of the top three priorities for Lincolnshire Police, seeking to improve physical, mental and spiritual well-being within the organisation. Under his leadership, a range of initiatives to improve staff well-being has been introduced, including providing all staff with two days well-being leave per year; additional psychological support; the employment of fitness mentors, and a change to how pay reductions for long term sickness are reviewed. Bill believes that this care is key to achieving an effective police force; he may not be able to change the level of risk his force face on a daily basis but he can provide support that helps them reduce the personal impact. Bill’s compassionate leadership has resulted in an 800% increase in pastoral care provision for officers and staff in times of crisis.
Bill founded The Employability Trust in East Durham in 2011, with the aim to help the unemployed into work, and also to provide a reliable, committed, employable workforce for local manufacturers. Initially, he worked alone to set up the organisation, with a board of part-time trustees, funding much of it himself and using the relationships he had made in industry over his many years of employment to support him. He now has a team and has helped so many unemployed people, of every age to find work, self-esteem and dignity. In recent years, the Trust has also taken on manufacturing work for prestigious clients. Bill treats every person who comes to the Trust with respect and consideration, whether they are a visiting MP, a 40 year old who has never had a job or a young adult with literacy problems. Bill creates an environment where team members can be courageous and try new things. For many, it’s the first time in their lives that they are not found wanting; they are encouraged, nurtured and allowed to shine.
Anya Hindmarch CBE
Anya is the Founder, Chairman and Creative Director of the brand Anya Hindmarch, London. She started the brand in 1987 at the age of 19 and now has over 30 stores worldwide. She is involved in the daily management of the business and is a passionate advocate of British design and the arts. She is also a UK Trade Ambassador, a Non Executive Director of the British Fashion Council, and a trustee of the Royal Academy of Arts and the Design Museum. Anya carries the torch of success for the brand and is well known for her leadership style that sees her weave kindness into every interaction along with patience and a sense of calm. She has developed campaigns that have had a significant positive global impact, for example in 2007 she created the successful environmental project called ‘I am Not a Plastic Bag’. In 2011, she created a designer T-shirt in aid of the victims of the devastating Japan tsunami, and earlier this year she completed a public design project in London which saw giant heart balloons suspended over famous landmarks across the city.
Anne is one of the most influential women in European finance and is currently serving as Chief Executive of Fidelity International. Prior to taking on this role she was Chief Executive of M&G Investments and also held senior roles at JP Morgan Investment Management, Mercury Asset Management and Aberdeen Asset Management. Anne is determined to improve diversity in the male-dominated world of finance and she has been credited as being a driving force in the industry, heading-up many initiatives including Aberdeen’s Back to Boardroom scheme which builds networks to help female talent thrive. Anne is also a member of the US-based 2020 Women on Boards, which aims to raise the percentage of women on corporate boards in the US to 20% or greater by the year 2020. In 2015, Anne was awarded a CBE for her services to the industry.
Andy is the Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Constabulary. He is the highest ranking officer in a police force with over 5,000 employees. Andy’s role is to lead the force and provide strategic oversight and leadership. Andy took on the role of Chief Constable in 2016 and was met with a force that had experienced a period of turbulence with five previous Chief Constables in four years. Morale was low and trust in the community needed to be rebuilt. Andy set the standard from the beginning. With his passion for empowerment, development, relationship building and honesty, Andy was able to simultaneously rebuild the confidence of the community and recover officer and staff morale. His commitment to health and well-being is most notable and the fact that he personally chairs the force’s Health and Wellbeing Board is an example of this. In a hierarchical organisation that is bound by rank and has historic memories of authoritative leadership, Andy’s innovative outlook is indicative of the future of modern policing. He is a truly inspirational leader.
Becky Tipper is a Communications Centre Manager at Avon and Somerset Police and shows immense kindness and fairness, which is recognised across the constabulary. Becky adopts an open and honest leadership style and shares past experiences and vulnerabilities to encourage others to do the same. She was approached by a team member who was involved in an abusive relationship and required support. The woman felt confident that her disclosure to Becky would be met with kindness and understanding. Becky supported her colleague throughout this difficult time and the woman went on to share her own story, with peers and the public, to raise awareness and to help others in similar situations. This is a fantastic example of how kindness in leadership can lead to empowerment that extends beyond a work environment.
Anastasia runs the television channel for the EMEA region for Bloomberg. She joined Bloomberg in 2000 and since then has worked as a field producer, editor, executive producer for interviews and managing editor for television. Within an organisation that is constantly changing, Anastasia is an anchor. Her longevity at the firm, coupled with her network of strong relationships, instills strength and confidence. Her ability to identify, nurture and retain talent makes her an inspiration and a role model. Anastasia cultivates a personal relationship with her direct reports which enables them to have an easy line of communication with her. As someone you can confide in with both personal issues and career aspirations, Anastasia has helped create a culture of trust that has improved employee mental health and well-being and, in turn, productivity.
While helping people grow and reach their potential is a personal honor, but it also makes them a better employee. Kindness creates loyalty, which produces better employees for our company and that in turn increases productivity,both individually and for the team as a whole. This also inspires a positive cycle, when my employees become manages themselves, the same ethos has been ingrained and the ecosystem grows.
Aimie recently retired from Accenture where she worked for 25 years and most recently served as Senior Managing Director. She also served on the Accenture’s UK and Ireland executive board as Chief Innovation Officer and led the health business. Aimie has worked with large client organisations in the US, Europe and Asia, planning and implementing large-scale change programmes. Since leaving Accenture, she has taken up non-executive roles with two organisations on the FTSE Aim All-Share Index and continues to be a leading light within the health and tech sectors. Aimee is well known as an authentic and kind leader, from the little things she does to make everyone feel welcome and appreciated to the way in which her legacy lives on at Accenture – she is widely applauded as having created a ‘ripple effect’ with leaders within the company acknowledging that she has given them permission to make kindness part of their own leadership DNA. Throughout her 25 year career at Accenture, Aimie touched the lives of thousands, at every level within the organisation, helping so many to shine and to be the leaders they are today.