The transformers10 Sep 2014
Exceptional leaders transform. Harriet Green, voted Leader of the Year in 2013 for her turnaround of Thomas Cook, inspired the theme of ‘the transformational leader’ for 2014. The idea was developed in partnership with Ashridge Business School to select five exemplary transformers for this year’s award.
“Leadership is increasingly complex,” says Kai Peters, CEO of Ashridge Business School. “The digital age has changed the way we work and has powerfully impacted on society, politics and business worldwide. Geographic and cultural boundaries have become blurred and the rapid pace of globalisation is changing the definition of what makes a good business leader. Today, leaders at all levels require not only outstanding skills, confidence and resilience; they must also model sustainable and authentic leadership and innovate to create an ethical environment.
“At Ashridge, our focus is on developing the practical skills, knowledge, characteristics and behaviours of leaders to create positive change in their organisation and industry.”
"With a focus on growth and long-term success there is mutual interest in making it work"
|Moya Greene, CEO of Royal Mail|
Newfoundland born Moya Greene has led fundamental change at the Royal Mail – which can trace its roots back to 1516. Following a 17 year career in public service, during which time she reformed the Canadian transportation system, Moya led the flotation of Royal Mail three years after becoming its CEO - the biggest privatisation in almost 30 years, with 10% of the company given to employees as part of the largest free share offer in UK corporate history.
While the turnaround of Royal Mail’s financial performance is a major achievement in itself, Moya’s legacy is significant legislative, regulatory and cultural change across the business – and a new relationship with the unions, which has since led to Sunday deliveries inside the M25. “Our new agreement with CWU is changing how we work together,” she explains. “With a focus on growth and long-term success there is mutual interest in making it work, and delivering the initiatives in the agreement at pace is a priority. It is also legally-binding on both parties – something we believe has never been done before.”
"She is fearless in standing up for what’s right"
|Fiona Woolf CBE,
Lord Mayor of London
Another female transformer making history is Edinburgh-born Fiona Woolf CBE, Lord Mayor of London, and only the second woman to hold the post in 825 years. Sitting at the top of the City of London Corporation, Fiona is the official champion of the Square Mile – which has been battered by Brussels regulation in the wake of the financial crisis. A partner at CMS specialising in energy, advising the World Bank on privatisation and energy reforms, Fiona has used her mediation skills to defend the City’s interests in Europe.
“She fights for the City to be the heart of integrity that it once was – and needs to be again – and does it in a way that is compelling – and achievable,” observes author and executive mentor David Carter. “She is fearless in standing up for what’s right – and generating national and international follower-ship.”
With only a one year term to make an impact, Fiona has set about transforming not only the image of the City but behaviour as well. Initiatives include the City's first Pride dinner in solidity with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender City community; and an Inclusive Capitalism conference in May, with a roster of speakers including The Prince of Wales, Governor Mark Carney, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, and President Bill Clinton. Read more and vote >
“Post the crisis of 2008 everybody thought the banking system needed to change”
|Saker Nusseibeh, CEO of Hermes Investment Management|
Saker Nusseibeh was a far less popular voice in the City in the wake of the financial crisis, highlighting the flaws of a fund management industry that emerged relatively unscathed. The CEO of Hermes Investment Management has been a vocal critic of an industry that he believes has made pension products overly complex.
“Post the crisis of 2008 everybody thought the banking system needed to change,” he explains. “My suggestion was that the one area that needed to change the most was the Fund Management business. The Fund Management Industry’s main job, aside from investing other people’s money into the system, is to analyse the system and therefore it seemed to me that when the crisis was about to happen in 2008 we, collectively, must have known about where the fault lies within the system. We did and because we were not directly involved in it, and because we’re not directly responsible for it, we chose to say nothing and I think that was wrong.”
A prominent champion of stewardship, Palestinian-born Saker set up the 300 Club in 2012. Named after the 300 Spartans who held back the Persians in the battle of Thermopylae, the 300 Club brings together chief investment officers to ask uncomfortable questions about the industry and lead improvement. Read more and vote >
"Digital, technical and social revolution"
|Ronan Dunne, CEO of O2|
Dublin-born Ronan Dunne, now the longest-serving CEO in the UK Telecoms sector, has led O2 (the commercial brand of Telefónica UK) through a digital, technical and social revolution – for his industry and his organisation. After redesigning its business model to disrupt the industry with new digital products and services, Ronan signed a network sharing agreement in Europe with Vodafone to pool its basic network infrastructure, improve coverage and deliver significant cost savings. O2 has also entered the M2M space with a £1.5bn contract to roll-out 42m Smart Meters in homes across the UK by 2020, as part of the government’s programme to reduce energy consumption.
A cheerleader for the role of business in society, Ronan pioneered the Go Think Big programme where employees volunteer time at schools to talk about digital literacy and other corporates are encouraged to recruit more young people. “I am convinced that Ronan's commitment to sustainability and shared value corporate responsibility has modelled how businesses should behave and that the sustainability and development of his business has really effectively modelled the success of this approach,” says Fiona Blacke, CEO of the National Youth Agency. Read more and vote >
"Restoring pride and quality"
|Steve Morgan OBE, Executive Chairman at Redrow|
Merseyside-born Steve Morgan OBE has restored pride and profitability to the business he launched 40 years ago. Having founded Redrow at the age of 21 with a £5,000 loan from his father, Steve grew it into an award-winning FTSE 250 housebuilder, before leaving in 2000.
Following Steve’s departure Redrow's fortunes declined, reaching a low-point in 2009 when it posted £350m pre-tax losses over two years. Returning that year as executive chairman, Steve says the "biggest achievement and highest mountain" was reversing those losses to break even the following year. Four years later he has restored “pride and quality” to the business, leading record results in the year to June 2014 – with revenue up 43% to £864.5m and pre-tax profits up 91% to £132.6m.
“Steve Morgan's leadership of Redrow since he returned to the business has seen a transformation in its results, reaching record levels in 2014,” says Ian Morrison, Partner, PwC. “During this time staffing levels have doubled to 1,350 and an industry-leading programme employing over 200 young people – 15% of the workforce – has been introduced by Steve.”
“I am impressed by the calibre and achievements of the five inspirational and exceptional CEOs selected for this award,” concludes Kai Peters. “Robust ethical leadership to navigate these turbulent times has never been greater, and this award celebrates some of the best CEOs in business today.” Read more and vote >
The Ashridge Business School Leader of the Year will be announced at the National Business Awards Ceremony on 11th November at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane. Book your place(s) to attend the business event of the year online or call Matt Wilson on 020 7560 4106.