Our 50 Leading Lights
An experienced strategist, Zara has worked with well-known brands such as P&G, Boots, Samsung, Pizza Hut and Lidl, using her creativity and analytical skills to drive business growth. Zara believes in fostering cultures of curiosity, diversity and innovation within teams and clients alike. She’s a force for positive industry change, championing supportive, empathetic and collaborative ways of working and leadership. She is also Co-Head of Strategy for professional network, Bloom, and podcast host of Who’s Next (an interview-based show focused on Shine Theory).
“Zara is the very definition of Shine Theory. Meet her and you’ll be struck by her commitment to lifting up others. A brilliant listener and selfless giver, Zara invites people to walk alongside her and gives so much of herself so that others can shine. At work, she goes out of her way to provide support to those around her and to be a positive influence. Volunteering for professional network Bloom, she works tirelessly to give people the confidence to overcome imposter syndrome in their own careers.”
Yasmin Waljee OBE
Yasmin is Hogan Lovells’ International Pro Bono Director. She delivers an outstanding pro bono service to charities, individuals and social enterprises in need. By designing and implementing pro bono projects which draw on the firm’s commercial legal knowledge and skills to produce measurable outcomes nationally and internationally, Yasmin has helped the firm achieve so much and impact so many. Yasmin is an international human rights lawyer and has advised on issues relating to compensation for victims of crime and terrorism, and regularly works on public policy issues in this area. Yasmin co-leads the firm’s award-winning social enterprise and social finance practice.
“Yasmin cares passionately about social justice and fighting for rights for those who would not normally have access to legal services. A recent example which demonstrates this is her groundbreaking work supporting Yazidi women who were victims of ISIS. She is setting precedents with her human rights work and despite many obstacles she never gives up. This unwavering commitment to doing what is right filters through every aspect of her work, into her team and across the firm.”
Tara is a Detective Chief Superintendent in the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS). She joined Hampshire Police in 1995 and transferred to the MPS in 2015. Tara founded the MPS Network of Women in 2018, a forward-focussed peer group for staff of all ranks/grades, aimed at positive development, growth and confidence-building through the sharing of knowledge and experience. With women underrepresented across the organisation, Tara is determined to drive change and gender equality so as to make a positive impact on performance, morale, ethics and culture.
“Tara is a true leader who inspires staff, male and female, in order to improve the culture of the MPS and encourage women to succeed. The Network of Women was set up in addition to Tara undergoing treatment for breast cancer in 2019. She has been an inspiration to many, not only in the set up of this network, but she has also done a significant amount of work to raise awareness of breast cancer, ensuring the MPS can support those affected by cancer, by setting up support networks and writing blogs throughout her treatment.”
Tamara is Managing Partner for Europe and the Middle East at Reed Smith LLP. She’s a member of the firm’s senior management team and its global board, as well as a market-leading finance lawyer with over 20 years of experience. In 2019, Tamara was ranked 30th in the global Yahoo Finance HERoesWomen Role Model List and shortlisted for Women in Law at the British Legal Awards. She is a founding member of the 30% Club Steering Committee.
“Tamara is not only extremely generous with her time but also generous with creating opportunities and providing the necessary support that enables an opportunity to be converted into a genuine success. Fuelled by relentless support and encouragement, over the past ten years I have witnessed countless lawyers grow and benefit from her leadership but also witnessed how the culture of her team has grown and developed to embody all of these tremendous attributes.”
With over 17 years of management experience at the London Underground (LU), Taiwo drives the Mayor of London’s transport vision by leading teams to deliver world-class services, while mitigating reputational risks in her capacity as LU Ambassador. As an excellent risk forecaster and strategist, she accounts for multi-million-pound project budgets. Passionate about diversity and inclusion, Taiwo served as Vice Chair of LU’s Women’s Staff Network Group. Last year, she also collaborated with the University of Westminster and the Uganda High Commission on a major water sanitation project in Uganda.
“Taiwo is an inspiration and an excellent role model for all women. Working in a male-dominated environment she has risen to the top as Operations Manager at Transport for London – an incredibly challenging and demanding role and, alongside this, she balances other personal commitments. Last year she completed an MBA and embarked on a water sanitation mission project to Uganda. She truly embodies the idea that there is no limit to achieving your dreams – breaking glass ceilings on gender, racial and age gaps!”
Surg Cdr Jo Keogh OBE RN
Jo has served in the Royal Navy as a doctor and radiologist since 1996. She is the Commanding Officer of the Joint Hospital Group (South West) and has served her country in austere environments from Afghanistan to the Ukraine, often working as the only doctor on Navy ships and relying on good humour and kindness to provide the best possible care to all. Her command direction to the unit is three-fold – be kind to your people, be kind to your patients but, ultimately, be kind to yourself.
“Joanna is thoughtful on every occasion, considering the impact of her decisions and direction on those whom she leads. Being transparent with aspects of her own life and providing truthful, inspiring actions to all those with whom she comes into contact, has earnt her the trust and loyalty of her personnel – not an easy achievement in a relatively short period of command. Joanna leads by example and her caring and kind nature shines through to everyone, no matter their seniority.”
Thirty years ago Simon joined the family business, a building materials, timber and fencing company. The company now employs over 340 staff in 16 branches and has won numerous awards for excellence. Passionate about building a values-based business built on trust and empathy, Simon’s business model seeks to move towards a triple bottom line approach – making a profit, building community and focusing on environmental responsibility.
“Simon has placed the ethos of ‘putting people first’ at the centre of the business. Lawsons’ strapline is ‘Family Values – Professional Service’, and this encapsulates exactly what the business is all about. It’s a customer and employee-focused family business that puts people first before profit. Simon promotes and supports the special values Lawsons holds dear, including adopting a personal approach and striving to fulfil all customer and employee needs.”
Shruti joined the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) in 2019 as the City Programmes Manager, leading a new team of seven. Shruti led on an exciting journey during the Cricket World Cup, delivering national cricket programmes in non-traditional venues, in line with the South Asian Action Plan. The project engaged 549 South Asian females in cricket volunteering roles across the country. Recently, Shruti was promoted to Head of Volunteering. In this new role, Shruti is focused on designing the ECB’s first game-wide volunteering strategy.
“Shruti is supportive, caring, and passionate about empowering others and always leads with kindness. She is a keen advocate of connecting with others at every level and takes pride in celebrating her team’s successes as her own. Shruti is a firm believer in changing the world and she leads by example, encouraging her team to always ‘dream big’. Shruti has cultivated a positive team culture, which allows everyone to bring their full selves to work.”
Serge a storyteller at heart, starting with poetry and self-written raps as a teenager, he evolved to writing stage plays and screenplays, launching his own independent production company in 2008. Since then he has served as a writer, director and producer on multiple productions and has 18 production credits to his name. In 2012 Serge joined Sky Academy Studios as a facilitator, eventually becoming Innovation Coach. To date, his work has helped engage over 160,000 young people aged 8–16, helping them to develop key life skills while creating factual and fictional content.
“‘You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. This has never been more true than for Serge. His talent, compassion and positive energy has made him not only a great manager but a true friend. Serge’s sensitive and supportive character has enabled him to tap into a person’s strength to effortlessly engage with them and help them prosper.”
As Chief People Officer at Fidelity International, Sally is responsible for global human resources and communications. She focuses holistically on employee experience, built upon a diverse, inclusive and meritocratic organisation and underpinned by a culture of continuous self-improvement and effective talent management. Sally joined Fidelity in 1999 from PwC. She is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and a Trustee on the boards of Big Education and Future First, an education charity building alumni communities in state schools across the UK.
“Sally is a role model for the power of kindness in effective leadership, known for her calm and thoughtful style, which has led Fidelity to greater success by focusing on purpose, people, values and behaviours. She gives generously of her time and knowledge to her charitable commitments. Her focus on nurturing talent has strengthened career vitality within her team and across the organisation, with many colleagues testifying to her personal impact on their development. Sally’s compassionate leadership has placed employee wellbeing at the centre of Fidelity’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, resulting in our highest ever employee engagement scores.”
Sadie is a Community Engagement Officer heading up regular community-led forums and engagement initiatives that bring together empowered women who, through training and education, empower diverse communities and ensure the Met is able to serve in the best way possible. Prior to her current role, Sadie was a dedicated Sexual Offences Technique Officer for 10 years, working in a high volume crime unit with survivors of trauma.
“Sadie invited me to join the S015 women’s group in 2018. She has brought together key women across London and the country. All the women work with communities in a variety of areas such as safeguarding, community capacity building, the voluntary sector and counter extremism. Sadie has given us all opportunities to learn, develop and support one another. Most of all, she has given us a voice on a national level to make a difference, whereas before,we may not have had that opportunity. This is why the work she does is so vitally important.”
In business, if we do something for a return, it is not kindness, it's just business as usual. Being kind at work puts aside egos, works on our relationships and boosts team confidence.
Rear Admiral Jim Macleod CB
Jim is an inspirational, visionary leader who has nurtured and empowered members of the armed forces by celebrating diversity and creating a truly inclusive environment within which his team can thrive. Challenging existing norms about gender, he established a working group to transform the culture of the armed forces by increasing gender diversity (from the current 3% senior women to 30% senior women in the military by 2030). Leading by example and investing in behavioural change initiatives, Jim has influenced the important first steps of this necessary transformation.
“By encouraging and co-creating a shared vision for the future, Jim has nurtured and developed his team and wider stakeholders on the change journey. Displaying humility and openness about his own weaknesses, unconscious biases and need to learn from others’ lived experiences, his approachable and empathetic style make him an ideal role model of male allyship, especially in a masculine and homogenous organisation like the military. He inspires trust in others, creating a collaborative culture that celebrates diversity and enables all in the team to be their best and authentic selves.”
Rachel has over 28 years of sports development experience, specialising in the development of women’s football at the Football Association. Rachel is currently the FA National & International Women’s Football Development Manager, with her main areas of responsibility being to develop football opportunities for female under-represented communities and to lead on international relations in women’s football development. She is a designated expert in Women’s Football Development at both FIFA and UEFA, and a Trustee at Aston Villa Foundation.
“Rachel embodies the values of kindness in leadership in all she does. She champions girls and women’s football, creating opportunities for people from all walks of life to play, feel valued, make friends and have a sense of belonging. She has pioneered programmes with under-represented groups including refugees and works collaboratively and with kindness to make things better for everyone. She mentors, champions and elevates others because she knows that all of us win when one of us rises.” – Ruth Shaw, General Manager, The Premier League Charitable Fund.
Rachel is an outstanding leader in the communications industry, with over 20 years of experience in the advertising world. She is CEO of UM, a leading global media agency. Rachel’s signature leadership style is characterised by empathy, kindness and fun, with an approach that’s best described: ‘people first, the rest will follow’. Rachel’s trajectory reflects the success of her leadership style. Prior to joining UM, she rose through the ranks at Publicis Groupe, becoming MD of Starcom’s flagship Procter & Gamble business and, later, CEO of Spark Foundry.
“Rachel has made it her business to understand what UM’s talent and clients want and need. Crucially, she acts on that insight and delivers change and action in order to better support them. Rachel’s approach to business delivers both compassion and impact (not least, commercially): UM’s annual revenue has grown by 30% under her leadership; our gender pay gap has decreased from 19.8% to 9.2%; UM’s executive board has evolved from 85:15 male-to-female to 50:50, and 96% of employees are in agreement with ‘I believe in our leader’s vision’.”
Professor Deborah Bowman MBE
Deborah is an Professor of Bioethics, Clinical Ethics and Medical Law who has combined a successful academic career with effective and values-based senior leadership in Higher Education and health and social care where she has been responsible for public engagement, equality and diversity, quality and partnerships, mentoring, staff wellbeing and organisational development. Throughout her career, she has worked in policy settings and public organisations, often in standards and regulation. Deborah has published widely on ethics, both in relation to individuals and organisations. She is a broadcaster, particularly for BBC Radio, and has worked extensively in public engagement. She has held a range of non-executive, Chair and Board roles working with regulators, charities, funding bodies, schools and NHS Trusts, including national public appointments.
“Professor Deborah Bowman’s commitment to develop and empower students and colleagues, especially women, both inside the organisation and out, has had immeasurable impact in higher education and the public sector. She is a truly exceptional individual with a tremendous intellect that she is able to use with great charm and kindness in her leadership of others. Her approach is unfailingly thoughtful, individualised and supportive, with the ability to celebrate people’s humanity and strengths so that they are able to develop confidently.”
A fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and with years of experience in HR, Philippa leads a team of 270 across a broad corporate services remit. She is a member of the executive teams of the Office for National Statistics and Civil Service HR, with a strong belief in inclusion, compassion and nurturing growth. Committed to the development of women and minority groups, she has implemented many successful initiatives and mentored extensively. Philippa is also engaged in projects to improve literacy and life chances for children.
“Philippa leads with a strong values base and an innate ability to inspire and encourage others. She has genuine compassion, which is experienced by those around her through her care and nurture, both professionally and personally. She works tirelessly in the service of others and has been fundamental in the career success of many. Her inclusivity and energy are exemplary; she brings people together, she represents and consistently seeks the views of others to drive innovation in her work and for her business, changing the culture of organisations, and making them employers of choice.”
Olivia has risen through the ranks at the Camden School for Girls from being Head of English to serving as Deputy Headteacher, with responsibility for the sixth form. She still teaches English throughout the school and her students have achieved extraordinary results. The Camden School for Girls is ranked among the top 100 schools in the UK (including private schools) and is a non-selective comprehensive in the inner city. Sixth form students regularly secure over 15 Oxbridge places and five or more medical school places each year.
“Olivia’s kindness, the importance she gives to student wellbeing and her approach ability make her the ideal person to enable students to feel welcome and safe. Olivia has a natural warmth and friendliness which students and colleagues like and respect. This is combined with enormous determination to see students succeed; her kindness is not in any way a sign of weakness; quite the opposite. It manifests itself in an uncompromising professional vision that only through combining a welcoming and compassionate ethos with high standards and expectations can we help students grow and achieve in their final school years.”
Nitin was appointed COO of Unilever in 2019, one of the world’s largest CPG companies, with approximately 400 brands, 150,000 associates and a turnover of approximately $60Bn USD. Nitin is focused on creating a faster and more responsive business and leveraging synergies, building future capabilities, and accelerating the digitisation of the organisation. Prior to this role, Nitin has a long history within the organisation, including most recently serving as President, Foods & Refreshment, and as President of Unilever’s Home Care Division. Nitin joined Unilever at Hindustan Lever Limited (India) in 1987 where he held various roles in marketing and sales. In 2000, he moved to Unilever London and in 2008 he was appointed as CEO of Hindustan Unilever Limited, India and Executive Vice President for Unilever, South Asia.
“Nitin embodies kindness by always being available for team members and providing advice generously. He shows gratitude for jobs well done, remains calm and kind even in difficult situations, never taking compliments as individual accomplishments but always including appreciation for the team. By showing kindness he sets people up for success, giving them the confidence to act, and uses it as a key agent of human change. He shows his kindness to his teams, his family, India and his desire to make the world a better place, starting by being the best version of himself. What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?”
Nitin is the Director of Growth and Transformation at Tata Consultancy Services. With over 20 years of industry experience and having worked across the globe in relationship management, strategy and consulting, he now works with customers to drive their transformation agenda, focussing on incorporating growth and value to both the business and the UK community. As an inspirational and empathetic leader, he is a mentor for many colleagues. He also spearheads and champions diversity, inclusion and equality forums, ensuring every colleague is treated with respect.
“Nitin is approachable and is always ready to help anyone with his experience and advice. He has an open-door policy that his management team also follows. Advocating an inclusive culture, Nitin chairs various forums and initiatives where team members are empowered to voice their opinion or ideas; every voice is heard and recorded. He promotes a learning culture, creating a high-performance team for our customers.”
Nirmala Rao OBE
Nirmala is a leader in the sphere of democracy and education, working to strengthen civil society and facilitate women’s rights through access to education. For several years she served as Pro-Director of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) before taking on the role of Vice Chancellor of the Asian University for Women (AUW). As a scholar of international repute, her priority has been to create strong, empowered women from underserved communities at AUW. Nirmala’s global connections have opened avenues of intellectual engagement in regions of the world that typically remain closed to most British academics.
“Nirmala’s transparency with her team has helped create a culture whereby her colleagues feel comfortable to raise difficult topics, knowing that Nirmala will listen and act accordingly, as she works to amplify the voices around her. Additionally, working to tackle challenges around equality and access to education requires a collaborative environment. At United World Schools, Nirmala has brokered new relationships with external stakeholders and through her display of kindness she has become a well respected Trustee to our Leadership team.”
Ngozi Lyn Cole
Ngozi is a coach and management catalyst. She is Director of GLT Partners Ltd, a support agency for charities, social enterprises and community businesses. She is a non-executive director of South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust and Deputy Chair of the Appointments Committee of the General Pharmaceutical Council. She spent 18 years at the National Lottery Community Fund, holding several roles including England Director, and has served as a volunteer and board member of several charities including the Angelou Centre. An advocate for racial equity, Ngozi is passionate about enabling people to achieve their potential.
“Ngozi embodies kindness in her leadership style and the organisations and sectors she has impacted. While she was at the National Lottery Community Fund, she led the development of grantmaking with an emphasis on putting people in the lead. This strategy has transformed the fund to be more human, connected, proportionate and customer-focused. Ngozi believes strongly in unleashing the potential of people, especially those from underrepresented backgrounds. She is currently the board champion for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, supporting the development of its first EDI strategy.”
Musidora is a Senior IT Executive with over 20 years of experience in IT services, software sales and sales leadership. She is currently Area Vice President and Head of UK Energy & Utilities at Salesforce. She excels at leading and developing high-performing teams, cultivating executive-level strategic relationships and growing market share. Musidora is a champion and an ally for diversity and inclusion, and she spends as much time as she can coaching and mentoring underrepresented women within the STEM industries.
“Musidora is a rarity. We are all too used to success being measured by numbers and achieving that number, no matter the cost. Musidora is the first leader in my career to blaze a trail and show that by putting people first the numbers will follow. She is tenacious in her goal to make all those around her successful. Using her phenomenal emotional intelligence she focuses on the individual and their needs, taking the time to truly understand them and empowering them to reach their goals. The results are speaking for themselves, not only in the numbers, but from the extraordinary loyalty shown by her team and colleagues.”
Monica joined Lombard International with a mandate to bring a commercial and decisive approach to the European legal, compliance, regulatory affairs and corporate secretarial team before moving to the Global General Counsel role the following year. Her ability to steer the corporate vision whilst bringing people along on the journey is truly inspiring. Monica launched the Women in Business Group at Lombard International with a mission to help champion, develop and support talented women, developing and encouraging networking between all colleagues across the organisation.
“Monica embodies kindness through the positive impact she has on the growth and personal development of others – whether individuals, teams, within an organisation or more widely. She is a long-standing advocate of coaching and mentoring and is able to identify talent in the corners of a business that often go unnoticed. Monica leads by example – her door is always open, she is unfailingly generous with her time and she actively celebrates individual achievement and encourages others to do the same.”
Michael is the Founder of CIVA, an innovations centre founded in 1995 to develop, pilot and fund new ideas for addressing social problems. In 1966, he set up the country’s first language teaching programme for non-English speaking immigrants in London. He founded the Directory of Social Change in 1975; Changemakers in 1994, and YouthBank UK in 1998. He is also the Co-Founder of UnLtd, an organisation that awards up to £15,000 to individuals in the UK who wish to create change in their communities. Michael received an OBE in 1998 for services to the voluntary sector.
“Michael has committed the past 50 years of his life to helping those in need. Through a wide range of programmes that he has both founded and funded, he has been a relentless advocate to support the socially and economically marginalised and disenfranchised. When he sees an injustice or problem for others, he works tirelessly to set up a systematic and sustainable solution. Michael works selflessly and collaboratively to create organisations that can support those in need – today and into the future. He strives to empower everyone around him and acts as a mentor and facilitator – pushing them to be and achieve all that they want and can.”
Martin is Vice Dean (Education) for the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College London, leading the Faculty’s undergraduate and postgraduate education activity. He also works as a consultant obstetrician at Chelsea and Westminster Foundation NHS Trust. Martin has previously served as Obstetrics and Gynaecology Speciality Lead and Director of Clinical Studies at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, before working in partnership with Imperial as Head of MBBS Year 5, then as one of three Deputy Directors of Education. In 2014, he became the Head of Undergraduate Medicine and, in 2019, Vice Dean.
“Martin demonstrates on a daily basis how being an ethical, considerate and above all kind leader is an enormous strength and not remotely a weakness. This is unusual in a male-dominated field. In addition to exemplary interpersonal skills, he is a highly skilled orator and writer, often having to communicate with 1000s at one time. He manages to reach every part of the audience on a personal level, often with an excellent story. Martin knows all the theory but, most importantly, conducts his working life with the utmost professionalism – he ‘walks the talk’ on a daily basis and people see that.”
Maeve is Principal & Management Consultant at Audela Intelligence, a management consulting boutique designed to help law firms articulate and implement growth strategy, develop competitive advantage and boost market share. After working in senior roles across both the service and professional services sectors, Maeve brings her commercial experience and legal sector skills to law firm management clients. Having run numerous large teams, Maeve has a conviction that teams that are well led are best placed to maximise advantage in a competitive environment.
“Kindness has various guises – with Maeve, it’s tough love. Telling it as it is, but always with sweetness. You know she wants the best for you. She chides. Makes you smile. She’s that older sister, aunt, mum and best friend all rolled into one. If kindness is an attribute given freely, happily and with no desire for return, reward or in anticipation of gratitude or ownership in the outcome, then Maeve ticks all of the boxes.”
Empowered teams are motivated to achieve, care about what they do and each other, and they are able to collaborate and innovate. They also frequently surpass wildest expectations. It's joyous to witness and it's infectious behaviour. A business no-brainer.
Lee is an inspirational leader to his teams in London and Singapore, heading up all aspects of marketing and communications for the world’s number one business and financial news network. He goes above and beyond to support his colleagues whilst leading the network’s strategic initiatives and ambitious growth agenda in emerging markets. Lee leads with openness and transparency and is responsible for CNBC’s portfolio of strategic partnerships with the likes of the World Economic Forum and McLaren.
“Lee has positively impacted the culture at CNBC by empowering his team and the whole organisation, fostering a kind and encouraging environment for success. His principles as a supportive, ambitious and transparent leader reinforce his collaborative and problem-solving approach. As part of the leadership team he is always looking for cross-collaboration between teams and helps guide decisions at every level. Lee ensures there is opportunity available to his team for personal growth as well as to reach the company objectives.”
Lee is unswervingly focused on supporting colleagues and community. He set up the MigrantCommunities Forum, inviting staff from the UK Forces, Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority and the National Crime Agency to meet and share best practice so as to work to support visible and invisible ethnic minority groups living and working across the UK. Lee is also a champion for the LGBTQ community. No matter what challenges he faces, Lee makes time to nurture and support colleagues daily.
“The significance of the positive impact Lee has had is hard to truly articulate, but without his passion, commitment and drive this would certainly not have happened. I can say that in my 28 years of police service, the period I spent working with Lee and the people, agencies and communities he directly introduced me to was the most fulfilling and productive period within my police career as we collectively made a positive difference to the lives of hundreds if not thousands of some of the UK’s most vulnerable citizens.”
Justin is an Assistant Director at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy where he shapes the UK Government’s approach to attract, grow and retain investment to help improve the UK’s economy. A civil servant since 2009, Justin has held roles supporting ministers, developing policy on energy intensive industries and identifying opportunities to support struggling businesses. He Co-Chairs the Civil Service Race Forum, a group of 46 government race networks to tackle racism and increase opportunities for BAME staff across the Civil Service.
“Justin is the epitome of an empathetic leader. Despite being Assistant Director, and co-chairing his departmental and Civil Service-wide race networks, he always makes time for people. He is the first to provide encouragement, volunteer to review job applications, and checks in on colleagues’ wellbeing in every meeting. He regularly mentors and coaches and his patience, compassion and robust advice has helped many BAME civil servants achieve promotion. His ability to build rapport with senior leaders enabled him to secure buy-in for his department’s first Race Action Plan, which made the department more inclusive for ethnic minorities.”
Julie is COO and CFO of Burberry and the Audit Chair of Roche. Prior to joining Burberry in 2017, she was Group CFO at Smith & Nephew, leading a business-wide group optimisation programme and finance transformation. She also spent 25 years with AstraZeneca, holding 11 different roles in four countries and three continents. Julie is Patron of Oxford Women in Business and sits on the Business Advisory Board to the Mayor of London. She is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and the Chartered Institute of Taxation.
“Julie embodies kindness by the way in which she engages with people and communicates, inspiring employees across the organisation. She makes time for causes she cares about, in particular supporting young talent, empowering women and giving back to the community. She is actively involved with the Prince’s Trust Women Supporting Women Group and Burberry’s International Women’s Week celebrations and Patron of the Oxford Women in Business Society. Julie is an example of how you can be successful whilst still being kind and caring.”
Kindness is probably the most impactful attribute of a human being – it fosters collaboration, motivation and inclusivity, and it’s what makes you memorable as a leader.
As Director of Partnerships and Programmes at King’s Health Partners, a renowned academic health sciences centre, Joseph supports healthcare transformation locally, nationally and internationally to put outcomes that matter to patients at the centre, ensure equity, and address sustainability challenges in healthcare. He collaborates with colleagues across Europe on major research initiatives. During the pandemic, Joseph led the implementation of Life Lines – a partnership including King’s Health Partners, Google, BT, Gatsby Foundation and True Colours Trust, allowing families to virtually connect with loved ones treated for COVID-19 in over 150 hospitals.
“Joseph is an exceptional leader, able to build good relationships with people from diverse organisations, backgrounds and levels. He connects with clinicians, academics, policy makers and multiple sectors by finding a shared purpose and helping others to succeed. The cognitive diversity and psychological safety he created in the team reinforces collaborative behaviour and creativity, boosting performance. He has a can-do attitude that instills hope, is compassionate, knowledgeable, humble and treats every single person from business support staff to chief executive with equal respect.”
Jon is COO of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust (GSTT). Previously, Jon was COO and Deputy Chief Executive at Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. He has many years of experience working in director-level roles spanning clinical operations, service modernisation, performance improvement, human resources and workforce planning. Jon actively supports the diversity and inclusion initiative at GSTT and is a committed reverse mentee.
“Jon is a compassionate leader who listens empathetically with his full attention to people with different perspectives from various parts of the system. Despite the complex healthcare system in which he works, he is able to build great relationships and find a way forward that works best for the collective good, while being sensitive and supportive to individual challenges. During the pandemic, he has worked tirelessly to support clinical staff and navigate bureaucracy, including proactively helping to send planes to China so as to ensure clinical staff have adequate PPE.”
Kindness from the top inspires everyone to look out for one another and ensures we can be the best version of ourselves.
Making sure colleagues feel valued and listened to costs nothing but can create a happier working environment for others. Managers should foster a culture of talking about feelings and emotions to enable this. We should lead by example and treat others as they wish to be treated.
I often reflect on those kindnesses shown to me early in my career, and that experience has really shaped my own ethos of supporting and influencing colleagues’ development so that they can be the very best version of themselves.
Jo has been a National Leader of Education since 2011. She was appointed Headteacher of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School in 2005 and, since 2018, she has led Islington Futures, a federation of four schools established on the belief that schools are stronger when working together and can drive change and improve life chances for more young people. Jo has been hugely influential in the educational sector, moving the likes of Michelle Obama to action. With more than 40 years of experience in education, Jo’s mantra – be kind, be brave and be yourself – filters through all the institutions she leads.
“Jo’s leadership style clearly demonstrates kindness in action. As Headteacher of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School (EGA), she demonstrates this on a daily basis, ensuring students (girls from mainly disadvantaged backgrounds) have a first class education. She is a strong advocate for ensuring that other schools in the community offer the same values and opportunities as EGA and, to this end, the Islington Futures Federation was created. Jo’s strength as a leader has a solid foundation in being kind, giving back and helping those around her.”
The Association of Muslim Police (AMP) started in 1999 and is recognised as one of the largest staff support associations in England and Wales with over 800 members, consisting of both police officers and staff. As Chair of the organisation, Javid has helped Muslim colleagues observe their faith and promote understanding of Islam within the Met and the wider community. He has played an instrumental role in the provision of facilities for Muslim colleagues, including the introduction of the hijab for female officers and the ability to wear Islamic or cultural dress when not in uniform.
“Javid has helped Muslims in the Police Service observe their faith and promote understanding of Islam within the Police Service and the wider community. He has provided a forum for Muslims in the Police and supports their religious and welfare needs by improving their immediate working environment and keeping them in the service. Javid has also supported the recruitment and retention of Muslim and BME officers and staff and helped to create a fair and just working environment for all cultural minorities.”
James joined Barclays 21 years ago as part of the graduate scheme and is now a Managing Director within International Corporate Banking. Prior roles have included Head of Insurance, UK and Head of Asia subsidiary banking. James has consistently been recognised as an industry expert and thought leader, he has significant international leadership experience and has demonstrated a keen cultural awareness, having worked for years developing coverage of Asian clients and, more recently, has driven closer connectivity across the UK and Europe. James has a lead role in Barclays Corporate Mental Health & Wellbeing Programme, dedicated to improving awareness and support for colleagues globally.
“The insurance industry has historically been male-dominated and lacking diversity. James has led by example and transformed the gender and race diversity in his team; created a supportive and inclusive environment and improved colleague engagement and performance. James has set up and led an initiative within the Corporate Bank to raise awareness of mental health issues and tackle the stigma across the firm. The initiative has to date delivered training and communication sessions that have engaged with over 700 colleagues internationally.”
Leaders are measured in many ways but acts of kindness are invaluable; they are remembered for a long time, build energy and help to create a supportive environment for success.
Kindness brings human interaction between people and encourages relationships to prosper. This type of environment leads to high performance and therefore makes good business sense. Team members will go the extra mile when they feel they are giving back in return for the kindness they've been shown.
I've been very fortunate to have been surrounded by like-minded people/senior sponsors. Seeing perceptions change and the bank culture evolve has been highly satisfying.
After studying psychology at the University of Reading, Hannah went on to qualify as a biology teacher in 2013, teaching for five years before joining the Ursuline High School in Wimbledon in 2019. This year she took on the role of Head of Biology. Hannah is an inspiring and kind role model and a devoted teacher. Her vision is that each student should feel that they are believed in, cared for and listened to in order to reach their full potential.
“Hannah is one of our youngest heads of department. She shows drive and ambition and wants every student to reach her potential. In leading our biology department she has shown great kindness in giving extra time to students who are below their target grade, resulting in one student going from from an E to an A*. Similarly in a pastoral context she has been phenomenal, especially in lockdown, choosing to support the key workers’ children, and extending her tutor time each day so that the mental health of her tutees could be properly supported.”
Currently overseeing the merger of two agencies, RAPP and Proximity, Gabby is well known for her personable and authentic approach to leadership across the advertising industry. Having held the position of CEO at Proximity for the last four years, she has not only led the business to an unrivalled creative reputation but has also helped claim the accolade of Campaign’s Best Places to Work for the last three years. Now, as she finds herself at the helm of both agencies, with over 500 talented and passionate individuals, she’s focused on creating award-winning communications for some of the country’s most well loved brands.
“Gabby prides herself on having a mothering instinct and showing emotion, as well as being ruthlessly focused on the wellbeing of her staff. As a mum of two young girls, she understands the importance of the work/life balance and even before COVID-19, Gabby encouraged working from home. Gabby has long been an advocate of her people working from where they work best, dependent on their own personal circumstances. She leads with empathy and will always look for the best in the person or a situation; is collaborative in her approach to work and, above all, empowers people to bring their whole selves to work and speak up for what they believe in.”
Dr Dimitri Amiras
Dimitri is a radiology consultant at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and an honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer at Imperial College London, where he studied medicine. His previous leadership roles include Head of Musculoskeletal Radiology and Clinical Lead for imaging IT, where he facilitated the use of virtual desktop infrastructure for teleradiology, enabling his department to continue to provide services during the recent Coronavirus lockdown. An innovator in his field, Dimitri is the senior author on a recent paper focusing on augmented reality in reconstructive surgery. He has just begun training as a human factors trainer as part of a trust wide transformation programme’ .
“Dr Amiras is a kind and generous leader, who goes beyond the call of duty to give his colleagues professional and pastoral support. He has supported and directed his team during some of the most challenging periods of their careers. He supported his team during the pandemic, listened to their concerns and worries, and showed courage when speaking to power. His kindness encourages all staff to undertake new tasks and contribute to the department to the best of their abilities; he is always open to suggestions during the departmental meetings and is always willing to support new initiatives.”
Dr Amy Pollard FRSA
Amy founded the Mental Health Collective in 2018 to help people find new ways of coming together so they can be healthier, happier and better able to flourish. A social scientist and policy analyst, Amy has worked as an Advisor to the UK Government and was Chair of the Independent Mental Health Act Review on patient dignity. Amy has lived experience of mental health difficulties, including being detained under the Mental Health Act. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
“Amy is combining her significant academic and professional expertise with her experience of major episodes of mental ill-health to unlock innovation relating to the social dimensions of mental health. She is an inspiring, kind leader who believes that there is an untapped reservoir of knowledge, understanding and skills relating to the social and collective dimensions of mental health which need to be catalysed into a new set of approaches. She is thoughtfully bringing together skills from across the professions, experts by experience and broader society to spark new social and collective innovation, helping people to live happier, healthier lives.”
British society faces a Gordian knot of challenges, which get tighter and more complicated the more you pull at them. Leaders with kindness are uniquely equipped to loosen the strands, tease out the threads, and weave our social fabric anew.
Show me the leader who says kindness can be harnessed for exponential growth and I'll show you a fool. Show me the leader who demonstrates that kindness is the unfailing force for renewal and I'll show you a genius.
Dimple is the Deputy CEO for Deloitte UK and is the Managing Partner for People & Purpose for Deloitte North and South Europe (NSE). She advises clients on the future of work, responding to business opportunities and challenges resulting from the changing dynamics of society, organisation and talent. Dimple has over 20 years of international consulting experience, including operating model and organisation design, HR and talent strategies, merger integration and major transformation programmes. Dimple is passionate about the inclusion and equality agenda.
“Dimple embodies kindness through her purpose-led mindset. She is affecting real change, as evidenced by the firm’s decision-making and response to major events like the COVID-19 pandemic and the killing of George Floyd. Together with the firm’s multicultural network, Dimple has assembled an action committee resulting in publishing Deloitte’s Black Action Plan – five key commitments with meaningful and measurable actions to drive change.”
David co-founded Atomic Smash, a WordPress and WooCommerce website design and development studio in Bristol in 2010. Ten years on, and the team has grown from a single desk in a shared office space to 15 full-time employees. David strives for innovative ways to improve staff morale, with regular team building activities, incentives and encouragement for self-development. The evidence of this approach speaks for itself: in a decade there has been minimal staff turnover and Atomic Smash has been highly commended as Best Place to Work in Tech at the 2019 Sparkies Awards. David has ensured that his business is a diverse and inclusive place to work that attracts, develops and retains exceptional people.
“I’ve never seen anyone work harder than David to ensure that his workforce feels supported, enabled and empowered to perform to the best of their abilities. To reach out for advice on how to better improve and incentivise maternity packages, to hours deliberating the best working practices and ethos to develop a workplace that is not only diverse and inclusive, but welcoming, happy and an environment that puts everyone on a level playing field – David is a remarkable leader. His personal values shine through in everything he does.”
Cindy Rose OBE
Cindy was appointed President of Microsoft Western Europe in October this year. She is widely recognised as an industry thought leader. Throughout her career, she has been a committed advocate to improving diversity and inclusion within the tech industry and is regularly invited to participate in industry think tanks. She sits on the Government’s Digital Economy Council, established to bring the government and the tech community together, and she represents Microsoft worldwide at the Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society, a leading international platform dedicated to highlighting global social and economic issues.
“Cindy is using her platform at Microsoft to drive positive change across the tech industry. She is heavily focused on improving diversity and runs several female-focused initiatives aimed at increasing interest in STEM and building essential digital skills across the next generation of young women, including DigiGirlz and Codess. She has also made a pledge to engage with this generation, making monthly visits to girls’ secondary schools across the country where she shares insights into the role of a successful female within the industry, hoping to inspire and motivate young women into STEM related subjects.”
Chantal is an award-winning entrepreneur and the founder of ClicknClear. She set up her first company Synergy Sounds, a music production company for Cheerleading, whilst at University. Following her time working in sync licensing, Chantal found herself in a unique position to merge her two passions, Cheerleading and Music, after a lawsuit between Sony Music and Cheerleading happened. This led to the creation of ClicknClear, to solve a global music licensing problem in performance sports worth $2.4Bn annually. Chantal is still an active athlete and advocate for ParaCheer (disability inclusive Cheerleading) and is often found travelling around the world helping National Federations start teams as well as building ClicknClear into a global solution across multiple sports.
“Chantal is a woman of action who leads by example and gets involved in issues on every possible level to make things better for others. Her character is founded on energy, determination, compassion, collaboration and, underpinning everything, a fundamental desire to put right every injustice she sees. ClicknClear is moulded in her image: conceptually, its raison-d’etre makes a huge difference to both music and sports. Practically, it goes about its business in the ‘right’ way. Culturally, it espouses trust, responsibility and support… all of which has led to uniquely rapid progress with customers.”
When people enjoy what they do, it doesn’t feel like work. They are more motivated to go above and beyond to achieve the company’s goals because those goals have become part of their own.
Two years ago, Augusta set up Higson, a consultancy firm designed to transform businesses through business development strategy and team training. In this short time, Augusta has created a culture that has led to significant growth for the business, team and clients; a culture in which empathy, vulnerability and collaboration are key. She has also advised clients on reforming their cultures so as to be more inclusive, supportive and caring, advice that has reaped results.
“Augusta laces kindness into all aspects of her work which has impacted her team’s wellbeing and creates a collaborative culture that can support wide-reaching and impactful work adding huge value to clients and the community. Since the business began, she has donated a day a month to charitable projects. She has on boarded three staff to a high skill and confidence level, quickly and compassionately. She has sought regular feedback and actively implemented it with huge benefits to Higson. She has been part of transforming the cultures of nine organisations by creating industry leading workshops, designed around tools to change behaviour.”
Anna is the Founder of Kindred, a members’ space reigniting a sense of community and connection in West London. Having previously worked as a social worker in South East London, Anna saw first-hand how loneliness can splinter communities and decided to do something about it within her neighbourhood. Kindred was born out of her desire to provide an inclusive members’ space where people from all walks of life can meet in both social and professional capacities and create meaningful, in-person connections in an increasingly online world.
“Anna’s leadership style is best described as calm, compassionate and considered. Kindred was founded at the end of 2018 and as we were finding our flow as a hospitality business, the pandemic hit. During the months of lockdown, Anna communicated openly and honestly with the team, allowed for regular check-ins, and ensured staff and members’ mental health was a number one priority. She has shown great capacity to steer her ship in uncertain times, and it’s always done with clarity and grace.”
Andy is responsible for developing and leading the data science and analytics team so as to empower clients to drive business growth. He is a transformational leader whose positive impact is felt by colleagues, clients and industry alike. Since joining RAPP in 2017 he has built a 40-strong team of specialists focused on the latest techniques and approaches to delivering mass personalisation at scale. Prior to his current role, Andy spent over 10 years at MRM Meteorite, working with clients such as easyJet, TSB, Vauxhall, Amazon, Standard Life, Royal Mail, NSA and Blackberry.
“Andy’s caring approach has rippled through his team and is manifest in the strength of the relationships and strong support network that characterises his department. A powerful advocate for personal development, he trailblazed the adoption of ‘Friday training’, ringfencing time for his team’s ongoing learning, encouraging others to take his lead and directly contributing to RAPP winning IPA CPD Gold Accreditation three years running.”
Alison is the CEO of NatWest Group. She started working for NatWest as part of its graduate scheme 27 years ago and has worked her way up to become the first female CEO of one of the UK’s largest banks. She has transformed NatWest into a purpose-led organisation that champions the potential of its people, and the customers and communities it serves. For years she has been instrumental in giving the bank’s Employee Led Networks (ELNs) not only a voice, but a regular seat at her table. She has been the sole sponsor of the ELNs for five years and advocates for them at every opportunity.
“Alison works at 100mph yet is generous with her time and always creates opportunities to engage with the ELNs. She is a powerful, inclusive listener who values the opinions of everyone. On her first day as CEO she spent as much time with our new interns as she did with her ExCo members. She relentlessly encourages all the ELNs, championing us and empowering us to succeed. Alison doesn’t believe in problems, only solutions. If there’s a barrier in our way Alison helps us knock it down and asks, ‘what’s next?’ She elevates us all.”
Air Vice Marshal Ian Gale MBE
As Assistant Chief of the Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Ian Gale is responsible for the strategic management, coherence, reputation and all international, parliamentary and other engagement of the RAF plus many other special projects. He is a member of the Royal Air Force Board and a non-executive director of the UK Civil Aviation Authority. Air Vice Marshal Ian Gale has set an impactful example of allyship through his personal commitment to staff engagement and his extensive mentorship that supports individuals and groups in their development whilst he too learns from his mentees in turn.
“An outstanding gender and diversity allies champion, Air Vice Marshal Ian Gale actively engaged in the Big Conversation webinar series, role modelling empathy and humility throughout. His personal messages of thanks and support to those prepared to share their personal experiences of gender reinforce his compassionate and inclusive leadership; setting a unique example to our whole organisation. Most recently his personal attention to the delivery of events for National Inclusion Week and advocacy of the use of chosen gender pronouns across the organisation have reinforced his personal commitment to developing the ‘heart’ and behaviours of the organisation.”
An award-winning marketer with over 20 years of experience working with some of the world’s most well known brands, Abigail is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, a trainer and accredited International Coaching Federation coach. She’s also the Founder and Director of Labyrinth Marketing – an independent consultancy that creates marketing strategies for businesses and provides training, coaching, mentoring and support to bring those plans to life. Called upon by influential marketing bodies for awards judging and thought leadership, Abigail’s an industry leader, determined to grow the people behind the brands as well as businesses.
“A leader who believes you should bring your ‘whole self’ to work is a leader we all need in our lives. It’s this focus on the individual that makes Abigail shine as a consultant, trainer, coach and colleague. Her approachable and relatable style, her enthusiasm for others and for putting people at ease, and her ability to listen intently means she makes a positive impact wherever she goes. Abigail lives to connect, inspire and empower and, by launching a podcast and donating her time to coaching others during lockdown, she offered hope to those unable to find hope for themselves.”