Our Listees 2023

Yoge Patel

Chief Executive Officer, Blue Bear Systems Research

Yoge has successfully built Blue Bear from the ground up to a leading authority in the development and integration of autonomous systems into aerospace, defence, maritime, and a range of other markets. Its products and services are disrupting mature sectors and creating new markets. The business has challenged and transformed modes of execution in the delivery of capability to the UK’s armed services. Yoge is a recent winner of the Asian Women of Achievement award and has been listed as one of the Top 100 Asian Stars in Tech.

“Yoge builds relationships with compassion and a calmness of spirit to build trust and openness across the sectors she supports. She breathes life into the generations that will follow through her work with the Cadets and women leadership programmes at Oxford University. And she provides support to a range of mentees by sharing her own journey, her own struggles, and her insights on how to challenge and champion change with kindness.”

Tom Macdonald

Solutions Delivery Director, NatWest Group
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In addition to his own responsibilities, Tom has proactively taken on mentorship and line management as part of the NatWest CareerSense programme. His mentee for NatWest Career Ready won an award for her achievements and overall contribution. Tom is a trained Financial Foundations facilitator, often using his own time to deliver money management and fraud and scam awareness sessions to organisations throughout the country. Tom also uses his time and skills to support The Prince’s Trust and The Conservation Volunteers.

“Tom is the epitome of leading with kindness… He uses his lunch times to help students in primary and secondary schools, using a mix of his Financial Foundations and MoneySense training… His work with The Prince’s Trust sees him visiting colleges to help with boosting confidence on interview skills, CV writing, and customer service skills. His work with The Conservation Volunteers sees him inspiring colleagues to… work in local hospital grounds planting trees and wildflower meadows and general grounds-related work that’s needed.” 

An example of when kindness made a significant and lasting difference on your business.
Having been given the opportunity to mentor two young people who had secured a place on our NatWest Group CareerSense programme, imagine my surprise when the mother of the young man – having come from Georgia – wrote on a LinkedIn post at the end of his placement 'thank you for your kindness to my son during his time with NatWest Group'. This really brought home the impact that kindness can have on someone's life and the positive ripple effect. The whole experience, for me, totally endorsed the fact that 'kindness is not what you do, but who you are’.

Tom Athron

Chief Executive Officer, Fortnum & Mason

Tom is CEO of Fortnum & Mason, a luxury department store and retailer known for its high-end food and gift items. Tom joined the company in 2018 and brings with him years of experience in the luxury retail industry, having previously worked at John Lewis and Selfridges. As CEO of Fortnum & Mason, Tom has continued the company’s legacy of providing impeccable quality and service to its customers, while also focusing on sustainability and innovation.

“Tom Athron’s leadership impact through kindness at Fortnum & Mason is evident in his commitment to employee engagement, sustainability, customer focus, and community engagement. His values-driven leadership approach has created a culture of kindness and excellence at the company, and has enabled Fortnum & Mason to thrive in a competitive and rapidly-changing retail landscape.”

Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work
Tone from the top is everything, particularly when you are under pressure, in creating worthwhile, satisfying and fulfilling work for our people

Tej Bahia

Business Director, Arcadis
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Tej is a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and Business Director at Arcadis. His approachability, determination, and resilience have made him a successful senior leader. He is responsible for 200+ people and always ensures fairness and equality within the workplace, whilst providing progression opportunities for all. Tej leads by example and supports disadvantaged children from his local community by mentoring in his spare time. His mentoring group was recently awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

“Tej is an empowering and empathetic leader who is an inspiration to everyone. He has proven that nothing is impossible, and we can all achieve regardless of gender or background. Tej motivates his team by nurturing their strengths and drives training and support in line with individuals’ professional development goals whilst maintaining a good work-life balance. He is recognised as a role model within the business.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Kindness is relevant to effective leadership because, by being kind, supportive and present for your people, it becomes easier to break down barriers and form effective relationships. This, in turn, allows the leader to fully understand their team members, their circumstances, and their development needs, as well as what drives them. Being kind improves motivation and drive, creating a better workforce culture, increasing retention and facilitating growth and development within the team or organisation.

Suzie Bailey

Director of Leadership & Organisational Development, The King's Fund

Suzie is passionate about improving care through the development of people and workplace cultures. She was a senior manager in the NHS for 20 years, led the creation of a Coaching Academy in a large hospital, worked as Director of Leadership and Quality Improvement for NHS England, and led the design of the first framework that introduced compassionate leadership into national policy. At The King’s Fund, she leads on workforce issues, leadership, and organisational development. She is also a trustee of Skills for Care.

“Suzie is compassionate, kind, and inclusive in her work. At The King’s Fund she is a strong advocate for compassionate, inclusive leadership. She has influenced the culture internally but even more impressive is the reach and impact of her work in UK health and care policy and practice. She has worked extensively with national and local partners to influence cultural change.”

An example of when kindness made a significant and lasting difference on your business.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of colleagues and friends working in healthcare across Sweden, the UK, and the USA, and I, started a monthly 'conversation for kindness' meeting. The initial purpose of coming together was to continue our conversations about kindness and explore its role in the 'business end' of healthcare. We had no idea if anyone else would accept the invitation to join us. As the conversation has developed, interest in this work has grown, and we have had diverse contributors from almost 30 different countries across the globe participating in our monthly one-hour calls. You might be going through a really tough week and think you don't have the time or energy to join the session, but these kindness conversations are always hopeful and valued by those who come, offering a space to learn, reflect, and share experiences. They help us develop new connections and inspire us to take action in creating and sustaining cultures of kindness where we live and work.

Sophia Patel

Director, Global Physician & Patient Experience, Pfizer

Sophia is an experienced product and commercial leader in the health sector. She is energised and passionate about democratising access to high quality and empathic healthcare for all patients, regardless of race, age, or gender. Her work focuses on female gastroenterologists in a field dominated by men, with only 18% of all gastroenterologists being female. Sophia’s career in healthcare began at Pfizer, where she navigated the complexities of the US healthcare system to bring life-saving treatments to patients across various therapeutic areas.     

“As Sophia works in a highly regulated environment, she uses evidence to persuade people of the impact of kindness and empathy in healthcare. Sophia led her colleagues to the power of kindness using facts in medical journals… She also identified that female physicians demonstrate higher levels of empathic-centric engagement with patients, and uses this to inspire the whole field of gastroenterology to focus on their impact on patients.”

Tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Active listening – The more we can enable others to share their perspectives before responding, the better we are able to avoid conflict, communication gaps and ultimately lead to more effective solutions. Take the time to appreciate others – our calendars are packed, however, there is a true ripple effect of kindness when you take a moment to simply send a note, recognise someone's efforts, or through more formal organisational channels. Checking in on those struggling – Not the standard small talk, but putting time in with someone so as to understand what challenges or stressors they are facing.

Róisín Murphy & Roisin Sharkey

Director, Co Head, Corporate Responsibility, KPMG UK

As the most senior job share in the UK firm, Róisín Murphy and Roisin Sharkey are responsible for leading, developing, and managing KPMG UK’s award-winning Corporate Responsibility strategy and a significant part of the firm’s ESG Impact Plan. ‘The Roisins’ deliver positive societal impact and support 18,000 staff across KPMG UK to do the same. In addition to their day jobs, both Roisins are exemplary role models for career-driven, working mums. They also both volunteer and actively give back to the community.

“The Roisins go above and beyond everyday to support the team and KPMG colleagues around them. They take the time to listen, support, educate, and empower others, irrespective of how busy and challenging their own lives are. As a job-share, they also lead by example in terms of the equity, trust, and respect that they consistently support each other with. They are genuine, authentic leaders who inspire colleagues by demonstrating humility, honesty, and humour in their leadership style.”

Rebecca Oldfield

Executive Vice President, Digital Innovation and Technology, Infineum UK
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During her 20+ years in the speciality chemicals business, Rebecca has delivered transformational change whilst maintaining a strong belief that people and data are an organisation’s most valuable assets. She led a shift from product-centric to customer-centric innovation, creating multiple new market opportunities from the creativity of colleagues across the organisation. As the Executive Committee sponsor for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, she has overseen a step change in the representation of women in senior positions.  

“Rebecca focuses on leading with empathy, creating a transparent and trusting environment in which people can be themselves, express different views, and create better solutions through openness and collaboration. She invests considerable time in developing the skills, capabilities, and experiences of her team, and mentors employees across multiple cultures to help them fulfil their ambitions.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Putting kindness at the heart of leadership allows us to unleash the best performance of those around us: people are more creative, more open to collaborating and braver when they feel cared for, respected and valued by their leader. Leaders create better outcomes for their organisations and are more likely to lead successful teams when kindness is a guiding principle of engagement with others. So if you're looking for the best results, motivated teams, and a sense of well-being and fulfilment, start putting kindness into your leadership recipe!

Rashid Adam

Chief Operating Officer, Findlay Park

Rashid is COO of Findlay Park, an investment partnership with $10 billion worth of assets under management. He is also a partner and sits on the executive committee, as well as the board of directors. Rashid is the first person from ‘back office’ to have ever been made partner; amongst management, the vote for Rashid was unanimous. Rashid is also a member of the Centre for Synchronous Leadership’s ‘CSL Changemakers’ – a community of senior leaders carefully selected based on their commitment to being a force for good in the business sector.
“As a leader, Rashid stands out for his conscientiousness. He consistently takes into account the emotional impact of his choices on employees at all levels. His knowledge and understanding of everyone in his office also stands out… He is unusually generous with his time – always ready to listen to and encourage his colleagues – regardless of whether they are direct reports, the CEO, or a security guard. He uses the trust that he gains from these relationships to foster stronger connections across different parts of the business.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Kindness in leadership is a transformative trait that challenges conventional notions of success in the business world. It transcends superficial courtesies, encompassing facets of honesty, transparency and teamwork, and positioning itself as an essential cornerstone for effective leadership. Elevating kindness to a central role in leadership leads to a happy, integrated and committed team, which helps drive profitability and efficiency.

Professor Dilanthi Amaratunga

Professor of Disaster Risk Reduction & Management, University of Huddersfield

Dilanthi is a renowned professor in disaster management, with a history of more than 30 years in research and academia, and the winner of the prestigious 2019 Newton Prize. She leads the University of Huddersfield’s Global Disaster Resilience Centre, a global leader in interdisciplinary research, education, and advocacy. In 2022 alone, she contributed to more than 288 international collaborations in 57 countries. She has produced over 500 publications, refereed papers, and reports, and has delivered over 100 keynote speeches around the world.

“It’s rare to see a person of her calibre and profile, especially with many responsibilities and duties, being considerate and well-connected with fellow employees. Thanks to Professor Dilanthi, all the members of the Global Disaster Resilience Centre share a working culture that fosters inclusion and belonging… She has excellent instincts in reading the talents and capabilities of those around her, and I have felt she knows my capabilities and strengths more than I know myself. She guides towards ideal opportunities for all her employees and coaches them, investing much of her time and effort.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
There is a compelling need for compassionate academic leadership in our universities. Kindness and compassion are not separate from being professional; rather, they represent the fundamentals of humanity in the workplace. Compassion is a crucial and core concern in the Higher Education sector. Arguably, the universities that are able to demonstrate their compassionate credentials will be successful universities, and this requires kindness in leadership and compassionate institutional cultures.

Professor Déirdre Hollingsworth

Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, University of Oxford
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Déirdre works on the development of mathematical, statistical, and computational models that inform disease dynamics and their translation to global health policy. She has made significant contributions to the study of neglected tropical diseases (NTD), COVID-19, malaria, and HIV/AIDS. She founded and leads the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded NTD modelling consortium, and was a member of SPI-M-O, part of the UK government’s science advisory structure for the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Déirdre’s leadership style is inspiring and empowering. She recognises the potential in each team member and encourages an environment where everyone feels valued for their unique contributions. She displays humility, consistently highlighting the value others bring to the collective work. Déirdre personifies kindness and effective leadership. She creates an atmosphere of inclusion and belonging within our team.”

Tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
A culture of kindness has a few obvious markers – flexible and transparent pay and leave policies, respect for people's off-hour and out-of-office privacy, and a genuine interest in what makes each of us uniquely ‘us’. B-Corp attempts to quantify and simplify, creating this kind of culture, but kindness is less about numbers and tracking and more about corporate values that must be protected and embedded in everything a business and its role models represent.

Polly McMaster

Founder & CEO, The Fold

Polly founded The Fold ten years ago to fill a gap in the market for working women – creating a brand that reflects her ambition to build confidence. The Fold redefines workwear for the modern career woman and has dressed some of the world’s most influential female leaders, change-makers, and rising stars. Polly is a champion for and shines a spotlight on the remarkable women that the brand has been built for while forging a reputation as an authority on workwear.
“First and foremost, above a founder or a CEO, Polly is a human being, and approaches leading at The Fold as such. Her communication is considered and respectful, even in difficult conversations… She supports ambition and empowerment by encouraging people to take bold actions, while giving them a safe environment to make mistakes. Polly is never one to take any personal glory – she is always ready to celebrate success.” 

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
To be the best our teams can be at work, they need to feel inspired and motivated, not just showing up to pay the bills. Being treated in a human way, seeing kindness in leadership, will lead to more motivated and inspired teams, greater loyalty, more resilience and better results. 

Paul Wickes MBE

Chief Executive Officer, Cornwall Marine Network / Maritime UK South West
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Paul’s career spans 38 years in senior management and consultancy for manufacturing and service businesses. Paul joined Cornwall Marine Network in 2005, becoming CEO in 2008. He has led the business through significant uncertainty to growth and ongoing sustainability, now hugely respected for significant achievements, which include 5,115 people supported into jobs and £42 million investment secured adding £500 million GVA to the Cornish economy.
“Paul’s first principle is to ‘look after people,’ and he is consistent and clear that achievements are a team effort. He has developed a team that is based on mutual respect, with a no-blame culture that empowers creativity amongst the team members. This encourages continuous improvement and innovation within a business that is constantly evolving and adapting to meet customer needs.”

Tips on creating a culture of kindness at work
The biggest impact on any organisation culture is the commitment and behaviour of the senior leader(s). if the leader wants to create a culture where kindness is intrinsic to the values of the organisation then this must be underpinned in all aspects of the management and activity of the company. This means the leader must:
• Role model the values, attitudes and kind behaviours that attract trust • Offer and share a sense of direction and vision • Involve all team members in planning and continuous improvement • Create attitudes that are positive, collaborative, fun and friendly
• Create a sense of belonging and pride in the company, create a sense of community within the team
• Maintain confidence in your leadership by reinforcing messages, behaviours and showing what success looks like
• Ensure accountability for results, and critically;
• Share any individual, team and company successes
• Create organisation structures that enable clear communications
• Always focus on improving team and customer relationships
• Create a ‘you can do it’ attitude • Focus on being customer-centred • Develop an approach to recognising the efforts and successes of all team members
• Do not punish mistakes or you will stifle creativity, instead use mistakes as a learning experience • Always remember in a service company, people are your biggest and often only asset, so do everything you can to ensure everyone feels supported, trusted, involved and successful
• There is no point in having someone employed in a successful company if they don’t feel they are part of that success All of the above are enshrined in a guidance document that is shared with all team members and managers throughout their career journey at CMN. Outside of the management handbook are the things you learn throughout your career that ensure you are equipped to support good people to cope with challenges and explore and develop the talents they all have. Every day strive to deliver a random act of kindness. Remember you are dealing with people. We are all motivated in different ways. Listen to them, find out what makes them ‘tick’, learn how to feed their hunger. The pursuit of supporting people to improve with kindness is a race that has no finishing line, but get it right and you still win.

Nick Shipley

Co-Founder, Jack Fertility

Nick’s career began at the Foreign Office before he transitioned into marketing, specialising in consumer insights. He’s worked at multinational consumer goods giants including Nestlé, Kraft Heinz, and Imperial Brands, guiding some of the world’s most iconic products. After becoming a father, Nick was motivated to use his background and recent Oxford MBA degree to tackle one of the last great stigmas of our time by co-founding Jack Fertility, a postal male fertility kit, to break down all barriers to male reproductive health.

“Nick consistently shows kindness via sincere respect and generosity, even in challenging situations while building Jack Fertility. He fosters a sense of belonging, values others’ growth, and empowers them through support and collaboration. With mindfulness and self-awareness, Nick creates genuine connections to develop the business. He treats everyone with respect, embracing diversity and promoting equality. Nick’s authenticity and fairness make him a remarkable individual, positively impacting all stakeholders.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
At Jack Fertility, we strongly believe that kindness is not just a desirable trait but an essential element of effective leadership. It extends to how we interact with our customers and treat our team members. When kindness is prioritised, it nurtures positivity, empathy, and understanding, providing a solid foundation for building strong relationships and making a meaningful impact in the world.

Natalie Kelly

Chief Risk Officer, Visa Europe

Natalie is Chief Risk Officer for Visa Europe, previously serving as senior advisor to the Global Chief Risk Officer, a role in which she set the strategic direction for risk within the global organisation. With over 25 years of experience, Natalie has held leadership positions spanning innovation, emerging payments, sales, and risk. In 2022 Natalie was named one of the Most Influential Women in Payments by American Banker. She is a huge advocate for women and is on the board of Visa’s Women’s Network.

“Natalie is a brave and approachable leader who wants people to succeed. She has a strong reputation for encouraging and nurturing others and has many mentees who she supports wholeheartedly. As Visa’s Chief Risk Officer, she is extremely busy and carries a big responsibility so sets high standards for her team, but at every step she believes in their ability and potential for growth. Natalie cares about individuals. She is generous in her praise of others and encourages openness, giving people confidence to strive for success.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Everything about leadership should revolve around kindness. Being kind brings out the best in people, which means they will contribute time, ideas, passion, energy, enthusiasm, and they will encourage others and pass along that kindness to help everyone reach their goals. Being kind doesn't mean you can't make the hard decisions either. It just means that you handle the hard decisions with more grace and compassion. Treat people the way that you would want to be treated.

Natalie Dyson BEM

Chief Executive Officer, Diversity Voice

Natalie is a former lawyer who gave up her legal career to focus on charitable work. She was awarded the British Empire Medal in 2021 for her outstanding voluntary work during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022 she helped bring almost 1,000 Ukrainian refugees to safety in the UK. She is now CEO of Diversity Voice, a charity working to prevent social exclusion and discrimination by assisting refugees, asylum seekers, and migrant workers to settle into the community. Over 90% of the staff are second-language English speakers.

“Natalie consistently leads by example, and staff feel inspired by her own volunteering efforts. She has transformed the organisation’s management style, operating an open-door policy for staff to talk about anything. Employees are empowered to be part of the decision-making process and strategic direction. They say they feel supported, included, and happier at work. She always praises staff and ensures they feel valued.” 

Tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Be open – whether this is having an open door policy to offices, being available to talk to employees out of hours, being transparent about decision making. Get to know your colleagues – not because you have to but because you want to Be authentic – be yourself, and always respect the principles of equality, diversity and inclusion. Give praise frequently and appropriately. Communicate clearly – set goals, give constructive feedback and encourage personal growth. Always listen – respect all people as equals.

Mobina Salahuddin

Director, Deloitte
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Mobina is a Director in Deloitte UK’s C&E practice. Her multiple leadership roles include serving as the UK C&E Sustainability Lead, the UK C&E People & Purpose Lead across a 500-person team, a sponsor for Codename MAXINE (a 300-strong Diversity in Tech firm network), and a specialist in Banking & Capital Markets. Mobina leads with vulnerability, authenticity, and a can-do attitude, inspiring others on how to change the world through each small choice – while spotlighting junior talent every step of the way.

“Mobina is the definition of leading with kindness, vulnerability, and authenticity. She is constantly looking out for others – whether that be sponsoring juniors to represent the firm at a 1,000-wide external speaking event, hosting free virtual yoga sessions during the pandemic to promote well-being across the 2,000-large Business Operations practice, or pioneering a Sustainability in Cloud Engineering proposition for the UK firm to integrate sustainability at the core of all business transformations.” 

Tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Time – make time for people. Get to know them and build meaningful relationships. Be empathetic, understand and listen to how people work at their best. Ask them about their personal needs and commitments; their well-being. You never know how impactful that one conversation might be.
Invest in their professional and personal development – the two should align. If it's difficult or constructive feedback, highlight the conversation is because you care and are invested in their success. Help them connect to the bigger picture and the impact of their role and what they are doing
Create a safe and inclusive environment from the outset. Let them know they are not alone, we are a team. Leaders are here to provide guidance and coverage and we don’t expect any one individual to solve anything independently. Work alongside them, review with them and ask them for their opinions. Provide them with opportunities for growth in this safe environment.
Be human. Your team should know your strengths and weaknesses just like you know theirs.

Miriam González Durántez

Founder, Inspiring Girls International

Miriam is a trade lawyer and former trade negotiator who founded Inspiring Girls International to connect girls with female role models, introduce new opportunities, and raise aspirations. Her passion for the cause and determination to take positive and ambitious action has created a global community of women – from all backgrounds and walks of life – working toward raising the aspirations of girls in over 30 countries around the world.

“Miriam’s kindness shines through in her personal touch and generosity… The atmosphere within the team from the top down and bottom up is one of collegiate support, good humour, mutual respect, and empowerment. This was the tone that Miriam set from day one, and is a hugely important part of an inclusive organisational culture that relies on so many people giving their time – and for many in a voluntary capacity around busy professional and personal lives – to work toward a collective goal.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Kindness is what differentiates good from bad leadership. Successful teams are based on trust and respect – and the only way to generate trust and respect is if everybody treats each other with kindness. I believe in teams that show kindness in all directions, but especially from those at the top towards those who support them. Praising each other, understanding mistakes, ensuring that everybody is giving each other time, smiling… those simple signs of kindness are the magical glue that makes dream teams.

Maria Ahmad

Foundation Year 2 Junior Doctor, West Hertfordshire NHS Trust
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Maria is a first-year NHS junior doctor. Making a difference and striving to be better every day are the principles which she lives by – whether teaching others, empowering patients, or galvanising healthcare colleagues. Passionate about medical education, she constantly seeks opportunities to teach and provide support and mentoring. Her contributions were recognised by the Zeshan Qureshi Award for Outstanding Achievement in Medical Education. She is currently writing a book to help medical students make a difference through leadership.
“Working as a junior doctor is a stressful, pressured job with huge responsibility… Maria supports her colleagues after difficult situations, whether junior or senior, by checking in with them, offering time to discuss these situations, and advocating for debriefs. In this challenging working environment, Maria provides authentic praise for others’ hard work and contribution to patient care, recognising their achievements, no matter how big or small.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Medicine can be an incredibly challenging career; seeing people critically unwell, breaking bad news to patients and their families, and dealing with the stress and pressure of the health service. In such a service, kindness can make a significant difference to patient care and staff well-being. Everyone, no matter if they are junior or senior, has the ability to lead effectively and to lead with kindness, by understanding that kindness starts from the words we use and the way we interact with our colleagues and patients.

Margaret Campbell

Partner, Reed Smith
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Margaret has been the leader of global law firm Reed Smith’s women’s initiative in London and EMEA (WINRS) for the last eight years, spearheading the drive to recruit, retain, develop, and promote women, with a view to achieving gender equity. Margaret has been instrumental in driving formal policy and culture changes in the region, both in this role and previously. She was the first to go part-time and has always bravely led by example for the women following her trajectory. 

“Margaret is a leading lawyer in her field and a realist who understands the business priorities of a law firm. However, she is unwavering in challenging the status quo and ensuring that leaders in the firm are actively considering women for promotion. She supports and inspires women to drive their careers forward, recognising that all of our people have personal lives and challenges. Margaret tirelessly performs this role alongside her busy legal practice.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Kindness is integral to effective leadership as it enables you to truly understand your colleagues; build strong relationships with them and be empathetic to the pressures they are facing. This enables leaders to be more supportive in helping employees overcome their professional challenges and excel in their careers. We have all had unkind bosses before and they very rarely bring out the best in people. A kind and encouraging environment where employees feel they can grow and are comfortable enough to innovate and try new ways of working generally leads to long term retention by the firm and a better work product for our clients.

Lucy Clist

Senior Consultant, EY
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Lucy is a management consultant, currently working in EY’s Business Transformation team focusing on delivering the best outcomes for her clients. She is always striving to help public sector clients solve new challenges and is ultimately focused on driving better services for citizens. In addition, she champions social value in driving wider change across EY with policies supporting ex-offenders, as well as driving local change as the corporate responsibility lead for the Bristol office. 
“Alongside her daily client work Lucy seeks out opportunities to bring communities together…and has also been working passionately to shape the social impact agenda at the firm. She has taken on the role of corporate responsibility lead and uses her platform to impact a variety of communities – fundraising for the local air ambulance, Red Nose Day, and the local children’s hospital all through organising large events for colleagues to take part in.”  

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
There is not one definition of kindness but kindness is generally seen as someone being gentle, considerate, caring, helpful, generous, friendly. Kindness therefore is extremely relevant to effective leadership as it is vital in creating an inclusive culture where people feel safe to share and be their true selves. Being a kind leader creates an open environment that empowers a team to be able to fail and, as a result, teams can thrive. They can be creative, innovative and pursue new ideas without fear. Kindness creates a domino effect that can create high-performing successful teams.

Lisa Tremble

Chief Corporate Affairs & Sustainability Officer, British Airways
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Lisa joined British Airways in 2021, overseeing corporate communications, global PR and social media, public affairs, internal communications, colleague experience and engagement, and sustainability. Lisa has recently taken on the role of Interim Chief People Officer, as well. She has been fundamental in helping the airline deliver change and transformation across its culture and business, as well as bringing fun and kindness to the organisation.

“Despite having an incredibly busy job, Lisa regularly meets and speaks with new joiners to the organisation and travels around the business, spending time with colleagues from across the organisation, learning about their roles and listening to their concerns. She is always giving back, whether that’s coming up with new initiatives to improve colleague experience or through coaching, counselling, and mentoring and taking on speaking appearances to help others follow in her footsteps.” 

Tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
A fantastic way to create a culture of kindness is through recognition, which can be as simple as saying thank you or treating your team to lunch. When employees feel recognised, they feel more valued and appreciated. At British Airways, we’re committed to creating a culture of recognition, based on acknowledging and appreciating the contributions and achievements of our people. We have invested in a recognition platform called ‘Above and Beyond’ that allows colleagues to thank each other – thousands of colleagues have used the tool. If you lead by example, you will drive positive cultural change and see benefits in engagement and morale.

Lady Joyce Obaseki OBE

Founder & CEO, Grant A Smile CIC

Joyce has over 20 years’ experience as a strategic educational and humanitarian leader. She resigned as a secondary school headteacher to set up Grant A Smile after meeting a child whose mum was battling cancer and had no practical support at home. By offering decluttering and cleaning services in homes where a parent is ill, Grant A Smile helps keep families together, avoiding intervention by Social Services. It has also granted special wishes to over 2,800 children, and has received several awards, including the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

“Joyce took the bold and brave step of resigning from her role to set up Grant A Smile in September 2017. Taking the initiative to set up the only social enterprise offering this vital service in the whole of the UK is highly commendable. It reflects kindness, courage, mindfulness, compassion, and empathy. To have such phenomenal success in just over five years demonstrates strong leadership, consistency, focus, team building, and empowerment for the families they support and those that work in this organisation.” 

Tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Offer to come in early or remain late to assist a co-worker with a project. Get a bit of air and take a walk with a colleague. Bake a sweet treat and deliver it to the office for everyone to enjoy. Offer to take on one of your colleague's duties if they are overburdened.

Kristy May

Global Head of Business Affairs, FUGA Music
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Kristy is a legal and business affairs music executive with almost 20 years’ experience. With a prolific career including overseeing high-profile signings for Lenny Kravitz, Massive Attack, and Prince, Kirsty is now responsible for leading FUGA’s business affairs team, advising across new business, product strategy, and dispute resolution, as well as leading negotiations on all major deals. She played a key role in developing FUGA’s physical distribution offering from scratch, and the company’s BA team doubled in size under her leadership.

“A strong female voice within the legal landscape, Kristy’s collaborative leadership style is exemplary, across the board, of kindness. The impact Kristy’s leadership has had on her direct team, as well as the wider company, is unparalleled – whether through creating accessibility into the legal world, bringing understanding and compassion to adversarial conversations, mentoring young adults, empowering both her team and others to achieve big, or her consistent open-door policy.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Kindness is a powerful tool that enables people to feel seen, valued and understood. A compassionate voice in leadership builds connection, relationships and trust as we are all people first before we are employees, managers or senior executives. It fosters loyalty and teamwork. Kindness not only supports people to grow and believe in their full potential, it can bring respect and empathy to the most challenging of situations. I believe kindness, empathy and respect can be any leader’s superpower. 

Kaya Axelsson

Head of Policy & Partnerships, Oxford Net Zero, University of Oxford

Kaya has been a long-standing leader in the Oxford climate ecosystem. What sets her apart is her unparalleled ability to craft partnerships inside and outside of the university to further climate action. She has been shaped by her background as a community organiser and climate activist, as well as her commitment to the people she works with and the cause she works on – climate change and the transition to net zero. She approaches her work with empathy and care, always remembering others and choosing collaboration over competition.

“Kaya is incredibly generous with her time, as evidenced through her careful and patient coordination of the revision to the Oxford Offsetting Principles. She is truly a servant leader – her style is to empower and partner rather than assertively direct. Working with Kaya feels easy and fluid; she has a strong grasp of the vision and strategy to get there, yet dives into the tactical jobs that need to get done.” 

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
There is significant research showing that kindness (and the trust that it engenders) is one of the key factors leading to the success of transnational governance initiatives. The climate and nature crisis poses a collective action challenge of massive proportion. Historically there has been an overemphasis on the assumption that collective action can only be solved through some form of rational choice, guided by self-interest, and this has left scholars, economists, and political actors stumped in front of what they often refer to as a 'wicked problem'. What many of them were missing is that self-interest is only one of the drivers that motivates people. A desire to collaborate, contribute to a larger whole, and be seen as part of a group of effective actors, have been drastically underestimated as tools of the transition to more sustainable forms of global governance. I believe, of course, that we can't build new governance on individual kindness alone, that kindness as a principle needs to be built into law, policy and governance, to reverse the way self-interest has been built into structural systems for hundreds of years. A new paradigm that succeeds at embedding kindness is the only way we create a world that makes room for one another and weathers the storms coming in what will be the greatest economic and human shakeup in modern history.

Katie Adams

Consultant Colorectal Surgery, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital

Katie took over the gastrointestinal surgery department in a very difficult and challenging time, toward the end of the COVID pandemic, which had affected the hospital’s services and staff. She has built up a strong, multidisciplinary team, inspiring all members through her exceptional leadership. She has served as President of The Dukes’ Club for colorectal surgical trainees and is committed to supporting junior colleagues and staff. 

“Katie is a superb leader, and given her young age, which has made her job even more challenging and her success more pronounced, and the fact she leads a large department in a large tertiary hospital with a team of different team members and different roles and levels of seniority, she has managed extremely well and gained the love and respect of everyone. Katie is very supportive to her team, regardless of their position. I have seen how much support is given to new colleagues and colleagues working on improving their careers.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Kindness allows for quiet voices to be heard, new ideas to be entertained, and better, more diverse solutions to be found. Kind leadership helps to reduce stress and burnout, which can improve the quality of care provided to patients, and it builds trust and rapport between leaders and staff, which makes it easier to communicate effectively and collaborate on solving problems. We improve the quality of healthcare through learning from experience, innovating and collaborating, all of which are facilitated within a kind environment.

Jenny Brown

Head, City of London School for Girls
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Jenny joined City of London School for Girls as Head in 2019 and has focused much of her headship around the idea of ‘finding space to pioneer.’ Central to this is the idea of carving out more space for reflection and well-being. She is an empathetic and popular leader, generous with her time, offering support to teachers of all levels. She continues to teach English A-levels. In 2022, Jenny successfully co-launched City Junior School with City of London School. She demonstrates resilience and courage through fighting for equality in girls’ education in the City.

“Under Jenny’s leadership, the school has become increasingly diverse, and the number of students on bursaries has increased. She emanates respect, and this is reflected in the kindness of the school community… One member of staff commented, ‘CLSG is a place full of people that contribute to this overwhelming sense of warmth, compassion, and humanity. It is a place led by someone who models this too… I hope you can appreciate the weight of my sentiment that I feel honoured to be a part of CLSG.’”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Leading with kindness is essential in any environment, but especially so within a school. Leaders must demonstrate compassion, empathy and warmth, and be excellent listeners. Curiosity is key – being genuinely interested in people as individuals and remembering a student’s favourite club, for example. Kindness is reflected in the culture of our school and our policies – we have seen huge growth in individualised care, coaching and well-being initiatives for both students and staff. It is particularly important in an academic school to make time for well-being and, indeed, our ethos of ‘finding space to pioneer’ is all about carving out more space for reflection.

Jennifer Viloria

Founder & CEO, IISLA Ventures
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Jennifer is an experienced investment banker, consultant, and impact investor who has been using her own money to support start-up social enterprises in the UK, Europe, and Asia since 2013. Her personal story underpins her mission: she was born and raised in a poor farming village in the Philippines where she experienced poverty as a child. She established IISLA Ventures to channel ‘conscious’ capital towards inclusive and sustainable livelihood projects as a means to promote rural development. 

“Jennifer fosters a culture of kindness in her company, mindful that business success is best achieved through the total well-being of its people. She ensures that employees not only receive proper compensation and benefits but also the support needed for optimum mental health. She is also genuinely interested in their personal goals and contributes to their achievements… This value given towards individual capability to succeed has underpinned IISLA’s business strategy, developing not just social enterprises but conscious entrepreneurs…”

An example of when kindness made a significant and lasting difference on your business.
Someone who attended our events wrote me a cheque to cover staff salaries, without proper due diligence to protect his investment. He fully trusted me to look after his capital and our team. A year later he invested further US$500k to build our first tech venture in the Philippines that now employs several employees who are all equity shareholders. Our investor shares our philosophy to equitably distribute economic benefits to all stakeholders, especially to co-founders and employees. IISLA Ventures is proof of how kindness can anchor the creation of new ventures that positively impact the lives of people in marginalised communities.

Jane Bryan

Professor, University of Warwick

Jane has devoted her career to making Warwick University a kinder, more inclusive community. She created Warwick’s Mediation Service to support staff and students to resolve conflict through dialogue and to educate future lawyers about alternatives to litigation. She has won two prestigious National Mediation Awards for her positive impact on staff and student well-being and retention. Jane devised Warwick’s Kindness on Campus Awards, serves as Warwick’s Values Education Lead, and launched the ground-breaking ‘Say My Name’ campaign.

“Jane’s leadership demonstrates kindness-in-action and has created a culture at Warwick which encourages and supports others to be kind… She is a fantastic champion and change-maker for kindness and inclusion at Warwick and beyond. Her excellent, collaborative leadership (recognised by winning Warwick’s Award for Collaborative Teaching Excellence 2022) models the culture she seeks to create: empathetic, kind, respectful, and fair, empowering all to have a voice and use this to drive change.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
All too often, small acts of kindness go unnoticed and yet they are the glue that holds our community together. At Warwick University, I devised an initiative to encourage staff and students to recognise and to celebrate acts of kindness. Feedback about the Awards from winners, nominees, nominators and others has been excellent with many saying that it was heartening to see the university recognise and celebrate kindness in this way. It has definitely helped begin conversations at Warwick about the importance of kindness which has spread to other areas of interactions.

Heather Thomas

Group Property & Franchise Director, The Co-op Group
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Heather has had an extensive career in commercial finance and real estate. She has been in the retail industry for decades and has driven outstanding business results for Asda, Walmart, and The Co-op Group. Heather also tirelessly invests in people and their careers, creating a safe and positive environment where everyone feels a sense of belonging and is empowered to be their best self.

“I have personally watched as Heather goes out of her way to welcome new associates to teams, provide support and guidance, and be an active listener. She is a fierce advocate for the advancement of fellow women in the workplace. Heather is an inspiration to other working moms and takes the time to help new moms adjust to their new role… Heather is inclusive to all and goes above and beyond to make everyone feel part of a team.” 

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
The performance of a team will be optimised if everyone performs at their very best. Creating the environment, opportunity and space for that to happen is an essential role for a leader. For me, kindness in leadership is about encouragement, support, coaching, mentoring and challenging all colleagues so they can operate at their very best and giving them the confidence to push themselves to do things even they may not have thought possible.

Hannah Morgan-Gray

Chief Executive Officer, North Herts & Stevenage CVS

Hannah became CEO of North Herts and Stevenage CVS when the charity was in financial deficit. She has since transformed its fortunes – doubling turnover within four years – and its culture – investing in staff, prioritising well-being, building trust, and leading with kindness. She mobilised more than 10,000 volunteers as leader of the COVID-19 Volunteer Recruitment Programme for Hertfordshire, developed an online volunteering platform for the county, and is a member of the Herts and West Essex VCFSE Alliance, where she helps address inequality. 
“An authentic, generous, empathetic, humble, and courageous leader, Hannah will inspire you to believe anything is possible. Whether she’s revitalising charities, teaching people to climb through her not-for-profit climbing business, fundraising, mentoring, volunteering, running a support group, or turning up for a friend, Hannah’s incredible gift is making everyone feel they belong. She succeeds…because of her ability to build meaningful relationships, show vulnerability, stand up for injustice, and create a safe space for those around her.”

An example of when kindness made a significant and lasting difference on your business.
Early in my career, I strived to over-achieve and be the best at every task I was given. It wasn't until my manager sat me down and encouraged me to reflect on the importance of valuing my time and well-being that, over time, I was able to adjust and recognise clear boundaries and protect my energy. This person believed in me and allowed me the time to step back and analyse my ways of working to improve them. I used to say ‘yes’ to everything, thinking this would improve career prospects but by changing my mindset, I now had time to pause, which opened doors to new options and choices.

Glenn Hayes

Managing Director, Worldwide Logistics Group UK

Glenn, the Managing Director of Worldwide Logistics Group UK, significantly influences the company’s culture and the industry he operates in. He defines the company’s vision, mission, and values and shapes its structure, policies, and procedures. Glenn prioritises collaboration, transparency, and customer satisfaction. He demonstrates leadership and innovation by introducing technologies, processes, and strategies to enhance efficiency, reduce costs, and improve customer experience. 

“Glenn’s leadership style embodies kindness, inclusivity, and empathy, fostering a positive work culture where team members feel valued and comfortable sharing ideas… Glenn’s kindness has led to high levels of employee engagement and retention, increased productivity, and improved customer service. Moreover, his generosity towards others in the industry has helped build strong partnerships, contributing to the company’s growth and success.”

Tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Be real, down-to-earth and open. When leaders show kindness, they create a supportive and empowering environment that encourages personal growth, innovation, and risk-taking. By recognising and appreciating the efforts of their team members, leaders can boost morale, increase motivation, and foster a sense of loyalty and dedication.

Georgie Bezette

Vice President People, Rio Tinto

As a senior people leader within Rio Tinto, Georgie shapes growth within the business, demonstrating consistent empathy, generosity, and kindness. Georgie puts others first and fosters a sense of inclusion and belonging. Her courage and authenticity make her a remarkable leader, empowering others by promoting fairness and respect. Through initiatives like Everyday Respect and her dedication to equity, diversity, and inclusion, Georgie continues to drive positive change across Rio Tinto and inspire those around her.

“Georgie Bezette is an exceptional leader, characterised by her caring, curious, and courageous approach. In my 18 years with Rio Tinto, she stands out as one of the best leaders I have had the privilege to work with. Georgie’s supportive and empathetic style empowers each team member to excel in their roles while feeling fully supported. She prioritises building a safe and respectful culture, making meaningful connections with individuals across the organisation.”

Tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Kindness expresses itself through authenticity, honesty and respect. It's being available and curious, and building trust – all of which is essential to high-performing teams.
Tips include: supporting truth tellers, expressing different views honestly, not letting issues fester, being available, and using inquiry to understand and think through opportunities and challenges together.

Dr Shivani Sharma

Head of Department of Psychology, Sport & Geography, University of Hertfordshire
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Shivani has been in senior leadership in higher education for over 12 years. She has contributed to the university across many portfolios, including serving as Executive Lead for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the School of Life and Medical Sciences. Her research interest is in health inequalities, and she collaborates with teams nationally and internationally to rethink how systems of care can be planned and delivered to support greater health equity. She is also a member of the National Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Transplant Alliance.

“Shivani is someone who places relationships at the heart of her leadership style… The impact of this has been felt by individuals and teams – whether it is supporting the career success of the countless students she has supervised, or members of staff she has mentored towards career goals, or teams that she has enabled…  Within all of her achievements, she embodies her own style and flare as someone who actively promotes and practices authenticity, friendliness, and compassion.”

Tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
To create a culture that places kindness at the centre stage, it's helpful to encourage people to form a habit of making the least dangerous assumption. In doing so, we can all learn something about perspective taking, entertaining different interpretations on the way things are. This, for me, is a big factor in a kind culture – weaving in strategies to approach situations with a mindset that powers connection rather than negativity.

Dr Matthew Long

Doctor of Criminology, Loughborough University, England Team Manager and Coach in Athletics
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Matt teaches criminology and serves as a chaplain at Loughborough University. He is also a dedicated coach of the Great Britain and England Masters Athletics teams. He is England Athletics Midlands Lead and heads the National Coach Development Programme (Youth). He is Editor of the British Milers’ Club News magazine and a British Milers’ Club Academy Lead Coach. He has coached, as a volunteer, over 50 athletes who have competed internationally for their country, including world champion runners.

“Matt is organised and empathetic in coaching multiple team members; he gives freely of his limited time; he is accessible and open and knowledgeable about his subject; and, most of all, Matt brings out the best in his athletes. His messaging is on point for each big occasion – he simply ‘gets it’: the preparation, the pressure, the vital nature of performance on the day. He is all about the team and how the collective best functions… The man is selfless – a rarity in today’s world.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Kindness is central to emotionally intelligent leadership. Empathetic leaders can get the best out of people because they work in relational, rather than transactional, terms.

Dr Katherine Gunderson

Chief Executive Officer, Grand Bequest

Katherine founded Grand Bequest, a property technology company with the mission of empowering individuals to save vacant or at-risk buildings in their communities. Her leadership has earned prestigious awards, including Female Founder of the Year by AccelerateHER. At the core of her success lies a commitment to cultivating an innovative, collaborative, and empowering workplace. Katherine supports higher education and fair wages, exemplifying her dedication to continuous learning and contributing to an equitable society.  

“Katherine fosters a company culture that eliminates hierarchical barriers, enabling each employee to meaningfully contribute and thrive. By empowering her team’s career development, Katherine creates a sense of autonomy and self-motivation… In a world where leadership is often associated with power and control, Katherine stands out as a beacon of kindness and empathy. She reminds us that leadership is not about being in charge, but about serving others and making a difference in the world.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Kindness and empathetic leadership is long overdue to become a foundational element to the kind of business that is needed to address our global social, environmental, and economic challenges. Coupled with a genuine respect and appreciation for diversity and inclusion, businesses have the unprecedented opportunity to lead us into a more democratic, green, and resilient future.

Dr Gabriela Barzyk-Sheriff

Co-Founder and Trustee, in2MedSchool; Junior Doctor, NHS England
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Gabriela is a junior doctor, as well as Co-Founder and Trustee of In2MedSchool, a national widening participation charity with over 4,000 mentors and 3,000 mentees. She is also a trustee at the Widening Participation Medics Network. She oversees the work of 16 directors and 100+ officers to deliver one-on-one mentoring, fortnightly webinars, and opportunities such as grants and work experience. She personally mentors seven of the charity directors and is a Healthcare Leadership Academy alumna.

“Gabriela is an exemplary leader; her emotional intelligence shines through and impacts everyone around her, allowing organisations like In2MedSchool to grow into the success it is today. She created one-on-one monthly catch-ups and drop-in sessions for directors, acting as a sounding board and increasing connectivity within the team. Outside of sharing her wisdom and having a direct impact, Gabriela is a true friend who cares, is mindful, and really listens, reading between the lines and creating an atmosphere of comfort and empowerment.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Working with incredible volunteers within In2MedSchool and other organisations continues to highlight the impact of kindness on cultivating brilliant communities. All members of the In2MedSchool charity are unpaid volunteers, many of whom have the equivalent of a full-time job in addition to their university studies or work. Being kind and understanding of one another helps us to support many disadvantaged students in getting to university and achieving their aspirations. A culture of kindness includes clear communication and being approachable, ensuring team members feel valued and listened to with any queries, doubts, or concerns.

Dr Connie Wilson

Principal Sustainability & Innovation Engineer, BAE Systems

Connie is a Principal Project Sustainability and Innovation Engineer at BAE Systems. Passionate about the environment, Connie became a member of the Women’s Engineering Society Climate Emergency Group and served the UK government in an engineering advisory capacity for COP26. She has won a number of prestigious awards ranging from university fellowships to business leadership awards both within BAE Systems and externally, and has been recognised for her work in creating the STEMCourage programme.

“Connie’s selfless promotion of STEM means that she has facilitated the entry of a number of new starters to the company who are enthusiastic and driven by a passion for STEM. Connie pursues STEM events and outreach activities that puts her in contact with innovative young people who she will often mentor, bringing in a new generation of dynamic and talented individuals that will move the company forward in the future. Through her guidance and nurturing, Connie helps these individuals become confident and capable young engineers…”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Being open, honest, and actively listening to others at work are important skills for leaders. Giving praise where it is due and encouraging staff to be the best they can is also key. Having leaders that can be trusted, empathetic and considerate are all ways of showing kindness and creating patterns that will later be replicated by those who have experienced these characteristics…

Divya Shree

Data Analyst Manager, NatWest Group
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Divya worked at Infosys and IBM before joining NatWest. As the Data Analytics Manager, she is mindful of the day-to-day challenges faced by her colleagues, her team, and the Data and Analytics area, in general. She has successfully started and implemented multiple initiatives, including Women In Big Data, a safe space for all women to meet and discuss their challenges, celebrate each other’s wins, and learn from each other’s experiences. She is an advocate for women’s rights and is committed to coaching and mentorship.

“Divya is an inspiration for a lot of women and aspiring leaders… I have worked closely with her in Infosys, IBM, and NatWest and have seen her growth and ways of working personally. With a heart filled with kindness and an unyielding determination, she has not only mastered the intricacies of data analysis but has also embraced the transformative power it holds… She has a never-back-down attitude and takes all challenges head on….”

Tips on creating a culture of kindness at work
Even a small, tiny step taken with the intention to help someone in need, is huge.
1. No matter how small you feel your effort is, if it's to help someone, do that.
2. Talk about it: who helped you? What was your situation? How did it change? Appreciate every tiny effort. Talking about these will encourage others as well.
3. Reward kindness and shout out examples of them in weekly meetings or town halls.
4. Ask simple questions in the weekly team meetings. What is the one thing that will make your life easier today? Then ask others, is there anyone who can help?
5. Sponsor people who are consistently kind and emphatic because they are our future leaders.

Deepa Ramchandani

Partner, KPMG UK

Deepa joined KPMG UK’s Enterprise Wide Technology (EWT) division as Head of Technology Business Management in March 2023. Hers is a key leadership role akin to COO for the EWT business. Not only has she transformed and professionalised the way in which EWT operates, but she does so with people always at the forefront of her mind. She has also taken on the role of Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (IDE) Sponsor in EWT and quickly brought a team of 15 together on the journey to make EWT more focused on IDE than ever before.

“Deepa worked tirelessly to understand the business and people and quickly earned respect from all. She has gone above and beyond to offer time to learn and develop. With a huge workload and remit, Deepa has not lost focus on people and values. She has already improved the quality of performance management and our culture of growth… Deepa has a very strong moral compass that engenders a good culture of safe space and values-based leadership.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Kindness builds trust and respect: kind leaders are approachable and create a safe and supportive environment which fosters trust and respect, stronger relationships and better collaboration.
• Enhance employee morale and engagement: Kindness contributes to a positive workplace culture where employees feel motivated and engaged and less stressed during challenging times.
• Improve communication: Kind leaders are better listeners and empathetic communicators, leading to clearer communication and more effective problem-solving.
• Promote loyalty and retention: Employees are more likely to stay in an organization where they feel valued and treated with kindness.
• Inspire, empower and encourage innovation: Kind leaders lead by example, inspiring their team through their actions and encouraging a culture of open communication and idea-sharing Kindness in leadership is a powerful tool that can drive team performance, employee well-being, and organizational success. Kind leaders create a positive ripple effect that extends beyond the workplace, contributing to a healthier and more productive work environment.

Darrick Jolliffe

Professor of Criminology, Royal Holloway, University of London
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As Head of the School of Law and Criminology at the University of Greenwich, Darrick has cultivated a positive, supportive, and empowering environment for colleagues and students. He has continued to teach and was shortlisted for Supervisor of the Year and Personal Tutor of the Year. His research focuses on the disproportionate criminal justice response to Black young people, and he created the basic empathy scale (BES), which is one of the most widely used measures of empathy in the world.

“Darrick chooses to lead with compassion, empathy, and kindness. The impact of his leadership style and work has been felt by his colleagues, students, and many past students he continues to support. He has an open-door policy where colleagues and students can approach him about complex issues, and he always tries to help and empower those who seek his support. His research is also positive, conducting research with vulnerable young people in prison ensuring that they are given space to share their reality.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Kind leadership creates a truly safe space for thoughts, ideas and approaches to be shared. If these ideas are then met with encouragement (even if they aren’t actioned) then creative problem-solving can take place. Kindness helps move the discussion from what the problems are to how those problems can be solved. We have all had the experience of plucking up the courage to let our supervisor know what the real problems on the ground are – and a kind response, one that expresses empathy and understanding, makes all the difference to how you feel about who you are and your contribution.

Darren Khong

Senior Commercial Finance Manager, Burberry
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Darren is recognised at Burberry for driving positive change across the organisation and through community outreach and volunteering, especially through his role in Burberry’s Prince’s Trust Ambassador Group. Darren excels at generating team spirit, enthusiasm, and positive energy across the business and creating opportunities for colleagues to connect and work collaboratively towards a common goal.

“Darren has also had a positive impact across the organisation by driving community spirit through global charity events. The Palace to Palace 2020 event involved getting 50 participants to cover 3,034 miles across the UK, Canada, and Korea. Darren personally led the efforts to inspire and encourage colleagues who haven’t been involved in a charity event before with his passion and enthusiasm for the cause.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
I believe creating a culture of kindness starts with modelling the behaviour ourselves – everyone has their part to play. By demonstrating kindness everyday in every interaction, we contribute to the cumulative effect of how people interact across the organisation. Kindness has to come from a place of authenticity, where there is a genuine interest in others by being helpful, generous or considerate.

Daniel Smith

Publishing Director, Mark Allen Group

Dan is Publishing Director of the UK’s leading farming media brand, Farmers Weekly. As part of the leadership team responsible for the brand’s sale to Mark Allen Group in 2020, Dan is focused on leading a sustainable business that’s impactful, innovative, and inclusive. Prior to that, Dan spent 15 years at RELX Group in commercial roles for brands including New Scientist and Estates Gazette. A committed industry advocate and champion of young media talent, Dan volunteers as a speaker and 30under30 judge for the Professional Publishers Association. 

“Dan is a leader who makes people shine. Because when you work tirelessly to create a fair, inclusive and thoughtful culture that empowers growth, and turn up in an authentic and empathetic way, shining is the only possible outcome. By championing and coaching others, building trust and confidence, creating a safe space for those around him, and celebrating successes, while also injecting a bit of healthy challenge, Dan reminds us all that kindness and strong business performance are intrinsically linked.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Being kind requires an understanding that every individual has different requirements at any given time. Taking time to be thoughtful and empathetic towards everyone, in any circumstance, will allow for clearer, more open and honest communication. Ultimately that should build trust between a leader and any member of their team. Kindness is a mindset that creates an environment of mutual respect between individuals and teams – a superpower for anyone with the privilege to lead.

Dan Chugg CMG

Director for North East Asia & China, Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office
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Dan was British Ambassador to Myanmar during a particularly turbulent period, including the COVID pandemic and the coup in 2021. When the Embassy in Yangon had to draw down some of its staff, Dan ensured that the well-being and safety of staff and families was paramount. As Director for North East Asia and China at the FCDO, he has personally driven a people-centred approach to supporting the mental health, welfare, and resilience of staff in the China network who were subject to particular challenges during the pandemic and its aftermath.

“Dan has shown empathy for the impact of the pandemic on staff and families and ensured that his directorate provided targeted support. In doing so, he has always been honest about the difficulties in maintaining resilience in challenging environments, and ensured that he uses his leadership to bring about improvements for others, supporting and empowering those who have suffered setbacks. He has shown great courage in the face of personal and professional challenges.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Kindness is about putting people first. It's about making sure that every person in the organisation has the chance to be the best version of themselves. It's about ensuring people have stretching and worthwhile jobs that give them the chance to learn and develop. It's about recognising and acknowledging people's hard work and commitment so that they feel valued. It doesn't just mean being nice: it sometimes means taking tough decisions to ensure fairness and equality. It means considering how people FEEL, not just what they think. When you get it right, you get tremendously committed, kind and loyal staff who want to do the best job possible.

Charna Walfall

Senior Marketing Manager, Good-Loop
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With experience as a brand and marketing manager, Charna joined Good-Loop, a positive-impact online advertising agency, in 2022 as Senior Marketing Manager. Two months later she was elected Staff Director by the entire Good-Loop team. She has maintained a commitment to a fair, inclusive, equitable, respectful, and, above all else, kind culture, not only in her immediate team but across the company as a whole. 

“Senior Marketing Manager might be Charna’s job title, but that doesn’t even scratch the surface of what she brings to the Good-Loop team. Yes, she will organise awesome events, build out a killer content calendar, and oversee the work for a marketing team that’s existed for just over a year, but Charna’s real passion is people. Charna is our DEI Advocate. Charna is our Chief Motivational Officer. Charna is our Mental Health First Aider. Charna is our Staff Director. And I’m incredibly pleased to say Charna is my manager.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Kindness builds trust and fosters a culture of psychological safety that allows my team to be their full authentic self. It also creates a working environment that nurtures positivity and a supportive atmosphere that enables employees to thrive. A culture of kindness boosts productivity as the warmth and keenness is motivating and this inspires team members to perform at their best as they feel valued and appreciated. In turn their output is higher and positively impacts the business. Kindness and positivity are contagious and will infiltrate wider teams and become embedded within the fabric of the business.

Cat Kevern

Director, Electric Cat Productions

Cat has been Chair of the Network of Women in Events (NOWIE) since 2020, as well as recently becoming the director of her own marketing and events company, Electric Cat Productions. With over eight years of experience in the events industry, Cat was named in the the Access All Areas 30 Under 30 in 2022 and was a finalist for Best Support in the Industry by the National Outdoors Events Association. She has also spoken at events such as Production Futures, International Confex, and the Event Production Show.

“Cat is the leading light of NOWIE. She treats everyone in the organisation with the utmost care and respect, viewing everyone, regardless of their position, as equals. She sees the value in every person and always ensures people are happy and comfortable in their role, but equally pushes and empowers them just enough to make sure they shine and achieve their best. Her position is on a voluntary basis, yet she is very generous with her time and always commits fully to her role, often committing to additional projects to ensure the success of the organisation.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Kindness is highly relevant to effective leadership as it builds trust, enhances communication, boosts team morale, and fosters a culture of innovation. Kind leaders prioritise employee well-being, resolve conflicts constructively, and set a positive example, ultimately contributing to long-term organisational success and a harmonious work environment.

Caroline Korah

Partner & Head of Children, Vardags

Caroline is Head of Children at law firm Vardags, advising on all aspects of children’s law. Sensitive and tenacious with trilingual capacity, Caroline is well-versed in domestic and international matters, with particular experience in cross-border disputes. Her expertise includes child arrangements, relocation, child abduction, and protection orders for vulnerable clients. Coined a ‘rising star’ in her field, Caroline is renowned for her straight-talking, empathetic, and unpretentious approach. She works tirelessly and fearlessly to represent her clients’ best interests.
“There is always a wave of optimism and liveliness throughout Caroline’s practice, no matter how complex, high-pressure, and heart-wrenching the matter. She actively fosters kindness in the workplace, contributing to an engaged team, with higher business success and efficiency. Her colleagues recognise and reap from her bright outlook, and productivity through positivity. Facilitating a culture of collaboration and innovation, she is responsive and approachable. Insightful and self-aware, she listens to her team’s individual needs with compassion.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Leading with kindness inspires kindness. It is a movement, an intention, a chain reaction. Kindness impacts individuals, colleagues, and communities – not only as an action, but something to cultivate. Actively fostering kindness contributes to a culture of collaboration and innovation, with productivity through positivity. Like the parable of the mustard seed – with the contrast between humble beginnings and the final form into which it grows – kindness, however small a gesture, is never insignificant. It has a ripple effect, transforming the workplace.

Atifa Sayani

Head of Academic Programmes, Aga Khan Development Network, Aga Khan Schools

After a long career in education leadership, Atifa now leads academic programmes for Aga Khan Schools, one of the largest not-for-profit non-denominational education networks in the world, providing access to 96,500 students of whom 75% live in rural, marginalised communities. Her unwavering belief in the transformative power of education has improved the lives of countless students. With an inclusive leadership style rooted in kindness, respect, and humility, Atifa empowers stakeholders to thrive, fostering cooperation and driving systemic change. 

“Atifa has consistently embodied the attributes of a kind leader. As one of only 0.1% of female Asian headteachers in the UK (0.3% in 2021) she transformed the landscape of leadership and broke stereotypes by placing kindness at the forefront of all her actions… Her courageous and consistently fair approach gave students a voice that enabled them to personalise their support based on their interests. As a result of her work, student attainment rose at Year 6 from 54% Level 3s to 85% in two years.”

Tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Creating a culture of kindness is a gradual process that demands unwavering dedication. It entails cultivating an environment where employees experience a genuine sense of worth, respect, and backing – both in their personal journeys and professional endeavours. At its core, the journey commences with leaders exemplifying empathy in their conduct and interactions – a personal commitment that radiates across the organisation. Recognizing that each individual brings their complete self to the workplace and offering steadfast support through empathy stands as a crucial foundation. This approach effectively sets the tone for the entire workplace.

Annie Gallimore

Managing Director, ACNE/Deloitte Digital

A true believer in transparent, authentic leadership, Annie’s background includes notable leadership roles at Waterstones, Grey, and Engine. She sits on the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) Council and champions the IPA’s diversity agenda. She oversaw the launch of the IPA iList, which celebrates those who are changing the industry for the better. She is a member of Women in Advertising & Communications London (WACL) and is steadfast in her commitment to advocating for gender equity in the industry.

“What sets Annie apart from other leaders is the authenticity of her kindness – it’s an inherent part of who she is, and it never feels anything other than genuine – and the fact that her utter kindness doesn’t compromise the other leadership traits that she has in spades: her ability to inspire, to highly challenge you, to be commercial and strategic. Often kindness is seen as a leadership trait that is ‘instead’ of something else. With Annie it’s an ‘as well.’”

An example of when kindness made a significant and lasting difference on your business.
My son fell ill and needed some invasive medical tests. It coincided with a particularly busy time at work. My line manager insisted I take some time out of the office to focus on my son. Not long after, the CEO texted me to tell me to take as long as I needed. To have one major part of your life effectively taken 'out of your mind' in order to cope with a much more important part of your life was incredibly appreciated. Once I returned to work, and it became clear my son was ok, it was obvious where my loyalties were going to lie and how I was to 'repay' my employer – with hard graft and commitment, as well as a career-long understanding that the impact this had on me could be felt by those I now lead. Kindness is contagious.

Air Marshal Sir David Walker KCVO OBE DL

Board Advisor, Sova Assessment

Sir David had a long career in leadership positions with the Royal Air Force before working in advisory roles in financial services, consulting, and IT. He was Master of the Royal Household at Buckingham Palace and served as Equerry to HM Queen Elizabeth II. During his five years chairing the board of Alexander Mann Solutions, he helped create an inclusive culture and, with his guidance, the organisation developed a multifaceted approach to increasing diversity across its global business. In 2020, Sir David was appointed Senior Advisor to the board of Sova Assessment.

“Sir David embodies kindness in leadership as he understands where individuals need help in order for them to lead and thrive. In the voluntary work that he does with ‘Recruit for Spouses’ he helps by engaging in challenging conversations with influence, and he gives his time and patience to help its founder and CEO thrive in her leadership role. As a direct result of his mentoring, the CEO is able to lead and support thousands of military spouses into employment…”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
The phrase ‘random acts of kindness’ has come into common usage. There are a lot of definitions of this and it’s certainly better than not being kind at all but surely habitual, deliberate and consistent kindness must be what we should all aspire to? I say ‘aspire’ because few can achieve this, and I am most certainly not one of them. But there is no doubt that in the multiplicity of factors that underpin effective leadership, kindness is the bedrock. People are far more likely to produce good results if they are enjoying what they do. To achieve this in the world of business, especially in the virtual milieu that so many now work within, requires leaders to create and actively maintain a positive, stimulating and rewarding environment. Kindness is the most enriching gift to the human spirit. Both in receiving and giving.