Our 50 Leading Lights
Wanda is a seasoned leader in the charitable sector, committed to bringing life to her values – equality, diversity and inclusion. These values are also said to be specifically Canadian and are, perhaps, central to her effectiveness as CEO of the Canada-UK Foundation, which exists to bring knowledge of Canada to the UK. As a CEO who also fundraises, Wanda’s mission is to help philanthropists make great connections between their own values and the potentially world-changing programmes that need philanthropic support. As her words affirm, “Together we are building the world we will leave as our shared legacy.”
“Wanda’s people-first approach to business is key to organisational success. She is a heart-based leader: measuring on impact and outcome; maintaining flexibility about working hours and conditions; understanding her team’s personal situations, including their motivation, career aspirations and personal circumstances; and, perhaps above all, leading with personal authenticity. She believes that contributions from all, irrespective of their position in the organisation, will achieve more deeply embedded and thus more sustainable business results,and she is consistently transparent and demonstrably values diversity, inclusion and equality, motivating personal buy-in and driving change.”
Since joining the Gynaecology Oncology Team as Lead at Croydon University Hospital, Vivek’s passion for his work has helped develop the department’s service. He has created a new multidisciplinary proforma and rapid access clinic assessment form, which has eased the process of patient discussion and referral, ensuring a more seamless patient pathway and a more concise and consistent assessment of the patient. He is committed to delivering exceptional care for his patients, always going above and beyond.
“Vivek is a kind and compassionate clinician. He is adored by patients and colleagues alike. He always ensures the best level of care for patients. He is very enthusiastic about sharing his knowledge and expertise. He promotes the development of others through encouragement and feedback. He inspires others to be the best they can and to aim for the top.”
Victoria is CEO of AAR, the leading experts in client/agency relationships. She joined the company in 2019, following a successful 20-year career agency-side, working in everything from digital to advertising and shopper marketing. While CEO of LIDA, M&C Saatchi’s global customer engagement agency, the agency doubled in size and twice won the Campaign Agency of the Year Customer Engagement award. Victoria was also a Global Sponsor for diversity and inclusion across the M&C Saatchi network and was named Global Champion of Women in Business by the Financial Times in 2017 and 2018. Currently, she sits on the WACL Executive Committee and chairs its Future Leaders Award (2018/19).
“Victoria is living proof that you can be genuinely warm and kind while still succeeding in a tough, highly-competitive industry. Her strength as a leader is that she doesn’t just care; she makes caring count. She’s a gifted listener, always making time for others so they can be the best versions of themselves. She’s respected by the teams she works with, often being sought out as a mentor. Her down-to-earth approach, combining intellect and honesty, makes her formidable at nurturing client relationships. And she stands up for the diversity and inclusion agenda in a way that’s hugely inspiring and good for business.”
Vanessa is the CEO of Mulberry Schools Trust. The family of secondary schools within the trust is committed to raising standards in challenging contexts and includes Mulberry School for Girls, Mulberry Academy Shoreditch, Mulberry University Technical College, as well as two pre-opening schools, Mulberry Academy London Dock and Mulberry Nursery and Primary School. Under Vanessa’s leadership, Mulberry School for Girls has been rated “outstanding” in two successive Ofsted inspections. Vanessa is a designated national leader of education (NLE) and undertakes school to school support. She is also a Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Education, with a doctorate specialising in education policy and school improvement.
“Dr Ogden combines kindness, fierce determination and intellect in her leadership at Mulberry School for Girls. Her desire for social justice underpins everything she does. From her vision to her faith in her staff and students, she always goes above and beyond to ensure disadvantaged girls are receiving a quality education and the opportunities they deserve. Vanessa’s commitment to a more gender-equal world through the power of education has even had global reach. Her ‘can do’ attitude is infectious, and students and colleagues alike have great respect for her.”
Trudy is an inspiration to everyone she meets. She is the Director of the Brompton Foundation, a charity that supports children with serious medical conditions who are under the care of Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, the largest specialist heart and lung centre in the UK. While her own child was sick in hospital, she began volunteering to help other families in the same hospital, and in a short period, she became invaluable to patients, doctors and nurses in the department. She began running the hospital charity, transforming it from a small-scale, £6kpa organisation to one that raised almost £300kpa in 2018. When the unit risked closure, she campaigned successfully in parliament to keep it open. She started world-first antenatal support groups for parents expecting babies with heart disease. And on top of it all, she serves as a passionate advocate for patient rights, while working on NHS national groups.
“Trudy is so humble and has a core of altruism. In hospitals, charities usually think of patients only – Trudy always thinks of the entire team, creating common bonds between staff and patients. She is entrepreneurial, raising almost £300k pa with a team of volunteers, and her social media channels are a huge support for thousands of families, staff and patients.”
Susie is Joint CEO and Co-Founder of Halpin Partnership, a management consultancy. She is a widely respected consultant in higher education and has expertise in governance and fundraising. She’s a big thinker with a creative mind and an exceptional ability to cut through the confusion to see the way ahead. Always leading by example, she is collaborative, empathetic and an incredibly hard worker. Prior to her current role, Susie led a campaign at the University of Exeter, raising £25m.
“Susie has championed kindness in leadership at Halpin from the start, always leading by example. She has started up @TeamKind1 on Twitter to celebrate and highlight examples of kindness in leadership (and the world in general). Kindness forms the basis of our team culture and manifesto (kindness to ourselves, our clients, each other and the planet). Examples of the way in which Susie inspires kindness can be found all around her, in all areas of her life and work.”
Stephen joined Everards Brewery in 2003 and was appointed Managing Director in 2005. He has embraced the culture and history of Everards and with a very clear, societal-led purpose, he has outperformed the food and beverage sector by balancing commercial and social gains. Stephen and his team continue to innovate, invest and perform, always anchored by Everards’ mission to build relationships with business owners and communities.
“Stephen’s leadership is centered around inclusive societal purpose for business growth. His values – straightforward, supportive, ambitious, responsive and integrity – underpin a collaborative, problem-solving approach. Everards Meadows Project, a vibrant £30m leisure and tourism destination, opened in July this year. Having a kind, open and connected approach has also built trust with statutory authorities, resulting in tens of millions of pounds worth of value being created by securing property planning consents, previously seen as challenging to achieve.”
Sarwjit has been CEO of Centrica Consumer UK for the past six months. After spending 18 years at Centrica, he is now in a position to drive the future agenda of the company. In recognising that many businesses have a “compassion deficit”, Sarwjit is working across all levels of the company to bring kindness to both colleagues and customers. He doesn’t just talk about the importance of compassion and empathy, he has begun implementing a series of programmes that change the “system” and the organisational culture. His transformative leadership style focuses on the leaders themselves and, at the same time, focuses on people over process. Just one example of the initiatives put in place by Sarwjit is the establishment of Learning Academies, where colleagues can learn from each other and take courses. Over 31,000 people took courses in 2019!
“Operating in the energy sector, which can be perceived as a world of blue corporate suits and patriarchal values, Sarwjit eschews the alpha role and demonstrates his own way of working. He practices gratitude and meditation and brings a reflective and thoughtful approach into his work. Sarwjit is a new type of CEO, one that takes the best from the past but seems to recognise that the world has moved on and that the most effective leadership skills are resilience, creativity and emotional intelligence.”
Salim has always been in the fast food industry and worked his way up to the point where he could take the leap to go out on his own. Today, his company is the largest independent franchisee of Burger King (90+) in England. Named the Karali Group, it employs over 2000 members of staff, and Salim’s ethos – honesty, integrity and passion – delivers results. In addition, Salim had the vision and passion to create his own restaurant brands, including: Sticky Sisters, Roosters and El Taco Loco. He has also volunteered in the Ismaili community for over 30 years in multiple positions, including: Pastoral Care Leader; External Relations Representative and currently, Chairman of the Economic Planning Board.
“Kindness and leadership have only recently been referred to as effective tools for growth, change and achievement. However, Salim has been encouraging this message for many years in meetings, discussions and in his company. Salim pushes you to give more than you thought you were capable of, leading to fantastic results. What is more impressive is that he does this by encouraging you to work with new people to allow for dynamic interaction, improving your own communication capabilities and resulting in even more magic being created.”
Sairah is Global CEO at Wolff Olins, the creative consultancy famously described as “the perfect blend of maths and magic”, which operates from three global hubs across multiple geographies and forms part of Omnicom Group. Here, she leads business direction and performance, in partnership with her leadership team and local offices. Over a 20-year career, Sairah has built a reputation for creating high-performing teams and delivering both business transformation and outstanding results for clients. She is an active supporter of the House of St Barnabas, a charity working to break the cycle of homelessness, and a regular TEDx host and speaker.
“Many leaders are loud and want to make themselves known the minute they walk into a room. Not Sairah. She prefers the room of people to shine, rather than have the spotlight on her. Her leadership style is that of someone who is calm, a great listener and, most importantly, is kind. You feel this the minute you talk to her. By no means is she a pushover, but she manages to lead through careful words and actions.”
A respected advocate for cultural industries, Dame Rosemary Squire co-founded Ambassador Theatre Group in 1992, which went on to become the world’s number one live-theatre company. Her latest venture is Trafalgar Entertainment, home to Trafalgar Studios, Trafalgar Theatre Productions, Stagecoach Performing Arts and Trafalgar Releasing. She made history as the first woman to be named EY UK Entrepreneur of the Year, served as a national member of the Arts Council England board and is currently Joint Chair of the Hall for Cornwall. Rosemary was awarded an OBE for services to theatre and received a damehood for services to theatre and philanthropy.
“For Rosemary, kindness is a personal value that has shaped the working culture behind the highly successful live entertainment companies she co-founded – Ambassador Theatre Group and Trafalgar Entertainment. Rosemary is unfailingly generous and naturally inclusive – actively encouraging and celebrating individual achievement whether within her own company or in the industry. Her kindness and empathy in business results in happier and more loyal staff, customers and partners. Leading by example, she inspires and shapes the values and behaviour of her organisation, offering tireless, practical support for people in need of kindness – both at an individual level and as a philanthropist.”
Ron is Chairman of Network International, a fast-growing payments company previously owned by private equity. He also serves in non-executive director roles for Transport for London and the Hundred England and Wales Cricket Board. Ron served as Vice Chairman of Worldpay until 2019 and as its global CEO between 2001 and 2013. During his tenure, he developed the business from a small start-up to a FTSE 100 IPO in London – and then took it through two multibillion-dollar mergers with US-based companies, Vantiv and FIS. In 2018, Ron was awarded an OBE for services to financial services and technology.
“Ron has worked at the highest level of public and commercial life in the UK and internationally. A core driver of his success comes from his ability to show true, unreserved interest in the needs of others, not simply his own. He is personable, loyal and trusting. These characteristics mean that he doesn’t simply draw on his network to suit his own professional goals, but is generous with his time, encourages autonomy and gives recognition where due. He never stops establishing new connections, which in turn give him (and others) new opportunities and different ways to think about complex situations.”
Rim joined CBRE as a graduate surveyor in 2014. She worked in the petroleum and automotive sector and developed strong relationships with large corporate clients, which led to the creation of new job roles, driving additional revenue for the organisation. In addition to her current role as a senior surveyor within the business, Rim is the Co-Network Lead for CBRE’s Multicultural Network, the wellbeing champion for her team and one of CBRE’s mental health first aiders.
“Rim is inclusive and likes to ensure that everyone is accounted for, irrespective of personal differences. As the Co-Lead of the Multicultural Network, she constantly seeks ways to involve people from all parts of the business. She is genuine in her approach and cares for those working around her, both in her immediate team or company-wide working groups. She readily supports colleagues and clients by being a good listener and providing advice using her knowledge and experience.”
Rachel is BT’s Managing Director of Information Technology and leads 14,000 people globally. She’s accountable for designing, building, testing, operating and securing BT’s IT, using IT innovation to provide effortless experiences that turn ideas into reality – for both customers and colleagues. Recognising that a diverse, inclusive culture is key to achieving this, Rachel acts as a role model and expects inclusive mentoring and coaching from her team. She’s passionate about sharing learning and devotes time to mentoring a range of professionals. Rachel is also Executive Sponsor of BT’s TechWomen programme, where she shares her own vulnerabilities and strategies for success, while inspiring over 500 BT women all over the world.
“Rachel leads by example – her door is always open. She’s created an energy across her team, the wider BT and partners, that has spread, quite literally, around the world due to her passion and determination. In turn, this influences our direction and success as a company. The amount of time she dedicates to people, at an organisational and individual level, whilst succeeding in her own highly accountable role, is awe-inspiring. From technical topics right through to corporate social responsibility related projects, Rachel is engaged, approachable and passionate, ensuring people, in every situation, feel valued.”
Pamela has 35 years of experience in retail and wholesale of global luxury brands in the UK and France. She is Chairman and CEO of both Halcyon Days and Caverswall China. Pamela is passionate about the development of youth skills and talent and never tires of promoting and cherishing British craftsmanship and manufacturing. She is a business mentor to The Prince’s Trust and supporter of Walpole, the official sector body for over 250 of the UK’s finest luxury brands. She will serve as President of the Royal Warrant Holders’ Association from 2021 to 2022. Pamela also supports many charities, including Back-up Trust UK; Age Concern UK; The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust; The Royal British Legion and cancer charity AVEC, France.
“Pamela is a highly acclaimed entrepreneur: intelligent, professional and always showing impressive business acumen and unwavering support to others including her employees and business partners. She doesn’t put commercial interests ahead of her true intention to support, allowing others to embrace her kindness. She is also patient in listening to others and finding ways to improve the process so that all can enjoy a better working environment.”
Nafisa is the Co-Founder and CEO of Amaliah and a recognised expert on the representation of Muslim women. Working with global brands to improve Muslim representation across media and advertising, Nafisa has built a community of over 300 Muslim women contributors for articles, podcasts, videos and events, with many publishing their work for the first time. Nafisa’s leadership amplifies the voices of Muslim women – making her a role model for women of colour who aspire to be changemakers. She also works with 23 Code Street in running a coding scholarship for Muslim women.
“Nafisa is constantly putting others and community at the centre of Amaliah’s work. Her generosity is a beacon for her team and for the Amaliah community. She gives her time to help others: she is on the board for the EY Foundation and YSYS, diversifying the tech and startup ecosystem, and volunteers with Muslamic Makers and Muslim Women Connect.”
Margaret is the Founder and CEO of Debate Mate, a global business offering life-changing opportunities to young people trapped in cycles of poverty, with programmes that teach communication and leadership skills in schools and businesses. Debate Mate programme partners include Goldman Sachs, Rolls-Royce, BP and Harvard Business School. Prior to starting Debate Mate in 2008, Margaret ran a successful private legal practice.
“Margaret believes that kindness is everyone’s strength and superpower, delivering academic, professional and business excellence. Everything Debate Mate does is based on three different types of kindness: kindness to yourself, kindness to each other and kindness to the world. It infuses through all aspects of the business and starts from a commitment to changing the lives of the most marginalised in the charity. Debate Mate students are future leaders who learn that compassion and kindness are central skills to success. Given the results since Debate Mate began, kindness is the future business model.”
MaameYaa is a Senior Associate in the Funds & Asset Management team at Allen & Overy (A&O). She has been recognised for her work in establishing a networking group for junior black lawyers at A&O and was instrumental in founding A&O’s Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic committee. MaameYaa’s commitment to diversity and inclusion and her many recommendations presented to A&O’s board have made a significant impact on improving diversity in Saudi Arabia, evidenced by the number of women in senior positions. MaameYaa helped introduce A&O to AfriKids, a charity based in Ghana. Over the course of a two year relationship with AfriKids, A&O staff and partners have contributed £1.37m and delivered 35 pro bono projects
“MaameYaa can be seen to embody kindness by the impact she has made in pursuit of advancing social-mobility and diversity in the legal profession. Her commitment to removing the obstacles she faced early in her career has changed lives for young people and inspired creativity and purpose where role models do not exist. Her ability to make bold decisions has transformed organisations, and her impact has pushed boundaries for women across the Middle East. A strong advocate of collaboration, MaameYaa works with colleagues across Allen & Overy to achieve her vision of promoting diversity and creating a culture of kindness.”
Lieutenant General Richard Wardlaw OBE
Lieutenant General Richard Wardlaw OBE is Chief of Defence Logistics and Support for the British Army. With over 27 years of service, he is a senior leader with a wealth of experience from a wide variety of posts, including Assistant Director Manning; Director Plans, Army; Chief of Staff, Allied Rapid Reaction Corps and, most recently, Director of Army Basing and Infrastructure. He has served around the globe including in Hong Kong, Brunei, the Falkland Islands, Germany and the UK as well as operationally in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan.
“General Wardlaw leads with a human touch. Despite carrying significant responsibility and a punishing personal workload, he embodies the very best of modern military leadership. Personable, approachable, engaging and caring, he always places people at the heart of his focus. He makes every individual feel personally valued, at every level of seniority or role within the organisation; nothing is too much trouble when it comes to his people. The people-first approach that he has fostered throughout his command consistently enables him to deliver enormous business output and lasting positive business change from his small but highly motivated team.”
Les joined RBS in 2010 and became CEO of RBS Personal Banking in 2014. He leads a team of 25,000 employees throughout the UK, Ireland and India. Under his leadership, Personal Banking reported an overall operating profit of £2.5bn in 2018, contributing 52% of the organisation’s total income. Les is one of 12 members of RBS’s Executive Committee, and is also the bank’s Executive Sponsor for Gender. His sponsorship and his relentless focus on improving workplace behaviours has helped significantly improve the proportion of women in senior roles in RBS.
“In his role as the bank’s Executive Sponsor for Gender, Les proactively champions gender equality both inside and outside the bank. He has helped to build a more gender balanced organisation which better reflects the diversity of our customer base, allowing us to anticipate our customers’ needs better. During the past four years, his sponsorship has helped increase the proportion of women in senior roles from 29% to 36%.”
Leena is the Chief HR Officer at Unilever and a member of the Unilever Leadership Executive. She ensures the company has the right people in the right roles, with the right capabilities and mindset to help Unilever meet its ambitious business growth goals, while contributing positively to the society and the planet. Leena is responsible for creating a more human and inclusive workplace environment and articulates her purpose as “igniting the human spark to build a better business and a better world”.
“The defining quality of Leena’s leadership is abundance and positivity. She provides continuous encouragement and inspiration to her team. She will challenge them to be their best, reach their potential and care enough to speak hard truths. She is also passionate about creating an inclusive environment for all, irrespective of people’s backgrounds, culture, gender or sexual orientation. This means equal opportunity, psychological safety, fairness in the workplace and celebrating the good things. She has implemented an enterprise-wide programme to help people find their purpose and to align their work with that purpose.”
Kindness is an intrinsic part of Kim’s nature. Starting out as a runner, she worked hard to progress, but upon seeing the hierarchical structures and associated pressures inherent within the media industry, she vowed to “be the change” she wanted to see. Kim has since spent years mentoring and volunteering within companies including ITV, Channel 4, The Telegraph and now as an Assistant Editor at the BBC. She received the Women of the Future Media Award in 2018. Mental health, kindness and collaboration are hugely important parts of Kim’s remit; the impact this ethos has brought to her working environments has been extraordinary.
“Kim has always acted as both a manager and a friend to me – her personable approach being something I greatly respect about her. More widely within the team, by showing trust in her staff’s judgement, she inspires and motivates, ultimately producing work with passion at its core. As my Commissioning Editor, she has always shown belief in my ideas, a confidence that has helped me to personally develop and push myself as a Producer/Director. Kim’s empathetic management approach nurtures a positive work environment, where everyone supports one another, cultivating a strong teamwork ethic within our department and for the business as a whole.”
Kim is a Non-Executive Director of Ground Control, a fast growing and multi-award winning landscaping and external services company based in Essex. Kim has focused on making Ground Control a great place to work, creating opportunities for professional progression and personal development and establishing an inclusive, diverse and friendly workplace. Following ten years of managing US international aid programmes in her early career, Kim recently founded Canterbury Partners, a social impact investment partnership that seeks out and backs entrepreneurs who have a clear vision of how to effect positive change in people’s lives.
“Kim is motivated to help other people in what she sees as real and practical ways, through direct action and cooperation. Outgoing, friendly, challenging and sympathetic, Kim radiates warmth and fellowship in her everyday interactions with everyone around her. Kim can generate positive energy and high morale within most groups, and her empathy ensures everyone in the group feels heard and valued. Kim has worked tirelessly to create a culture where people are at the centre of everything Ground Control does, and the team spirit within the business is a testament to her success.”
Katy is a customer-focused brand innovator with extensive experience in developing and managing national programmes. She is currently responsible for building awareness and growing the game, through several national programmes. One of these is AllStars Cricket, which to date has engaged over 100,000 children and over 2,000 clubs, giving children an incredible introduction to entry-level cricket. Katy has been instrumental in helping ECB achieve the impressive £1.2m bid to help engage 2,000 south Asian females in cricket, enabling them to become role models within their communities, learn new skills and develop new-found confidence.
“Katy is always present to support, elevate and drive her team forward at every possible opportunity, whether this is one-on-one or in front of internal and external stakeholders. Katy is a keen advocate of not only ensuring she knows everyone at every level, but she also takes pride in celebrating the successes of her teams as her own. No task for Katy is too big or too small, and as a true leader, she has created a culture where everyone feels welcome and able to express themselves and, frankly, a team everyone wants to be a part of.”
Jürgen is one of the best known and most admired managers in sport. At Borussia Dortmund, he won the German league title twice, while at Liverpool he has won the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Super Cup. Reducing his career to sporting achievements, however, would be to downplay the importance of his character and outlook on life, both of which reflect an individual with a burning desire to succeed for others and a determination to act for the greater good. It is the combination of those factors, his excellence in his field and his larger-than-life character, which makes him one of the most revered modern leaders.
“Jürgen’s entire leadership model is built on the twin foundations of generosity of spirit and affection. From the famous post-match hugs he shares with his players, to his determination to ensure praise is afforded to others rather than himself, the Liverpool Manager fosters a feeling of togetherness and selflessness which is embraced by his team. His philosophy is: ‘If I am doing well, I want others to do well too’ – a sentiment that applies off the pitch as well as on the pitch.”
From a team management point of view, this kind of leadership is all about relationships and consistency. If you can support and honour your team, not just when things are going well, they will thrive.
Personally, I am fortunate enough to be in a position where just by offering my time to others and by opening the doors of Liverpool Football Club, I have been able to play a role in the LFC Foundation raising significant funds which are put to good use in the local community.
Julian oversaw the dramatic transformation of techUK from its predecessor, Intellect. By creating momentum and pace in the conditions required for the tech industry to thrive, and with an increased focus on capturing the opportunity for growth and jobs, he has developed a trusted, recognisable brand that represents the UK technology industry within government – and he has promoted it internationally. techUK’s mission is to make the UK a great place for technology companies to start, grow and scale, and to ensure technology is applied to benefit UK businesses and people.
“Julian leads the techUK team with a keen sense of direction and focus and a large dose of humour. It is a happy place to work and, given the size of the team, it achieves enormous breadth and depth of influence and leverage. Julian believes that personal values matter; therefore, everyone at techUK is encouraged to embrace the values they have adopted of Pride, Respect, Courage, Generosity and Integrity. Bringing these values to life through kindness is not a soft option or an abdication of high standards but instead the best way to inspire people to give of their best and work as a team to achieve excellence from everyone.”
Joanna has played an instrumental role in the transformation and modernisation of central services within the Bank of England. As the bank’s policy responsibilities and staff numbers have grown, her stewardship has enabled colleagues to focus on achieving key policy and supervisory goals. Joanna is the bank’s gender champion and has pushed forward numerous initiatives to improve diversity, with women now accounting for 46% of bank staff below senior management and 32% at senior management level, an increase of 15% since 2013.
“The Bank of England can be an intimidating place to work, both intellectually and in terms of its hierarchy. Jo does an incredible job of being both authoritative and accessible within that environment. She is not overly grand, yet garners huge respect from those above and below her. She is also universally kind; she doesn’t discriminate in her thoughtfulness, depending on rank. A new graduate will get the same level of concern as an executive director.”
Joanna is well known as a kind and authentic leader. She makes everyone in the business feel appreciated and has led a fundamental shift in culture, with leaders across the business adapting their approach to bring kindness to the centre of their leadership style. Joanna is an inspiration, a mentor and a role model. Not just to the people at Jackson Lees, but also to students – via thought-provoking speeches and her role as a governor in local schools.
“Joanna is the definition of kind, thoughtful and authentic leadership. She has been the main architect of a fundamental shift in the culture of our business. Law firms are not generally places where people feel able to be open and show vulnerability – however, Joanna has not just said that it is OK to be vulnerable, she has actually embedded it in our culture. Joanna celebrates the success of others and pushes others to the fore – her pivotal role in the development of our rising stars means that the future of our business sits in the hands of the next generation of kind leaders.”
Janet is Chief of Staff and Group Director of Responsible Business and Inclusion at Lloyds Banking Group, as well as a member of its executive team. She is also Executive Sponsor for LGBTQ+. Janet joined Lloyds Banking Group in 2008, bringing with her 26 years of experience in financial services. In her role, she 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 also serves as Chair of the Charities Aid Foundation Bank, Trustee of the Banking Standards Board and Chair of Governors at Camden School for Girls.
“Janet has a proven track record of being an inspirational leader. She makes a deliberate effort to encourage a culture of openness, fairness and kindness, and she is immensely generous with her time and compassion. She has shown a firm commitment to increase diversity across the business, passionate about ensuring everybody has equal opportunities to succeed. Janet was responsible for the work that established Lloyds Banking Group as the first FTSE 100 company to set public targets focused on the number of female executives and BAME colleagues – a huge success lever that is now being replicated elsewhere.”
Through the Uninvisibility Project, Jane empowers midlife women to tell their stories and uses her voice to amplify them. She’s working to change the narrative, to make women over 50 more visible and valuable to society. She’s creating a movement – offering these women opportunities to show the world who they are and what they’re capable of. Jane embodies Shine Theory – lifting up those around her and championing their brilliance. She wants to make a difference: in words and actions.
“Jane’s embodiment of Shine Theory extends to the way she leads; to the culture she creates around her and the way she works with, empowers and mentors others. She’s an advocate, an ally, a champion. She’s collaborative. She’s generous with her time. She listens. She makes you feel heard. She gives you space. She leads with compassion, with empathy, with understanding. With respect. Without judgement or preconception. With heart. With resilience. With guts. Because Jane is tough. She has to be. She takes no bullshit. The woman is a force. But, damn, is she a force for good”.
Jack is the CEO of Big Youth Group, a company created solely for the purpose of improving the odds for young people. He has appeared on panels, delivered public talks and mentored countless individuals. His current goal is to bring jobs, education, mentorship and health guidance and advice to two million young people across the UK.
“Jack is fully transparent with the whole team, from intern to PA. Everyone is given free reign to voice their opinions, and he welcomes your troubles with an empathetic ear. He has helped many people find their passion, guided countless young people in the right direction and is constantly promoting mental health awareness everywhere he goes. The team all believe in his goal to empower the youth, and it is amazing to see him at work.”
Helen is Managing Director of Touchstone, a multimillion-pound property management business. She has spent the last two and half years transforming the business, changing the culture, creating career progression, and adding new training and flexible working. Her work has seen the business crowned Employer of the Year and has driven growth, added high profile new clients and delivered a 4% margin improvement. That’s no mean feat in the highly competitive property management industry. Helen’s next step is to help transform the private rented sector.
“Helen’s leadership has transformed Touchstone, totally changing the culture and creating a happier, healthier workforce, with over 90% of colleagues saying they would recommend Touchstone as a brilliant place to work. She places huge importance on well-being and development. By really listening to colleagues and acting on their needs, she has improved mental health and well-being, which in turn has led to Touchstone’s growth and success.”
Hayley has risen from administrator to the EMEA Executive Committee at Invesco. She comes to work for the people, and that has been evident throughout her 25-year career at the company. Regardless of the demands of the job, she always puts people first – being adept at absorbing the pressure of her own job while supporting her staff with an open-door policy. She always shows empathy and truly wants others to succeed and be recognised for their achievements.
“Hayley shows kindness to people in the most natural and authentic manner. The scope of her role at work has grown enormously, and with that has come increased responsibility for sizable teams, running into the hundreds. As a leader, it is inevitable that sometimes she has to pass on bad news, but she will always communicate honestly and with kindness. She has never seen leadership as a personal competition, and by setting the right tone from the top, the culture of the team follows”.
Ernestina is Group Purpose and People Experience Manager at Virgin and Co-Founder of Milk Tooth, a jewellery business dedicated to statement earrings. After starting her career in TV production, Ernestina held a variety of roles in communications and brand, spending seven years at the BBC before joining Virgin Group in 2011. She is widely acknowledged as one of the most respected people in the business, driving innovative campaigns including a parental buddy system for new mothers whilst they’re on maternity leave and launching a cross-company mentoring system for senior women. Ernestina is not afraid to challenge the status quo and leads the gender and disability employee resource networks.
“Ernestina is someone you’re drawn too. She has ambitious goals, however, she empowers you to believe you can achieve them. This is a view shared by many who have worked for her. She works hard, achieves results, yet knows how to motivate and inspire those around her to deliver in a warm and kind way. Ernestina is someone you want to work for; you want to be in her team.”
Emma Willis MBE DL
Emma is the Founder of Emma Willis, the boutique bespoke shirtmaker located on the famous Jermyn Street, London. Emma first opened her store in 1999, and in 2010 she opened her English shirt making factory in the centre of Gloucester. She is passionate about traditional English shirt making techniques and employing local, skilled craftspeople. Ten years ago, Emma also founded the charity, Style for Soldiers. She has since personally met over 750 injured service personnel whom she has measured for a bespoke shirt at Headley Court Military Rehabilitation Centre. Emma has enlisted other British Brands (Marks and Spencer, Lock Hatters, Burberry, Russell and Bromley, London Sock Company and Mulberry to name a few) to provide the beneficiaries with bespoke walking sticks, suits, shoes and hats to assist with their transition into civilian life. The charity has also developed and now offers financial and career advice, counselling and well-being workshops amongst so many other initiatives.
“Emma shows kindness in all walks of life and has certainly made an impact on every beneficiary she has met through her charity. Style for Soldiers is described as a “family” and for some she has been a lifeline. Emma shows kindness within her own business too – she works very much on trust which can be felt in the company as everyone knows that their job is valued and we all work together to make the company run successfully. Everybody needs each other for the company to work.”
Emily is a constant inspiration to those in and outside of work. From sponsorship programmes to colleague referral breakfasts and the development of new partnerships, Emily’s day-to-day role within the inclusion team means her projects have a direct impact on the culture of the organisation. Emily goes above and beyond her role too, not just to develop herself professionally, but to truly empathise with different cultures and broaden her awareness. She’s also a Councillor for Coxley Green and Founder of a personal project, Violet’s Gift.
“Emily’s levels of empathy are unlike anything I’ve ever seen in a leader before – and it’s not all about big-bang gestures, it’s the simple things, like remembering key dates and little anecdotes that she’s heard. Because Emily is respectful of other cultures and beliefs, colleagues around her feel they can be their authentic selves at work and that they don’t need to stay quiet about things that are important to them. This was particularly prevalent during Ramadan, when Emily noticed how often we celebrate/reward success with food and drink and how excluding this was to Ramadan-observing colleagues. Emily expressed this sentiment in the office, and it was clear how much colleagues appreciated this.”
Elliot is a Partner and Director of Business Development, responsible for brand, marketing, communications, client development, new business, international strategy and social impact. He also works with clients in developing both business and brand strategies. Elliot was one of Mishcon’s first non-legal partners, and in 2012 he was the first non-lawyer to be included in the FT’s list of top 10 innovative individuals in the legal sector. Since Elliot joined the firm in 2009, with the mission to “convert Mishcon from a famous name into a famous brand”, revenue and profit have both grown by more than 100%.
“Elliot understands that people are the most important part of business. With that in mind, he strives to ensure those he works with are happy and supported. Elliot is a great communicator, and his openness and willingness to discuss things with you means there is a culture of transparency and trust. As well as driving a results-driven and successful part of the business, Elliot knows that work should be fun too. If anyone is struggling, he makes sure they feel comfortable coming to him and talking about it.”
David joined Barclays 29 years ago as an apprentice in Ipswich. He is a seasoned banker and inspirational leader. David is currently responsible for all Barclays Corporate Banking locations outside of the UK, with relationships with some of the bank’s largest clients. This global role has allowed him to understand different dynamics and working practices across the world and appreciate a vast variety of working cultures. David is the Executive Sponsor for the Corporate Bank’s multicultural agenda and is striving to break down barriers and make Barclays an inclusive employer – leading from the top.
“With possibly one of the most demanding roles in the Corporate Bank, David is very often travelling, typically in a different country every week. He shares the wealth of his experiences and learns with the teams around the world through his blogs – making each team member feel valued. By taking the time to share not only his experiences but showcase the successes of his teams around the globe, he creates a culture where colleagues are driven, feel proud to work in his business and ultimately feel respected. The result is that he leads the largest and best performing teams.”
Chris has ensured that RAPP has become a destination agency where the best people want to work. He has empowered his people to stand up proudly, not only for themselves and their differences, but also for causes about which they feel passionately. He’s a vital advocate for learning and development at RAPP and has helped to ensure an IPA Gold Accreditation for two years running for RAPP’s approach to people. Importantly, RAPP’s gender pay gap has reduced during his tenure, not least due to his vision for a fair and open workplace.
“Chris leads through a strategy of empowerment, trust and celebration of the fierce individuals who work at RAPP. He has encouraged an entrepreneurial spirit in many and fostered an inclusive and supportive workplace. Through his support, RAPP has stood up for mental health in the workplace, sexual harassment in the workplace, flexible working, unconscious bias and a balanced workforce – this year reducing our gender pay gap to under 20%.”
As Director of Strategy and Operations, Cathy heads up the identification and development of strategic fundraising partnerships. She also supports UCL with guidance and advice in their fundraising work, particularly on gift acceptance and due diligence. Cathy was formerly Joint Faculty Manager in UCL’s faculties of Arts and Humanities and Social and Historical Sciences, with responsibility for a variety of strategic projects, training and development. She has also worked as Faculty Manager of Laws at UCL and has held senior roles at King’s College London and VSO.
“Despite having a relentlessly busy diary, Cathy always makes time for others. She is an active listener and generous with her support and advice, helping to cut through the complexity of challenges to find empowering solutions. Her presence in any situation brings knowledge, clear-headedness, warmth, encouragement and integrity.”
An inspirational leader and industry powerhouse, Carolyn is strategically and financially accountable for Code, Omnicom’s leading marketing technology agency. One of Data IQ’s Top 100 for three years running, Carolyn is currently Co-Chair for Omniwomen & Allies and was instrumental in the UK launch of Women in Tech. She’s an IDM Fellow, is on the Qualifications and Advisory Board and manages to fit in being a school governor and Chair of the Admissions and Pastoral Committee. Driven by a desire to get the best out of people and find the best solutions, Carolyn’s approach combines calmness and approachability with firmness and pragmatism.
“Great leaders inspire and empower – this is what Carolyn does. What makes her different is her innate humanity. She encourages openness and kindness, putting people first and recognises that we all have lives outside of work, which makes us more than just a resource. Our people feel respected, accepted and safe, empowered to have ideas and opinions and to voice them – no matter their seniority.”
Barbara (Basia) Zieniewicz
Basia is motivated by ethical and meaningful change. She is an advocate for access to cannabis for medicinal use. She is a founding team member for the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis and currently heads-up a law-changing campaign, Families 4 Access. Basia is devoted to patient advocacy and public education, co-founding CPASS, the UK’s first professional cannabis patient advocacy organisation and CANN-Talks, a platform to illuminate, inform and destigmatize the complexities of the plant-human relationship.
“Basia has fostered an inclusive, collaborative environment by inviting patients and activists into team management, therefore ensuring that the vulnerable voices and grassroots are at the forefront of cultural changes surrounding reform. This underpins the success of the organisations, which in turn means the success of the most in-need people. Basia demonstrates gratitude towards people’s openness and seeks out ways to work cooperatively rather than competitively. Basia’s attitude towards her team and patients is gestalt and humanistic, placing great value on empowerment, mental health and ensuring that people feel good within themselves before getting through a to-do list.”
Astrid is a Partner at Arcadis and currently leads the 140-strong Rail South team. Having held leadership roles across design, engineering and management consultancy, both in the UK and internationally, she focuses on bringing the best of Arcadis to clients. Astrid is also the People & Culture Lead for rail, aviation and highways, where she influences 1,500 professionals and drives the future skills agenda and a culture of belonging.
“Astrid is a transformational leader upon whom the business relies to change culture and build high-performing teams. She does this in a people-focussed manner – relentlessly encouraging, never taking credit and empowering others to succeed. She cares enough to tell you what you need to hear – not what you want to hear – speaking hard truths that embody kindness; challenging people to be their best, to find their own solutions and focus on the right outcomes. The results of improved team morale, growing inter-generational leadership, improved client relationships, financial performance and followership, are evident.”
Anne-Wil is Professor of International Management at Middlesex University, London and visiting Professor of International Management at Tilburg University. She is a Fellow of the Academy of International Business, a select group of distinguished AIB members who are recognised for their outstanding contributions to the scholarly development of the field of international business, or for their significant contributions to the AIB. Before joining Middlesex, Anne-Wil was Professor of International Management and a former Associate Dean of Research at the University of Melbourne, Australia. She has mentored and sponsored many female academics, and she is currently driving a movement called “Swans”, established to help young academics succeed.
“Anne-Will always responds and helps out. She takes time and is authentically interested in people. Despite her many achievements, she remains humble and would never put herself on stage. She has a proven track record and makes every place she works a better place before she leaves.”
As Managing Director at Willis Towers Watson, Amanda leads a team of over 300 UK experts across its Talent & Rewards division, providing expert advice to large global organisations. Additionally, as CEO and Founder of Mike’s Mates, Amanda fights to improve mental health in the UK through leveraging technology and social media. She is a STEM ambassador, member of the UK Game Changer and Women on Boards networks, and a volunteer at Inspiring the Future. She graduated with an MBA from the Smith School of Business.
“As an effective but kind leader, Amanda is a powerful, inclusive listener with empathy, demonstrated by a thoughtful, unhurried approach to leadership – always making people feel like she has time for them. She rarely directly critiques; she rather helps the individual reflect on a behaviour through asking probing questions – this builds positive action rather than negative analysis. This has caused others to reflect and adapt their own styles to be more thoughtful and less reactionary. She has developed a high-performance team culture of thoughtful feedback and positive recognition through both her style but also the recognition scheme she has implemented.”
Amanda is a senior leader at the global real estate consultancy, CBRE. As a chartered surveyor, Amanda has had an outstanding career in a traditionally male-dominated sector. In 2016, she became the second-ever female President of RICS and used the platform to promote the need for greater diversity and inclusion across the global profession and wider sector. She has recently published a book on diversity and inclusion – a practical handbook on change for the industry and another example of Amanda’s sense of responsible leadership in this vital sector.
“Amanda is a naturally kind and authentic leader. The loyalty and success of her current and former team members, as well as the admiration of many in our built environment industry, are testament to Amanda’s kindness, thoughtfulness and care for the individual, combined with her relentless focus on results and striving for better. Her career success speaks for itself – she knows how to get the very best out of teams and make everyone feel valued.”
Alison has used her unique management style to guide the global IT team at RenaissanceRe
through huge growth and transformation. Her role has grown over the years to become one with global responsibilities, and she is currently a member of the London Executive Committee. She has worked tirelessly in support of women in IT and is involved in many initiatives promoting diversity and inclusion, including hosting open days and presentations for school girls, which allows them to speak to successful women in IT and the insurance industry and encourages interest in these fields.
“Alison’s management style of kindness and compassion is contagious. This, in turn, empowers the managers on the team and gives them the freedom to act in the same manner with their direct reports. Alison has successfully created a prevalent culture of openness and honesty. Working in a high pressure environment across multiple time zones can be challenging and make it difficult to maintain a healthy work-life balance. However, the positive culture Alison has created has provided her staff with the confidence to be open with any personal issues, knowing there will be understanding and no judgement at all managerial levels.”
Alexandra is Build to Rent Fund Director at PfP Capital, the fund/asset management arm of Places for People Group, which oversees a UK-wide strategy to deliver 3000 new homes. She is an internationally recognised expert on build-to-rent and has advised government, private and third sector organisations across four continents. She sits on multiple influential industry committees and is a non-executive director and charity trustee. With a reputation for being “abnormally energetic”, Alex is passionate about enabling tangible social impact through innovation and collaboration, as well as mentoring the next generation of diverse talent.
“Alex is an inspirational leader. She invests time in those around her, passing on her knowledge and experience. She is supportive, facilitating introductions and promoting colleagues and mentees across the industry. Her positive attitude lifts those around her, creating a collaborative team environment. She cares that things are done ‘the right way’, going above and beyond to ensure people at all levels are respected and engaged. But what sets her apart is her intuitiveness and insightfulness. Her warmth, kindness and generosity of spirit create an environment which enables those around her to grow and develop, empowering them to succeed.”
Alex is a leading female tech entrepreneur who sold her first business, Hassle.com, for £27 million. She is now the Founder and CEO of Resi, a revolutionary new platform in architecture for homeowners and architects alike. Using technology to make the process of renovating a house as convenient as possible, Resi offers a complete service, guiding customers from initial concept through to drawing designs, planning permission and building regulations. Resi can even help an individual find a builder and finance for a project. In just over two years, Alex has built the business to become the largest residential architectural practice in the UK.
“With Resi, Alex has consciously tried to build a business that embodies the values she holds dear. To encourage equality, she offers an equal maternity and paternity leave policy to all staff members. She also offers regular performance coaching to her team and encourages an ‘open door’ policy in terms of talking about mental health issues. After her own struggle with burnout, she is keen to avoid any stigma. The culture of the organisation is warm and open: a direct reflection of her leadership style. She actively wants her team to enjoy working at Resi and firmly believes it’s the best way to build a sustainable business.”
In your experience, how does kindness make
Born in Malaysia, Alex’s first restaurant cooking job was at the age of 14. He then moved to Singapore to work for the prestigious Fullerton Hotel, with the experience allowing him the opportunity to develop a new standard and interpretation of the ancient art of Chinese cooking. Alex arrived in London in 2004 to lead the kitchen at Kai Mayfair. His passion and his desire to innovate has earned him a reputation as one of London’s most exciting culinary talents. Alex has been awarded a Michelin Star for ten consecutive years since 2009.
“Alex strongly believes in sharing his love and knowledge of food and modern Chinese style cooking with his trainees and the public. He is incredibly passionate about helping young chefs sharpen their skills and excel in their respective futures and has personally mentored several chefs, with many now running their own restaurants based on principles taught by Alex.”