Our Candidates 2021

Yunfei Liu

Deputy General Manager of Global Transaction Banking, Bank of China

Liu Yunfei is Deputy General Manager of Global Transaction Banking at the Bank of China. She is responsible for the development of RMB internationalisation, foreign exchange management, risk and anti-money laundering compliance management. Having worked in trade finance since 1991, she has vast experience and expertise in this sector.

“Ms Liu is a truly successful leader. She was given opportunities to study and work abroad early on in her career but she didn’t take these for granted. She was dedicated, self-motivated and she is willing to share her experience and encourage young colleagues to learn and be open-minded, providing them with guidance and giving them the opportunity to thrive.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Leadership is never a one-person game. Whether leadership is effective depends heavily on execution. You may encounter the scenario where the mission seems extremely tough or you are in a shortage of various resources. Kindness may play a special role in stimulating the internal motivation of your team members and they will volunteer to contribute their ultimate value.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Every person has his or her strength and weakness. Firstly, try to provide him or her with all the possible opportunities to precisely identify their unique abilities and encourage them to go further in the right direction. Secondly, be tolerant of small mistakes, but communicate clearly how you feel it should be done, just like a tutor.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business
I ran a complicated IT project for five years. I had a big project team consisting of around 150 people, one-third from my business line and the others from our IT department of external vendors. Due to the tight project schedule, they often worked overtime and I always stayed with them. Even though I wasn’t always able to help them with technical issues, they could feel my care and kindness. I also extended my care to vendors, showing that we were not only party A and party B, but also close partners with a mutual target. The project turned out to be a great success and I believe kindness played a critical role in it.

Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr. Hj Md Isham Hj Jaafar

Ministry of Health

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, all eyes were on Dato Isham as the Minister of Health in Brunei. He has been widely praised and respected for his unerring composure and confidence. He demonstrated honesty and transparency, starting a new norm with daily press conferences. With the consent of His Majesty the Sultan of Brunei, Dato Isham successfully led the Brunei government to flatten the COVID-19 curve.

“It is not often that you find leaders who are kind. Dato Isham is known for both his great leadership and for his kindness towards staff, patients and others. Despite being a senior government official, he is humble and hardworking. Staff who have worked with him in previous organisations still invite him back for events and talk about him with fondness. What was very telling was how he responded to press conference questions during the pandemic. He was never curt or discourteous and was always polite and respectful. By his conduct, he has earned the people of Brunei’s trust and respect.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Kindness in leadership is being compassionate and strong at the same time. Leaders must be considerate and offer opportunities to encourage their employees to achieve their full potential and gain self-worth. Kind leaders build a good relationship with their employees, listen and show openness about decisions they make. When leaders show clarity and transparency in decision-making, employees will stand behind them and trust their lead.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Practicing kindness builds trust within a team. When people feel that they are treated fairly and equitably, they will be more open and honest. Communication is key to great teamwork. It is also important to find an opportunity to acknowledge and thank people for their great work. In showing kindness, we are showing respect. Leaders need emotional intelligence to know what matters to their team. Continuous engagement in a positive learning environment helps everyone build self-confidence, use their talents and express their views and ideas without fear and hesitation. This helps to break down the walls and boundaries between leaders and subordinates.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
When the COVID-19 second wave hit, it caught a lot of us by surprise and, as quick as it hit us, so came the fear for our country's safety. However, as with the first wave, our country united together. The kindness the public has shown to our frontliners, from donating food to money, is something I will always take with me. To the volunteers who donate their energy and time and show kindness despite hostility from some people, that's what helps me keep moving forward. The kindness I have received from the public is a constant reminder that my team at the Ministry of Health and I will never be alone in our fight against COVID-19.

Vincent Law

Founder, Child Psychoecology Foundation

Vincent founded the Child Psychoecology Foundation, a registered charity with a mission to improve children’s psychological wellbeing through parent-child and philanthropic activities. Its motto is ‘fulfilling childhoods start with giving’. Vincent has presented on the PhilanthroKids Programme to international conferences in the USA, China, Japan, Korea and Thailand. In 2020, he was named as a First 50 Cohort Leader by GivingTuesday’s Starling Collective.

“A kind leader inspires others to be their best and consider others first. The PhilanthroKids movement seeks to empower children through parent-child and philanthropic activities. Vincent believes the importance of good philanthropic character should be nurtured at a young age. His charity collaborates with kindergartens and provides free professional training, workshops and lessons to teachers, parents and children respectively. Besides chairing a board of professionals and educators, he also volunteers for other international boards including the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Certified Fund Raising Executive.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Kindness encourages everyone to achieve higher goals and to collaborate and learn from each other. Kindness is one of the most important traits of leadership according to scientific research – and empathy and trust are two important skills of any workplace in the 21st century.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
PhilanthroKids is based on the Ten Values of Philanthropy: Kindness, Honesty, Respect, Openness, Generosity, Gratitude, Sympathy, Empathy, Responsibility and Trustworthiness. Walk the talk is our culture, which we hope to inspire in our partners, audience and stakeholders. Being kind to your fellow workers means being kind to yourself as you gain trust and respect which is the social capital for a successful workplace.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
We are thankful to GivingTuesday and the generous donor who supports the PhilanthroKids Young Children Empowerment Programme. Because of her generosity, we were able to reach out to kindergartens, showing these children how to be kind, respectful and grateful to their friends, parents and teachers. One philanthropist enables us to multiply one kindness into many kindnesses, cultivating many young philanthropists.

Usha Khatiwada

Chief Executive Officer, NRN Infrastructure & Development

As CEO of NRN Infrastructure and Development in Nepal, Usha has secured investment in more than five hydropower projects of national priority. She has also led as a volunteer for Girls in Tech Nepal; served as an Ambassador for Global Tech and engaged as a mentor in various organisations. She has won numerous awards including Conscious Media Company’s World-Changing Women 2020, and listed as one of the most influential women of Nepal by RSTCA.

“Born in a remote village in Nepal and being a woman is challenging enough. Usha is so passionate and dedicated that she has been able to participate in a number of conferences abroad and nationally as a speaker in the USA, France, Netherlands, Korea, Japan, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. Usha has actively advocated for youths and female empowerment, especially encouraging girls and women into tech.”

Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Make people feel their intrinsic value, care, love and respect. Gratitude plays a major role in enriching professionalism.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business
When I used to work with Sanima Maui Hydro, I was aware of how worrisome it was for drivers to be at a site far from their homes, so I provided them with easy internet access (even though the site was remote) and they were able to video chat. Their gratitude had a significant impact on their work.

Una McCarthy-Fakhry

Director, STEM Education Organization for Cambodia

Una is a Director at STEM Education Organization for Cambodia, overseeing all aspects of programme management including resource allocation, budgeting and reporting. Despite the global pandemic, with resilience and effective leadership, Una successfully launched Cambodia’s first virtual STEM festival, with over 63,000 participants from 19 provinces. With strong leadership and a focus on women’s empowerment, she has also created STEM Sisters Cambodia to normalise and encourage women to take on careers in STEM.

“I have never seen a day when Una does not give 100% to her work. She puts her heart and soul into it and all that she wants is to see more females involved in STEM. I know the leader I want to become because of Una. She is inclusive, understanding, resilient and compassionate. Una leads by example. Through her leadership, I’ve witnessed the growth of closeness and inclusivity within the organisation.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Providing direction and guidance can only be effective when it is rooted in kindness. A leader cannot force others to follow; rather, they can motivate their team through their good intentions, with the team feeling respected and appreciated. This builds happy and healthy teams committed to achieving common goals. Kindness is an integral part of leadership.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Kindness is contagious. One kind act naturally leads to another. You can transform your work environment simply by role-modelling kindness yourself. Be the kindness catalyst for those around you. Build it into decision-making and be vocal about it. Explain to your team why you are choosing the kind option. Watch them observe, absorb and pass it on.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
Kindness plays a central role in our STEM Sisters Cambodia community. When designing the programme, we built in kindness by creating workshops that focused on community, support and camaraderie. Our ‘Pro Sisters’ and ‘Big Sisters’ became kind leaders to their ‘Little Sisters’, who thrived in the welcoming environment. There wasn’t a single leader; instead there was an army of kind role models to inspire and motivate our young members, who went on to lead their peers in the discovery and joy of STEM. I am convinced that kindness was the key to our success.

Sukanya Lee

Vice President of Property, National Telecom

Sukanya is the first female Vice President of Property at National Telecom in Thailand, leading a team of 100 technical professionals. In her three-decade long career, she has received many awards for transformational contributions to her organisation and the industry. She is driven by her personal and professional philosophy of harmony, honesty, commitment, and teamwork and strongly believes in developing talent and empowering teams. Sukanya has fostered a culture of kindness in her business unit which has permeated throughout the organisation.

“In a technology company in a highly competitive environment, continuous improvement of staff capabilities and teamwork is critical. These are amongst several of Sukanya’s leadership priorities. She constantly encourages staff to study advanced subjects to stay abreast of communications technology. She spends a considerable proportion of her time coaching and mentoring staff and promoting a culture of teamwork based on the principles of respect, transparency and trust.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
There are five aspects of effective leadership – trust, commitment, purpose, positive results and happiness. Kindness promotes transparency and hence trust amongst people. Kindness encourages positive psychology and enhances the commitment of employees. Kindness encourages people to pursue a noble purpose and direction for the benefit of all and kindness creates a culture of high performance and energy for achieving results. Finally, kindness is the greatest medicine as it makes everyone happy!
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Organisations should implement policies and programmes to recognise and reward acts of kindness by its employees. My three tips are: Highlight and share stories online about acts of kindness by employees as this will encourage others to learn and adopt kindness in their behaviour. Arrange a Kind Employee of the Month event based on online polling by employees. Include kindness as an attribute in the annual appraisal of all employees.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
As Vice President of Property Management at National Telecom, I was approached by a charity organisation in Thailand to give them space for a vaccination camp for low-income and disadvantaged people. I immediately convened staff from two departments and we decided that we would not only provide space to the charity organisation for running the vaccination programme, but also provide amenities and services to healthcare staff and people registered to receive vaccinations. As a kind gesture towards the charity and our society, we made all the arrangements at our cost. Since then, the vaccination camp has been running successfully and thousands of people have received vaccine jabs.

Steve Nola

Former Chief Executive Officer, NTT

Steve was CEO for NTT Australia and retired in September 2020 after over 30 years spent at the cutting-edge of the local and international IT industry. He is passionate about sharing his experiences and inspiring a new generation of entrepreneurs. In 2010, he was inducted into the ARN Hall of Fame for his pioneering work in the ICT industry and his entrepreneurial flair.

“Steve is an ardent supporter of startups and organisations that will become the core drivers of ethical innovation, profitable growth, and job creation in the digital age. Throughout his career, he has focused on building strong, kind cultures in the teams he has led and inspired future leaders to do the same. Core to his ethos is that building a strong corporate culture is critical for successful execution, and that ongoing learning is fundamental to personal, professional, and organisational development.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
The ability to express genuine kindness is at the heart of what it means to truly lead. I believe you need your humanity to shine for all to see – kindness, compassion, care – and not just when things are going well but, importantly, when tough professional decisions are made.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Before every employee orientation session we run (with sometimes 80+ people), I study everyone’s photo and learn everyone’s name so that, when I meet them, I ‘know’ them. The feedback from people long after the event is about what that meant to them – to be recognised and acknowledged, no matter their role in the business. This is a fair bit of preparatory work for a leader, but the rewards are great.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
I have had to make many tough decisions in my long career and many of those have impacted people. The simple starting point is to be ethical, kind and values-driven. I approach and expect my leadership team to tackle each of these decisions with truthfulness and, as importantly, kindness. A good rule of thumb for me is to remember to walk in someone else’s shoes so that you always retain your human care.

Shentel Lee

Founder, Kuching Food Aid
How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Everyone wants to be heard and listened to. The importance of being seen matters to all. A great leader understands this and makes sure that they communicate with kindness and compassion. I am a firm believer that everything great and wonderful in this world was built with acts of kindness.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work
I was bullied as a child, so I know what it is like to be in an environment that you fear. I believe communication is key and reading the signs of change in a person and addressing them early is crucial. Kindness, I believe, is infectious. When you do a selfless act, something inside you changes for the better. I am not sure if you can ever create a culture of kindness, but I do know that, when you surround yourself with likeminded people who lift you up, it has a great impact.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business
I founded Kuching Food Aid in October 2020 at a time that was very grim and hard for thousands of families. The pandemic changed the way we lived overnight. Food insecurity hit many and the shame associated with not being able to survive was real. Volunteers worked hard to make these cases known and together we were able to fundraise via the power of social media to purchase essential food for the vulnerable. Donations come from all over the world and these acts of kindness make it possible for this community-led initiative to effectively make a difference. October 2021 marks our first year and we have helped just over 25,000 families with food aid. All of this was made possible by the kindness of strangers.

Shelina Parikh

Joint Managing Director, TechNova Imaging Systems

Shelina is Joint Managing Director of TechNova Imaging Systems, India’s largest manufacturer of imaging products and print solutions, and the fifth largest in the world. Passionate about innovation, technology and nurturing individuals, Shelina has been instrumental in consolidating TechNova’s leadership position and strengthening its distinct corporate culture. She considers the workplace as an ‘ashram’, where TechNova employees value zero-ego, humility, trust, transparency, compassion. This ethos has not only positively impacted the lives of two thousand TechNova team members but also established a successful, vibrant and innovative organisation that is recognised as a global leader in the imaging industry.

“Shelina believes that ‘the business of business is not business; but the business of business is self-actualisation’ – this is the ultimate journey of life. She considers her own personal leadership goal as not about profits, but to help each employee undertake this journey of self-actualisation. Shelina has a nurturing style of leadership that exudes empathy, sensitivity, kindness and compassion. Her greatest gift is her ability to combine soft and intangible spiritual values with tangible performance-driven metrics of excellence in manufacturing, marketing and business processes.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Kindness is the main ‘language’ of an effective leader. It is the bedrock of a caring corporate culture. Kindness, at every level amongst individuals and groups, creates a warm and secure work environment, which in turn facilitates high productivity and high-performance teams. Leaders create a vision; they inspire and nurture people; they strategise and execute plans – but it is through kindness as the ‘connector’, as the spiritual, guiding value system, that longevity of a leader's success is ensured and an ordinary leader is elevated into the extraordinary.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
A leader can set the example of kindness at work with simple daily acts of caring and empathy, speaking in a gentle tone and being pleasant and warm. Other tips include: appreciation events to convey gratitude for good work; health policies and support groups to care for team members and their families; HR connect programmes to address employee needs and concerns; performance feedback systems wherein failure is not punished but a second chance is given to excel; capability and skilling programmes that ensure career growth for employees. These are just a few ideas but, once kindness is embedded into the DNA of a company's culture, the ripples are far-reaching and long-lasting.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
Kindness is easy in good times, but kindness is essential in difficult times. During the pandemic, everyone in our company went beyond the call of duty, and at the risk of our own lives, to secure medicines, hospital beds, give emotional and financial help and personally reach out to other employees, customers, dealers, vendors and even competitors, who needed COVID-related assistance. The tremendous compassion shown created unprecedented bonding and gratitude and left a deeply positive impact on our culture and company.

Santi Saypanya

Country Program Director, Wildlife Conservation Society, Lao PDR

With almost two decades of conservation experience, Santi is the Country Program Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in Laos. During his tenure at WCS he has contributed to securing the largest funding to date and has expanded the WCS Laos portfolio to support terrestrial and wetland biodiversity conservation. He currently leads a growing team of 83 staff with competence and kindness.

“Santi leads by example. Instead of pressuring employees, he shows how an ideal employee under his leadership should be and has always set himself as a good role model for staff. His trustworthiness, kindness and compassion have shined through in the way he treats all employees equally and equitably. His qualities and personality make WCS Laos an attractive, productive and safe working environment which accelerates teamwork and performance.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Good communication (words and body language) can turn a difficult situation around. Kindness is the key to true leadership because it motivates everyone to put 100% of their efforts into the given task.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Creating a culture of kindness starts with being a good role model. How we communicate and act is the baseline for how we want people to communicate with us.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
During my tenure as Country Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society, Lao PDR Programme, I have seen staff increase from 60 to over 80. To me, this is one of the indicators of what kindness brings to my organisation. Colleagues encourage their peers to join our organisation when a job opportunity arises, reflecting that kindness has created a good working environment.

Rosanna Flamer-Caldera

Founder & Executive Director, EQUAL GROUND

Rosanna is Founder and Executive Director of EQUAL GROUND, the only LGBTIQ advocacy organisation pursuing LGBTIQ rights as part of the larger human rights framework in Sri Lanka. Rosanna served two terms as Co-Secretary General for the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association and is Co-Founder and current Chair of the Commonwealth Equality Network. She was also Co-Founder of the Women’s Support Group in Sri Lanka, advocating for equality for lesbian and bisexual women and trans men.

“Rosanna is a promoter of ‘synergies’. She is well connected with international platforms but never forgets to stand in solidarity and create platforms for local, rural activists and organisations with less opportunities. There are a number of local organisations who are nurtured by the leadership of Rosanna. She is ardent and strict when it comes to core values and professional conduct and, as a result, a number of international donor agencies, diplomatic missions in Sri Lanka and well-known corporate companies have been in partnership with EQUAL GROUND for years.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
As a representative leader of a marginalised community in Sri Lanka, the LGBTIQ members of my staff who are from this community often come to me for assistance and guidance. My form of leadership does away with a hierarchical and unreachable model and concentrates on one-on-one interaction with staff members and community members alike. I take time to know my staff and their issues, and interact with them as peers rather than subordinates.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
I am on a first name basis with all staff. I have an open-door policy. Staff are encouraged and praised when good work is done and I am empathetic to their personal issues as well. It’s important for everyone to feel comfortable in the workplace.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
When my organisation first started, our country experienced a devastating tsunami. We organised donations and put together vital provisions for some of the villages and people worst affected, including livelihood assistance with bicycles and sewing machines for those whose income was dependent on these. This has resonated with people for years and, to this day, we have people talking about it and helping us, particularly when we run programmes in these areas.

Richard deZoysa

Chairman, Elite Security Lanka

Richard is an established businessman, currently heading up Elite Security Lanka. He has always believed in paying high wages – the best in industry – attracting the best recruits. He keeps abreast of the latest technology and is in the process of introducing a high-tech security systems company. He is currently working on a security manual which will be the benchmark of industrial and commercial security in Sri Lanka. His leadership qualities are well known, always volunteering to make the difference, particularly in crisis situations.

“Richard’s theory of paying the highest salaries reduces staff turnover tremendously. Recruiting the cream of security personnel affords him the opportunity of giving his clients effective coverage. Always willing to share his expertise, he organised a security seminar in close conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce in Sri Lanka. Known in his wide circle of friends as a man for any crisis, he is in the shadows when all else is well and good.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
I was taught at an early age by my father that the strong must help the weak and the rich must help the poor. My father gave me knowledge and the principles of life and my mother gave me kindness that included growing up devoid of malice, viciousness, jealousy and deception. These early learnings have helped me to respect my employees' contribution to our company.

Rhonda Wong

Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Ohmyhome

Rhonda is Co-Founder and CEO of Ohmyhome. Armed with the clarity of vision, tenacity and deep industry knowledge, Rhonda has created a unique housing transaction solution that is transforming the way people buy, sell and rent properties. Rhonda’s many accomplishments include leading Ohmyhome to become Singapore’s number one housing and development app in 2017. To date, Ohmyhome has transacted over 7,000 homes and rendered a total of over 8,000 services in Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines.

“Rhonda believes that a leader can’t just be a leader at work, but needs to be a mentor too. Throughout COVID-19, Rhonda has understood that her teams are going through tough times, especially those in the Philippines. Apart from having to abide by strict timings for their supply runs, there were typhoons and floods. One team member had no place to stay and Rhonda provided a home for months. To Rhonda, these aren’t times to discuss productivity, these are times of survival when empathy and genuine care triumph above all.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Our culture at work is like a family. Having kindness within a family brings people closer to you, allowing them to lower their guard and any need for pretence and to be fully themselves. When this kindness culture is embraced at work as a day-to-day norm, it becomes natural behaviour that we extend to our customers.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
At Ohmyhome, our work in real estate is about putting families first in their housing transactions. Therefore, in building a culture of kindness at work, it must be extended beyond work. We help our team with their families and they know that they can count on us when times call for it. With the ongoing online work culture, extra effort to get to know our teammates beyond what they do for work is a necessity. Kindness at work doesn't have to be applied only to our work or the people at work. We apply it in the charity organisations that we support too, which helps our team remember that we can always be of use to others.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
When a business is built on kindness, people tend to feel greater meaning in their work. I can name a handful of team members where we've gone out of our way as an employer to assist – from finding their biological parents to rebuilding their homes (that were lost in tragic circumstances) to helping their ailing family members. I wouldn't say it was just those moments that kept them with us. In fact, I can also recall two instances when employees were grateful, but left our company nonetheless. We didn't help in those moments as a HR policy. We helped because we were able to, because that's what families do for one another. I can only hope that this culture continues to be reinforced in our team members' minds as it makes the world a better place.

Rejina Rahim

Advisor, Nomura Asset Management
How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
The most effective leaders are those that inspire you to be striving for more, to be better versions of yourself. They do not need to be the smartest. They are the ones who notice when you're not in the room or not being your usual self. Kindness is often overlooked as an important leadership trait. Yet, it is kindness that has inspired people to do the extraordinary since time immemorial. Kindness is what makes us human and differentiates us from machines.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work
1) Be your authentic self with everyone. There should not be multiple versions of yourself in person, at home, at work and online.
2)Regular check-ins of team members as a group and on an individual basis
3) Sharing snippets of your life over social media in not an overly curated way
4) Sharing your passion and common goals with colleagues such as doing charity drives and
5) Your business goals and strategies is in alignment with your personal values
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business
Earlier in my career, I was lucky to report to a manager who honestly cared about his employees. I remember the day when my younger sister just had a stroke. He treated me like a person. That one act made me realise that this simple decision of not being too adamant on the formality of taking time off, showed me the true culture of the Company. Simple acts of kindness will create loyalty and devotion to a leader.

Princess Diya Kumari

Secretary & Trustee, Maharaja Sawai Man Singh, Museum Trust

Princess Diya Kumari is a member of the royal family of Jaipur. While contesting for the elections of the Legislative Assembly, she visited Sawai Madhopur and observed the conditions of women there who lacked opportunities to work or access to education. She has sought to bring change to the lives of these women and empower underprivileged women and girls who face cultural, gender bias and economic barriers. It is for this reason that she launched the Princess Diya Kumari Foundation in 2013.

“Princess Diya Kumari is the guiding force of the organisation, seeking to focus on building skills to create sustainable livelihoods for women. She sponsors underprivileged girls through scholarships, digital literacy and academic assistance. From guiding the women, reaching out to them and supporting them, she has helped the women of Rajasthan and inspired them to work for themselves and find ways to be self-sufficient. She continues to do so by opening new centres and supporting women in Rajasthan.”

Doesn’t have any answers to the questions.

Prashan De Visser

Founder & President, Sri Lanka Unites & Global Unites

Prashan is Founder and President of Sri Lanka Unites, a youth movement for hope and reconciliation. He is also Founder and President of Global Unites, a nonprofit that seeks to inspire, connect and equip youth to transform global societies through movements that promote non-violence and reconciliation to transform conflict. Prashan has been responsible for casting a bold vision for both organisations, inspiring gifted and capable members to join, raising resources, and developing young and talented leaders to take the movement forward, all over the world.

“Working in the context of violence and division, Prashan has been a bridge-builder empathising with various communities and winning their trust. Since founding Sri Lanka Unites 14 years ago, he has consistently engaged on issues of peace and reconciliation in the midst of volatile conditions in Sri Lanka and around the world. Violent extremist and terror groups and political extremist groups have threatened, attempted to sabotage, and discredit their efforts over the years. Yet the movement remains resilient, vibrant, and consistently expanding under his leadership.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Leadership is defined by many as influence. What better way to influence your team than with sincere kindness? People respond to leaders who care – not just care about results and effectiveness, but truly care for each member of the team. People respond positively and passionately when they know that their leader is someone who wants them to develop into the best version of themselves, thereby inspiring the team to perform at optimum capacity, which in turn leads to stronger collective results.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Create an environment where unique gifts, skills and insights are recognised, appreciated and utilised. Encourage others to compete with their former best performance and collective results rather than compete with one another. Celebrate individual and collective victories alike. Encourage affirmation of one another in the workplace. Set up systems to effectively monitor, listen, understand and respond to grievances, discouragements and even declining performances.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
In his first meeting with me, the Chairman of our Board of Directors for Global Unites asked the following questions: ‘How are you doing? Are you taking time to revive and take care of yourself? Have you invested in enhancing your skills?’ I was prepared to respond about strategies, projections for greater results and expansion. I was not prepared for his interest in me and my development. His kindness and desire to invest and enhance my capacities renewed my passion to serve at a higher level than ever before.

Pranee Onkaew

Senior Learning & Development Manager, PCS Thailand

Pranee is a Senior Employee Development Manager at PCS. She heads up the induction programme for newcomers and motivates, inspires and encourages all employees at all levels, ensuring they understand how important and valuable they are to the organisation. Pranee is well known for always seeking opportunities for others and for encouraging others to achieve their full potential and gain self-worth.

“Love, mercy and care to all employees and communities is what describes Pranee’s consistent
behaviour. She speaks and communicates to everyone politely and with respect. Pranee used to spend her weekends as a voluntary teacher in the Khong-Toi community for several years and also spent her own money hiring trainers for those in the community too. Every weekend nowadays she goes home to Nakhon-Nayok, and teaches English to village children, working with friends to gather funds and necessary donations for those in need.”

Doesn’t have any answers to the questions.

Peewee Dizon-Bauman

Vice President Global Innovations, Dole Packaged Foods

Peewee is an experienced brand developer, creator, and marketing specialist with 18 years of experience in the development of campaigns and brand strategies for Unilever, Shiseido and Dole Packaged Foods. She has led diverse teams across North America, Asia-Pacific, Africa and the Middle East and has demonstrated an ability to lead and thrive in highly complex organisations. Peewee is passionate about health, nutrition and wellness and is the ideal marketing lead when it comes to developing new ideas in this space.

“Peewee looks for the good in people and often acts as a ‘bridge’, connecting, engaging, and driving collaboration first and foremost, across the organisation. This is most notable in how she supports and encourages her team members, especially those who may be relatively junior in the organisation. A fellow champion for female-leadership in the organisation – she creates a team culture and a business that is flexible enough and encouraging enough to invite individuals to be themselves at work.”

Doesn’t have any answers to the questions.

Patria Puyat

General Manager, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG)

Patria has spent over 30 years in the hospitality industry and 22 of those at IHG. She is currently General Manager in Dubai and first and the only Asian/Filipino to have achieved this position. Hard work and perseverance are always top of mind but the most important thing for Patria is leadership through nurture and inclusiveness. Patria spearheaded the pre-opening of the 510 room brand-defining Holiday Inn in Dubai.

“When decisions are made in the business it is always done with the wellbeing of the majority top of mind. Fairness and inclusion are the foundation of her leadership. In a pandemic, the easiest solution for a lot of leaders was to let people go in order to allow the business to survive, what Patria did was find other business streams to increase revenue to ensure teams were supported financially.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Kindness is the ability to be empathetic with others. This is what the world needs now. Kindness builds communities and strengthens the resolve of those around you.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Practise what you preach and stay true to yourself. Kindness opens up colleagues to do their best and to be the best for clients and guests. ‘Do unto others as you would want others to do unto you.’
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
I was working in Dubai and away from my parents when the news of the sudden passing of my father came to me. I will never forget the kindness that my Area General Manager showed me by allowing me to be with my family for as long as I needed and for assuring me that my job would always be there, waiting for me. This made me want to work even more and made sure I put in 200%.

Nicole Tiamzon

Founder & Managing Director, Spike and Serve Philippines

Nicole is a professional Filipino volleyball player. She is Founder and Managing Director of Spike and Serve Philippines, a nonprofit organisation that uses volleyball and outreach to help communities. She is also Founder and Managing Director of Spike and Serve Volleyball Academy, a volleyball development and training institution. A member of the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Youth and Sport Task Force, she’s determined to use sport to make a difference in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Despite being in the limelight as a professional volleyball player, Nicole never makes anything her organisations achieve be about her, but rather emphasises the advocacy and the team behind her. From being a one-man team to establishing two organisations, she brings people together who have the same passion and commitment to advocacy. She is the epitome of a servant leader who puts others first.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Effective leadership plays a vital role in shaping an organisation's success and an effective leader is a kind leader. A kind leader understands organisational behaviour and monitors and evaluates each team member's performance, changing attitudes and working to align the system to the specific needs of each member and the entire organisation. This culture motivates people to work together to accomplish a mission. There is no effective leadership if there is no kindness – and that is how relevant kindness is.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
To create a culture of kindness, prioritise the people you work with and make the working environment meaningful and productive. The workplace should be a safe space and encourage everyone to discover their potential. Everything else will follow if people are appreciated, cared for, heard and challenged. I believe that a workplace with a culture of kindness is bound for success.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
Everyone within our organisation was affected by COVID-19 – our families, communities and supporters. It is the kindness of the people around us – those who donated, shared their skills with our beneficiaries and promoted our advocacy – who helped us thrive. We will definitely look back at the pandemic as a time when we realised the power of kindness.

Nick Jonsson

Co-Founder & Managing Director, EGN Singapore

Nick is a number one bestselling author and Managing Director of EGN Singapore. He has identified that feelings of isolation and depression – personal struggles that he has had to grapple with and conquer – are much more widespread than we think and so he is dedicated to raising awareness and eliminating the stigma around the phenomenon of executive loneliness. Modern work culture encourages executives to project success and achievement when, in fact, thousands actually suffer in silence and denial. This topic is close to Nick’s heart which he shares with his 24 employees and 426 members of EGN Singapore.

“Nick’s kindness in leadership extends beyond the company he runs and spills into a network of over 400 people that he oversees, his vendors, and his audiences. At work, Nick’s leadership style is one of listening, understanding and empathising, and then of taking mutually agreed, appropriate action. He hires equally and without bias, as evidenced by the diversity of nationalities, learning and talent within the company. In the public realm, Nick consistently conveys messages about executive loneliness and how it affects leaders.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Kindness is essential to engage with your team, as well as to earn their trust and respect. Leaders who show kindness tend to be people-focused. They champion respect, fairness and equality. They put their people first. Demonstrating kindness as a leader builds support amongst a team. When people are treated fairly, they become more honest, open and motivated to work.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
To create a kinder workplace, employees must practise random acts of kindness. Meanwhile, executives should make kindness a prerequisite of leadership, thus encouraging kind behaviour. As a peer-based network of approved executive members with 500 senior leader-members to date, I can say that EGN Singapore is united in the spirit of ‘making each other better,’ both professionally and personally. We create an impact with each other through kindness, building relationships, sharing knowledge and drawing inspiration from one another.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
As a relationships-builder at EGN Singapore, my approach to authentically connect with people is to live with compassion and empathy. I am dedicated to raising awareness of mental health, overcoming the stigma of mental illness and eliminating the nuances in the phenomenon of executive loneliness. This movement helped break the barriers of pressing issues and encouraged more senior leaders to voice what they are going through, creating a sense of belonging for many.

Neha Mehta

Founder, FemTech Partners

With 13 years of experience in finance, Neha founded Femtech Partners, with the aim to bring more women into fintech. As a seasoned CEO, she has played major roles in fintech, being the Team Lead for the Financial Sector and Intellectual Property (FSIP) Programme with £1.2 billion prosperity fund for Southeast Asia, and working with PYXERA Global alongside BlackRock on financial inclusion for migrant workers.

“Leadership for Neha is about being a team player and making social impact all the way. Femtech Partners provides its services in seven countries across the globe. In order to help the underprivileged in these difficult times, she has taken up a project as a Financial Inclusion Specialist with Voluntary Service Overseas, making field visits to remote areas of Bangladesh to meet women and youth in order to understand the current landscape and make recommendations to enable faster and cheaper access to finance.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Kindness is contagious, as well as calming. As a leader, when I practise kindness, it brings about good work output. I believe kindness works two ways in that when we receive kindness, we reply in kindness. Being level-headed and kind is an important trait for any leader in terms of networking, especially in my line of work and communicating in the unbanked sector. To present a sense of decency and bring out high morals within your team, it’s important to be kind to yourself and celebrate your milestones.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
I believe in practicing random acts of kindness at work. This involves reminding myself and others that, before we react to stressful situations, we must be compassionate and think two steps ahead because we will never know what lies beyond. There could be better opportunities and rewards ahead. Also, when communicating between teams during projects, using compassion and kindness in our verbal and non-verbal communication is key to strong teamwork. When we approach employees with the goal of finding understanding, we’re more likely to achieve a positive result.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
FemTech Partners aims to promote financial inclusion in the unbanked sector where access to digital information or technology is limited. Our project aims to reduce poverty, gender inequality and contribute to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Kindness and social impact is the root of my passion. Some projects involve educating and assisting migrant workers. I have also worked on financial inclusion as a social challenge for migrant workers and foreign domestic workers alongside BlackRock. This has had a significant impact on me and my business as it shows that our efforts are making an impact.

Neerja Birla

Founder & Chairperson, Aditya Birla Education Trust

Founder and Chair of the Aditya Birla Education Trust, Neerja is an advocate in the field of education. Under the Trust, she has set up the Aditya Birla World Academy, a pioneering international school and the Aditya Birla Integrated School, which takes care of the learning needs of children with intellectual and learning difficulties. With a vision to foster positive change in the attitudes towards mental health, she founded Mpower to promote mental health and wellbeing. She has also founded the Aditya Birla Education Academy, to nurture the aspirations of educators.

“Kindness isn’t measured in kind; it’s an expression of compassion and respect, grace and humility. This embodies the very essence of Neerja’s persona. She believes in the inherent goodness of people which helps build a sense of commitment, camaraderie and a positive work culture. It strengthens the belief that we belong to an extended family, wherein at the helm is a lady of grit, sensitivity, strength and grace. She strikes a balance between being gentle yet never compromising on the fabric of values.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Many believe that good leaders are strong, commanding and decisive. The best leaders, however, have a quality that far supersedes these attributes. Above all, they are kind. A kind leader empowers employees to feel appreciated and valued. He or she earns the loyalty of people and inspires them to give their very best. In fact, kindness can help leaders achieve the kind of holistic success for any company that even the best algorithms and the sharpest business acumen can’t.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
For a culture of kindness to truly work, it must start right at the top and permeate all the way down the hierarchy of an organisation. People must be considerate and respectful of each other. They must truly care about each other and always be willing to lend a helping hand. Even the organisation needs to have transparency and fairness in its policies and workings. Leaders must always be open to feedback and have the emotional intelligence required to understand people and gauge their true potential. For any organisation, there can be no greater core value than a culture of kindness.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
At the Aditya Birla Education Trust, we attach much importance to employee wellbeing, as we believe that each individual in our workforce is a stakeholder in our growth. For example, during the pandemic, our employee assistance teams were available 24 hours a day to provide support to those employees who needed an ambulance or a hospital bed for themselves or their family members. We also introduced the concept of flexi-hours to allow employees to fulfil their duties towards their children, elderly parents and their homes while working from home. Just as we have sick leave for physical health, we also introduced mental health leave for employees, no questions asked. All of these initiatives have had a tremendously positive impact on mindsets and truly earned us employee loyalty. In return, our employees have propelled our growth quickly upwards with their enthusiasm, commitment and hard work.

Nayantara Jain

Promoter, Inox Group

Nayantara has the ability to rally people to a common selfless purpose with initiatives that inspire. As a Promoter in Inox Group, she has taken up projects and successfully delivered them, including water conservation projects; building homes for farmer’s widows, and teaching self-defence techniques to women. For 22 years, Nayantara has promoted the work of the Friends of Tribals Society, an organisation dealing with basic functional literacy in rural India. During this time, more than 1 million children have completed pre-primary education.

“When Nayantara heard about the plight of the tribals in our country, she was quick to understand the importance of not only protecting but educating them so that their exploitation could stop. One such organisation, the Friends of Tribals Society, provided her with the platform to achieve her goals. We have together been instrumental in raising awareness and monetary support to the tune of £250,000 per annum for the past four years. This has directly impacted the lives of more than 100,000 children.”

Doesn’t have any answers to the questions.

Monika Chum

Country Manager, Visa

Monika has been Country Manager for Visa in Cambodia since 2018, leading a team to engage with small and large businesses to make and receive digital payments. Monika works with banks and fintechs to promote a digital economy and, most importantly, financial inclusion too. Over the past 12 months, this has included promoting financial inclusion for women and women entrepreneurs, and heading up forums and training on financial literacy. Monika also has an excellent reputation with the regulator and partners with the National Bank of Cambodia to accelerate the growth of digital payments and financial inclusion.

“Monika has navigated through her growing leadership responsibilities with a mix of strength, self-awareness, empathy and resolve. She transcends borders with her engaging style of leadership. She operates at 50,000 feet one minute, and gets down to the weeds the next. She hand-holds clients, colleagues and other partners to accelerate the growth of financial inclusion and digital commerce in Cambodia. Due to her efforts and inspiration, there has been a dramatic growth in small businesses included in the financial system and they’re able to perform digital commerce.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
A leader’s vision and attitude are the north-star of a company. People look up to their leader, especially during difficult times, so I believe kindness plays an instrumental role in leadership because kindness is contagious. If a leader walks the talk and shows understanding and sympathy, it will have a snowball effect – kindness will spread and people will be happier and more productive.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Be kind to yourself first. If leaders give themselves enough love, compassion and understanding, they will do the same for their team. Listen wholeheartedly, especially during deep conversation, as people need transparency and trust. They can feel if you are real or fake. Respect differences – we are all unique and we all have a story to tell. I feel fortunate to work for a company that has clear leadership principles that are integrated into everything we do, driving accountability for the way we act and the way we lead.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
I have been fortunate to work with a group of women, all from different professions, volunteering together to support young female students preparing for their futures. The students are from public schools all over Cambodia. Witnessing my friends working tirelessly, coaching and mentoring, exploring possibilities and opportunities through either scholarships or connecting students with other successful women, has made me realise the power of kindness and how it has a lasting impact on many young women in Cambodia.

Mollie Jean De Dieu

General Director, Longchamp Singapore & Malaysia

Mollie is General Manager of the French fashion and accessory company, Longchamp, in Singapore and Malaysia. She is also a keynote speaker and Founder of the nonprofit organisation, Emotional Inclusion, aimed at breaking down archaic business stereotypes and leading the way to a better emotionally acceptant corporate ecosystem. She hosts the Emotional Inclusion podcast, where she invites global leaders with a voice to destigmatize mental health in the workforce.

“Mollie embodies kindness and compassion in everything she does. She is a purpose-driven leader who is passionate about her role at Longchamp. She cares deeply about the company and her employees’ development and wellbeing. In fact, she has taken her calling a step further by launching the Emotional Inclusion podcast to mobilise leaders in many industries around inclusion and empathy.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Kindness has traditionally been one of the most overlooked leadership qualities when warmth, compassion and empathy, its derivative forms, are in fact the drivers of organisational success. Leaders have the lion’s share of responsibility in recognising this because their impact can be great in creating a positive ripple effect of change. Everyone needs to be valued and recognised – it is absolutely mission-critical that we all let go of old management paradigms and acknowledge kindness at face value.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
The pervasive myth which dictates that emotions don't belong at work and thereby lead us to believe that ‘professionalism’ equates to being stoic or even cold or insensitive is long gone. When you ask the question ‘how are you?’, listen to the response in full and engage. Taking the time to have meaningful conversations is part of what it means to be human at work. Encourage your employees to bring their full selves to work and remind them, by example, that kindness is the twin sister of humanness.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
I have been blessed with countless acts of kindness throughout my career and what I can say is this: those who selflessly help raise you up, with no apparent gain for them, are what I call my ‘kindness superheroes’. Our legacy in making this world a better place starts through the lens of kindness. It has become my modus operandi in all that I do, however and wherever I can.

Melissa Villa

Founder & Executive Director, Project PEARLS

Melissa is Founder and Executive Director of Project PEARLS, a nonprofit organisation on a mission to help children and families break the cycle of poverty in the Philippines. Under her leadership, Project PEARLS has grown from a simple advocacy group to helping over 600 scholars and serving more than 6,000 meals every week. The organisation reaches out to hundreds of children and families through its different programmes on education, healthcare, nutrition and empowerment.

“Melissa is more than a boss, she is a leader, mentor and friend. Her leadership style inspires us to give our best in the work that we do. She influences our team to always look for the best in other people and to see the potential in changing lives for the better. Melissa is truly an epitome of a woman who breathes her passion into her life and takes action to turn her crazy dreams into reality.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Kindness is essential to effective leadership, especially in a pandemic that creates division, lockdown, isolation, mental health issues, grief and more. A leader must be kind not only to her or his team but to her or himself too. Kindness is an effective and free tool in boosting everyone’s happiness and morale, contributing to the organisation’s wellbeing. When people are happy and feel valued, they make a positive difference that creates a ripple effect.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
If an employee is not performing well, choose compassion and curiosity instead of frustration and toughness. Acknowledge someone’s birthday, employment anniversary and accomplishments privately and at company level to show they are valued human beings and not just workers. Create a positive, safe and happy environment – there is always an opportunity to turn daily and simple actions into opportunities to be kind. Practise random acts of kindness.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
When we treat children to a meal at a fast-food restaurant, most of them will intentionally not finish their meals or will not eat everything because they want to take some food home to share with their siblings. These are children as young as five who are living in extreme poverty and who usually go to bed hungry and wake up hungrier. Such acts of kindness have a lasting impact on me.

May Benjamin

Volunteer, Apeksha Hospital for Cancer Treatment

May has volunteered to support cancer patients at the National Cancer Institute, widely known as the Maharagama Cancer Hospital, for the past 18 years and continues to do so as a mark of gratitude for the excellent service accorded to her sister who was treated there. She is a member of a small informal team of independent volunteers who provide emotional and material support to patients in need.

“May embodies kindness in leadership through the good will and network support she has built at the National Cancer Institute. She is appreciated for her support of needy patients as well as being an inspiration to the hospital medical personnel. She visits patients at least three times a week, covering a full day from 8am to 4pm. She also regularly visits the Cancer Society Hospice for Palliative Care. She has built a reliable group of donors who readily trust and support her.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
My work is driven by kindness and I constantly use my initiative to practise it, taking time to recognise the needs of individual patients and respond to those needs as far as possible. I recognise that, in addition to medical treatment, cancer patients need people to talk to. Doctors and even nursing staff have little time to talk to their patients. Our work is all about showing cancer patients that life is still precious and that we care.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
People watch how we work and get inspired. As volunteers, we form connections not only with patients and their caregivers, but also with the nursing staff in the hospital. I believe the way we work, the way we relate to patients, is something that often surprises the staff, who tend to be overworked and often act with a lack of sensitivity because of it. I believe we create a culture of kindness through example.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
I speak three languages including Tamil – spoken by Sri Lanka’s largest ethnic minority. However, most of the hospital staff don’t understand the language, making patients who only speak Tamil feel helpless and even more vulnerable than they already are. I remember hearing a cancer patient, at a terminal stage, alone and calling out desperately to her granddaughter (who was in her distant village). No staff member could understand what she said. I got close to her, spoke to her in Tamil, called her ‘grandmother’ and stroked her head. She calmed down, went to sleep and passed away quietly the following day.

Marini de Livera

Senior Partner, Law Chambers of Marini de Livera

In a patriarchal legal system in Sri Lanka, Marini has created a gender-friendly law chamber where she trains intern and junior lawyers on human rights issues and the provision of legal aid to marginalised people. With the advent of the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act in 2005, there was a need for shelters for vulnerable women and girls. Her organisation provides victims with a safe haven where they are given counselling and income generation training. Marini represents victims of human rights violations in the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka.

“Marini’s business stands out as an organisation with heart, where vulnerable people have their concerns addressed by a people-friendly team. Marini is proactive in advocating and lobbying for legal reform in the areas of the deinstitutionalization of children in orphanages and issues relating to the realisation of the right to access justice. There are countless success stories where the poor and the hopeless have been given a new lease of life and can face their future with dignity – all thanks to Marini.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
The best kind of leader is a democratic leader: a leader who brings out the best in his or her team. The team is energised by the fact that the leader cares and understands and the result is excellent teamwork and productivity.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Have a reflection time daily, weekly and monthly. Think of the things that made you happy and worried or instilled fear. Have small, friendly discussion circles monthly and use these to iron out differences and help anyone who is in need.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
Almost all clients who come to our law office are survivors of different forms of violence. After listening to their stories over a cup of coffee and a warm meal we explain, step-by-step, the options available and give them support until they can stand on their own feet once more. The transformation is amazing and it helps our organisation to thrive as a caring and loving one, where everyone who enters leaves with a broad smile.

Jolly Nguyen

Founder, EVOL

Jolly is Founder of EVOL, an organisation that raises awareness of plastic sustainability in several regions across Vietnam. Jolly has a history of working in the nonprofit sector and has a passion for narrowing the gap between ethnic groups. She also founded the Ha Giang Highland Community (EHC) and Education for Vietnam Organic Lifestyle. EHC was set up to tackle persistent public education issues as well as to empower the ethnic youth who face many disadvantages in the Hà Giang province.

“With her optimism, Jolly embodies kindness in leadership and demonstrates it even in small actions. Jolly has meticulously guided me to manage the community house, and to work with the ethnic youth and international volunteers. She has a brilliant capability to motivate others and encourage them to embrace their uniqueness and be confident. Her deep empathy has inspired dozens of volunteers to join her mission and to support each other.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Leadership is about connecting people with people and kindness is the link that goes from heart to heart, the bridge and glue that holds relationships together. Kindness is one of the most effective methods to build and promote a more engaged community within the team, the organisation or the company.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
We are working in the Covid-19 era and safety is the most important thing we care about. As a leader, I understood that we could only achieve our objectives if my team was secure and healthy. To cover them and their family throughout this pandemic, I gave them an extra pack of insurance. This simple gesture, along with a focus on mental health rather than tasks, was a powerful combination that provided the motivation to get through this challenging time.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
Richard Branson once famously said: ‘Take care of your employees and they will take care of your business.’ This is the guiding principle in my leadership journey. As a leader, I knew that, without my team and community, we would not be able to fulfil our goals. Our team’s commitment means that our community development objectives are not only met, but a larger impact is automatically achieved just by inspiring and providing a safe and supportive space for my tribe to grow.

Jimmy Pham

Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Know One Teach One (KOTO)

Jimmy founded KOTO as a sandwich shop in 1999 to provide training for disadvantaged young people in Vietnam. Since then, he has led the organisation to become the first social enterprise in Vietnam that provides internationally-accredited hospitality training. He has transformed the lives of 1,000 underprivileged young people, their families and communities. Jimmy’s founding philosophy, ‘know one teach one’, is reflected in the name of his business, as he seeks to bring a better future to marginalised youth.

“Jimmy founded KOTO to create a better life for others and, for over 20 years, this has been the guiding principle of his leadership and KOTO’s work. Understanding that disadvantaged youth need a family first, he has created a family environment that teaches vocational skills, life skills and promotes a community-oriented mindset, transforming underprivileged youth into independent and active citizens.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Transformational leadership is the key to identifying the need for change and creating the guide for implementing it within your team. Without kindness, your strategy will never be effective. Being friendly, generous and always considerate of the issues and barriers that others in your team may be facing will always be powerful and, as a result, you will be an effective leader.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
I believe in an open door policy as it's important to remain grounded –don’t let your head get lost in accolades and accomplishments. Your staff are the heart of the organisation and cause. Before COVID-19, we always had a ‘family dinner’ after meetings at our training centre. There’s no separation between staff, management and trainees or myself. We’re all in this together and so we eat together.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
Without a doubt, our KOTO alumni have truly displayed deep kindness. Throughout this pandemic, they have provided support with food and donations for our current trainees. Their generosity knows no bounds and it's quite profound to see the 'Know One, Teach One' ethos manifest in the most brilliant way.

Jen Vuhuong

Author, Trainer, Community Builder, JEN International People and Leadership Development

Jen is Founder and CEO of JEN International People and Leadership Development, where she has inspired people from over 30 countries with one-on-one coaching, six published books, a 10,000-strong community and over 1,000 personal and leadership development speeches. At BK Holdings, Jen has been a community champion connecting government, businesses and universities nationally and internationally.

“Jen embodies kindness in her leadership by caring about her team members’ dreams, growth and happiness. The result is a strong culture characterised by joy, growth and contribution. We’re all together because leading by example is key to motivating others. The more engaged team members are also more productive, as evidenced by volunteering when working in community projects and going the extra mile to achieve excellence.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Kindness is the glue connecting me with my team members – they join our business with their hearts and do it with a mindset of serving others. They join the team because they can become leaders of their lives and have a sense of a family in the team. Everyone is kind to each other.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Be patient with members’ development and respect where they come from. Be encouraged to learn from self-discovery processes and make mistakes. Care about the wellbeing of team members and surprise them with personal messages or little cards. Give time, effort and network to connect members with suitable resources that will help them achieve their dreams. Gather the team together to bond and celebrate each other's achievements.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
‘I saw you writing here every day. If you stay here, you may write better. All the best,’ said the man – a stranger who gave up his seat for me in my favourite coffee shop in Penang, Malaysia. It was at the time when I had just started my new career in writing and training (a big change from being an engineer). I had lost faith in myself and in life. His act of kindness triggered my thoughts that, ‘A stranger cares. When you keep going, even a stranger notices.’ This has taught me to appreciate difficulties and to be supportive of others’ dreams.

Jahanzeb Awan

Partner, Head of Litigation, Haidermota & Co

Jahanzeb is a Barrister of Lincoln’s Inn and an Advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. He heads up the litigation practice at Haidermota & Co and the firm’s Islamabad office. He appears before the superior courts and various regulatory bodies and tribunals across Pakistan in a range of civil and criminal matters. Jahanzeb has a diverse and high-profile clientele including the State Bank of Pakistan, Pakistan Stock Exchange, and various insurance firms and telecom companies. He is also Australia’s Honorary Consul General for the province of Sindh.

“Jahanzeb’s leadership style is premised on respect for all individuals irrespective of rank and file. His friendly demeanor and open-door policy create a congenial office environment where his associates can individually and collectively thrive. Jahanzeb takes a personal interest in the growth and professional development of his team members and, from an early stage, gives them responsibility as well as the comfort that they can always approach him for the purposes of deliberation and discussion.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
A leader should (and must) bring out the best in others. This journey is made possible if the relationship is based upon mutual respect, patience, empathy and trust. All of these are strung together with the aid of kindness – kindness to self and kindness to others! Furthermore, the best performing teams collaborate, assume ownership, are not afraid to take risks, to make mistakes and to learn from them. This would not be possible without kindness.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
As we deal with Covid-19 and its aftermath, the need for kindness in corporate culture has never been more urgent and immediate. We have all been affected in some way or the other due to Covid-19. Thus, it is critically important to take the time to patiently understand the circumstances of those around us and to provide them with the support and flexibility to enable them to not only cope with the situation, but to also continue with their professional and personal journey with the least amount of disturbance possible.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
Kindness causes a chain reaction in its recipients. I am fortunate that kindness was a part of my former practice (Mr Khalid Anwer, Mr Justice Munib Akhtar and Mr Raashid Anwer) and my current practice (Mr Khozem Haidermota and other colleagues). Thus, my practice is premised on kindness where we work as a family, as collaborators and also treat those we come in contact with during the course of our practice with kindness. It has also inspired me and my other colleagues to help those who may otherwise not have access to quality legal advice and representation.

Han Ning

Director of Market Innovation Department, National Association of Financial Market Institutional Investors

Ning is Executive Director of Market Innovation at the National Association of Financial Market Institutional Investors. One of the first professionals to participate in the bond underwriting business in the interbank market, Ning has been fully involved in the construction of rules and regulations, product innovation, project review, and team building. Ning has led the team to develop three products pioneered in China’s bond market, namely ABCP, carbon-neutral bonds and sustainable-development-linked bonds. Ning also serves as Director of the Office of China Green Bond Standards Committee.

“As a young female manager of the NAFMII, Ning is good at showing her kindness and solidarity. She values her relationships with the team and organisations involved in managing the bond market innovation business. Ning not only keeps talking heart to heart with staff, but also keeps visiting and reaching out to bond market participant firms. Ning is devoted to concepts, product innovation and the promotion of China’s bond market. At the same time, she advocates the balance between work and life.”

Doesn’t have any answers to the questions.

Fonia Wong Yeung-fong

Senior Director, EBSHK Private

Fonia is Senior Director at EBSHK Private. She is popularly known as the ‘Charity Queen of Hong Kong’. In 2016, she topped the list of the Ten Outstanding Young Persons Award and in 2017, she was the winner of the University of Oxford’s Outstanding Alumni Award for exceptional services to society. Fonia has founded eight NGOs and charities, with over 10,000 volunteers engaged in community service. She has successfully demonstrated that by creating a culture of compassion in organisations and society we can create kind, happy and committed employees and people.

“Fonia has initiated over 100 community service projects. These projects inspire and motivate company employees and volunteers as they enjoy contributing time and money, thereby generating positive energy and mindfulness. Some cannot wait for new assignments and have initiated new NGOs on their own. Company initiatives such as the ‘thankfulness and giving back culture’ and kind leadership events are building good team spirit, a happier work environment with higher productivity and lower turnover.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Kindness is the fundamental element to effective leadership as it builds and secures mutual trust, respect and confidence in teamwork –all of which is the basis of authentic communication and creativity at work.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Listen with genuine patience and without prejudice. Demonstrating genuine kindness will encourage creative contributions and teamwork.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
For many years, I have promoted kindness in leadership. The following points speak for themselves in demonstrating its effects: (a) Regardless of external business environments, my company has always outperformed with regular business growth year-on-year; and (b) Its employee turnover rate has always remained at single-digit low rates.

Farida Lukmanjee

Corporate Social Responsibility Consultant, Zonta International

Farida has been involved in several charities and fundraising initiatives for over a decade. She is currently working with Zonta International and travelling the South Asian region creating awareness of human trafficking, child abuse and seeking justice for rape victims. During the pandemic, she raised funds for multiple projects to help the remotest areas, and tirelessly worked to get protective gear to frontline workers.

“Farida has faced a lot and believes that nobody should go through what she went through. She is a doer and walks the talk, always. It’s hard to put down in words as she has done so much, never has she misused her power or position for her gain. She’s constantly on the move, checking on matters close to her heart. In the post Easter attack, she created an awareness campaign to help unite communities and bring about harmony. Last year and even now, she is helping more than 20 vulnerable families.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
It is commonly known that charity begins at home. Since most people spend eight hours, five days of the week in the workplace, the workplace should be considered ‘home’. As a director, I strongly believe in ‘leading by example’. Leadership and kindness aren’t two words you often see used together, but kindness in leadership is essential if you want to improve the engagement of your team and earn their trust and respect. Kindness in leadership is the need of the hour with the increasing complexity and uncertainty of the pandemic.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
I believe that organisations should create a system of paying it forward. The organisation should conduct regular knowledge and skills-building programmes with experienced employees and newcomers, where ideas-sharing and interactions create mutual understanding and a compassionate work culture. When leaders highlight the importance of looking out for each other, it automatically extends to other staff. Let’s create a generation of not only tech-savvy, smart and ambitious youth, but raise a generation of kind and empathic humans.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business
For my 40th birthday, I asked friends, relatives and staff to join me in contributing to a project aimed at bringing drinking water to two villages in remote areas of Sri Lanka. This project has left a lasting impact in our organisation, as many employees would not have had the ability or capacity to change so many lives on their own. My colleagues appreciate and respect me more when they learn about the projects I support (outside of being a ‘business woman’). I always urge leaders to get involved in projects that are meaningful and sustainable. I strongly believe kindness benefits not only the receiver, but the giver, whether these are companies or people. You will never regret anything you have done for someone else.The universe will always give it back to you in abundance.

Eugene Koh

Chief Financial Officer, Asia Pacific, PageGroup

Eugene joined PageGroup in 2012 after a distinguished career at various investment banks around the world. Responsible for the finance, legal and technology functions across APAC along with responsibility for reporting and analysis, Eugene leads a global team and has established a shared service centre in Singapore of over 100 people. He is a culture builder and the spirit and culture of the shared service centre is testament to this. Eugene is a people person, with kindness, empathy and authenticity that stands out.

“Eugene was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2019, which led to a great level of sadness and emotion within the business. In true Eugene style, he did not indulge in self-pity but focused on beating the challenge ahead of him while making sure his team and family were coping well. During the pandemic, he volunteered as a driver to take food to the elderly and those less fortunate.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Given the challenging circumstances of the last 18 months, kindness at work should be a key consideration for every effective leader in strategic as well as tactical decision-making. Done properly, this creates a positive culture which will pay dividends in the long term for not only the leader, but all employees and the wider organisation.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Building a culture at work is not possible overnight. As senior leaders, setting the right tone is key. Whether this is practising gratitude, recognising accomplishment, taking an interest in the team's health and wellbeing, it is usually a sum of the parts and not just one thing. Key enablers would be an honest and trusting management team, sincerity and practising what you preach constantly.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
My example revolves around a difficult project that was an implementation challenge from start to end. It had it all – bad design, late nights, stressful conference calls, unreasonable clients and increasing costs. What made the difference is the kindness shown by the senior leaders on the project. By showing gratitude, empathy and simple acts like asking 'how are you doing?' or 'let me help you with that', the team bonded and delivered – so much so that, when we reflect on the project now, there is positivity and we remember how we came together as a trusting, credible and high-performing team that continued to deliver on future challenges too.

Duncan Hewett

Senior Vice President & General Manager, Asia Pacific & Japan, VMware

Duncan is an Asia-Pacific leader with 20 years of experience across leadership roles in IBM and VMware. He has driven social, organisational and cultural change to create an open, diverse, and inclusive organisation that positively impacts the community. In his tenure at VMware, Duncan has dramatically improved the representation of women across leadership levels. He has mentored over 30 women who have successfully taken charge of their careers, and enabled over 1000 women to return to their careers by architecting a new return-to-work programme.

“Duncan leads by example; always present and compassionate, and empathetic about personal challenges. He dedicates time to mentoring and diversity, and is genuinely committed to creating a diverse future leadership. He goes the extra mile to support women in the workforce, and walks the talk by developing grassroots programmes like VMinclusion Taara, responsible for bringing over 1,000 women back to work and training 10,000 women in tech.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
The key is to lead with a focus on understanding, empathy and compassion. It enables you to gain a much deeper insight into the person or situation. People feel valued and ready to give their best with a leader or organisation that understands and appreciates them. Kindness enables people to bring out their authentic self which, when released, is so much more powerful as a contributor to your organisation. Kindness to people and teams creates more innovation as people respond to it positively. If you create the right culture, the best people will want to be a part of it and that has a really positive business impact.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
The biggest thing any individual leader has to offer in terms of fostering a culture of kindness is their time. Time to talk, to see, to listen, to understand and to take action and make a difference. Now, this does not mean you have to be in endless, long meetings, but it is about consistent and authentic engagement in the moment. Do that and you’ll see that it’s not about treating everyone equally, but about responding to each individual based on their needs. Take the extra effort to go an extra mile in order to create a connection that will reward you many times over.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
A number of years ago, I made a conscious decision to invest more in the people who worked for me, particularly women. What I found was another level of issues and confidence, which were not obvious. With what was really a small investment in mindset – to be kind and to listen more– I have discovered this rich world of opportunities to help, particularly around coaching and mentoring. It does require a commitment to creating a trusted space, but the rewards of watching these women flourish and grow in their careers have been immense.

Dr Rubaiul Murshed

Founding Chairperson, Shomman Foundation

Rubaiul is a kindness activist who has authored a number of books published in India and Bangladesh. He completed his post-graduation in pediatric surgery in London and founded Shomman, an NGO that seeks to improve the working conditions of domestic and other helping hands (numbering millions) in South Asia and the Middle East. He believes that kindness and humility are two pillars of a moral revolution that can have a transformative impact on today’s chaotic world.

“Rubaiul has held senior consulting positions in different private hospitals in Bangladesh and in all of them he instituted hospital practices that exhibited kindness and dignity for patients. He made special efforts to change the behaviour patterns of doctors, nurses and other hospital staff to handle patients with kindness, understanding and empathy. Because of his actions, the reputation of hospitals changed and resulted in more patients.”

Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
There was a young man with a disturbing past (thanks to the influence of friends), who came to me in search of work. Whilst working for me, his past friends became irritated and accused him of false charges and put him in prison. I bailed him out and, by managing the situation with compassion, I guided him and his family out of the awful past into a life of hope. They now live peacefully in their hometown.

Dr Kuldip Kaur a/p Prem Singh

Hospital Director, Sungai Buloh Hospital
Doesn’t have any answers to the questions.

Dr Didar Zowghi

Professor & Deputy Dean, University of Technology Sydney

Didar is a Professor of Software Engineering and Deputy Dean of the Graduate Research School at the University of Technology Sydney. She has held many leadership roles including Associate Dean; Head of School; Director of Research Centres, and Director of Women in Engineering and IT. Recognised as an outstanding leader, she has received a Lifetime Service Award at the International Requirements Engineering Conference. An Associate Editor of IEEE Software, she has published over 200 articles co-authored with over 90 researchers from 30 countries.

“Professor Didar Zowghi’s life story has been an inspiration for many students and colleagues. As a teenager she left her home country in pursuit of education and through hard work and determination became a professor in the male-dominated field of software engineering. Her story revolves around breaking down stereotypes and overcoming barriers. Her leadership at University of Technology Sydney encompasses kindness and support to all of her students and colleagues, not just professionally but as a mentor in advancing their careers too.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Kindness is the most important of all human values. It is also an essential element of effective leadership. Kindness manifests the real value a good leader brings to colleagues and co-workers. When a leader shows true kindness to everyone, this will become a model of leadership that colleagues will observe and follow.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Acts of kindness are really only genuine when there is no expectation of reward or reciprocation. Genuine kindness fosters a culture of selflessness and sacrifice. It is only through showing selflessness that one can lead with absolute dignity and integrity.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
When I was applying for a promotion, I was running late for the preparation of my application and my mentor stayed up until 3am to help me improve it. This was an act of genuine kindness with no expectation for reward. I learnt this lesson and I’ve paid it forward throughout my academic career for colleagues and students when they have needed help for job applications or promotions.

Dheeshana Ameresekere

Managing Director, Theva Residency Hotel

Dheeshana is Managing Director of the award-winning boutique hotel, Theva Residency and restaurant, Theva Cuisine, in Kandy, Sri Lanka. Both the hotel and restaurant have won numerous international awards and Dheeshana is a renowned and hugely respected leader in the hospitality industry. Dheeshana is also a Hatha yoga teacher and yogic lifestyle counsellor.

“Dheeshana’s leadership is based on teamwork and team spirit. Something she strongly believes is that ‘everyone can be replaced for their skills but not their character’. Dheeshana has a strong relationship with her employees that has enabled her to have a consistent and clear understanding of their needs. For Dheeshana, her team means family and she gives them a chance to grow within the hotel. She invests in educational courses for all employees to enhance their knowledge and expertise.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Your core company philosophy must include respect, love and kindness. When team members are treated with dignity and kindness, there is a beautiful bond that forms that automatically leads to a successful business.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Practise small acts of kindness on a daily basis. It can be just a smile, a verbal praise or some small act of service – genuinely care about the wellbeing of your team and their personal growth.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business
By personally engaging with team members and creating a family culture, I have been able to counsel them on their life journey, teaching them the value of leadership and the importance of human values. My policy has been to always promote people within the team, creating a success ladder for their career development. This engagement has led to over 90% of my team being with me from the beginning of the operation, which has been over 12 years! Team retention is everything.

Deviani Wulandari

Senior Creative Marketing Manager, KAYA.ID

Deviani is a curious storyteller with over seven years of experience in public relations and marketing. Within the past two years at GoPay, she has led 40 successful consumer-driven digital campaigns that amplify the brand’s image as the leading e-wallet in Indonesia. Deviani wants her work to have a tangible impact on the community around her. She recently joined KAYA.ID, a business incubator focused on growing Indonesia’s SMEs, and will be leading its creative marketing team.

“Deviani is an ambitious and hard-working individual who is determined to achieve her goals. She pioneered several social impact initiatives at GoPay, such as the collaboration with street musicians and micro street-merchants, in an effort to provide access to financial inclusion. To her team, Deviani is a mentor and an emphatic leader who genuinely cares about their growth and development. It matters for Deviani to share her knowledge so they can be the next generation of young leaders.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
I believe that kindness can be infectious and contagious to others. Even a small act of kindness can have a positive impact on an individual and his or her surroundings. Thus, kindness is an essential element in building relationships and leading teams in today's world, especially during the pandemic when people need additional support and motivation.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Before you start the day, say ‘hello’ and ask ‘how are you today?’ This small gesture can easily brighten someone’s day because they feel that you care. Then, try to listen before you react. Always put yourself in that person’s shoes. Kindness gives everyone the motivation to move forward and get through their day. As Maya Angelou once said, ‘I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
By implementing small acts of kindness over a period of time, across all levels of leadership, you can shape the culture of your working environment. I remember when I was still at GoPay, the former CEO, Aldi Haryopratomo, once said before his departure that we should ‘continue to be kind and be human’ in our career journey. I believe his principle left a legacy that encourages collaboration, inclusivity and leading with empathy. Those words have always resonated with me.

Charulata Ravi Kumar

Managing Director, Accenture

Charulata joined Accenture in 2018 to lead its digital marketing operations, delivering to Accenture’s promise of customer experience through trust, collaboration and knowledge, and inspiring teams to excel beyond their own expectations. In three years, Charulata has strategically transformed operations and ensured people and clients have been at the heart of this transformation. Through her 28-year career, she has led diverse teams in the Middle East, Europe and Asia, while sharing her thought leadership as a columnist for global media publications.
“Charulata’s leadership is unique. Leading by example, she brings together passion for her people and a determination to make them strong leaders of the future. Her connectedness to every individual and their ideas, despite the large team she leads, inspires others to lead with empathy and respect. This has instilled a deep sense of ownership and team spirit at all levels. She is a passionate sponsor of several initiatives including the Career Reboot Programme for Women, LGBT support groups and young leaders programmes.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Kindness brings out the deepest emotions and the most intense connectedness amongst people. It is leadership that does not dictate but inspires people to take the right actions. Kindness evokes kindness. It binds people together who want to bring out the best in each other. Effective leadership is a combination of the heart and mind.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Kindness is a way of engaging with our teams, our peers, our customers and ourselves. Once you start on this journey, kindness becomes a way of life.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
Kindness is a force that you feel intensely in your entire being. When I met Mother Teresa for the first time, I never imagined that just a smile from her, a hug from her and the chance to pray kneeling next to her would change my life forever. The energy of her kindness did not need any preaching or influencing. The power of kindness just filled the space around me. I knew I had to share it with my family, friends, colleagues and all beings around me.

Bathiya Jayakody & Santhush Weeraman

Co-Founders, BNS Productions

Bathiya and Santhush are a highly-acclaimed pop duo who have been one of the most commercially successful music acts in Sri Lanka over the last two decades, with 50 number-one hit singles and six platinum selling albums. They are Co-Founders of BNS, a production group housing some of the most successful companies in the Sri Lankan entertainment industry, including Showtown Entertainment, Saregama Music, Saregama Films, Saregama Digital Content Acquisition and Management, and Leap Strategic Concepts.
“Kindness is at the heart of their vision and dedication to creating and serving the music industry in Sri Lanka. Countless new artists are discovered, nurtured and made into stars in their own right. Countless ecosystem talents – sound engineers, talent managers, back-up dancers, editors, videographers, lawyers – have come via the BNS companies. Instead of zealously guarding their turf, Bathiya and Santhush open it up and invite all. They have transformed the entertainment category as a respected and lucrative career for many. This is no small achievement.”

Doesn’t have any answers to the questions.

Ayesha Majid Lari

Founder, Spreading Smiles

Ayesha founded Spreading Smiles in Pakistan and, through her unrelenting commitment, she has mobilised hundreds of volunteers and collaborated with numerous charity initiatives to make a significant impact on the lives of thousands of deserving people. Under Ayesha’s active leadership, she has helped uplift marginalised communities. Recent projects include: COVID-19 relief packages to over 600 households; ongoing educational support for students, and support for orphanages and homes for the elderly.
“Ayesha is a strong proponent of active leadership; she is a doer, leads from the front, and sets an example for others. Through her actions, especially through her selfless generosity and resilience in the line of service, she has inspired hundreds, young and old, to voluntarily serve their communities and play their part in making this world a better place for everyone. Ayesha emphasises transparency, complete honesty and clear communication as guiding principles for Spreading Smiles. As a result, we elicit high levels of trust from donors.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Effective leadership cannot be harnessed without kindness. An effective leader brings out the potential of all, extracting fears and giving wings to fly. The culture of kindness has to be created by role-modelling. When leaders have kindness as their core value, it has a trickle-down effect on the whole nucleus of the organisation.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Inspire others instead of motivating them. Listen with an open heart and open mind. Bring out enthusiasm in everyone to help them realise their true potential and perform out of their comfort zones. Take care of those in your charge rather than being in charge.

Anthony Matis

General Manager, Strategic Engagement & Development, Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand

Anthony has a senior role within Chartered Accountants where he is charged with the strategic engagement and development of its members, as well as graduates who are entering the industry. Anthony holds a number of advisory positions with various education institutions and nonprofits to support young talent. Over his 20 year career, Anthony has mentored hundreds of young people and helped develop their careers through opportunities that they would not normally have access to.
“Anthony embodies kindness in leadership through the impact he has made in developing the careers of many young people who have gone on to become great leaders themselves. He’s done this by being a mentor and supporting them throughout their working journey. As an astute business executive his counsel has served to help young talent make the right decisions and push themselves to reach their full potential.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
It is important to be kind to oneself as well as others. Being supportive, honest and open will ensure that you create equity and clarity across the team. Taking an active interest in your team creates a positive environment that mitigates anxiety and uncertainty. Know your people and make sure you know what drives them. Finding the time to do so will reap rewards for them, you and the broader team or organisation.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
There is no one action or activity that will create a culture of kindness. Instead, it is consistent collective actions, efforts, recognition and encouragement that will ultimately create the kindness culture. Mindfulness, empathy and gratitude are also key elements that need and should be practised on a frequent and consistent basis too. Ask yourself – do you only contact people when you want or need something or just because? I subscribe to ‘just because’. Finally, SMILE… it is amazing what barriers you can overcome with one.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
On a personal level, there are too many to mention or single out. That said, as leaders, we are works in progress so, any time a leader, mentor or colleague takes the time to share some feedback and reflections, embrace them. Time is the greatest asset we can give someone, so make sure it is never wasted. This trait has been instilled in me and, as a result, I like to pay it forward where I can. More recently, I can easily share that our Executive Team has been remarkable during COVID-19. They have shown strength, humility, vulnerability, resilience and kindness on a frequent basis, which has motivated me to uphold these values in my role as a leader within the organisation.

Anna Sheppard

Chief Executive Officer, Bambuddha Group

Anna is Founder and CEO of Bambuddha Group, a social enterprise and community for dedicated learners who want to make an exceptional impact through leadership in business. By providing access to an evidence-based leadership framework that offers industry-leading coaches, community and resources, Anna has a remarkable impact on so many, adding value to thousands of companies and leaders by showing them how to ‘work kinder.’ She has founded several major initiatives including the Corporate Kindness Project.

“Anna spent most of her childhood fighting prejudice and finally went into the care system before braving the world alone at the age of 16. Anna was lucky to have found her ‘why’ from a young age. Her early life experiences helped her to develop a strong passion for equality. She worked optimistically and focused on putting herself through college, university and a master’s degree. After working on various community development projects, Anna set up a company with a clear vision for social and environmental change. Anna and her team are game changers in the space of kindness in leadership.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Corporate kindness, simply put, is business choosing to operate with a conscience. Kind businesses evaluate their options and deliberately take actions that are more mindful of people and culture, employees, the environment and customers.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Lead with purpose. Nurture genuine and kind business relationships. Give incremental kind feedback. Celebrate each other’s success.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business
I had a rough upbringing on the north coast of England, living in caravans with four sisters, several of whom had disabilities – and I was LGTBQ+ and neurodiverse. I felt excluded from other people around me. It was the kindness of friends, strangers and colleagues that helped me to rise above my own pain.They also enabled me to recognise that the catalyst for positive change in this world almost always starts when people embrace the differences of others. Throughout my career I’ve met leaders who I could see were craving a different KIND of leadership approach; one that was driven by inclusion and empathy yet, when we looked for communities and support for this kind of leadership, it was nowhere to be found. That's why we started Bambuddha, a supportive network for game-changers who aspire to be exceptional leaders and who believe in – like we do – a world of equality.

Ana Margarita Hontiveros-Malvar

Vice President for Reputation Management & Sustainability, Aboitiz Equity Ventures

Ana ‘Ginggay’ is a multi-disciplined, results-oriented leader with extensive experience in the corporate and development sectors. She has been instrumental in building and implementing sustainable agricultural development, peace and women’s empowerment programmes in the Philippines. She is a Senior Adviser for Agripreneurship at Go Negosyo, and Programs Head for Bangsamoro Region for Peace and Development. In the corporate world, Ginggay is Vice President for Reputation Management and Sustainability at Aboitiz Equity Ventures.

“A woman of influence, Ginggay has been instrumental in building a family of mentors who lend their expertise to micro-entrepreneurs and agricultural cooperatives. Ginggay continues to mentor all those who work with her and who benefit from her guidance and mentorship. She is particularly involved in mentoring women and vocal about the role and contribution that women have in nation-building, community development and economic prosperity. She also mentors smallholder farmers and fishermen all over the Philippines.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
My work in the corporate and development sectors has always been about leadership that enables people to be the best they can be. I have always believed that making a difference in the lives of others is essential. Kindness and compassion are the key ingredients for a fruitful exchange that goes beyond all borders – of geography, of society, of culture, of faith.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Have a mindset of respect and trust; give value to others; place yourself in their shoes so you can understand the sensitivities and dynamics of relationships you seek to build; place importance on the little things as much as the big things and follow through with action on the words that you say or promises you make. Lead by example so that you can inspire those around you to do the same and slowly build a culture of kindness that empowers all.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
Kindness has always been at the forefront of my work in the development sector, which has included programmes for peace and development in conflict areas in the Philippines. The lasting impact of the transformative change we want to build in communities has been apparent over the years by collaborating with key stakeholders and empowering smallholder farming communities through a values-based agribusiness programme. By mentoring and living out genuine concern for their plight, we have helped to encourage former rebels to return to productive and progressive roles in mainstream society and enabled communities to come towards self-reliance, self-determination and the restoration of dignity for all.