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Business Leaders

Author: Right Angles

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Business Leaders brings you extended one-to-one interviews with the key people in global business today. Hosted by Paul Blanchard, each week you can step inside a new company and hear how the world’s top CEOs, founders and entrepreneurs are shaping the future of global business in the 21st Century. Find out the secrets of their success; how they challenge the status quo, turn companies around and build some of the world’s most innovative businesses. Share their insights and find out what makes our most successful leaders tick.
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Euan Rellie is co-founder and senior managing director of BDA Partners, a global investment banking advisor for Asia. Launched in 1996, he has grown the business to a team of 120 across nine offices in North America, Europe and Asia. Prior to this, Euan held a senior role at Schroders, the UK investment bank. He has been named ‘Dealmaker of the Year’ twice, and recognised as one of the Top 50 Global Dealmakers by M&A Advisor. In this in-depth conversation, he discusses the detrimental impact of current Chinese-US tensions on business globally; describes the unexpected influence of politics on business following international uncertainty such as Brexit and the Trump era, and explains why regardless of current turmoil, he remains optimistic for millennials and the future of business.
Kevin Murray is a business speaker and best-selling author. During his career he has interviewed over 100 chief executives and conducted research into the motivating behaviours of leaders with a specialism in inspired leadership, and has published four books on the topic. He previously ran the UK’s largest PR and Communications group for 20 years and also served as director of communications for British Airways, the Atomic Energy Authority and Bayer. In this in-depth interview, he shares his experiences advising global chief executives, revealing what their biggest unspoken fears are; explains how everyone can master the skills of charisma to boost their effectiveness by learning the ability to be “affective in order to be effective”, a topic he explores in his latest book ‘Charismatic Leadership’; and describes why having leadership throughout an organisation, whether large or small, is vital to success.
Anne Boden is the CEO and founder of Starling Bank. Launched in 2014, the mobile-only app has over 1.5 million customers and is the fastest growing SME bank in Europe. She previously worked at Allied Irish Banks Plc, RBS and Standard Chartered, and received an MBE in 2018 for her services to financial technology. This year, she published her first book titled ‘The Money Revolution’, creating a “jargon-free guide” to taking control of your finances. In this in-depth conversation, she describes her ambition to bring finance and technology together, to change the industry and “rethink the customer experience"; argues that despite their best efforts, major banks are not agile enough to effectively copy their relationship-driven culture; and reveals the bank’s plans for European expansion, starting with their application for a banking license in Ireland.
Wade Eyerly and Dennis Murashko are co-founders of Degree Insurance Co. Wade is the former CEO and co-founder of Surf Air, the world's first all-you-can-fly subscription airline, and Dennis is an actuary and lawyer who served as the general counsel and a senior advisor to Governor Rauner in Illinois. Together they founded the startup in 2017, working to remove the risks of seeking higher education in America by guaranteeing students’ income for five years after they graduate. In this in-depth conversation, they describe how the current financing of education has created generational debt, with the average loan repayment lasting 21 years, consider how individuals from all backgrounds can make better decisions about their futures and aspire to the American Dream by understanding the economic impact of their degree, and explain how colleges will, in turn, see a return on their investment through increasing enrolment and retention rates.
Kevin Gaskell is a serial entrepreneur, adventurer and investor. Early in his career he led iconic car brands Porsche, Lamborghini and BMW to record growth and performance, and was recognised as on the ‘UK’s top 40 leaders under 40’. Since then, he has founded and invested in a number of businesses and overseen the transformational growth of 14 companies, creating over £3 billion in shareholder value. In this in-depth conversation, he describes how leaders can better engage their teams by inviting them on a journey where they have the opportunity to grow their knowledge and skills, expresses his concerns for executives who set aggressive targets instead of focusing on building the “extraordinary” – a topic which he explores in his book ‘Inspired Leadership’ and on international stages as a professional speaker, and compares the process of building a business from startup to market leader, to his epic challenge of breaking the world record for an unsupported row across the Atlantic Ocean.
Daniel Astaire is managing partner at Grosvenor Law. Having practised for over 20 years, he’s worked for a number of blue-chip law firms including Bird and Bird and Clintons before helping to found Grosvenor Law in 2011. Based in Mayfair, the firm specialises in personal and business dispute resolution and works with high-profile individuals and corporations from a range of backgrounds. In a recent case, Daniel represented defendants in claims for fraud and conspiracy to defraud by a former business partner seeking damages in excess of £100 million. In this in-depth conversation, he reveals how the business was built to “speak the language” and understand the needs of affluent clients in the West End of London, he describes the “blood sweat and tears” involved in protecting the legacy of self-made entrepreneurs,  and shares his advice to aspiring lawyers on how to “master your own destiny” by finding an area of law which complements your personality.
Sol Kumin has spent his career in the financial services industry, and is a thoroughbred racehorse owner and philanthropist. A graduate of Johns Hopkins, he began his career in finance at Lazard Asset Management and then Sanford C. Bernstein. In 2005, he joined SAC Capital as managing director and was later chief operating officer. At the end of 2014, he founded hedge fund Folger Hill Asset Management with more than $1 billion from investors, serving as CEO until 2018 when the firm was merged with Schonfeld Strategic Investors. He added the role of chief strategy officer for Leucadia Asset Management LLC and is currently the firm’s co-president. Sol bought his first filly in 2014 and has rapidly become one of the most successful racehorse owners in the US, including Preakness winner Exaggerator, Triple Crown winner Justify, Travers winner Catholic Boy and champion fillies Lady Eli, Monomoy Girl, Midnight Bisou, Uni and British Idiom. In this in-depth interview, he talks about the lasting influence of his first job out of college, describes his experience running Folger Hill Asset Management and explains the business focus and practicality he has brought to owning a high-performing stable of prize-winning horses.
David S. Kidder is chief executive and co-founder of Bionic, an enterprise innovation platform. A graduate in industrial design, he made his name as an entrepreneur and angel investor, co-founding Clickable, an online advertising software service, and SmartRay Network, a pioneering mobile advertising business. He is the author of ‘New to Big’, ‘The Startup Playbook’ and ‘The Intellectual Devotional’. In this in-depth interview, he talks about how his writing gives entrepreneurs digestible daily readings to encourage curiosity and help their business brains, argues that when projects are in their growth stage they often have to satisfy customers who don’t yet know what they want, and discusses the way in which business failure has been transformed from the great taboo to an incredibly valuable learning opportunity for entrepreneurs.[Editor’s note: this podcast was recorded in New York on 10th March 2020, before the full scale of the coronavirus public health crisis became apparent.]
Ross Sklar is the CEO of The Starco Group and Starco Brands. He started his career in the oil and gas industry making anti-corrosion chemicals, before pioneering true anti-stick anti-graffiti coatings which coated the largest structure on earth to be coated with an anti-graffiti coating. Ross then went on to make about a dozen acquisitions in a decade that today make up The Starco Group, a diverse collection of industrial household, personal care and food and beverages manufacturers covering almost all consumer categories. Starco Brands was later born from The Starco Group, and organised as a public venture focused on designing and commercialising behaviour-changing technologies and brands. In this in-depth conversation, Ross describes how he built the businesses by focusing on solving large societal problems chemically that would provide significant value to society and stakeholders, he explains his ability to invent and create technology and also his robust acquisition strategy that’s enabled him to grow Starco Group to hundreds of employees and many facilities across the United States, and expresses his responsibility to provide tools which can protect communities and “better the status quo” during this crucial time.
Andrew Powell is Group CEO of route2work. After 11 years in the British Army, including a stint in Special Forces, he worked in consulting and business operations, before moving full-time into coaching and mentoring. He was a director of The Training Room for six years before founding route2work, a digital education, qualification and careers provider with an emphasis on social impact. Andrew also lends his experience and perspective to the Bank of England’s Decision Maker Panel. In this in-depth conversation, he talks about translating the drive and discipline he learned in the Army to a business environment, explains how he’s worked to create an entire “digital ecosystem” in which route2work can match people’s talents and training with career opportunities, and emphasises how important he’s found it to create “down time” in a busy leadership role to be with his family and away from the demands of email and phone calls.
Kerry O’Brien is chief executive of the Young Urban Arts Foundation. For 25 years she has been a recording and performing artist under the name ‘Lady MC’ and has shared producers with Kanye West and Michael Jackson. She has appeared on BBC2’s ‘Dragons’ Den’, BBC3’s ‘Singing With The Enemy’ and Channel 4’s ‘Musicool’, and in 2001/2 she toured the east coast of the USA with TC Izlam and Prince Tafari. In 2008, she co-founded the British DJ and MC Academy and spent three years as its operations director. The following year she set up YUAF, where she remains, while also working as a reiki master and public speaker. In this in-depth conversation, she talks about the power of music to transform young people’s lives, describes the struggles of running a charity against a background of changing governments and financial support, and explains how figures in the voluntary sector can be the key to unlocking the potential inside everyone.
Mark Evans is managing director for marketing and digital at Direct Line Group, one of the UK’s largest insurance companies. Educated at the University of Nottingham, he joined Mars as a fast track executive and spent nine years with the company, managing a selection of brands across confectionary and pet food. He moved to 118118 Media, rising to CEO and monetising their voice and text inventory, then, after a stint as head of customer management at HSBC, joined Direct Line as director of brand portfolio in 2012. Mark quickly moved across to become marketing director then managing director for marketing and digital. In this in-depth conversation, he reflects on learning “the core toolkit” of marketing in his early days, describes how Direct Line “add value” to their market proposition but circumventing commission, and talks about how insurance companies could adapt to a world of autonomous driving.
Nick Wheeler is the founder of menswear retailer Charles Tyrwhitt. Launched in 1986 as a mail-order shirt business whilst still at university, the company now has over 40 stores in the UK, Paris and America and a thriving online business which accounts for 65% of sales worldwide. He is also a non-executive director of The White Company, and was awarded an OBE for his services to retail in 2017. In this in-depth conversation, he reflects on his entrepreneurial ventures – from photography to christmas trees, describes the dangers of losing focus whilst running your own business, and explains the importance of inner self-belief to sell products and “kick down doors”.
Chris Paton is managing director of Quirk Solutions, a management consultancy which advises large brands such as Unilever, Shell, Heineken and Waitrose, as well as the NHS and the Home Office. Chris was a lieutenant colonel in the Royal Marines, and has completed tours in Afghanistan, Kosovo and Northern Ireland. He was also an advisor to the Cabinet and the National Security Council on Afghan strategy. He currently lectures at London Business School for the executive education programme. In this in-depth conversation, Chris argues that businesses need to be less hierarchical and invest more in training to succeed, explains why adhering to tried and tested strategies is often a recipe for disaster, and describes the seven interconnected disciplines that provide the framework for success – whether you’re running a start-up or a multinational.
Andy Whitehouse is chief executive and managing partner of Copperfield Advisory. The New York-based consulting firm serves clients in sectors including insurance, capital markets, health systems and philanthropy. Prior to founding Copperfield in 2017, Andy served as the chief communications officer for IBM, Willis Towers Watson, and McKinsey & Company. He has also served as a government policymaker in the UK and has led teams in the Prime Minister’s Social Exclusion Unit and the Department of Health. In this in-depth conversation, he outlines the challenges faced by government while trying to improve the life chances of disadvantaged groups, discusses the importance of business leaders’ contributions to public life, and evaluates the value of reputation to brands who want to make a positive impact on their communities.
Bo Deitl is chairman and chief executive of Beau Dietl and Associates. Founded in 1985, the private investigations company provides security services, background checks and risk assessments to corporate and individual clients worldwide. One of New York City's most highly decorated police detectives, his 1988 book 'One Tough Cop' became a major motion picture starring Stephen Baldwin. In this in-depth conversation, he recalls growing up in Queens in the 60s, takes us through his career as a police officer, and describes his transition to acting and movie producing, including his recent role as Joe Glencoe in 'The Irishman'.
Nir Eyal is an entrepreneur and author. After graduating from Stanford in 2008, Nir co-founded AdNectar, a social media advertising company which enabled sites to monetise on adverts. With a background in academia, his research into what makes companies like Facebook and Google “sticky” formed the basis of his best-selling book ‘Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products’. His latest book, ‘Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life’, advises readers on how to beat technology addiction in everyday life and claims that all behaviour is prompted by a desire to escape discomfort. In this in-depth conversation, Nir explains why people “prioritise the urgent at the expense of the important”, describes his theory about why love does actually hurt – and argues that distraction has become “commoditised”.
Brittney Castro is founder and chief executive of Financially Wise Inc. The Los Angeles-based advisory firm promotes financial intelligence through wellness workshops, online money courses and social media. Her specialisms include teaching young couples how to invest their money and build a solid financial strategy. In this in-depth conservation, Brittney details the specific challenges that make women feel insecure about investing, argues that money management is about enjoying life in the moment as well as providing for the future – and describes how, no matter your past, we all have the capability to “set a new story” for ourselves financially.
Irene Molodtsov is CEO of Sia Partners UK. Sia Partners is a global management consultancy firm, with 25 offices around the world and expertise in more than 30 sectors and services. As a pioneer of Consulting 4.0, Sia Partners explores the opportunities afforded by Artificial Intelligence, and invests in Data Science and the development of consulting bots. Irene started her professional career working for Pilkington in Australia. Irene then moved from industry into management consultancy at KMPG working in Hong Kong before moving to London where she ran major change initiatives across Europe. When KPMG Consulting was sold to Atos, Irene co-founded Molten in 2003 with the belief that there was a place in the market to lead with people. Molten was acquired by Sia Partners in in 2016. Irene is a passionate advocate for the Consulting industry being a ‘force for good’ in society. In this in-depth conversation, Irene argues that augmented intelligence is creating more jobs than it eliminates, explains how Sia Partners developed a ‘bot’ to analyse positive hosts and improve guest experiences on Airbnb, and discusses her ‘Consulting for Good’ programme which focuses on diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Mark Cornell is chief executive of the Ambassador Theatre Group. Operating over 50 venues across Britain, the US and Germany, their portfolio includes historic West End theatres such as the Apollo and the Lyceum. Mark began his career in the British Army and served for seven years, leaving with the rank of captain. He then moved into business as an executive at wholesaler WHSmith News before moving on to Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH) in 2001, working in various roles in France and the US. In 2013, he joined Sotheby’s Europe as managing director before taking on his current role in 2016. In this in-depth conversation, Mark discusses how his time in the military taught him to make bold decisions, reveals how completing an MBA at IMD in Switzerland in 1999 helped propel him into the luxury goods industry, and describes how ATG is reaching new audiences by making the theatre experience more engaging.
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