Category Archives: Profiles

Leadership Profile: Kenny Wilson leads the home of modern vintage as CEO of Cath Kidston


‘You have a long working life, you need to enjoy it.’

When I meet Kenny Wilson, the affable yet determined powerhouse heading up Cath Kidston as its CEO, he certainly seems to be enjoying his job. The news that the company has been bought out by private equity group Barings Asia has just gone public. Wilson describes the transaction as representing a continuity of ownership and indeed, a simplification of the stakeholder structure, leaving just one investor and giving access to more funding to drive their next phase of growth. A smooth deal then, but even if the takeover waters had been choppy, Wilson strikes me as a man who can cope with pretty much any difficulty thrown at him, not least because he is open-minded enough to be on an ongoing journey of learning and self-development and has both the courage and humility to surround himself with capable people. But more of that later. (more…)

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Andy Rhodes: The Thinking Policeman

Alliance Leadership Profile by Liz Gooster

DCC Rhodes pictureYour people are your best asset’ is a phrase often quoted by leaders. But it would be hard to find a leader who puts this belief into action more wholeheartedly than Andy Rhodes, Deputy Chief Constable of Lancashire Constabulary. Thoughtful, people-focused, entrepreneurial and irreverent, Rhodes is not your typical policeman. He has spent 25 years in the force so far and has risen up the ranks quickly, being promoted to Superintendent early in his career and continuing to climb the ladder since then. (more…)

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Leadership Profile: Tony Cohen, Chair of Barnardo’s


Leading a national charity ‘is about doing the best you can with the resources you have. If you get it right, you can do even more.’ As Chair of Barnardo’s and a Trustee on the Boards of the Arvon Foundation and the RSA, Tony Cohen takes his responsibilities seriously. With its 150th anniversary approaching in 2016, Barnardo’s has a long history and is a cherished national brand. Its purpose is to transform the lives of the UK’s most vulnerable children and today it is an organisation that helps 240,000 children, young people, parents and carers each year¹. That’s a lot of lives to touch. In addition the charity has 8,000 staff, 16,000 volunteers and over 600 retail outlets.


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Leadership Profile: Richard Wilson, CEO of BMO GAM (EMEA)

It has been quite a time for Richard Wilson, CEO of BMO Global Asset Management (EMEA), after the Bank of Montreal successfully acquired F&C for £708m at the beginning of 2014. As those familiar with the financial world will know, a deal like this can represent the end-point of a long period of uncertainty and tense conversations. For many, the prospect of protracted merger discussions, the highs and lows of conducting critical negotiations while trying to minimise the stresses experienced by clients, employees and stakeholders would have been off-putting. But for Wilson, it was what swung him to accept the position of CEO of F&C back in January 2013, what convinced him to make the shift from his long history as a high-flying fund manager to a high-stakes role as a true business leader. (more…)

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Richard Foley, Senior Partner, Pinsent Masons

foley_richard TO USEElected to the position of Senior Partner in 2014 following a hotly contested election process, Richard Foley has ultimate responsibility for the leadership of City law firm Pinsent Masons for at least a four year term. It is a mantle Foley seems to have taken on gladly, and he is ‘loving it’ so far. His ‘can do’ attitude (except perhaps in his quest to learn to play the guitar, which he asserts is ‘almost impossible’!) and his relentless (and refreshing) enthusiasm should serve him well given the plans he has to drive change and innovation in a sector that is notoriously conservative and primed to anticipate problems and risk. (more…)

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Mairi Bannon, co-Managing Director of Strategic Dimensions, CRF & PARC

MairiBannon_8339 (informal)-2Softly spoken, with a delightful Scots accent, and effortlessly modest, Mairi Bannon’s understated manner belies the extent of her business achievements and her personal impact. She was part of the start-up phase of specialist recruitment company Strategic Dimensions (SD) 20 years ago, becoming joint leader with Mike Haffenden just four months after he’d got it off the ground. The pair went on to co-found and co-manage the Corporate Research Forum (CRF), having identified a need for a different kind of support in the HR, recruitment and careers spaces. Not only have Mairi and Mike weathered several recessions, but in 2004 they launched a third business, the Performance and Reward Centre (PARC). (more…)

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Martha Wikstrom, Founding Partner of Atelier Fund Management, LLC

MW IMAGEMartha – widely known as Marty – Wikstrom has, in anyone’s books, achieved an enormous amount. She is a Founding Partner of Atelier Fund Management LLC and was CEO of Richemont Fashion & Accessories from 2009 until 2013. Starting out as a sales assistant at Nordstrom, she rose to the top to become President of the company’s Full Line Store Group in the US and was later MD of Harrods Limited and interim CEO of Kurt Geiger Limited in the UK. She has served as Director (both executive and non-executive) for a host of companies, including Bally International Limited, Compagnie Financiere Richemont SA, Portero, Inc. and Harrods Holdings Limited. (more…)

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Anthony Forbes Watson, MD OF Pan Macmillan

Photo on 2011-12-02 at 17.40 #2

It is a cold December day and Anthony Forbes Watson is ebullient, his mood as bright as the neon green chairs in his office as he invites me in, solicitously gets me water and mops it up when I spill it. He tells me, with well-deserved relish, that Pan Macmillan publish the current top two fiction bestsellers Chris Sansom’s Lamentation and Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist as well as Chris Hadfield’s You Are Here: Around the world in 92 minutes, which had that day just sold in a few hours more than 10000 books in an Amazon ‘lightning deal’. The company’s fortunes are equally buoyant: Forbes Watson explains that profits had doubled over the last year in a culmination of a five year turnaround and that the scene is now set for further growth and consolidation. He also reports happily that industry perceptions of Pan Macmillan’s traditionally unfashionable image in the industry are changing at last and becoming more reflective of the company’s publishing and commercial performance. (more…)

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Alan Rubenstein, CEO of the Pension Protection Fund

Alan Rubenstein“If you’re leading an organisation, you have to gather the best team you can around you, a team that has shared goals and wants to build a successful organisation.” This is the view of Alan Rubenstein, CEO of The Pension Protection Fund (PPF). And it seems to have worked for him! Alan is deservedly proud of the fact that the PPF won the Gold Award for the best European Investment Fund in the 2013 IPE (Investment & Pensions Europe) Awards. He is equally thrilled by being included for the first time in the 2014 The Sunday Times Top 100 ‘Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For’ listing, which he describes as the outcome of a journey begun years earlier, a mission to make the PPF a place where people want to come and work. (more…)

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Jeremy Gilley, Founder of Peace One Day

Jeremy Gilley

Peace One Day is an extraordinary initiative that has led to an annual global day of ceasefire and non-violence. Its very existence demonstrates the amazing things that can happen when you lead from a place of belief, passion and commitment. Jeremy Gilley, the Founder of Peace One Day, is such a leader and I was lucky to spend some time with him in the build-up to this year’s Peace Day on 21st September. (more…)

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