Our Listees 2022
In 1994, Victoria set up VWA Consulting – a leadership development consultancy founded to provide unbiased career advice to graduates and young people to help them find the right opportunities. To date, she has mentored 70 experienced consultants working with 500 businesses and, currently, she coaches 32 CEOs of global businesses and organisations, including the nonprofit mothers2mothers. Victoria is also Board Director of Percy & Reed, an advisor to Mesarete Capital and a trustee of two Africa-based charities.
“Victoria had been living her purpose – to ‘help, mentor, and coach people to be kind, happy and purposeful in their careers’. In her work with CEOs, she emphasises the virtues of kindness. She teaches her associates and employees the impact of three words – HELP, KINDNESS and COMPASSION. She is a humble and authentic leader. These qualities have helped her and associate consultants to develop a loyal base of clients.”
In his executive position at Sodexo, Sunil manages 32 territories and leads a team of nearly 100,000 people. In addition, he serves as Executive Sponsor of SoTogether – Sodexo’s Advisory Board on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion – with a mission to drive gender balance by advancing women at all levels of the organisation. This dedication to accelerating progress for women through workplace inclusion reaches beyond his company role: Sumil is also a member of Catalyst Europe Advisory Board and the Advisory Board of Women in Food and Agriculture.
“Sunil is a true role model for kindness and inclusion. He has built a balanced executive team, including 10 nationalities where 60 percent are women. He dedicates time to listen, coach and mentor, and to ensure a safe space for everyone to express their opinion. He never judges any opinion or different view, doing exactly the opposite instead: he always listens, asks to be challenged, respects and therefore adjusts if needed, so as to move forward stronger.”
Within just one year at McDermott Will & Emery, Sonia was promoted to Senior Business Development Manager – a promotion achieved while performing a role mainly remotely due to Covid lockdowns. She now leads business development efforts for the Finance and Litigation teams of the London office, helping to devise business development strategy to drive revenue by working closely with the respective fee earners on managing key client relationships. Sonia also supports the firm’s Global India Group and sits on the London Pro Bono committee.
“Sonia passionately believes in supporting and mentoring the junior members in her team and takes pride in leading the business development efforts of the lawyers she works with. During the pandemic, Sonia adapted to lead her teams and flexed to all of the challenges that the pandemic threw her way. She demonstrates an open management style where people can approach her for help with both work and personal problems (and they often do), where she will greet them with a smile and a ‘can-do’ response.”
Sheena is the Skillbank Lead at NatWest Group, where she enables colleagues to use their skills in inspirational ways and create sustainable impact. During the pandemic, she set up a distribution centre for charities, delivering over 2.5 million meals and essential clothing items to isolated people. More recently, Sheena has led the housing of the flagship Welcome Centre and Humanisation Warehouse for displaced Ukrainian refugees – and shipped 500 specialist beds to a field hospital in Ukraine.
“Sheena is committed to bringing her best self to the world with ruthless compassion for our communities and businesses. She understands she’s offering service in the deepest sense of the word. She listens to bring organisational pace to crisis. She shows up with clarity and intention. Focused on the outcome, she doesn’t need her way to be the right way. Her leadership inspires others to collaborate internally and externally. She is curious and willing to learn, coaches, listens and invites feedback and praises, allowing others to reciprocate.”
Sarah J Knowles
Sarah is a health, safety and wellbeing professional with over 18 years of industry experience. Currently working at Teleperformance as the Vice-President of Global Wellness & Resilience, Sarah is responsible for leading the Global T&S Wellness Programme and a team of over 100 global wellbeing specialists. Sarah has a passion for people and uses her knowledge, positive attitude and tireless energy to encourage and support others to both thrive and succeed. .
“Sarah’s leadership was second-to-none. As committed as she was to her work, she was just as committed to pouring kindness into her team to ensure they were empowered to provide the highest level of care in their roles. When curating programmes and advocating for resources, Sarah made it clear she carried the responsibility of all 275k+ staff – both their lives and their families. It was her mission to create wellbeing approaches rooted in empathy and inclusion for all.”
Acknowledge peoples contributions, show sincere gratitude, invest in building relationships, celebrate victories (big & small) and lean in to solve for issues, without apportioning blame.
Sam is a strategic visionary who is adept at anticipating market trends and strategic and political shifts, and advising individuals, businesses and organisations on how to deliver and manage change ahead of competitors. Recently Sam co-founded The Queen’s Green Canopy, The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy, The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust and, as CEO, she has expanded the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council. She has extensive experience as a high-level adviser to governments, as well as Her Majesty The Queen. Until July 2022, Sam was Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister, Downing Street.
“When you meet Sam Cohen, your life changes for the better. She is an inspirational person and leader; people love working with her and for her, and have done so for decades. Despite a demanding schedule, she invests time in people, generating opportunities to help them grow and achieve. She also helps to navigate difficulties – she is the person everyone turns to when they need advice or support. She proactively recognises the achievements of others but is never looking to be celebrated herself.”
Sairah joined brand consultancy Wolff Olins almost 30 years ago as Engagement Director, before running the business for EMEA. After a solid track record as COO, she took the reins of the global business and now serves as Global CEO. In addition, Sairah is a regular contributor to Forbes magazine, a trustee of the Childhood Trust and a founding member of both the House of St Barnabas – an NGO intent on breaking the cycle of homelessness and social exclusion – and Omniwomen, an initiative championing women in communication careers.
“Sairah Ashman’s leadership style is kind, empathic and supportive. She is an incredibly good listener; she will always hear out the different perspectives in the room before making a call. She is driven by fairness and will go an extra mile to understand where someone is coming from. She makes a point of getting the full picture of what is going on with a person, not just at work, but at home, and in their head. And then she can find the right words and actions that really make a difference, so the person feels understood and supported.”
As CMO at Reed Smith, Sadie oversees the firm’s 30 global offices, with a mission to tell the world the Reed Smith story – as it’s a story she is very proud to be part of. Using her 20-year experience in marketing to develop a vision for her function that is light years ahead of the competition, she empowers her team to make a difference together. Driven and enthusiastic, with high energy, Sadie’s style is pragmatic and practical, and she has a rare skill set that cross-functional teams can bank on.
“Through Sadie’s kind and empathetic leadership style, she ensures each and every member of her team (about 100 individuals) knows they can speak to her directly about any issue they are facing, no matter how big or small. Despite being incredibly busy, she makes time for everyone and displays genuine empathy for her team. Her team greatly appreciates this, and it ensures there is a feeling of togetherness, as everyone is working together to achieve the same goal.”
Sabrina is a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea Hospital, where she is also a clinical coach and founded the Antenatal Big Room, a multidisciplinary improvement meeting for staff and service users. In addition, she serves as Lead Consultant on the Maternity Voices Partnership and RCOG Patient Information Committee, working to create innovative patient information via social media and traditional formats. She previously served as Departmental Lead for Maternity in the Médecins Sans Frontières Taiz-Houban Project in Yemen.
“Whilst working in Yemen, her respect and authenticity in dealing with the local staff allowed her to connect with her team and transform their way of working with an emphasis on support and kindness. Sabrina’s work in the Antenatal Big Room was mentioned seven times in the Imperial Maternity ‘Outstanding’ CQC report and has truly made a quality improvement to business as usual in the maternity unit. Her approach of openness and listening empowers people to question dogma and gives them the courage to speak up.”
You can read about this in a blog article I wrote: https://q.health.org.uk/blog-post/i-worked-there-so-i-felt-safe-a-medics-experience-of-losing-voice/
Ruw is a practising physician specialising in geriatric medicine. She combines her clinical work with her role as Director of Health Equality and Inclusion, which enables her to fulfil her commitment to advocating for those who cannot advocate for themselves. Ruw is also a coach and Co-founder of The Coaching Pod, a collaborative that aims to bring coaching conversations into our working lives. She believes that by empowering and enabling others with simple coaching mantras and tools, the workplace can be improved for all.
“Ruw embodies kind leadership by celebrating uniqueness in others and supporting them to grow. She is not afraid to show her own vulnerability and believes in sharing her experiences to inspire others. The impact of her approach empowers her colleagues to make changes that truly impact on the wider population. Ruw’s leadership helps staff to be more productive, effective and, most importantly, happy, which in turn produces better, kinder, and more cost-effective patient care.”
2. Give freely - time is precious and everyone knows this. It's the biggest commodity we trade in. Give your time, freely when you can see that it will enable someone to progress or shine.
3. Smile - it's disarming. Even when someone is being difficult or you've just about had enough, a smile shared can lighten the load. It's gives us that moment of silence to pause and reflect. It challenges others to smile back.
4. Belive in the power of kindness. It takes courage and strength to be kind. It isn't a 'soft skill' or an optional extra. If everyone was just a little kinder to each other, imagine how the world could change.
Ruth is CEO and Creative Director at In Place of War, a global charity using music and creativity to bring positive change to areas of conflict in 26 countries. An activist, changemaker and Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Manchester, Ruth has led, developed and implemented over 100 cultural programmes in war and post-war zones and areas of economic deprivation for over 18 years. Prior to this, she held numerous influential roles – from record label owner and band manager to fundraiser, entrepreneur, educator and speaker.
“Ruth leads with purpose, kindness, empathy, determination and absolutely unwavering tenacity. Her creative and humanitarian vision frames the mission of In Place of War with the passion, belief and resilience she dedicates to her role, both as an inspirational leader and very much a knee-deep, in-the-action member of the team. Her hands-on leadership style means she’s at the heart of everything we do and is ever agile to flex our strategy according to the external landscape and urgent needs of the communities we support.”
Support: We support our team as much as funding permits to develop their skills. We also all support each other with a horizontal style of working, each team member feeding into all pieces of work - so we produce the best impact with everyone's rich and diverse skillsets.
Flexibility: We allow our team to work how they want to, from where they want to, in the way that works for them. We support those who want to be office based and we equally support those working from home. We don't set working hours or days. There is a job to be done and the team work to deliver it. We trust they will - and they do. Those with children are able to select they way they want to work - whether they take leave or not, is up to them.
Diversity: It's essential to have a diverse team - with different minds, from different backgrounds, representing different cultures. We pro-actively ensure that all voices are represented - recently setting up a Youth Advisory Board and having our global change-makers sit on our Board.
Rhona is a Superintendent in the Metropolitan Police Service with responsibility for neighbourhood policing in two London Boroughs. Having recently completed a masters in applied criminology at the University of Cambridge, where she researched policing culture and officer attitudes, she has a keen in interest in applying evidence based policing to operational practice. In recognition of her leadership achievements in policing so far and her work with communities across London, she was awarded a Women of the Future award in 2021.
“Rhona is a beacon of warmth and human kindness. She wants to make sure that communities are at the heart of policing and that people are treated with compassion, dignity and respect. She uses her platform to speak openly about the challenges that policing faces and the need to do better, while also using her energy, optimism and determination to lead by example.”
To quote Bananarama (a sentence I never thought I would type) ""it ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it...and that's what gets results."""
With over 15 years of experience and a proven track record in the delivery of complex data and digital transformation projects across the banking and insurance sectors, Rachel leads the KPMG Financial Services technology data practice. She is a specialist in data architecture, reporting, data management and data migration, and strategic in her approach. Also widely recognised for her ability to balance professional expertise with personal qualities of empathy, resilience and authenticity, Rachel has supported colleagues throughout her career.
“Rachel is open and honest; her kindness is exemplified in her every action across KPMG. She has given her team members space to shape solutions, to create their own purpose and role. She has provided her team members with support to develop their careers, introduced them to experts in their field of interest and been instrumental in helping them to develop self-confidence and self-belief. Rachel’s view is always – a rising tide lifts all boats, and, with this perspective, Rachel supports her colleagues to achieve their goals with kindness.”
With over 30 years of experience in financial services, Peter currently holds the role of CEO of Worldwide Financial Planning, a firm providing bespoke financial advice to individuals, their families and businesses. Passionate about sustainable economies and societies, he was recognised by Commetric as the third most influential Environmental Social and Governance influencer in the world in 2020. Peter also writes for prominent publications including FT Business and Irish News Business.
“Our team treats each other, our customers and our community in a manner which is kind, fair, generous, respectful, and empathetic. This is down to Peter’s consistency in leadership, his courage and resilience, his ability to connect with people and situations, his mindfulness, his ability to empower our team, and his courage and resilience in ensuring our firm leads from the front.”
It’s about creating that culture first and for me that always starts with our ‘why’ – why do we do what we do? The answer of course is that when we work aligned to our values, and when everything comes from a kind place, amazing things will happen. Before we began our rebrand process, I sat down with my team, in small, separated groups, and we established together what our brand values are – one of the common values our groups came up with included kindness. We discussed the inspirational power of kindness, everyone put forward examples of how their colleagues have been kind in the past and we spoke about how crucial kindness is in terms of our mental health and well-being – not just in the workplace but also in our personal lives.
Peter Brown MBE
Peter has enjoyed a long and illustrious career, which has culminated in his current role as Co-leader of PwC’s global P&O business – that covers 11,000 people across 138 countries. Having spent his formative years as an officer within the Royal Air Force, Peter continues to embody values of trustworthiness and conscientiousness as well as the highest standards and levels of integrity. He volunteers his time as a charity trustee, a military reservist and an ambassador for the RAF Museum.
“Peter Brown embodies kindness through his generosity, empathy, and empowering leadership style, with quality at the heart of everything he does. He is a true advocate for people becoming the best they can be, dedicating hours to coaching and mentoring. He is genuinely curious and remembers personal details such as names of family, hobbies, and other important facts. He exemplifies honesty and openness in the way he shares his vision and aspirations, creating a circle of trust that drives high performance.”
Kindness builds trust, which is currently at an all time low and needs to be fixed, especially after the ongoing crises such as Covid and the Ukraine war. The NHS Leadership Academy state “People in high-trust teams have better wellbeing and performance” which I wholeheartedly agree with.
At a personal level, displaying kindness brings me happiness - and we all need as much of that as we can find!
Patricia is a Reader in Law at the University of Buckingham and an IP Consultant for Latin America IP SME Helpdesk. She has also drafted internal policies, namely the Data Protection Policy (2015) and the Academic Misconduct Policy and Process (2016 and 2021). With the belief that the education system should be shaped around each student, Patricia immeasurably impacts the life of staff and students at the School of Law, where she also serves as champion of dyslexic thinking, leading the institution on the crucial journey of diversification of assessments.
“Patricia is a kind, compassionate and empathetic leader. She ensures that students have an active learning experience to enhance their learning and development. She uses her own personal experiences to make education more accessible to students. Patricia has shaped the organisation and created a wider impact by making monumental and subtle changes which are inclusive for all.”
Effective leadership provides the space for everyone to pause and acknowledge. We are to provide an environment of recognition, and appreciation. There are good days and bad days; and with kindness, individual performance and the group behaviour becomes more productive.
Nate founded Koalaa, a virtual support service for people with limb difference. Having studied at Imperial College London and the Royal Academy of Engineering, Nate saw an opportunity to create a prosthetic that was cheaper and more comfortable than the prosthetics currently on the market. Rather than trying to recreate a hand, using expensive and uncomfortable materials, Nate built his prosthetic from the user up, focusing instead on creating a range of ‘hands’ that could be plugged in and out. This change in approach has meant that Nate is able to send prosthetics around the world, without the usual wait times or prohibitive cost.
“I first met Nate back in 2018… I have seen how his intellectual curiosity for an ‘engineering solution’ has transformed into a path of passion, fuelled by kindness for the people he is now helping with what he is creating. He has built his company from scratch, raising funding, expanding his operations, building a team and global community, and picking up design awards to boot. And he has done this while continuing to mentor and support others around him, helping fellow innovators on their start-up journeys and speaking openly about his challenges in a way that speaks truthfully about what is nearly always a bumpy journey to success!”
In his role at UM, Michael’s influence is felt across the industry. He founded MRSpride, the first industry-wide employee resource group for LGBTQ+ communities, with the goal to improve the way marginalised communities are represented in the market research sector – both as employees and respondents. Michael represents UM on the UN Women’s Unstereotype Alliance UK Chapter, heads up UM’s Better World CSR programme, helps lead the D&I programme at IPG Mediabrands and also led UK by UM, a research series on stereotyping.
“Michael is generous, warm, considerate of others’ feelings and always thinking of positively helping and enriching the lives of others…not only for charitable causes like FCV Dorcas, but also for everyone around him. He is a special kind of leader, one who inspires his teams through empathy and understanding, and achieves consistently outstanding work as a direct result of his personal style. Always leading with kindness and humility, easily setting aside ego and ready to champion others, he sets an example for us all.”
Kind leadership therefore necessitates open communication, and creating organisational spaces of psychological safety in which people feel able to truly articulate what's on their mind. This is especially important for people from marginalised communities, who may not find it as easy to voice their experiences at work. Active listening, and acting on that insight, is a very powerful factor in creating happy and effective communities.
So, kind and empathetic leadership, powered by open communication, is the only way to truly enable a happy and healthy community at work, and is therefore the only way to have teams that feel supported and ready to feel their best, perform their best, and - in doing so - drive a business forward.
As Group Director of People and Property at Lloyds Banking Group, Matt was responsible for the design, development and implementation of the people and property strategy, from transforming the business’s culture to the delivery of the operational property portfolio. He combines strong technical expertise with a capacity for developing innovative solutions in challenging business contexts, a skill that earned him numerous specialist senior positions throughout his HR career in the financial services industry.
“Matt Sinnott puts ‘human’ back in human resources. He has led the HR function at Lloyds with extraordinary empathy and compassion across a range of challenging issues, including conduct rule breaches, grievances, disciplinaries and colleagues facing impossibly stressful situations – domestic abuse, bereavement, and nervous breakdowns. Matt is always first to consider the emotional state of the colleague and offers thoughtful ways forward which draw on his huge reserves of genuine kindness. Matt leads by example, and his kindness permeates the culture of the entire organisation.”
Matt is a media lawyer who works in sport, supporting Premier League football clubs, players and staff. In 2020, together with former footballer Fraser Franks, he set up B5 Consultancy as a means to help players maintain good, safe and respectful behaviours. He has since acted for some of the most celebrated names in sport, business and entertainment, bringing successful legal claims against Apple, the Daily Mail and other media companies. He is passionate about education and supporting the human being rather than the player.
“Matt’s style is to shout praise and whisper criticism. He has taken a small group of sportsmen and women and allowed them to follow their passion and develop it into a caring business which is founded on core values of integrity, kindness, understanding and curiosity. The services we offer – led by Matt – are founded on empathy and a desire to protect the mental wellbeing of young men and women who are developing in the high-pressured environment of professional sport.”
So my tip is - just talk."
Lindsay led Openreach’s regional delivery of fibre networks before joining fibre optic broadband provider Hyperoptic, where she leads teams across the UK and Serbia to drive critical infrastructure outcomes. Lindsay delivers by keeping individuals and workforce groups at the heart of what she does, creating career pathways and prospects for engineering teams, embedding engineering excellence as part of the organisational culture, and leading on health and safety to keep huge and disparate workforces safe.
“Lindsay drives a culture of empowerment and questioning. She will test your plans in a way that always feels developmental, but never takes the final decision away from you. Lindsay links the bigger picture together to motivate people, but also remembers every small detail about individuals. She calmly checks the full chain of events that will stem from a decision to ensure it’s right for the people impacted and has a calm demeanour that radiates to her whole team, even under pressure. Her unofficial catchphrase is ‘together, we can fix that’.”
Laura is an advocate for disability and inclusive fashion and Co-founder of inclusive womenswear brand, Careaux. As a business leader, she uses her influence to drive improvements for disabled people and publically champions accessibility. She has volunteered and worked with 100 organisations, delivering public talks and running workshops for institutions and businesses such as The Prince’s Trust, Sky News, the University of Oxford, Disability Stockport and Natwest. Currently, Laura volunteers for Leonard Cheshire Changemakers.
“Laura is the true embodiment of kindness – she has a unique ability to empathise wholly with others no matter what – taking the time to understand and listen to every person. Laura always puts others before herself, giving herself time to support both individuals and organisations. I can see how much Laura impacts the people around her – from customers to suppliers – she always offers support and gives her time, treating everyone with genuine kindness.”
Kindness is the foundation of every part of life, professional and personal. Why would you not want to be kind?
Keith is Fidelity International’s Global Head of Workplace Investing and a member of the company’s Global Operating Committee. He is responsible for managing Fidelity’s significant – and growing – global workplace business, which covers the defined contribution pension servicing businesses in the UK, Germany, Hong Kong and Japan; as well as the company’s International Pension Plan business and Stock Plan Services distribution. Prior to joining Fidelity International, Keith spent 20 years at Fidelity Investments in the US.
“Keith values customer relations, which he instils in teams by empowering them to develop more inclusive policies and practices, such as introducing gender-neutral titles into the client system. Keith is committed to giving rich time to Fidelity’s diversity initiatives, such as developing diverse talent and embedding inclusive recruitment practices. His open mind allows him to support Fidelity’s diversity initiatives without bias. Keith puts the client at the heart of the business, often referencing the ‘honour and privilege’ that it is to serve so many members.”
Katy has been the Managing Director of CamdenBoss for a little over two years. During that time, she has led the business through the pandemic and driven a complete cultural overhaul in a previously hard environment – to create an inclusive modern manufacturing business that gets the best from people through a workplace culture of empathy, compassion and respect. In addition, gender diversity is almost fifty-fifty – a rare feat in the manufacturing industry – and the business encourages engagement from all staff in strategy and big decisions.
“As Managing Director of CamdenBoss, Katy has transformed the culture to one that focuses on people. She understands the importance of employees being their authentic selves at work and knows this is driven by leadership. She holds all leaders of the business accountable to their leadership style to ensure that they are people focused. Her leadership has empowered employees to be open and honest about their wellbeing and feel comfortable to share if they are struggling.”
Katie began her career in the UK marketing team at EY London, moved to Freshfields London in 2012 and also worked in roles across Asia and New York. In 2019, she joined McDermott, Will & Emery – one of the world’s largest grossing law firms – as Associate Director, and was soon promoted to her current position of Director of Business Development International. In this role, she focuses on building growth and loyalty with existing and prospective clients, as well as developing cross-border collaboration across the McDermott platform.
“Katie has excellent people skills, demonstrated by her high EQ and ability to work with the varying and often demanding personalities within law firms. Katie is nurturing and committed to her team’s personal growth. She creates an inclusive culture, investing in her staff and fostering client relationships… The success of those around her is as important to Katie as her own success.”
Kathryn is a highly experienced corporate affairs, advocacy and communications director and a pioneer of reputation as a critical business lever in global organisations. She has spent over 30 years working across multiple industries at companies including Diageo, Tata and now Britvic – where she serves as Corporate Affairs Director. Kathryn is the architect behind Britvic’s Working Well programme and has established a truly empathetic and inclusive way of working, creating a simple, focused and agile culture where people feel empowered to thrive.
“Kathryn embodies empathy. She loves the phrase ‘cool head, warm heart’, and she lives and breathes it. She has a gift for always putting herself in someone else’s shoes, imagining how they might feel or react, and she acts accordingly. Her belief in her team has empowered corporate affairs to step-change our performance – from delivering purpose-driven reporting and stakeholder engagement to award-winning channel development.”
Kate came to the UK to study a master’s degree in literature, culture and art; however, while working as a translator and interpreter, she discovered her love for the law. In 2006 she qualified as a solicitor in England and Wales, often using her bilingualism to help Polish-speaking nationals gain access to the English legal system. In 2015 Kate joined Carter Lemon Camerons as a Partner, and in 2020 she co-founded Women’s Business Link, an organisation supporting women professionally and personally.
“Kate does not want her team members to just follow her; she teaches them to become leaders. Through her own actions she is a leading example, and her actions inspire others to inspire more, learn more, do more and become more. Kate knows how to guide her team members towards high productivity and workplace enjoyment, utilising her unique approach which includes encouragement, good listening skills, empathy and understanding. She balances these qualities with hard work, a focus on success and effective time management.”
Julia trained at the School of Jewellery in Birmingham before opening a chain of jewellery stores. In 2017, she founded Ashes Memorial Jewellery, born from the experience of losing several beloved family members and wanting to commemorate them through jewellery. This successful company is informed by her combined experience of jewellery making and retail management, as well as her passion for supporting every customer’s journey through grief to produce special, British-made heirlooms.
“Julia is a shining example of how kindness in leadership can encourage and grow that same outlook in a team and, in turn, our customers. Leading by example, Julia makes a genuine effort to connect to those around her, nurturing a happy and productive work environment. We all feel part of a family, each with a valued role in the business and given credit and praise for the work we do. This supportive culture benefits our customers, who are reassured throughout the process, knowing that their loved one’s ashes are in safe hands.”
Jonathan is CEO of the Valuation Office Agency, which employs 4,200 people and provides government with valuations and property advice to support taxation and benefits. He began his civil service career 33 years ago in the Health and Safety Executive, and has since held roles in policy, leading on primary and secondary legislation; in the Secretary of State’s Private Office and in an international capacity working for the European Union and the United Nations. His most recent position, before joining the VOA, was Director for HR Services at the Department for Work and Pensions.
“Jonathan has a huge amount of empathy and a keen sense of fairness. Since becoming CEO, he’s set an example, transforming our culture to be more open, welcoming of feedback, inclusive and collaborative. Colleagues recognise this: with large increases in staff survey scores around feeling valued and inclusivity, and our highest ever employee engagement score – moving from nearly last in 2018 to above the civil service average.”
I made sure our kindness extended to making provision for colleagues to take time out to look after loved ones who were ill. We provided allowances for office equipment so everyone could work from home. We made offices available for those who were unable to work from home for logistical or mental health reasons. We provided health and well-being advice and equipped our managers with the skills to support their teams. But above all, we took care to look out for everyone by facilitating regular contact between colleagues at every level of the organisation, from the executive committee down.
As a result, our people could see we respected, trusted and cared for them. Through kindness and by protecting and promoting well-being in this way, the organisation was able to deliver our business throughout the pandemic, helping millions of people."
A digital communications expert, Helen has worked in the advertising and communications industry for over a decade. Prior to her current role of Executive Business Director of Digital Development at OMD UK – the world’s largest media agency network – she worked for WPP’s Wavemaker on brands like Compare the Market, EE and L’Oréal, leading teams in various specialisms. Helen is a Women in Search nominee and has won numerous industry awards for her work in search, display and social disciplines for BMW, Nationwide and L’Oréal.
“Helen has the perfect blend of two crucial leadership qualities: IQ and EQ. Her media knowledge is unparalleled, and she guides people through challenging periods with the emotional intelligence to remain in tune with her team’s needs. Helen always puts her team first, appreciating their contribution and commitments outside of work. She has consistently proven that if her team shines, she shines. Most importantly, Helen has an incredibly strong moral compass. She does what’s right because it’s the right thing to do for the individual.”
It’s even more important to demonstrate and model this actively during periods of work when all the team may not be physically present.
The way the team see how you operate and treat individuals has an impact on the way they relate to colleagues and improves their relationships with clients and customers
Harriet took on her current role of Student Union Manager during the pandemic – and had to step up quickly to ensure the wellbeing and safety of students and staff at Arts University Plymouth. She is passionate about the community and city and has worked with numerous charities, fundraising for Breast Cancer Now and Shekinah, a charity supporting the homeless. Harriet has also spoken on diversifying and broadening student representation and fostering a more connected student community, and she has won numerous awards for her work.
“Harriet puts students before all else, and goes above and beyond to support the entire student body. During the national lockdown, Harriet ran a food bank from her home so that students did not lose access to this vital support, packaging and delivering food parcels across the city to vulnerable and self-isolating students as well as those experiencing financial hardship. Harriet also started the Period Poverty Project, acquiring funding to allow period products in all toilets across all campuses, so that students could access these for free and period poverty did not impact their education.”
Harjot is a global leader, strategist, educator and activist whose thought leadership and research have offered a much-needed guide for the industry, brands and the wider business world. In his role at McCann, he champions creativity as a means of driving the business forward, harnessing insights, intelligence, live data and research to make sense of the rapidly-changing landscape. Harjot’s work has enabled the business to adapt, act nimbly and provide the best solutions and support for its clients and people.
“Harjot is known for his tireless advocacy of the commercial and creative advantage of embedding greater diversity in the industry. He has been instrumental in safeguarding our leading reputation in creativity and effectiveness. Amid the ongoing disruption brought about by the pandemic, he stepped up to envision and deliver key strategies to help us and our clients quickly adapt and navigate this toughest of climates. As such, he has enabled us to lead cultural conversations, grow business, and provide actionable insights and solutions.”
Dr Nik Kotecha OBE
A business leader, entrepreneur and philanthropist, Nik is Chairman of Morningside Pharmaceuticals – established in the 1990s as a home garage startup and now one of the UK’s leading life sciences businesses. In 2017, together with his wife, Moni, he founded the Randal Charitable Foundation, an organisation that has directly saved over 195,000 lives and improved more than 372,000 lives in the UK and globally. Nik also sits on several national boards and advisory groups and regularly advises the government on international trade, life sciences and social justice topics.
“Dr Kotecha’s outlook on life is heavily influenced by his humbling childhood experiences of coming to the UK as a refugee from Uganda in 1972. His pharmaceuticals business has been guided from the beginning by his dream of ‘making quality healthcare an affordable and accessible reality throughout the world’. Since its 1991 inception, Morningside has supplied essential medicines to international aid organisations, reaching over 120 countries. He has dedicated his life to giving back; through extensive corporate social responsibility activity and through his Foundation’s focus on addressing global health, mental health, poverty, addiction and education.”
Dr Heather May Morgan
Heather is a lecturer in Applied Health Sciences at the University of Aberdeen, and holds multiple qualifications in law, philosophy, gender studies, sociology and criminology. To date, she has secured research funding totalling over £1.6m, and has been the lead author of over 30 peer-reviewed papers and two edited collections. Heather also co-created Aberdeen’s original augmented reality game for iOS devices.
“Heather’s kindness is evident in both her lecturing and supervision of students. She draws out the best in students, which has led to multiple successful projects like the Female Genital Mutilation Education Project, which Heather supervised. Her team collaborated with partners such as Public Health England to create a FutureLearn course on FGM for healthcare professionals. She conducted most of this work in her free time, balancing her full-time lectureship and other commitments.”
Dr Alice Bunn OBE
After becoming a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Alice took the role of the institution’s CEO in 2021, where she aims to improve the world through engineering by focusing on values of inclusivity, impact, innovation and integrity. Prior to this role, she was International Director at the UK Space Agency, where she was responsible for increasing the UK’s global influence on science, security and trade through space. Alice also sits on the US Space Foundation’s Board of Directors and on the World Economic Forum’s Future Council on Space.
“Alice is one of those people who makes you feel better after every meeting. Her empathetic approach coupled with her drive to deliver means she creates nurturing and empowering environments that make success possible. She radiates enthusiasm, makes time for people at all levels, works hard to build trust and leads with such genuine and instinctive behaviours that you can’t help but feel supported. Around her, you will only find loyal and collaborative teams driving meaningful change. Alice is a reminder to us all that you can be driven and have clear ambition while also being kind, fair, generous, and fun.”
Debbie heads up the Data Management and Strategy function at the London Stock Exchange Group, leading a global team who was recently named ‘the beating heart of the organisation’ by the Group CEO. Throughout her career, she has been a passionate advocate for data and data experts as well as a leader many aspire to be, and a role model across the organisation: Debbie’s authenticity, humility and genuine interest in people have won her respect from the team, stakeholders and customers alike.
“Debbie stands out as a one-of-a-kind leader. She is undoubtedly a strong woman, passionate and business focused, but one who delivers by fostering meaningful relationships, elevating others, and showing unparalleled openness to people. Debbie leads by example, not afraid of being vulnerable and honest in difficult times. Her humanity and compassion for her teams gives others strength when it is needed most. She has a true gift in caring for the people around her like no other leader I have worked with in the last 20 years.”
As Institute Director for 12 years, Dan was one of the university’s longest-serving directors and actively nurtured the institute’s growth, more than doubling its number of 140 staff and postgraduate students. He managed a large and diverse group of academics while generating an ethos of togetherness and inclusivity; indeed, much of his success is attributed to consistently supporting early-career scientists and retention of staff through his generosity, openness and exceptional ability to generate a feeling of belonging.
“Dan supports staff at all levels with generosity, fairness, and respect, leading by example and reinforcing our reputation as a great place to work. This is evidenced by many junior academics bringing Fellowships to the Institute, which could be taken to any leading global institutions. He has a 100% success rate in supporting permanent positions for Senior Fellows. His leadership is inclusive, embracing diversity and equality, strongly promoting a collaborative ethos.”
Chloe joined RAPP as a senior strategist nearly six years ago, and has since been promoted to Strategy Director, where she leads a team of strategists across the IKEA and Virgin Voyages brands. She has thrown herself into the culture of the agency, participating in sports teams, DISCO (the diversity and inclusion steering committee) and sustainability initiatives, and has been integral in reimagining the culture in the company’s new merged, hybrid world. Chloe is also in the final stretch of studying for an MSc in Management and Leadership.
“Chloe’s leadership style is open, available, and present. She shares her own experiences openly to build trust and rapport with her colleagues and team members, helping them share openly and feel comfortable taking risks. She’s generous with her time and makes herself visible and present – both virtually and physically in the office. She’s also a champion of diversity, equity and inclusion, often nudging the team to attend events or get involved in relevant initiatives, and leading by example herself.”
Carrie is an Agile Coach Lead at NatWest Group and part of the leadership team responsible for supporting Agile transformation across the business. She has an inquisitive and people-centred style, and is quick to establish and build trusted relationships with individuals and teams she coaches and works with. Carrie is also an active member of NatWest Group’s Gender Network, mentors colleagues within the business and volunteers her time as a mentor at a local charity.
“Carrie embodies kindness with her consistent leadership style that focuses on checking in on her team’s welfare and always making time for her team. She always thanks her team for their hard work and ensures everyone feels recognised and supported. She leads by example to ensure her team has a good work–life balance which helps keep energy high… Carrie promotes learning opportunities for the individuals in the team, even when this may mean them leaving the team.”
A pioneer in the advertising industry, Carol went from MD during the 1980s to CEO at leading UK agencies in the 1990s, becoming the first woman in advertising to have her name above the agency door. She is currently Chair of the Advisory Board at ProQuo AI (an AI-powered brand management platform), Non-executive Director of Quiet Storm Agency and an executive member of Women in Advertising and Communications Leadership. Carol also serves as Chair of the National Family Mediation Organisation and was formerly Chair of the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity.
“Carol has achieved great success not just for herself, but also for her businesses, the NGOs she leads and anyone who works with or for her. A female pioneer within the advertising industry, Carol achieved huge success through her empathy, generosity, and compassion, even when the dominant culture and expectation of successful leadership was the very opposite. She inspires kindness in others too, both as a role model and as an active advocate for this new model of leadership.”
Under Anita’s leadership, the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment has grown exponentially to become the foremost global academic centre for businesses, governments and nonprofits seeking rigorous expertise on net zero sustainable development and climate change. Anita also serves as Chair of the Police and National Crime Agency Pay Review Body, sits on the board of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, and was previously involved, as a senior civil servant, in brokering the Good Friday Agreement.
“Anita blends empathy, respect (valuing and empowering the whole person in their own right) and generosity of time with fairness and consistency of kindness (to all, at all times). Due to her humility, perception, and self-awareness, each of her decisions and actions are intentional, by choice, and never reactive. She has fostered tremendous connectivity and collaboration, fostering a sharp and proud sense of inclusion and belonging in what is a unique, lively, and thriving organisation.”
Alice is also Founder and CEO of Women’s Higher Education Network (WHEN), which unites over 5,000 women in accelerating change. Alice is also Head of Organisational Development at the University of Oxford, where she leads strategic programmes that enhance the culture, leadership and management of one of the world’s most highly regarded workforces. Prior to this, she was UCL’s Director of Organisational Development, where she delivered organisational change at scale and advanced equality practices.
“Alice is a breath of fresh air in higher education leadership. She boasts an impressive career trajectory within the UK’s leading institutions. These professional accolades and undeniable intellect are matched by her dedication to live her values and advance inclusivity across her organisation and the sector. Alice’s approach inspires others; she also commands the respect and draw of senior leaders and sector bodies who recognise her vision and wish to associate with, champion and support her work to deliver positive change.”
My boss got me a card and a gift to say thank you for completing a big project, it was really unexpected but I felt really valued by her.
Alexandra is a career diplomat who has spent over 20 years with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. She has been posted to Beijing, Paris, Berlin, Singapore and Bangkok, in the latter two as Deputy High Commissioner and Deputy Ambassador. During her London postings, she has worked on EU Enlargement and as Deputy Head of the Southeast Asia Department. She is currently on secondment to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs as Deputy Director of Northern Ireland Policy.
“I was privileged to have first met Alex in 2015 during the National Funeral for Singapore’s Founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew which was attended by then Leader of the House William Hague and from that very moment I knew that she was a woman of purpose and focus and as I got to work with her when she was Deputy High Commissioner, this sense of purpose and focus was ringed by a deep sense of kindness and concern for her colleagues. I learnt a lot from the way she worked about being accommodating and delivering work in a positive and productive manner. She maintained this sense of duty even during the time she was expecting her second child and when Singapore was experiencing the impact of the Zika outbreak.”
- Creating different ways for people to honestly share their thoughts and feelings, acknowledging that different people will prefer different ways to do this. Leaders need to be accountable for acknowledging and responding to feedback – make changes.
- Recognising and rewarding kindness through organisational bonus schemes, to show that kindness is valued and to create role models.
- Being a good egg. Set an example from the top and be aware how tone, style and behaviour impact on others.
When Alex was just 16, after experiencing bullying himself, he founded Anti-Bullying Ambassadors, a network of trained young people dedicated to preventing peer-on-peer violence and bullying, particularly in schools. The programme has trained over 35,000 young people in 4,000 schools across UK, Ireland, Greece, and the US. Alex sits on the global safety advisory boards of major technology companies (Twitter, Twitch, TikTok, Yubo, Meta), advising on their approach to safety and online harms. He is a Queen’s Young Leader, Forbes 30 Under 30, and sits on The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Advisory Board.
“Alex speaks humbly about what he has built… but it is a huge testament to him how much he managed to achieve from challenging beginnings, suffering extensive bullying and racism. His ability to reach across the bullying divides (to include those who have suffered, those who have bullied, as well as friends, onlookers, family and teachers) shows the approach that Alex takes now as a leader on the global stage.”
We work hard to ensure our staff, our young people and our partners display kindness so that future generations can be the kind, compassionate and effective leaders we need to see in the world.
During his seven years as Chairman of the Aga Khan Youth and Sports Board, Al-karim has positively impacted the lives of hundreds of young people within the Ismaili community in the UK and Europe. He has spearheaded over 25 camps for youth between the ages of eight and 18, helped facilitate one-to-one mentoring for over 75 vulnerable young people, and organised large-scale health and wellness activities for over 4,000 participants. Al-karim fulfils this role on a voluntary basis; his formal employment is that of CEO of the 4C Hotel Group.
“Al-karim is authentic in his leadership style. He is transparent in his approach, open and honest with board members, and demonstrates his passion for enhancing the welfare of youth within our community daily through his actions. He is also generous with his time; he understands that building future leadership capacity is a critical part of his role and he takes time to nurture and coach other board members so they can fulfil their potential. Importantly, he empowers his board to make decisions, make mistakes, and ultimately learn.”
Akua is a senior analyst within Service Management at the London Stock Exchange Group, as well as a driving force for diversity and inclusion in STEM – within both the LSEG’s Technology division and the company at large. Akua is also the LSEG’s UK Lead for the Ability Network and Community Lead for the Women’s Inspired Network, an active member of the Black Employee Inspired Network Group, a Mental Health Champion for Wellbeing and a mentor for company interns and graduates, helping them in their career development.
“Akua is a driving force in Technology and Diversity & Inclusion at LSEG… who works tirelessly to strike a balance between helping others find their purpose and meaning, and helping them effectively perform their jobs… In the last year, she was featured in Investment Week and Forbes and served as a panellist for One Tech World Conference 2021, discussing Harnessing Neurodiversity in Tech. She is also a mentor working with the founder of Cajigo, Rav Bumbra, to encourage 10,000 girls and women to go into STEM careers and offering career advice.”
There are eight top qualities of an effective leader: communication, confidence, positivity, fairness, honesty, commitment, inspiring and humility. As a leader, you should lead by example with integrity, show how you appreciate your colleagues and give them credit for their work. Another important aspect of a kind leader is to be supportive of different circumstances.
Also, arranging charity initiatives and giving donations to charities made us collectively come together. This was important as it enabled us collectively to help the charities that suffered due to the pandemic. They needed some support and kindness, as a collective at LSEG we were happy to provide this. We never know how others are struggling, so a warm smile or hello helps raise someone’s spirits. The key importance was being human-centric by a note, email to cheer someone up, making someone laugh, arranging a coffee chat, sharing cakes for a charity fundraiser and giving back via volunteering days. This is central to the LSEG values and makes a huge difference for the company.
Air Vice-Marshal Simon Edwards
After joining the Royal Air Force through a sixth form scholarship scheme, Simon rose through the ranks in a number of senior positions over the past 30 years. Prior to his current leadership roles, he commanded the RAF’s C-17 Squadron; led No.904 Expeditionary Air Wing at Kandahar Airfield; and served as Station Commander for RAF Brize Norton, home to over 7,000 service personnel, civilians and contractors. Throughout his career, Simon has advocated for the Whole Force, championing everyone’s contributions equally, regardless of rank or background.
“Relationships matter to Simon. He remembers hundreds of peoples’ names; he checks to make sure he’s not breaking his team before he agrees to new tasks, and he fosters a culture in which people speak truth to power and aren’t afraid to challenge. In a strong command and control environment, he makes time to listen and consult – even if that means pushing back deadlines. He is skilled at bringing together diverse teams to work together in pursuit of a common goal, motivating people to do their best even when it’s well outside of their normal responsibilities.”
As CFO at Bank of England, Afua is the Executive Director for the Finance Directorate; a Director of the Asset Purchase Facility Fund and Alternative Liquidity Facility. Afua is one of the executive sponsors leading the Bank’s approach to climate change and is focussed on diversity and inclusion. Prior to joining Bank of England in 2019, Afua held finance director roles at Barclays, across numerous divisions.
“Afua has always supported her team in their dealings with stakeholders, and recognises where individuals need a change or time out, to help with their wellbeing.”
“She always thinks of the wider team, includes everyone in discussions and sends open invitations to our staff to join events with her.”
Abdul Goffar is the Director of UK at ACCA (The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) his previous role was the Portfolio Head for the European and Americas region. Abdul is responsible for setting and delivering ACCA’s strategy for the largest market within the organisation. Abdul also has a wide ranging corporate experience having worked closely with some of the largest global organisations such as Procter & Gamble, Coca Cola and PepsiCo as a trusted adviser on organisational change, capacity, talent and training issues.
“Abdul invests his trust in people coming from different walks of life, offering all his team members a safe working environment and making us feel empowered, as we are offered space to create our own plans and execute them. The result is a team equipped and capable to support partners, members and students of the association, based across the globe. Abdul’s professional ethos inspires the team to build strong connections based on mutual respect, making it possible to achieve our professional goals while attending to our family’s needs during the pandemic.”