Our Listees 2022
An educationist for over 17 years, Zunaira started her career at Bloomfield Hall School (BHS) as a teacher, where she also led societies and counselled students, and was promoted in 2012 to International Projects Coordinator, representing the school on global forums. In just two years she was promoted again – to her current role of School Principal, where she has established two new branches of BHS. Zunaira received the Educational Achievement Award for three years in a row (2016–18) as well as the Best Principal Award from the Human Rights Commission Act (2014–19).
“Zunaira Ashfaq believes in creating tomorrow’s leaders by leading through example. She has an open-door policy, with her office being open to the entire school community – students, teachers, janitorial staff alike. She is seen all around the premises: in classrooms cutting birthday cakes with students, in the staff room listening to staff members’ concerns and even under the sun, helping the school gardener plant more marigolds. Her hands-on presence is motivation and inspiration to her team and attracts hundreds of new admissions each year.”
Vandita is the Chief Commercial Officer at BHP, based in Singapore, as well as the most senior BHP representative in Asia. In her role, she holds global accountability for sales and marketing, procurement, maritime and the development of the company’s view on global commodities markets and macro trends. Vandita also champions BHP’s gender and organisational culture initiatives in Asia as well as at a global level, and she won the Asian Woman of Achievement Professions Award in the UK in 2017.
“Vandita leads with compassion and with heart, with the welfare and safety of her employees always top of mind. To illustrate: three months ago, Singapore felt tremors from an earthquake from a neighbouring country. Vandita combed through the office floors personally asking all employees including the reception as well as the pantry support teams to leave the building immediately and head to a safe location. Also notable is Vandita’s contribution outside of work through her personal family foundation supporting educational initiatives to underserved, rural children in India.”
Taichi is CEO at World Road Inc, an organisation providing global programmes and seminars in education for sustainable development to over 7,000 people – from government through to schools and corporates. His journey started when he co-authored WE HAVE A DREAM: 201 dreams 201 countries, working with young talent across the globe to showcase their life stories;. He has since created learning textbooks that have reached over 50,000 readers and continues to produce global TV programmes with an edutainment (education plus entertainment) mission.
“Kindness tends to be associated with weakness, but it goes beyond business and is fundamental to a human being. It becomes social action when you lead with kindness towards society. WE HAVE A DREAM started from kindness, with the goal for the next generation to see a diverse way of life around the world… Stories inspire many people, and now we are invited to provide programmes to educational institutions with guests from various countries. Kindness is a chain reaction that accelerates business.”
When I gathered the dreams of leaders from around the world to create this book, leaders were happy to use their time to share their dream and story, no matter how busy they are. It was full of giving and created this global art together. So the leaders in this book simply proved that kindness is the key to leadership, once you give, you will be seen more, heard more, and people gather around you, and you become a leader.
Subah is passionate about gender equality and at Citibank she plays a key role in the company’s many initiatives and programmes to promote diversity globally. She has served as the Communications Chair of Citi Women’s Network in Bangladesh for over four years, where she leads multiple projects that work with women rights, mental health, career development and events in community outreach. Subah is also a One Young World Ambassador and a mentor for Younus & Youth candidates.
“Being the Communications Chair of Citi Women’s Network, Bangladesh, and the lead for the employee engagement programme, Subah believes that empowerment, mutual respect and connectivity can bring positive collective change, not only in the workplace but also to the ecosystem around us. She has always stepped in and taken ownership of any tasks that require her support, even if they were beyond her job role, and this has built a sense of connectivity with her fellow colleagues.”
Sotheavy is one of Cambodia’s leading experts in media and development communications. With over 15 years of experience, she has produced hundreds of audience-focused communications products and helped train thousands of people in communications, advocacy and digital campaigning skills, unlocking their abilities to advocate for themselves. Sotheavy is also an environmental advocate who promotes single-use plastic alternatives through her Think Plastic campaign, which has reached over 25% of the Cambodian population.
“Kindness is not only central to Sotheavy’s personality, but it also plays a huge role in how she leads. As a people person, Sotheavy connects quickly with everyone around her, both professionally and personally, creating a safe space for people to learn and thrive by listening and being responsive. Her kindness in leadership fosters a culture that encourages creativity, proactiveness, and leadership at all levels.”
It is important to create a safe space for others to be able to voice their opinions, and to be creative, even when it is outside their comfort zones. Give praise when people do a good job and appreciate them when they try. At work, it is important to balance your role as a colleague and a friend, and respect boundaries.
Soklim has run Eleven One Kitchen, a restaurant in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, since 2014 – with her enduring mission to provide fresh, nutritious meals at an affordable price. At the forefront of business sustainability, she is well known for her commitment to reducing plastic waste as well as her expertise in advising, mentoring and pioneering creative solutions to Cambodia’s environmental concerns. Deeply committed to environmental protection, Soklim is determined to learn more and teach others how to limit environmental impact.
“Soklim understands that compassion drives employee development and confidence. Her kind, calm demeanour puts her classmates at ease, allowing them to share their desires and concerns. Soklim excels in instilling confidence in people by leading with kindness. Her caring leadership style is defined by her warmth, adaptability, and openness, which contribute to the Eleven One Kitchen team’s cohesion and employee loyalty.”
We Asian people somehow work with emotion and treat each other like family. So being a leader is like being a mom with many kids. I want to be as caring and as supportive as I can and understand what we want so that we can work happily and grow together.
My motto is: “treat others as you’d like to be treated!”
We recognized that everyone is a team player. Creating a good experience for customers in our restaurants has only happened when everyone is doing their job well. So, whether you are a chef, a waiter/waitress, a cashier, or a dishwasher we value each other roles of equal importance.
We also encourage open communication as there is no secret in the world. Everyone can speak out their opinions and we can discuss openly on everything. We create rules together and we set the boundary. I lead by example! As I also follow those roles and apply them always.
Because of the lockdown, I have to close one outlet and I try to help everyone keep their jobs by cutting downshifts so staff can take turns to work. However, I have to let go of a few staff. My staffs were thankful to still have jobs and I was also happy that we as a family supported each other during the difficult time. We are working hard together to maintain our standard of excellence, providing healthy food and good services, and keep on building our brand name as a leading plastic-free restaurant in the city of Phnom Penh. Now that the COVID situation getting better, I reopen another outlet I recruited former staff. Some of them already found a new jobs, but they choose to return. Over 50% of my staff are working with me for more than 5 years and I think the reason they stay long is that they like working here.
Samantha co-founded the Academy of Careers and Technology in Cambodia in 2017, as an initiative intent on solving critical education problems in the country. Her work has provided scholarships and quality education to over 300 children, and she has also been instrumental in formulating the Ministry of Education’s national standard curriculum for youth digital design skills. Samantha has trained Cambodian teachers and enabled traditionally low-performing students to continue their education at tertiary level; her leadership has been described as “life-transforming”.
“In making management decisions, Samantha prioritises the needs of students and staff… She is able to take time – no matter how busy her day is – to listen and empathise when staff or students are having difficulties. She always mentions that people come first and doesn’t hesitate to jump in and help, whether it be cleaning or leading the school… As our school principal, she is the model of a growth mindset and leads everyone to love learning.”
In 2016, Roy co-founded #MentalHealthPH, an advocacy group that leverages digital technology to raise awareness and normalise conversations around mental health in the Philippines. His involvement with many initiatives includes: helping to build a Twitter mental health chatbot and design the #UsapTayo campaign, delivering mental health talks and organising self-care kits. In 2021, Roy bravely shared his story about being gay, with the hope that doing so could hold space and give light for others to be themselves.
“During the most difficult time in the pandemic, Roy reminded the team that we are not just an organisation but a safe space. When many of us were grappling with uncertainties and having a hard time, he focused our energies on checking in on the wellbeing of members… He and his team adjusted our team meetings to start with check-ins. This gave everyone permission to fill their own cups first and seek help when needed. This reinforced the culture we have in the organisation, where vulnerabilities are embraced and celebrated, even.”
Roshni Mahtani Cheung
As a young journalist, Roshni started theAsianparent – a brand under The Parentinc – as a way to educate the world on the differences between Asian parenting styles and Western parenting styles. While Asians make up more than half the world’s population, very little information could be found on Asian parenting styles back at the time of launch. Since founding theAsianparent, Roshni has grown the company from a small personal blog into a global tech brand with over 300 employees.
“Roshni demonstrates her kindness through fairness and objectivity. She spends a lot of time getting to know people – to understand their personal and professional journeys, never passing judgement but instead finding practical solutions to make dire circumstances more bearable for each and every employee in the company. She leads by example, and it is evident in the company culture that so many women are empowered to rise up into leadership positions because of her determination to mentor us without ever allowing our family lives to be compromised.”
Reyasat is Co-founder and CEO at Shuttle, an innovative Dhaka-based transportation service startup. Originally founded as a safe option for travel for women in Dhaka, it has since grown significantly and expanded its mission: to provide safe transportation at an affordable price – by moving more people with fewer vehicles, with the help of technology. Reyasat is also committed to serving people within the business; he is determined to create an inclusive and safe work culture for the 81 people who work at Shuttle.
“For Reyasat, the most crucial aspect is to give autonomy to team members. You must trust that the people working within each department have the ability to make judgement calls without requiring interference at every step. Moreover, he believes everyone deserves a fair chance. It’s imperative to understand that everyone makes mistakes, and it’s important to not hold it against them when they do – to rather provide the tools they need to succeed. Last but not the least, creating a safe environment for all is a priority for him.”
Moreover, I believe everyone deserves a fair chance. It’s imperative to understand that everyone makes mistakes and it’s important to not hold it against them when they do, rather provide them with the tools they need to succeed.
Last but not the least, creating a safe environment for all is a priority for me. I conduct final interviews for new recruits to make sure we hire people who fit our culture.
Radha joined Accenture in 2020 and now serves as Managing Director – a position where she leads on client experience for major clients including Diebold Nixdorf. In addition to her business responsibilities, she also champions a number of other causes: She sponsors the Women’s Leadership Development Programme; serves as People Ambassador Lead for Delhi SDO and heads up the Culture – Every Person Matters Programme. Radha also spearheaded the Covid war room for Delhi SDO and arranged medical facilities and supplies for employees.
“Radha has inspired her team towards relentless achievements. She brings out the best in her teams and has developed a culture of trust and integrity. She is driving a culture of owning the outcome where there are no individuals, only teams collaborating towards achieving desired outcomes. This has helped instil confidence in the client’s mind as well as reduced noise.”
1. Compassion - Being Authentic, Empathetic
2. Courage - To be Transparent, Honest, Accountable
3. Commitment - Towards your Clients and People : Genuine concern, recognizing and celebrating success
CEO of Mercer and Chair of Marsh McLennan in Singapore, Peta currently leads a team of experts to help organisations create healthy, wealthy and talented workforces, while at the same time overseeing the firm’s portfolio of risk, strategy and people capabilities for greater market impact. During her tenure, she’s made a significant impact on the business and on people, by driving growth, building a transparent and safe environment that enables employees to speak up, and leading the internal and external response to the pandemic and the future of work.
“Peta’s leadership style is a breath of fresh air. She is open, caring and full of energy, inspiring those around her. As a senior leader in one of the largest professional services firms globally, it’s natural for her to focus on P&L, but she doesn’t stop there. She makes sure each employee is well supported, creates opportunities for employees to grow and is always encouraging the team to try new things through her personal sharing. Not only is she open to new ideas, but she’s always ready and present to speak and connect with colleagues across all levels.”
Ask questions from a place of curiosity rather than judgement.
Remain open to what you can learn from others, no matter what culture or seniority levels.
Communicate generously - gratitude and a show of thanks goes a long way!
Before becoming Deputy Medical Superintendent of Tutong’s PMMPMHAMB Hospital, Noor graduated from University College London and completed her specialist training in ophthalmology at the Singapore National Eye Centre. In her current role, she is a core member of the national Covid taskforce and has helped lead the National Isolation Centre and roll-out of the national vaccination programme in Tutong. Noor was also selected to join the Equity Initiative to facilitate the development of a new generation of health equity leaders in Southeast Asia.
“Pg Affizan is a consummate professional in all her duties, who has managed to help lead her organisation to survive the pandemic, bringing unity among people while promoting empathy to colleagues, patients and family members in a high-pressure and intense environment. She demonstrated her leadership with compassion and kindness for her employees by prioritising their health and welfare first. She also provides an inclusive working environment where people feel a sense of belonging and a respect for each other and opinions are heard.”
Nazo was the first female child of her family to go to school and complete her education. With over 30 years of experience in her field, she has worked with Aahung, an NGO that aims to improve sexual and reproductive health, since its inception. During the pandemic, when families in her community were facing dire financial crises, and most of the community-based family planning centres and maternity clinics were closed as a result of lockdown, Nazo emerged as a frontline worker and worked day and night to improve maternal and newborn health.
“Currently working as a senior training specialist in our organisation, Nazo’s responsibilities include networking with governmental and non-governmental organisations and schools; developing training modules, information materials and training tools; and conducting workshops on sexual and reproductive health. Her strong facilitation and problem-solving skills keep her team motivated and keep projects ticking along… Risk management and mitigation skills often play a significant role in her team being prepared for the inevitable unforeseen obstacles.”
Any leader who wants to create a work environment where kindness informs both how the company does business and how it treats employees must not only encourage employees to treat customers and each other with kindness, they must continually model kind behavior as part of their leadership approach.As a leader, you set the tone for your organization’s culture. By showing kindness toward employees, you are demonstrating your dedication to a kind culture and showing employees how it is done.
Mentoring is a great way to show kindness to employees because it demonstrates to them that you care about their well-being and personal and professional development.
It’s not always easy to maintain kindness in challenging situations, but always be mindful of the impact of your words and demeanor when addressing others. Handling difficult situations with kindness and empathy will produce a better outcome than an unsympathetic approach and shows employees that you value them.
It’s important to keep in mind that if you are going to offer volunteer time during the workweek, give employees time to make use of that time. It’s hard for employees to use that volunteer time if they are working 50-hour work weeks on a regular basis.
Nasser established HDFC, India’s first housing finance company, which grew to become a financial conglomerate with assets of over $50 billion in banking, insurance, mutual funds and housing finance. After serving HDFC for 20 years, he founded the Infrastructure Development Finance Company (IDFC) and currently also champions a number of causes: as Chairman of Aga Khan Rural Support Programme India and the Aga Khan Foundation India, Nasser is committed to driving social change in education, welfare and urban planning in Asia Pacific.
“Nasser embodies ‘servant leadership’, blending commercial acumen with excellence, guided by a highly tuned moral compass. As a result, the Kindness Principles are an apt summary of Nasser’s timeless style of leadership. In particular, Nasser blends fairness, empathy (valuing and empowering the whole person in their own right) and generosity of time with fairness and consistency of kindness (to all, at all times). Due to his humility, perception and self-awareness, each of his decisions and actions is intentional, by choice, and never reactive.”
Nabila is the youngest vice-principal working at Tahir Junior Model High School, a school that has laid the foundation of quality education in rural areas since 1989. For years, she has had the privilege of being the voice for rural women globally and working with different national and international organisations to set the agenda. Nabila is also a working member of the Prime Minister’s National Youth Council Pakistan, where she is working on a draft of national policy regarding marginalised youth.
“In this rural area, girls are mostly deprived of their education rights. Women’s empowerment or their social participation is nearly zero. It was Ms Nabila who came back from the city after her graduation and accompanied her father to lead the school. Nabila Abbas demonstrates great leadership skills and a great kindness in her behaviour. She also sets a culture of ‘communication’ among head staff… She has made many changes and changed the conservative or authoritative culture of the organisation into teamwork.”
Another way of fostering a culture of kindness is to ensure that leaders embody the values needed for this type of business culture. This includes values such as trust, empathy, respect, honesty, and compassion. By developing strong leaders with these values, employees will be positively influenced and so will the business culture overall. A cycle of kindness will begin to develop and will help the culture of kindness to grow and develop.
Alongside this, encouraging kind behaviour is key, with internal emails celebrating people’s acts of kindness being useful. Furthermore, setting aside particular days of the year where the company and workers can be encouraged to give back to the community can help to work towards a culture of kindness. An example of this could be a day where workers are encouraged to bring in food donations to give to the local food bank.
Mikaela Luisa Teves
Through Maica’s proactive leadership as Executive Director of Spark Philippines, the organisation has been able to grow its initiatives to reach women in vulnerable areas of society. Through her tireless dedication to advancing the cause of women’s empowerment, the lives of many beneficiaries and their communities have been uplifted, with improved access to resources and strategic participation in programmes and initiatives. It is because of Maica that more women are able to contribute to nation-building through their livelihoods and education.
“Maica is a woman who is deeply rooted in her purpose. People say that wearing your heart on your sleeve is not a good thing; Maica proves otherwise. It is her genuine passion to help others that has steered Spark to greater heights. Women’s empowerment is not just her job; it is her purpose. I have seen how she goes the extra mile to empower every person she meets. I am one of the women she has empowered.”
Lavanya Raju Ramanujan
In addition to her full-time position as an Accountant within the International Controllership function at Google, Lavanya holds vital voluntary roles both inside and outside of work. One of her primary external involvements is as an Advisor to the Ground-Up Initiative, where she focuses on strategy and processes.
“Since Day 1, Lavanya has never shied away from hard work or tough conversations, and has conducted them with grace and understanding. I have continuously felt comfortable expressing my opinions, and have seen how these are heard, actively considered and incorporated. At the start of each discussion, Lavanya makes it a point to emphasize that each individual has valuable opinions to bring to the table, and ensures that everyone has a chance to contribute to the discussion.”
GUI was (literally) built through several displays of generosity in giving. The construction of GUI’s space was done through in-kind donations of materials, and through selfless giving of subsidized or pro-bono professional services. GUI’s story is, to me, a personal reminder of how much altruistic action belief in a cause can drive.
GUI focuses on the twin pillars of sustainability and community building. As a volunteer at GUI, I continue to see the intentionality in its efforts to foster connectivity and mindfulness, of our relationship with each other and with nature. I’m constantly surprised by how enmeshed a sense of gratitude is with the fabric of the community GUI has built. I’ve personally benefited from small tokens of appreciation, and celebrations of my individuality.
I constantly find myself standing on the shoulder of giants when it comes to the topics of kindness and leadership. The best role models I’ve had, have always reminded me of my power to shape the organizations I’m in. They’ve reminded me that I should focus on creating my own space, instead of finding one to fit into. I’ve learnt that empowerment starts with both recognizing and showing others their value. I’m grateful to have interactions that now shape my leadership.
Lalantha has been passionately involved in the global fashion apparel industry since the early 1990s, both in Sri Lanka and overseas. In 2013, he founded EKKO, an emerging clothing brand for men and women, and he also serves as Chairman and Creative Director of EKKO’s parent company, EL Holdings. A near-instant success, EKKO was awarded the Best Brand Industry Award at the Mercedes Benz Fashion and Apparel Awards held in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in 2015.
Joanna Paula Blanding
At the height of the pandemic, Joanna founded The Asian Blandings Collective with a three-fold vision: to provide job opportunities for individuals who might not be able to return to decent-paying jobs due to various circumstances; to create solutions for entrepreneurs needing help with branding, digital marketing and virtual assistance; and to support high-impact NGOs and NPOs through the revenue generated by the company. Through her boldness and leadership, Joanna’s business has been able to provide jobs and serve hundreds of customers.
“Joanna has always fostered and encouraged a culture of value-creation, collaboration, transparency, and trust among the team she leads and the clients and businesses she serves. She has created a flexible and agile work arrangement for the team that takes into consideration their other priorities as individuals, including family, well-being, and health, amongst others. She has also led the way for the company to be able to financially support high-impact NGOs through the revenue generated.”
Visit the coworker when they are in difficulty situation, support even they do not ask for, integrate with their sadness time"
People feel save to have negative feedback
Working communication at workplace improved "
I received a couple of feedback from clients about one of our team members who had delivered less-than-excellent work for consecutive days. I had known about the personal struggles of this team member during a time of a difficult family and marriage transition. I asked her direct manager to reach out to her to offer her a raise and a back-up support from the team so she can take a bit of time to sort out her personal issues. She came back more energised after the gesture she's received from the company.
Jackson is an expert in managing private family office investment funds and has a stellar track record; he has progressively expanded his investment area from real estate to emerging industries including biotech and new energy. He successfully introduced state-of-the-art electric vehicle technology to the Chinese automotive industry, and now he has his sights set on helping to redefine and make a positive impact within the education sector.
“Jackson has been spreading the message of love and compassion for disadvantaged people. He is a role model to the industry by not just dedicating himself to charitable acts, but also encouraging others to follow. He has taken an active role in supporting nine NGOs – serving thousands of beneficiaries including children with cancer, special education needs students, underprivileged families, the elderly, new immigrants and ethnic minorities.”
Ivy Almario, together with her sister Cynthia, founded Atelier Almario, an interior design firm that specialises in high-end residential work, restaurants, hotels and other commercial projects. Prior to this venture, she ran her own rendering firm in Los Angeles, working on iconic buildings and with some of the most prominent names in the industry to become one of the top renderers in the USA. Despite this success, she chose to return to the Philippines to launch Atelier Almario and help develop the country’s interior design industry.
“Ivy is known for bringing happiness everywhere she goes. She inhabits the world effortlessly in every collaboration, interaction, and conversation. Generous, magnanimous, curious – but what leaves me in awe is her creativity that races with the speed of light. Then there’s her laughter that precedes her arrival. An irresistible ripple that often makes you forget that life is full of inconveniences and strife.”
Ir Prof Dr Leong Wai Yie
Wai Yie specialises in medical signal processing and telecommunications research, with a focus on IR 4.0, wireless sensor networks and medical technology – all of which have contributed to cultural enrichment, quality of life, health and wellbeing, as well as enhanced the biomedical research capacity, knowledge and skills of organisations. Passionate about promoting diversity and inclusivity in engineering, she sits on numerous boards – including the World Federation of Engineering Organisations’ Women in Engineering Committee – consulting on these issues.
“Dr Leong is a kind leader who changes lives, transforms organisations and collaborates with colleagues and many organisations. Wai Yie has established a Women in Engineering Mentorship programme for more than 1,000 ladies. She inspires creativity and productivity, shares meaningful connections, and gives her time so that others can give their best.”
Ibrahim is strategically and financially accountable for RAPP IO (Indian Ocean), one of Omnicom’s leading offshore technology agencies. Driven by a desire to get the best out of people and find the best solutions, his approach combines calmness and approachability with firmness and pragmatism. In Mauritius and India, Ibrahim has ensured talent acquisition and retention by empowering his team through continuous learning and development – critical to his vision for a fair and open workplace.
“Great leaders inspire. What sets Ibrahim apart is his humility. He encourages openness and generosity, putting people first – recognising everyone has a life outside of work, making us more than just a resource. People feel respected, accepted, and safe; empowered to have ideas and voice them – no matter their seniority. He has taken a personal interest in everyone and worked hard to make the RAPP IO culture one that places care and authenticity at its core.”
An organisation cannot exist on its own, its success is the direct result of the effective work done by the people. The success of an organisation thus equates to its people succeeding and their happiness.
Being the leader of an organisation comes with a lot of responsibility. Besides the profitability and growth of the organisation comes a bigger obligation, the people looking up to us. Leaders have the responsibility of the well-being of our people as our words , behaviour, decisions and actions have a direct impact on their happiness, growth and quality of their life and family. With authenticity, humility, transparency, integrity and providing a safe environment a leader is better equipped to serve the interest of all the business stakeholders in a sustainable manner.
It is important for people managers to build up intimacy with each team member. This should enable them to better understand the support or flexibility one requires to perform better as much as adjusting expectations. We should not forget that we are all humans and nothing is constant.
As Finance Director of Korea and Japan at Burberry, Hiroyuki has helped drive strong growth in the Korean business over the last few years – by accelerating domestic business and enabling less dependency on travel. He engages effectively within the country and with central teams across planning, inventory management and finance, providing clear thought leadership and full team engagement.
“Hiroyuki’s leadership style provides clarity of purpose and strategic thinking; he has the balance of delivering results and, at the same time, being respectful of work–life balance, and he always looks to optimise the process to the benefit of the team and individuals. He looks to support teams in progression and self-development, increasing retention and reduction of staff turnover.”
There is no fear of failure, it could more about how to make things better. Kindness could be even more powerful in tough environments. I believe people naturally would be more courageous and creative to new ideas to overcome the situation. It can generate better work quality than simply completing a task list.
Hilary uses her voice and reputation in the technology industry to nurture talent – by sharing advice and guidance through her online channels that include YouTube, LinkedIn and her podcast, Digital Culture Ideas. She is a mentor to many and consults to organisations about diversity and digital leadership that is centred on kindness and empathy. Hilary also interviews other inspirational people about their impact and how they bring kindness into the workplace.
“As a leader in the male-dominated ICT industry, and one of the few female CISOs in the industry in New Zealand, Hilary knows the challenges women face breaking through into leadership roles in business, and wholeheartedly supports other women on their own leadership journeys, demonstrating how to lead while still retaining empathy and kindness. She generously gives her time to anyone who asks and steps in to help her industry colleagues in times of need.”
- Pop your head into meetings and ask the group ""Is everyone being kind in here""
- Reward and recognize kind acts and link it to their work performance e.g. ""I want to recognise you for the kind act, and that is why your so good at your job/ why you're a key member of the team""
-Promote people into leadership positions who have kindness as their superpower.
Captain Hareram is among Simrik Air’s most experienced high-altitude pilots. He completed his Commercial Pilot Licence training in the Philippines in both rotary and fixed-wing aircraft and has since logged over 2,600 flying hours – over the difficult terrain of Nepal. He then underwent flight training with Captain Siddartha J. Gurung on an AS350 B3e aircraft and successfully achieved pilot-in-command clearance in rotorcraft. Captain Hareram joined Simrik Air in March 2011 and since then has saved a number of lives, while often risking his own.
“Captain Thapa has been on countless rescue missions since he started flying in 2010. He’s witnessed health emergencies and travel accidents throughout his career. Since his first Covid-related airlifting on October 12, 2020, pilot Hari Ram Thapa has transported over 50 Covid-infected patients from all over Nepal.”
Gulnahar Mahbub Monika
A former power forward for the Bangladesh Women’s National Basketball team, with three international tournaments to her name, Gulnahar went on to found Deshi Ballers in 2018. This female-led and female-focused sports development organisation strives to create a platform for Bangladeshi women and girls to be empowered through basketball – by means of training camps, tournaments, leagues and outreach programmes. For her work, Gulnahar has received many prestigious international awards, including the Diana Award.
“It is very important that as an athlete, a good leader needs to be empathetic towards their team so that they can all grow together. When Gulnahar initially started their venture, they had a very small community – around 1–20 female players – but now they have more than 100 active players in all events. The project only focuses on female basketball players, with the goal to shrink the margin between men and women in the perspective of opportunities, facilities, growth and especially in financial status.”
Kindness means the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. Studies have shown that nearly 79% of people report feeling low/stressed during workdays. So we have to create an environment in which the employees would be eager to come to the office every day.
Grace held multiple positions within NTT before being promoted to her current role of Chief of Staff to the Regional CEO at NTT Asia Pacific. People driven, she actively contributes to the business’s young leaders’ programmes to empower younger generations, helping them develop their careers and find their voice both in the company and the IT industry at large. Recently, Grace was appointed as a member of the Fundraising Committee of ART:DIS, a Singaporean charity dedicated to creating opportunities through the arts for persons with disabilities.
“Grace brings a new perspective to the leadership team as a millennial woman with a multicultural background. Growing up in one of the most diverse countries, Canada, she understands deeply the importance of respecting and appreciating people from all walks of life. She finds joy in learning from their experience and building safe spaces to make people around her feel at ease to open up, cultivating a sense of trust and belonging and empowering them to be true to themselves.”
– John Lombard, Chief Executive Officer, NTT Asia Pacific
Leaders that display kindness are respectful, fair and treat people and situations equally. These characteristics help people around you to increase self-esteem and optimism, in turn, improving the quality of work and morale of the work environment.
By being transparent, we eliminate the possibility of having fellow colleagues to second guess anything; make giving and receiving constructive feedback easier; demonstrate that we care and provide the opportunity for everyone to be a part of an achievement/ journey/ task.
By being respectful, we show that we care about everyone’s feedback and feelings; acknowledge that we are from all walks of life and have diverse backgrounds and needs; recognize that we have our own strengths and weaknesses and that we all have something to contribute to the bigger goal.
Geraldine graduated as class valedictorian, despite being deeply involved in voluntary roles throughout her studies. She was the first president of the university’s dance troupe, spearheading a series of concerts to benefit patients in the PGH Cancer Institute, and she led fundraisers for patients through the Sagip Buhay Medical Foundation, where she is now Secretary and a board member. Geraldine also established the Lupus Bridging Fund, is currently Vice-president of the Hope for Lupus Foundation and sits on the Board of Asia Pacific Young Rheumatologists.
“As Chief Resident in the PGH Department of Medicine, Dr Geraldine Zamora led by example, with compassion and generosity in her time and effort, and as such, there was very little conflict and few problems unresolved between members of her department. She was awarded the Philippine College of Physicians Exemplar in Training… for embodying the ideals of the organisation, and continued her practice of medicine with a consciousness for the underserved, including her eventual role in many Filipinos’ health literacy through social media.”
1) Putting oneself in the others' shoes before reacting
2) Keeping lines of communication open, within and between all levels of the workplace
3) Creating a habit of gratitude and recognition
As Content Operations Manager in the Data and Analytics department, Genevieve excels in customer service and team management, where she oversees 59 staff members and creates an environment of openness and growth. Her outstanding work as Regional Lead of the Refinitiv Women’s Network led to her election as the first Global Co-lead of LSEG’s WIN (Women Inspired Network), after LSEG acquired Refinitiv in 2021. Under Genevieve’s leadership, WIN was recognised as one of the Top 10 Women’s Networks in the 2021 Global Diversity List.
“Genevieve spends time with her team to understand their needs and expectations, actively creating opportunities for them to participate in meetings and workshops, connecting them to people, and supporting them to learn and grow. She champions the needs of women in the organisation and encourages women to put themselves forward. This results in high female leadership representation in the Philippines. As WIN Global Co-lead, she plays a key role in shaping and advancing the Diversity and Inclusion agenda.”
In just one year, Erika has had a radical effect on data protection within Tokopedia, improving the business exponentially from an organisational and technical perspective; publishing policy and procedures, and ensuring the highest standards for technical security are in place.
“Erika is who I would call not only a boss but a leader. I have seen the principles of kindness and cannot think of anyone other than Erika. She has shown me everything from being empathetic to being fair. Other than being kind, she is always able to lead our projects in a good direction and is understanding regarding the circumstances and targets that we are able to achieve realistically.”
Dr. Vichak Phongpetra
In addition to heading up a leading mining, ports, shipping, and palm and rubber plantations business, Vichak has, over the last two years, launched a programme to support his employees to run social enterprises for the benefit of local people. He also advises political leaders and policy makers, emphasising the importance of addressing inequalities in Thai society, and invests resources in the renewal of the environment previously damaged by mining, through projects that turn these areas into eco habitats for fisheries, gardens, lakes and forests.
“Vichak has effectively employed the power of kindness to operate mining operations at multiple sites. He ensures not only that his employees are safe, cared for, healthy and happy; but also that the communities and environment benefit from mining. In and around mining areas, Vichak insists that the business not only complies with government standards and regulations for environmental protection but also attains higher standards. By pursuing the power of kindness, he has built a fast-growing business providing jobs in remote areas in Thailand, with high social impact.”
They methods we can provide kindness to employee in difficult times that produce high performance.
Dr. Hsu Myat
Hsu is Founder of Youth Doctors Healthcare Group, an organisation providing free and reliable medical services in Myanmar. In addition to setting up weekly charity clinics in remote areas, she encourages young doctors and medical students to get involved in humanitarian work through healthcare delivery, and also supports her teammates by organising online classes and skills development training to boost proficiency in medical volunteering.
“Dr Hsu believes that kindness is something that we can only attain when we feel it. Therefore, she always tries to show her kindness through her actions. She is a great leader who always leads with passion. In her organisation, which is non-profit, it is more critical for her to lead by example among her teammates and volunteers. She works with her heart…”
Dorkeo is LFHC’s first-ever Lao pediatrician, who works with many expat volunteer doctors of differing expertise and cultural backgrounds. Her experience of having worked in Tanzania, together with her sensitivity, ensured that both the expat experts and the Lao staff felt confident to respect each other and work together. During the pandemic, when most expats left, Dorkeo took a natural leadership role and ensured that LFHC continued to function. Acting as a role model for compassionate care, she has been a living example of the hospital’s vision.
“Dorkeo approaches parents of sick children in a sensitive and respectful way; this has especially had a huge impact on work in the Neonatal Unit where parents are often filled with fear, shame and guilt. Dorkeo shows the same respect to her colleagues, supporting them in a humble but also very clear manner; she is perceived as a role model from whom everybody wants to learn.”
Visit the coworker when they are in difficulty situation, support even they do not ask for, integrate with their sadness time
People feel save to have negative feedback
Working communication at workplace improved
Do Thuy Linh
Thuy has worked as a psychologist, counsellor, transformation coach and emotional therapy specialist for Psychologist Vietnam. Her unique techniques have helped numerous private clients to release past traumas so as to reach a place of mental and emotional wellbeing – at a level that enables them to experience inner peace, energy, motivation, healthier relationships with family and friends, and a new-found ability to share one’s gifts with the world.
“Miss Thuy Linh Do has a highly admirable level of understanding and compassion that is expressed clearly through her immediate endearing demeanour. Her approach to clients’ requests is at a level of highly advanced individuals in the field of emotional and psychological therapy, with some incorporation of spiritual and philosophical knowledge.”
2. Demonstrating kindness as a leader will build trust among team members. When people feel they are treated fairly and equitably, they will be much more open and honest with the leader and others. Thus they work better and even volunteer to work with 100% with the highest energy and responsibility. Kindness is relevant to effective business
3. Kindness can energize workforce. Employees often experience higher levels of energy after helping someone or simply by being kind to others. In return, higher energy levels can result in increased productivity which can directly impact the company's bottom line. Thus Kindness boosts productivity thanks to effective leadership
As Market Unit Lead for Southeast Asia, Divyesh is responsible for Accenture’s growth in this fast-growing region – across Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand – overseeing over 13,000 employees and working with clients to solve their business challenges. He firmly believes in the importance of experience-led, data-driven transformation and works closely with organisations, ecosystem partners and local governments on initiatives that will shape the future of the region’s digital landscape, economy and society.
“Despite a hectic schedule, Divyesh sets time aside to connect with employees across all levels, leading the efforts in creating an environment where people feel safe, included and able to thrive. He demonstrates courage in championing new ways of thinking or initiatives that will benefit our people, and is a firm supporter of inclusion and diversity.”
Derek L Young
After a 22-year career in a broad range of asset management roles at Fidelity Investments, Derek relocated to Tokyo in 2019 to lead Fidelity International’s Japan business and join the Global Operating Committee. By bringing in more local talent, empowering senior leaders and strengthening networks across the global organisation, the business has successfully delivered capabilities suitable for Japanese investor needs and achieved record growth. Derek’s passion for creating a great place to work has earned Fidelity Japan the Pride Index Gold award.
“Derek has compassion and empathy for colleagues on a very human level. He will devote time to get to know his people at a personal level, particularly to build connectivity in a different, Japanese culture. When the pandemic hit, he fully supported individual circumstances and provided the flexibility to work in a place of choice, which people responded to by not just meeting but exceeding business goals.”
Clare Agnes Feliciano (Pinky) David
Prior to her current position at Mandai Wildlife Group, Pinky spent her career in both the hospitality and media industries, where she pioneered various causes. At the Shangri-La Hotel Group, she was a leading member of the Labour Management Employee Relations committee, and during her media career – spent working for Cartoon Network, Discovery Channel and 20th Century Fox – she was appointed one of Discovery Channel’s first 50 Global Diversity Ambassadors.
“Pinky’s strengths lie in her empathy and her ability to communicate and connect with individuals across all segments… In her latest role with Mandai Wildlife Group, she aims to make a difference to the company’s aspirations of conservation, animal protection, biodiversity and sustainability. On a personal level, she supports charities and participates in fundraising activities. Most recently, she has completed her Yoga teacher training so she can continue to teach and share her knowledge to promote health and wellness.”
After holding multiple HR consultancy and corporate interpretation positions in management consulting and financial institutions in Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore and the United States, Cheong was appointed as Deloitte Asia Pacific’s Learning Strategy Senior Manager. In this role, she leads, curates and facilitates strategic learning projects in the region to grow leaders for the future. She is committed to helping people define meaningful goals and become intentional in the decisions and actions they take to become the best version of themselves.
“Cheong deeply understands essences and principles of empowerment to help her clients (in and out of a work setting) to become self-aware and propel them forward personally and professionally. Cheong’s rich living and working experiences in many places around the world, coupled with exposure to diverse cultures, make it natural for her to gain trust from clients via the learning and development programmes that she deploys.”
Catherine has led community initiatives and engaged in hundreds of CSR activities and large-scale office consolidation projects for over 15 years. She currently serves as Senior Director, Facilities and Sustainability, at NTT Asia Pacific – where she specialises in business continuity, facilities planning and sustainability – and she also leads a private not-for-profit group across Asia Pacific to fundraise and help hundreds of people in need.
“Being at the forefront of leading CSR activities and office facilities projects, Catherine naturally enjoys interacting with people across Asia Pacific. She is mindful and genuine when curating these initiatives, taking in feedback from employees and trying to meet the requirements as closely as possible. Catherine goes the extra mile constantly to encourage and ensure all suggestions are heard because she understands that people are at the centre of our business and our company’s greatest asset.”
The best outcome is to be grateful that we are in a position to help others, this is the best gift ever!
I am in charge of the office workspace and design. Recently, I am working on hybridization and integrating 6 different company cultures into one. During planning, we involved the different companies in the design and listened to their requirements. The outcome is one of a shared space with diversity and inclusion designed into the workspace. We have staff suffering from chronic back pains, we provide height adjustable tables, high tables, and various workspaces so that they do not need to sit for an extended period of time. Among other things like pool and foosball tables, games room, Karaoke systems, etc. we advocate 'Any space is your space'. Upon completion, we will see 6 different entities under one roof, 'ONE NTT', regardless of which entity you belong to, #togetherwedogreatthings. "
1. provision of meals to transient workers in Singapore. These workers are the foreign workers displaced by despicable employers who withheld their salaries, 'dump' them after the workers sustained injuries and employers do not wish to pay for their medical or lodging anymore. These workers often end up homeless, and penniless while waiting for their court cases to be heard. Read more here : https://twc2.org.sg/
2. We have also donated in kind, the provisions for soup kitchens that provide meals for the less privileged: https://willinghearts.org.sg/ The elderly who need to fend for themselves, the homeless and those who need most.
3. Qhubeka : Our company has donated more than 1000 bicycles to children and families in Africa to give them some quality of life. Children walk about 3-4 hours to/fro school. Girls need to leave school before sun sets because of the dangers, they are deprived of a full education compared to the boys. With a bicycle, this cuts their travel time by more than half.
Awsaf is Founder and President of Oroddho Health, the fastest growing mental health platform in Bangladesh. Through this platform, Awsaf and over 100 employees provide free mental health support for young adults and adolescents through a peer-support counselling system. This counselling system is structured around the Psychological First Aid model developed by John Hopkins University, which has helped over 800 people worldwide recover from their mental health problems and positively impacted over 9,500 lives.
“As a team leader, he is aware that his actions and decisions can impact and influence all other members of the organisation. Therefore, he chooses to embody kindness through empathy. He prefers to listen to the opinion of each and every single one of his subordinates before making a decision and acknowledge their efforts and struggles, which in turn inspires them to practise the same form of empathy with their clients. The mental health of his subordinates is his first priority, because his team can help their clients with their mental health issues only if they themselves are mentally healthy.”
Imagine getting a call from your mom everyday you go to work. She calls you and asks how are you today ? Pretty ordinary, isn’t it ? Now imagine a similar scenario where the President of your country calls you and asks you how you're doing. How will that make you feel ? Doesn't that give you a sense of joy, a sense of pride ?
That is because, employees subconsciously puts their leader on a pedestal. So when they see a leader making an effort to improve an employee's experience at work, it gives them a sense of happiness. Happiness gives them a sense of determination, to make that leader proud.
Therefore, my tip for those who want to practise kindness at work is simple- start off small. Greet everyone with a smile. Even a little gesture like ""how's you day going?"" can make someone's day. Inquire about their family. If someone looks sick, ask them if they need a day off. It's that simple !
Let's face it- an employee's morale will be the maximum in a place where he/she is appreciated. A worker will work the hardest in a team where there is a sense of belonging.
Care for your co-workers, and they will care for your company in return.
“Anila has touched and enriched the lives of others, particularly those who are vulnerable or less able to help themselves. She has earned the respect of her peers and become a role model for all. She carefully chooses the words and expressions which suit the situation and allows others to express their thoughts and ideas. Anila has this innate ability to respond to problems and look for solutions. She constantly promotes teamwork, building relationships, and commitment.”
Captain Ananda grew up in the Dhading district, where becoming a pilot was a rare dream. Nevertheless, he joined the Nepalese Army at the age of 18 and trained as a cadet officer – before becoming one of Nepal’s first trained helicopter pilots. Captain Ananda then went on to join Simrik in 2012 and got his rating in Fort Worth, USA, and has to date logged over 5,000 helicopter hours, spent on scenic operations throughout the Himalayas, high-altitude long line operations, medevac and search and rescue operations, and aerial photography and filming.
“Captain Thapa has risked his life several times during Covid and served humanity in saving lives. In challenging weather, he has flown to remote areas to medevac and save lives. Being from a very remote village, growing up in a poor country with lots of struggles, he has always tried to serve humanity and bring happiness in the lives of people. He has always taken initiative to serve humanity. Serving humanity is serving God, in his thinking.”
As head of the CSR division at Phoenix Mills – India’s largest retail-led, mixed-use developer – Amla has transformed over 649 villages in Rajasthan and other states by using traditional water harvesting techniques. Her work has seen the establishment of hundreds of check dams for harvesting water, directly improving the lives and economic conditions of thousands of people by ensuring access to water for sanitation and drinking as well as farming.
“Her extreme sensitivity and ever-flowing compassion for the underprivileged has kindled the same spirit – of wanting to extend themselves for the cause of water at village level – in the employees of Phoenix Mills: they are ever-ready to contribute towards the noble cause whenever funds are required for check dam construction. The transparency and the commitment of the CSR team has taken the work culture of Phoenix Mills employees to a new height of ethics.”
“In every engagement, whether internal or external, Amit’s approach is ‘What’s in it for the other person or party?’ – with the belief that lasting partnerships only work if all parties are comfortable, are appreciated and receive value from the engagement. This approach has led to a culture where people put the ‘team’ ahead of their own interests and where they look out for each other.”
Amanda headed up the people and culture function for RES in Australia before being promoted to Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion for RES – the world’s largest independent renewable energy company, active in 10 countries around the world. She is also Vice-Chair of the company’s global LGBTQ+ network and brings to her role a passion for driving positive change. Amanda’s dedication to creating a more inclusive, diverse and fair workplace was recognised with the RES Beacon Prize.
“Amanda oozes kindness, and she brings that ethos into the workplace in the way she deals with the team. Her Australian colleagues talk about her empathetic, supportive leadership style, which seeks to bring out the best in individuals within the business, by taking time to listen and understand their personal circumstances. Now she has a global role, that culture of kindness is growing with every connection she makes.”
Genuine kindness demonstrated by leaders helps create an environment of inclusion, belonging, and trust - some of the factors required for psychologically safe environments. It should be purposeful and intentional rather than ad hoc.
There business case is clear, but there is also a moral responsibility of leaders. Kindness can enhance an employee's self-esteem and wellbeing. We are living in a volatile and uncertain world where people have personal responsibilities and concerns outside of work and it's important that leaders understand that personal issues may affect performance at work. Kindness and understanding can have a huge impact on the wellbeing of people long after they have left the office for the day and a leader's influence on that should never be underestimated.
Finally, I believe kindness isn't a 'soft' skill - it's a human skill and I believe is the future of leadership.
Alice Chuah Lay Hong
Alice is a senior lecturer at the School of Pharmacy, Monash University Malaysia. A dedicated and committed pharmacist, educator and researcher, she never hesitates to share her knowledge and experience to empower students and help patients. Apart from winning numerous awards, her work has improved the quality of research and education at the university and positively impacted patients’ lives. She has also founded a non-profit organisation, WaterEd, with a mission to change lives through philanthropic work.
“Dr Alice Chuah leads the students by example. She always shows compassion, empathy and kindness in everything that she does. As students look up to her as a leader and mentor, her actions cultivate these values among us, where we need to have these essential qualities to be good pharmacists. She also led her research team to found a non-profit organisation to help people in the rural areas. She visits the indigenous villages to understand their needs and helps to improve their lives.”
Aashraya is an award-winning social innovator and the inventor of India’s most affordable biodegradable sanitary pad vending machine. He has also led numerous initiatives in gender equality, including STEMinism in India and Menstrual Hygiene Friendly Spaces, most of which serve as case studies within MENA and ASEM countries. Aashraya is a One Young World Ambassador, Watson Scholar and Young Climate Innovator of the World Bank Group, and was named among the world’s top 50 emerging policy leaders and India’s top 80 social innovators.
“Aashraya has done exceptional work in the field of gender equality by founding projects like STEMinism in India, to increase the participation of tribal female students in STEM subjects, or Menstrual Hygiene Friendly Spaces, where he is advocating for a policy for menstrual equity. He has also designed India’s cheapest biodegradable sanitary pad vending machine for government schools in India, to support girls to continue their schooling.”
Aaron Goh Qi Yang
Aaron is a medical doctor who is passionate about tackling reversible blindness. With this mission, he founded Project Orasight, a youth-driven initiative intent on tackling reversible vision loss through awareness, advocacy and fundraising; and he also works closely with Orbis International (Singapore) to support their Flying Eye Hospital. Through Aaron’s team’s efforts, Project Orasight has mobilised over 100 youths to action and reached an estimated 21,000 individuals through its campaign.
“It was clear he didn’t only want to do work, but also foster a community. He was quick to praise and affirm whenever the committee achieved a goal… Aaron has shown me what it means to live a life bigger than yourself. I believe that Aaron is an excellent example of someone who has an outpouring of love for others, which can only stem from a heart that is filled with kindness.”