UK’s Inspirational Leaders

Will Kernan- CEO, River Island

Will is currently Chief Executive of River Island, the high street fashion chain. Prior to this Will has been CEO of Wiggle and Chain Reaction (2017-2019), The White Company from 2011-2017, Chief Operating Officer and Group Managing Director of New Look, posts he had held since 2009. Prior to that, he was Finance Controller of Burton, Arcadia and British Shoe Retailers.

Torsten Müller Ötvös - CEO of ROLLS-ROYCE

Torsten Müller-Ötvös has been with the BMW Group for more than 20 years. During this time he held a number of management positions in the Sales and Marketing Division. He successfully re-launched the MINI brand and internationally re-established this quintessentially British marque as the first premium small car brand.

Steve Hare- CEO, Sage Group

Stephen Hare (born April 1961) is a British businessman and chief operating officer of the multinational enterprise software company Sage Group.

Hare joined General Electric Company in 1989 and had a number of roles eventually becoming chief financial officer (CFO) of its successor, Marconi plc. After leaving Marconi Hare took up CFO roles at Spectris plc from 2005 to 2006 and Invensys from 2006 to 2009. Hare then became a partner at Apax Partners from 2009 to 2013.

In 2014 Hare joined Sage Group as CFO. During his time as CFO, Sage made its biggest acquisition, Intacct, in July 2017 for $850M.

On 31 August 2018, Sage announced that the board and the then-current Sage CEO, Stephen Kelly, had come to an agreement and that Kelly had stepped down as a director and CEO. Immediately following Kelly’s departure Hare was appointed the chief operating officer on an interim basis. On 2 November 2018, Steve Hare was appointed CEO on a full-time basis.

Simon Roberts - CEO of Sainsbury's

Simon John Roberts is a British businessman, and the chief executive officer of Sainsbury’s since 1 June 2020, having previously been retail operations director. He is a former managing director of Boots UK.

He started his career working for Marks & Spencer (M&S) aged 16. He was at M&S for fifteen years, becoming a senior manager in 1998. He joined Boots UK in 2003 as regional director of the south region. He was the joint chief operating officer from 2011, with Ken Murphy. He became managing director of Boots UK (health and beauty) on 1 October 2013, with Ken Murphy (from Cork) becoming managing director of Boots International.

Roberts left Boots in June 2016 “to pursue new opportunities”. In September 2016, it was announced that he would be joining Sainsbury’s as retail and operations director. In January 2020, he was appointed CEO effective 1 June 2020, following the impending retirement of Mike Coupe.

Peter Simpson- CEO of Anglian Water

Peter has been Chief Executive of Anglian Water Group since October 2013, and was previously MD of Anglian Water from January 2010, and Chief Operating Officer from 2004.

He was Chairman of Water UK from April 2012-October 2013, and is a Past President of the Institute of Water.

Peter is a member of Prince of Wales Corporate Leaders Group, run by the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership.  This influences at a national, EU and global level to reduce carbon emissions, and to champion resource efficiency in water, energy and other natural resources.

Peter also works with Business in the Community as Chair of the Water Taskforce as well as being part of the BiTC Circular Economy Team and the Place Leadership Team.  He has also recently joined the Board of Trustees of WaterAid.

Peter is a Chartered Water and Environmental Manager, a Chartered Scientist and Chartered Environmentalist. In 2016 he was made an Honorary Fellow of the Society of the Environment and an Honorary Fellow of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management, as well as Companion of the Chartered Management Institute. He holds an MBA from Warwick Business School

Dr Charmaine Griffiths- CEO of British Heart Foundation

With over 17 years’ experience working in leading UK medical and health organisations, Dr Charmaine Griffiths began her career as a successful biomedical research scientist at several top international universities. Charmaine has also worked for global health and research organisations such as the Wellcome Trust, and at the top ten UK charity, the British Heart Foundation, where she led award-winning teams across multiple disciplines, from public affairs to operational programme management. Since 2016 she has been the Chief Operating Officer at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, one of the world’s foremost cancer research centres. Working at the ICR’s high tech campus in Sutton, Charmaine is accountable for all operations and corporate support functions underpinning research. This covers everything from HR, finance and facilities through to commercialisation, fundraising and research administration. Charmaine is also a Governor of The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.

Michael Ward- CEO of Harrods

As Managing Director of Harrods Michael Ward has one of the most influential and exciting roles in luxury retail. Since joining the business in 2005, he has embarked on a programme of significant business development, enabling Harrods to become the unrivalled and extremely successful retail model it is today.

Michael began his career in chartered accountancy, training originally with Ernst & Young in 1980, before taking his first Group Finance Director position at Bassett Food PLC in 1986 and gaining an MBA during this time. He was then appointed Group Finance Director of H.P. Bulmer Holdings PLC.

Retail beckoned and in 1994, Michael took up the post of Managing Director of Lloyds Chemist PLC, later joining other retailers Celesio AG and Apax Partners, before joining Harrods. Michael has been on the board of Walpole since 2012, and was appointed Chairman in 2016.

Alison Rose-CEO of RBS

Alison has worked at NatWest Group for 27 years. Prior to her current role Alison was Deputy CEO of NatWest Holdings and CEO of the Commercial and Private Banking business.

She has held a number of senior roles across the Group including Head of Europe, Middle East and Africa, Markets & International Banking, Global Head of International Banking Capital and Balance Sheet and Head of Leveraged Finance.

Alison was invited by the UK Government to lead a review of the barriers to women starting a business and launched The Rose Review in March 2019. Alison also champions NatWest’s Entrepreneur Accelerator programme, an innovative initiative supporting start-up businesses across the UK, and sponsors the bank’s employee-led networks.

She grew up around the world before settling in England at the age of 15. She studied at Durham University and joined the NatWest graduate scheme in 1992. She is married with two children.

James Reed-Chairman of Reed

James Reed is the Chairman of REED – Britain’s biggest and best-known recruitment brand and the largest family-owned recruitment company in the world.

James is a regular media commentator on work and labour market issues, with recent appearances including BBC News, Sky News, BBC Radio 2 and The Apprentice. He has contributed insight to a wide range of publications including the Financial Times, Harvard Business Review and the Sunday Times.

James is also a best-selling author of three books, The 7 Second CV, Why You? 101 Interview Questions You’ll Never Fear Again and Put Your Mindset to Work, which he co-authored with Dr. Paul Stoltz.

He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). James lives in London with his wife Nicola and their six children

Ivan Menezes-CEO of Diageo

Ivan Menezes has been Chief Executive, Diageo plc since 1 July 2013. Ivan joined Diageo in 1997 and held various senior management positions with Guinness and then Diageo.

Prior to his appointment as COO in March 2012, Ivan was President and CEO of Diageo North America for eight years. During this period he was also made Chairman, Asia Pacific from October 2008 and Chairman, Latin America & the Caribbean from July 2011. Ivan became Chairman of Movement to Work in May 2017.

In September 2017, he became Chair of the CEO Group at the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking, a global not-for-profit organization dedicated to addressing harmful drinking and promoting responsible drinking.

He serves as a non-executive director of Coach, Inc. in the United States, is a member of the Scotch Whisky Association Council and sits on the Advisory Council of the China-Britain Business Council. Ivan is married with 2 children.