Why More Women CEOs in Property is Crucial

Today’s business hiring practices are leaning further and further towards ethical recruitment and equal opportunities. More women than ever are being offered the chance to join firms at CEO level. Why is this? How might it benefit the property industry in particular?

In this article, the bloggers at Property Solvers look at some of the ways in which hiring female workers at executive level within your property firm may result in huge improvements when it comes to your performance, your reputation and your levels of public trust.

Your Turnover May Improve

According to the Peterson Institute for International Economics, the impact of hiring women in executive roles is measurably transformative. Net profit margins are notably increased in companies with female directors – almost anywhere in the world.

Actual and Perceived Discrimination within Your Company May Drop

Firms that feature women at executive level tend to be perceived by talented job seekers as fairer and more welcoming thanks, at least in part, to their rejection of any gender divide.

As a result of hiring women in top positions, strong candidates of all genders and backgrounds will be more likely to develop an interest in your firm and will stay there long-term. Your reputation in the eyes of the general public may also improve.

In the UK property and construction industries, latest estimates suggest that only 15% of the workforce is made up of women. Improving this figure may result in more successful headhunting and an improved level of retention.

The Public Facing Aspects of Your Business May be Transformed

According to the Human Capital Hub, female-led companies tend to lead the majority of industries in terms of approaches to marketing and publicity – including online presence – as well as event delivery.

These approaches are vital for firms that wish to build a strong reputation – and trust is vital when it comes to selling, letting or managing real estate.

You May Experience Improved Crisis Management

The last few years have revealed to us just how vital strong leadership is in times of societal or financial turmoil. This has been particularly notable in the property industry, where the risks inherent in the COVID-19 pandemic have threatened to topple housing markets.

According to the Harvard Business Review, female CEOs are particularly adept at crisis management – so your company is far more likely to weather an upcoming storm is there is a woman at the helm.

Your Business May Become More Morally Sound

Female CEOs tend to be more likely to focus on matters such as equal pay, childcare provision, ethics and fair treatment than their male counterparts.

These aspects should be considered a key part of any company’s moral code – and are also carefully scrutinised by unions as well as decision-makers among audiences.

Considering Female Candidates Equally Will Double Your Number of Potential Great Hires

Whether actively or subconsciously, many businesses of the past failed to grasp opportunities to hire ingenious innovators and revolutionary thinkers by narrowing their recruitment pool to only men.

By pursuing equality in your hiring approaches, your business will be able to have the pick of a much wider range of candidates.

Historically, far fewer women than men have been appointed as heads of major companies – often due to prejudices that were unfortunately prevalent in times gone by.

This means that many women CEOs will be the first of their gender in their family to head up a business – a factor that may influence “out-of-the-box” thinking and a fresh, inventive perspective.

Equality in recruitment should not only be a moral obligation – it also provides clear benefits to businesses across the industrial spectrum.


On a Journey to Revolutionise R&D


Like its namesake, Ulysses Neuroscience Ltd. is on a journey. Where Ulysses himself ventured into the unknown so too does Ulysses Neuroscience in its efforts to establish new best practices in the field to drive better research and, ultimately, better treatments for a plethora of neurological issues and disorders. We spoke with Founder, President and CEO, Dr Massimiliano (Max) Bianchi to find out more about the organisation’s extraordinary work and mission.

For all of humanity’s efforts to better understand the world and universe around us, we’re still remarkably uninformed when it comes to something absolutely fundamental to our being. Our brains. Despite huge technological and medical leaps, we’re just beginning our personal odyssey to truly understand how the human brain works, how it forms connections, how it goes ‘wrong’. For everything we do know, there’s a dozen things we struggle to answer. Based in Trinity College Dublin, Republic of Ireland, Ulysses Neuroscience is hoping to bring about a paradigm shift on the greater neuroscientific landscape.

“Ulysses Neuroscience is, above all else, on a mission to operate a new business model that can make a difference to current practices. To begin a new journey against brain disorders. A journey that will really benefit – not us – but the patient.”- Dr Max Bianchi

Indeed, while Ulysses Neuroscience is working primarily to advance knowledge and drive better treatments for neurological and psychiatric disorders, it is its efforts in acting as a great ‘connector’ that merit particular celebration. To put it simply, Ulysses Neuroscience works to bridge the gap between academia, funding agencies and – crucially – pharmaceutical companies that would otherwise be disparate.

To better understand Ulysses Neuroscience’s mission it helps to understand the drivers behind it, and the ongoing challenges that the organisation – and the field itself – faces. After all, it wasn’t so long ago that neuroscience was considered a ‘non-priority’ in the scientific community. This was down to a lack of alternatives to animal-based product testing and development, as Max explains. “For 50 years the approach was wrong. All studies started from animal research then went to humans and, naturally, failed. Neuroscience was considered a waste of money and new research was abandoned.” Some of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies closed down research centres and moved funding to less resource intensive and more ‘promising’ avenues.

Max, who has some twenty years’ experience working in international pharmacology research and development, saw an alternative. “Ulysses Neuroscience Ltd. is creating a new model that utilises back translation (from bed to benchside). In essence, we are using human neurophysiological and molecular biomarkers as a basis for research, replacing animal-based testing and development.”

“Ulysses Neuroscience Ltd. has its roots deeply anchored on foundations of ground-breaking in-house research, translational high-quality science and scientist to scientist interaction.”

The conversation soon turns to other challenges outside of the foundational issues that Max and Ulysses Neuroscience as a whole has faced. In many ways, the larger field is playing catch up, trying to recover lost time. Yet, new variables come into play every day, new trends emerge, new ways for the brain to be altered. “Of course, the biggest challenge is that the brain is a mystery. We’re trying to piece together the answer to ‘how does the brain work?’ But, even now we’re seeing new challenges. The impact of drug addiction on the brain. The biological reason for addiction. We’re seeing eating-disorders and depression in teenagers -why? We also have an increased aging population and starting to understand how aging affects the brain. Thanks to the advancement of genotyping we now know that neurodevelopmental disorders linked to mutations of genes on the X-chromosome are more common than what previously estimated.”

This acts as a testament to the urgency of Ulysses Neuroscience’s work. Indeed, for Max, Ulysses Neuroscience simply must succeed in its mission. “We want to help people. If we don’t achieve that, it’s a failure.” Whilst the stakes couldn’t be higher, there can be no doubt at all that the organisation has the raw talent, leadership and vision to secure enduring success in the field and help revolutionise neurological treatments for the better.

Professor Max Bianchi launched Ulysses Neuroscience Ltd. in 2019 following 20 years of international neuropharmacology R&D and executive management experience in industry and contract research organisations including Transpharmation Ireland Ltd, MAPREG and GlaxoSmithKline.

A native of Italy, Max originally studied veterinary medicine in Sassari and Milan before obtaining his PhD in psychopharmacology at the University of Nottingham and embarking on a career in scientific research in the pharmaceutical industry. He is now a leader in the field of neuronal plasticity and cytoskeletal dynamics in psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders, has several patents and is an author on over 50 publications.

Max is currently Adjunct Assistant Professor in the School of Psychology at Trinity College Dublin.

CEO Monthly Issue 1 2020 cover

Issue 1 2020

Happy New Year!

Welcome to the first issue of CEO Monthly for 2020. As always, every month we endeavour to provide our readers with the latest news and updates from all corners of the business world. As has become almost a tradition for January issues, this edition focuses on the ‘new’. The revolutionary. The different.

Aptly, one of our first inclusions profiles the work of Ulysses Neuroscience Ltd. Late last year we sat down with Founder, President and CEO, Dr Massimiliano (Max) Bianchi to discuss his work at Ulysses Neuroscience and how he plans to change the present and future of neuroscientific R&D.

Keysight Technologies has a similar goal in mind, though with a target set firmly over the greater corporate landscape. As a result, Ron Nersesian was named CEO of the Year for the USA by CEO Monthly. Naturally, we were eager to take a deep dive into the company to find out more.

And that’s just the surface of what we have in store.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this month’s instalment. Do get in touch if you have any thoughts, opinions etc.


Driving Innovation In Education


Jamie Beaton, CEO of Crimson Education, reveals how he started his £200 million education business. He discusses the challenges he has overcome and shares his successes.


A Young Student

As a student in New Zealand coming to the end of school, I started considering opportunities to continue my studies overseas. I applied to study at the top 25 ranked universities in the world – which wasn’t easy. I found the information available on the internet complicated and overwhelming, and applied to so many as I was unsure how successful I’d be.

When I received letters in the mail confirming that I had been accepted to every institution I applied to, I was blown away with excitement.

The Beginning

In 2013, at just 18 years old, I founded Crimson Education with my friend Sharndre Kushor. Our plan was to show others wishing to apply to the top universities that the world really is your oyster. If you’re interested in studying at top global institutions like Oxford, Cambridge and the Ivy Leagues then it really can be possible, as long as you have the right information, mentoring and support.

I started the business on a small scale initially by leveraging my own experience and engaging the help of other young Kiwis. Back then I had just forty New Zealand dollars in my bank account.

In 2014, during my first year at Harvard, I got in contact with Julian Robertson of Tiger Management to talk about the software used by some of the scholars sponsored by Robertson’s foundation each year [the foundation pays the tuition fees of 36 potential future leaders each year]. He was impressed by me and my business idea, and hired me on the spot as his youngest-ever hedge fund analyst. Not long after, Tiger Management invested in Crimson and the business grew from there.


Business Growth

I think it’s key to get fast validation when growing a company. Often people think of a business idea, but then fall into the trap of spending too much time sitting in a room researching. It’s far more valuable to actually go out and receive immediate feedback. You can read as many books and articles as you want, but at the end of the day the best feedback you can receive is from investors talking about why they should invest in your business, as well as speaking to potential and current customers.

The next step is to drive results.  You need to back claims with numbers and you certainly can’t scale an organisation that doesn’t deliver. Right from the very beginning, we worked tirelessly to create value for the students that enrolled with us. Strong results generated positive feedback which in turn propelled the business further.

As a business grows, you need to have a relentless focus on improving the service you provide. We made a number of strategic acquisitions to fill our knowledge gaps. We also received funding from investors with wide networks, who were aligned to our vision.

I have been very strategic from the beginning in terms of who has joined the team and what investors have come on board. These networks have been incredibly important to our growth. Our recent raising of an additional 20 million US dollars from Hong Kong-based Chow Tai Fook Education Group and Korea-based Solborn Investment is just the latest example of our dedication to team up with groups that have the same values – providing students with the resources to be the best they can be.

Not Without Challenge

With regards to challenges, there have been many, especially when scaling as rapidly as we have done (and are still doing!).

There’s a moment in a company’s growth, as it transitions from a headcount of around fifty to around two hundred, where you pass the point when each person in the company knows each other. Going through that transition is a huge test of culture.

All companies stumble with building culture through that phase. We realised that the whole company didn’t have a connection to me or my founding team in the way the early employees did. We had to find new ways to improve communication and strategic coordination of the business. I think that cultural junction is a key challenge that a lot of companies have to go through.

Another challenge has been attempting to break the mould in terms of people’s mentality around what university counselling and admissions support involves. My team offers something most schools can’t, and it can be difficult to make people see that. To overcome that, we’ve focused on results. The success of our students speaks strongly to the value we provide.

Technology Is Key

Technology is essential to providing the best service and value we can. We use technology to match students to the right institutions, as well as to connect top mentors in places like the US with students in the UK and beyond, who would otherwise not have this exposure. Our students are not restricted by geography or time – no matter where in the world they are, they can access support and services that go far beyond what a student at a top school in the UK or the US would receive.

Technology also allows us to drive greater value at a greater scale while limiting our costs. We use psychometric testing to pair each student with a mentoring and tutoring team that is optimised to their interests as well as their learning style. The student/teacher matching model is trained on historical data and is constantly refined as we grow into different territories with different cultures and education practices. This has helped us to deliver value beyond what was traditionally possible.

By engaging with technology we’re providing our students with an education for the twenty-second century.

I believe that talented, hard-working young people should have the opportunity to reach their full potential through education. That’s why I’ll continue to help thousands more students on their journey to get into the world’s best universities.


Jamie Beaton is the CEO of Crimson Education, which helps students gain acceptance to the world’s best universities. You can find more advice on applications at www.crimsoneducation.com/uk.


Pattonair Announces Two Senior Appointments

Pictured from left: Kieran Murphy and Martin Cole


A world-leading aerospace company has announced the appointment of two senior roles in its global innovation team to help drive its strategic long-term business plans.

Pattonair, the global aerospace and defence supply chain provider, has welcomed Kieran Murphy and Martin Cole into the newly-created positions of Innovation Manager at its Derby headquarters.

Their appointments come at an exciting time for the company, which has embarked on a $1.9 billion merger with US-based Wesco Aircraft Holdings and acquired aircraft spares company Adams Aviation.

It is also at the forefront of the transition towards Industry 4.0, leveraging the opportunities around digitisation and automation of the supply chain to drive improved performance, which has been dubbed the fourth industrial revolution.

Kieran, 37, from Nottingham, has more than 20 years’ experience in the industry and has a widespread knowledge of digital technology and artificial intelligence (AI). A previous role saw him working at Rolls-Royce’s R2 Data Labs identifying and implementing opportunities for digital transformation within the business.

“The opportunity is vast here, alongside a strong sense of drive and ambition,” said Kieran, who has recently been an account manager at QiO Technologies, an AI start-up business, where he worked with industrial customers to provide AI driven solutions for complex technical cost and energy problems.

Martin, 36, from Wolverhampton, brings more than ten years’ experience in the automotive, nuclear, aerospace and defence sectors to his new role.

Martin has acquired a strong technical knowledge base in manufacturing & supply-chain automation from his years of experience working as a consultant and system integrator. Martin previously helped large enterprises unleash potential, in his previous role as a managing consultant at the multinational professional service network, Deloitte.

Martin will be working with the global operations teams to utilise relevant opportunities to deliver greater efficiency, quality, and customer service via the application of new technology solutions within the warehousing network.

“I was engaged by this opportunity from the start,” said Martin. “Not many companies are ready to invest in Industry 4.0 or to reap its benefits, there is real scope here to deliver change.”

The men are joining a team of seven innovation and data specialists and will report to Jason Rance, Pattonair’s Global Innovation Director. Their appointments build on the company’s commitment to recruit the best talent in the region to maintain its position as the aerospace sectors leading provider of innovative supply chain solutions.

“We are delighted to welcome them both,” said Jason. “They bring a wealth of experience and skills and will help to underline our reputation as an innovative leader in our industry.


The Market Research Experts


Lightspeed Research, now part of Kantar, are in the market for leading market research, driven by a need to understand ‘truth through data’. Earlier this year, CEO Monthly recognised Lightspeed Research’s Global Chief Executive Officer, Caroline Frankum, as one of the CEO Top 100 for 2019. Following this, we endeavoured to take a closer look at the company and their expertise.

Data, in all of its forms, is crucial to the future of business, regardless of industry, sector or field. Those that prioritise data are sure to reap the benefits and unlock a path to continual growth and enduring success. After all, if you truly understand your clients and their behaviours, you can understand why they buy and how best to attract new markets and demographic segments. Data, then, is a potent weapon, wielded by the innovative and the disruptive.

Of course, it takes an expert eye and a guiding hand to make the most out of data, and to source it in a meaningful, insightful way. This is where Kantar, and Lightspeed Research, come in. From next generation surveys, polls and networks to comprehensive segmentation, they have the tools on hand to help achieve that vital next step in your business’s growth plan.

As the world’s leading data, insights and consulting company, Kantar holds a formidable position on the global business landscape, commanding a level of expertise and analytical insight that others struggle to compete with. This is only aided by the breadth of their solutions, which focus on producing a clear, holistic image of their client’s businesses, with results-driven and actionable goals.

Where Kantar truly distinguishes itself is in its proprietary ‘Profiles Network’, which aims to provide clients with a platform to access respondent profiles. Their extraordinary reach – some 88 million research-ready respondents are involved in the network – has swiftly help differentiate the firm from a wealth of competition, offering any client with an essential data collection tool.

But it would be remiss to jump over Caroline’s role in building Lightspeed Research into the firm it is today. With a history of succeeding in data-driven roles – often in roles that relied on a keen sense of how to grow company divisions- she remains one of the company’s assets, guiding the way to their future success. Now, as a part of Kantar, that success is all but guaranteed. For this, she was spotlighted in the CEO Top 100 programme – a worthy inclusion by any measure.

Kantar is the world’s leading data, insights and consulting company, dedicated to understanding how people think, feel, shop, share, vote and view than anyone else. Combining their expertise in human understanding with advanced technologies, Kantar’s 30,000 people help the world’s leading organizations succeed and grow.


CHEP Vice President Matt Quinn Discusses The Launch Of Zero Waste World In Europe And Its Importance


A new initiative to enable greater collaboration between retailers and manufacturers to create smarter, more sustainable supply chains, and respond to consumer concerns, like packaging waste, has been launched in Europe by CHEP, the end to end supply chain specialist in the FMCG and retail marketplace.

The Zero Waste World initiative focuses on three shared challenges within the supply chain:

∙ Eliminating physical waste to tackle global concerns, such as the amount of packaging and food waste;

∙ Eradicating empty transport miles, such as those accumulated by factors such as empty running of freight transport and poor weight loading;

∙ Cutting out inefficiency, covering a range of issues in the supply chain such as product leakage and stock movements.

In Europe, CHEP’s Transport Collaboration solutions have already helped more than 200 customers save 6.6 million km of empty truck journeys, avoid 6,500 tonnes of CO2 emissions, and save €8.7 million. In 2017, their circular share and reuse model helped customers save 1.4 million tonnes of waste in FY17. But there is more to do. The development of technology and harnessing innovation with concepts like open data sharing, tracking and smart pallet, and how they can combine, is critical.

Here, CHEP Vice President, Matt Quinn discusses the launch of Zero Waste World and its importance:

Why is now the right time to launch Zero Waste World?

“Manufacturers and retailers have a dual challenge. Consumers want greater choice of products delivered when and where they want. At the same time, society is also demanding that organisations reduce their environmental impact on the world. For example, companies are now under much greater pressure from consumers, employees, investors, and social stakeholders to reduce single-use packaging and unsaleable products – because these issues have an impact on both their bottom line and our shared global resources. The major shift from Linear to Circular business models must take place.”

Why is CHEP in a position to be part of leading the conversation on zero waste in the supply chain?

“As a supply chain pioneer with 5,000 customers in the UK and Ireland alone, and 60 years of experience in running the biggest B2B share and re-use model in the world, CHEP has a responsibility to use our expertise to support the supply chain to pursue a circular economy and a zero-waste world.

“We’re passionate about building a better supply chain and in using our knowledge, assets and data to advise on minimising unnecessary packaging and container use, we hope to reduce the need to recycle waste.”

Why is the UK the best place to launch this?

“The UK is an indicator market, so what takes place here is likely to happen in other places in the world. If we can understand the challenges for the supply chain in the UK and find the solutions, we hold the possibility of reshaping supply chains across the world.”

What practical action is CHEP taking to implement Zero Waste World?

“By working with key partners, we’ll tackle the three challenges by using knowledge, expertise and our experience in promoting the circular economy. By combining process streamlining and circular design, drastic change of habits to the use of technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things and Blockchain, we can develop game changing initiatives to evolve and revolutionise the supply chain. These technologies provide us with a license to disrupt.”

What examples do you have of Zero Waste World in action?

We have created a simple tracker which fits between the slats on a pallet which enables product pickers, delivery drivers and stores to work as normal. But the key innovation is held within software which is connected to our tracker. This is a cloud-based ‘network of networks’ developed by Brambles company BXB Digital – which allows us to turn data into valuable insights and information about where there is loss, inefficiency, and spoilage in the system. As a result, we can see the pallet destination and avoid the pallet / product loss and subsequent customer claim.

We can also come to data driven conclusions which inform a proactive action plan to recover resources and extend product life in the supply chain. One of our customers who used this technology was NISA Retail. Working together, we identified a 10% pallet loss in their supply chain and planned to cut that to practically nil, potentially saving them millions of pounds in lost revenue and claims. This is a trailblazer and a taste of what is possible as we collaborate with more customers and stakeholders across the supply chain to see what works for them.

How do you make collaboration work in practice?

Leadership in the supply chain is critical. Without leadership and a pioneer making decisions, bringing organisations together driving them towards a Zero Waste World will result in the status quo. Openness, transparency and trust, and willingness to try something different are all critical factors. CHEP has the access, connections and integration across many supply chains and organisations around the world.

Being a neutral partner in the supply chain, we can bring others together, including competitors to achieve their sustainability goals. It’s important for companies to focus on mutual value – not just as a buzz word, but as something real where you’re trying to create value for multiple companies across the supply chain.

Focusing on trust, sharing data is an important part of understanding where our starting point is for developing initiatives which do things like eradicate empty cargo miles. For example, Joint Management of Inventory requires suppliers, manufacturers and retailers to develop unified inventory and production plans. We are supporting customers to implement this concept where it is the right solution, but without trust between these stakeholders, it would be an impossible task.

What suggestions do you have for businesses looking to adopt collaboration or other sustainability initiatives into their company culture?

Consider the talent within your organisation and who is engaged with the sustainability agenda. Use them as champions to spread the word, get their ideas and support you to gather the wider workforce around the zero-waste culture. Ask them how to collaborate to solve shared challenges. Ask, what is the scale of the packaging waste or transport miles for your business – and what would it be worth to solve this? If the problem is big enough and provides enough opportunities to create value, devise ways to act.

CEO Monthly Issue 12 2019 cover

Issue 12 2019


Welcome to the twelfth and final issue of CEO Monthly for 2019. As always, every month we endeavour to provide our readers with the latest news and updates from all corners of the business world.

This year has been a year of uncertainty, change and upheaval. Perhaps most years are, but something certainly felt different this time around. In some ways, 2019 seemed almost restless – if a year could be described as restless. The global economy has seen challenges and overcome them, with a small glint of hope as we move into the new decade. For the world of business, 2019 was a year like any other. Opportunities came and were capitalised on. Difficulties resolved, operations adapting to meet the changing needs of markets.

This month we’ve chosen to spotlight just a couple of the firms who have weathered the 2019 storm better than most and ask them, simply, how? Whether it’s by continuing a long-standing legacy to become one of the UK’s Leading CEOs (like Daniel O’Toole and RMS) or continuous growth and development (like Peter Williams of The Thames Club), these businesses are truly the ones to watch in the new decade. Read on to find out more.

All of the team here at CEO Monthly hope you enjoy this month’s issue. As always, we look forward to hearing from you soon.

See you next year!

Hot Yoga Club

Simply The One To Watch In Health and Fitness

Hot Yoga Club
Peter Williams is the Managing Director of premium health, fitness & wellbeing centre The Thames Club. Now operating two successful businesses – The Thames Club and Hot Yoga Club – we caught up with Peter to find out more about how his business activities were going.

Nestled in suburban Staines, Surrey, The Thames Club has been around for 16 years. Offering the same wide range of exclusive health and fitness facilities in stylish and comfortable surroundings that brought it success originally, the continued success of this business can be laid firmly at the feet of Managing Director Peter Williams. With a team of over 30 staff dedicated to delivering a personal experience to over 2,500 members, this business has gone from strength to strength. Offering excellent gym facilities in their Cardio, Functional and Weights zones, a heated swimming pool, spa and sauna, along with your choice of personal trainer, Peter runs a facility that caters for every gym-goer’s needs and desires. Indeed, under his watch, The Thames Club has expanded its operations, opening the Hot Yoga Club in January 2018.

As a separate business in its own right but fully owned by The Thames Club, the Hot Yoga Club offers a diverse range of challenging hot yoga and Pilates classes for all abilities, shapes and sizes taught by first-class teachers. This innovation has proved to be quite the boon for the successful Staines gym. ‘Hot Yoga Club made a positive financial contribution within 12 months of trading which is an outstanding result for any new start-up,’ Peter tells us. ‘We have a number of students who tell us “this place has literally changed my life”.’ One of the major developments in this area going forward is a diversified range of classes, workshops and courses along with member focused benefits and programmes to increase retention. ‘Our front of house team provides the highest level of customer service every time someone enters the studio, making every single person feel comfortable when they visit. Our doors are open to everyone and each student is greeted with a smile and we know them all by name. We’ve built a real community here that knows each other, looks out for each other and has fun together.’

It’s no surprise that Peter turns his attention to the community he helped to build up at The Thames Club. He sees it as the heart of the enterprise and encourages its development at every opportunity. ‘Our members are the backbone of our club and we are proud to say that they stay with us for a long time. Some of our founder members have been here since we opened 16 years ago.’ Retention is key to the success of The Thames Club. It means that members are willing to engage with the vision of the enterprise. ‘When we have vacancies, we ask our members who they know and often have them actually join us as employees,’ admits Peter. ‘Who better to know and work with our members than a member!’

‘We are very much a people business and believe that our team is the key differentiator that truly makes us stand apart from our competition,’ Peter explains.

‘There are many clubs with great facilities and equipment, but we believe that our team across the business are dedicated to delivering the very best and most caring member experience.’ Peter is also quick to credit his staff with the positive impact they bring to each of their clients. ‘We’re extremely focused on recognition of both our staff and our members,’ Peter explains. Staff have a quarterly MAD (Made A Difference) award, where they can be recognised for going above and beyond in their daily roles, while the Member of the Month reward scheme focuses on those who overcome mental and physical disabilities and achieve their fitness goals. ‘We pride ourselves on the service they receive every time they visit the club and after running regular quarterly surveys with our members, we are proud to see that our NPS (net promoter score) continues to increase year on year and is currently above industry average.’

“In October 2019 we were delighted attend the Spelthorne Means Business awards. The Thames Club was voted as ‘Best Business in Staines & Laleham’ with Hot Yoga Club being voted ‘Best Small Business’. To win the latter within 2 years of trading is a huge achievement that would not have been possible without our dedicated team of teachers and support staff.

Getting more people involved in the business is key to the longterm plan that Peter has drawn up. By being a strong supporter
of the local community, it brings the Club to the attention of others in places that they may not have been seen. ‘We are partnered with local businesses to offer our members discounted rates and special events. We are proud to be associated with Ashford Manor Golf Club, Notcutts Garden Centre, Thames Motor Group,’ says Peter. Similarly, the addition of the Hot Yoga Club has been a huge success. ‘We have the ability to attract students from the base membership of The Thames Club, but we are now seeing significant growth from a wider catchment area and we will continue to maximise social media and other channels to attract clients specifically to the Hot Yoga Club.’ By being able to hold its own, the Hot Yoga Club is also unique in that Peter is now able to cross-sell between both products.

It’s not just in the Hot Yoga Club that Peter has added something special to the work of The Thames Club. ‘We have recently partnered with ‘Roost’ café as our lounge partner. Roost offers healthy food and beverage options catering for gluten intolerance, vegetarian and vegan tastes and has kicked off with huge success. The lounge area they have created is relaxing, open and is a lovely space for our members to gather and socialise over a coffee or healthy meal after their visit to the club.’

Peter is very excited about where the future will take him and his businesses. ‘We will continue to innovate and ensue people are highly engaged in their fitness journey by utilising the latest technologies as well as delivering the personal motivation and service that inevitably helps people achieve their goals. We always strive to increase our member retention and by delivering a higher value experience this will lead to more members remaining with us as their chosen premium health club.’

Ultimately, Peter has aimed to create an atmosphere where everyone feels welcomed and valued. It’s clearly a valuable part of his business approach, putting customers first and ensuring that they feel, above all else, comfortable . Add to this a series of partnerships that have proved advantageous to all parties and you have a businessman who continues to innovate his business to better serve his clients. When asking customers if they were likely to recommend Hot Yoga Club to a someone, they received a score of 78. Peter tells us that ‘the creators of the NPS system suggest that a score of 50 or above is excellent, and above 80 is world-class… so next year we hope to just tip-over to world-class!’

Contact: Peter Williams
Company: The Thames Club
Website: thethamesclub.co.uk
Telephone: 01784 463 100


Changing The Game

Set up in 1996 to run the UK registry, Nominet continues to occupy a pivotal role at the heart of the internet and is helping to develop the digital infrastructure of tomorrow. We caught up with CEO Russell Haworth to find out more.

Running part of the UK’s critical national infrastructure means Russell Haworth has 13 million people and businesses, as well as the UK government, relying on his company.

At the heart of the business is the .UK domain registry, one of the world’s largest. It has evolved to keep pace with the rapid pace of the internet’s development, and the increasing expectations of a complex network of stakeholders. The company’s renowned dispute resolution service, and fast track suspension of domain names linked with criminality (over 26,000 last year), underline a commitment to earning and retaining trust in its operations.

It’s a strong platform to build upon, and Russell’s desire to stay a step ahead of the competition has seen the company embark on a 1000day plan to ensure the business is set up for future success. “Project 2020” runs until the end of December 2020. This plan has three key elements: running a world-leading .UK registry; diversifying our business to achieve long-term commercial success in other areas, most notably cyber security; and increasing the impact of our public benefit programme. We will build on the progress made in each of these three areas with potential acquisitions..’

Now mid-way through the project, Nominet has grown its core business by over one million domains and increased its market share against its biggest competitor in the UK, .com. Building on its reputation as a safe pair of hands, the company has diversified into offering whitelabelled registry services; the company is now a top 5 player, managing over 70 registries for a variety of international clients, from.london to .vip.

It has set up a dedicated cyber division to help organisations use the traffic on their networks to anticipate, pinpoint and block threats. The company has also established itself at the heart of developing the secure digital infrastructure to support the expected increase in autonomous vehicles.

The company now has an office in the US and an international clientele that includes both governments and enterprises. This global outlook is a feature of Russell’s career; he’s held senior roles over four continents and came to Nominet after covering the emerging markets for Thomson Reuters, developing the business in the Americas, Asia and the Middle East through both organic growth and acquisition.

This drive for development, and setting ambitious targets, is key to Russell’s approach to leadership. Under his tenure, revenues have increased by 50%. But the ambition extends beyond commercial success – he set the Nominet team a challenge to develop a charitable programme to help one million young people a year tackle the challenges of growing up in a digital age. It’s well underway, supporting a variety of tech for good initiatives, from deliveringvital mental health support online to an award-winning skills exchange for young people.

We asked Russell what sets his company apart. He told us that ‘a commitment to excellence makes us successful. The fact that we were selected by the UK government to help deliver part of its cyber defence programme, and that we are the ones chosen to take the reins should other domain registries fail, shows that the Nominet brand stands for trust and reliability.’
Russell is quick to cite his staff as key contributors to the continuing success of Nominet. ‘We are a technology company by nature, but it’s the people that make the business. I have a team here that are hugely motivated by the role they can play to make the world more connected, inclusive or secure.

“We have a lot of smart people working for us and they take a great deal of pride in what they do. We’ve kept the .UK internet infrastructure up and running for 23 years – no downtime – we’re rightly proud of that. For a company of just over 250 people, we punch well above our weight.’

Of course, as the internet has expanded, so has the competition. ‘Ten years ago, UK consumers had around seven or eight options to choose from, realistically, when getting a domain name,’ Russell tells us. ‘Now there are hundreds.’ He goes on to explain that this competition is something to be aware of heading into the future. ‘Even with a renewal rate holding
steady a lot of time and effort is required to maintain .UK’s leading position.”

“In cyber, we’ve entered a market that is hyper-competitive and prone to hyperbole. We’re playing a different game. We’re going to be successful by proving how we can lighten the load for over-whelmed security teams.” These exciting plans should set Nominet up nicely for the future: agile but focused.

Russell’s acute interest in how the internet is changing, and how technology companies need to adapt to stay relevant, led to him joining the board of Tech UK and being appointed as Chair of the Digital Leaders group, which champions long-term digital transformation. Whatever the topic, he’s happiest at the heart of the action.

The commitment to combining responsibility with innovation, aligning profit with purpose, and bringing like-minds together, means that he is definitely somebody to keep an eye on.

Company: Nominet
Website: www.nominet.uk
Telephone: 01865332211

river n mer

Asset Management Group Achieves Success with Premier Hedge Fund


An advisory and asset management specialist, River and Mercantile Group is dedicated to improving the investment outcomes of its clients. With 250 staff spanning offices in the United Kingdom, United States and Australia, the firm is a leading provider of Equities, Derivatives and Investment Solutions, and in 2018 launched its first macro hedge fund. Discover why they were recognised as one of the UK’s leading experts in macro funds for 2019.

Listed on the London Stock Exchange and with group assets under management and advice of £65bn, River and Mercantile Group (R&M) is committed to offering the very best investment solutions and funds to its institutional and wholesale client base. The company works with pension schemes, their advisors, wholesale investment platforms, fund-of-funds managers, and professional intermediaries, amongst others.

R&M’s consultative engagement helps clients solve specific needs, or meet particular challenges, through the most appropriate combination of the range of services it provides. R&M can support clients in three fundamental ways: an allencompassing ‘holistic’ solution which manages the entirety of the client’s assets, a strategy for providing added value in specific markets relative to market benchmarks, or design specific strategy components to sit within clients’ wider solutions.

The team at R&M listens to their clients, in order to understand why and how the client’s challenge is specific to them and to design an equally tailored solution, rather than simply attempt to implement a prescriptive ‘one size fits all’ service that is not in the client’s best interest. The client’s goals, objectives and timeframe are critical factors that need to be considered to ensure the best possible outcome.

Within the depth and breadth of R&M’s business, one of its key specialisms is its knowledge, experience and fundamental understanding of macro elements. 2019 has seen the firm cement its status as a key innovator in the macro fund industry.

The River and Mercantile Global Macro fund, launched in 2018, is designed to provide clients access to the purest form of the firm’s best macro thinking, targeting double-digit annualised returns over a cycle, while providing positive absolute returns in sustained negative equity markets.

R&M’s investment team has been managing multi-asset portfolios since 2003, using the same collaborative and research-intensive process. The company has gained a fundamental understanding of rotating capital across the full asset class spectrum. This experience, which R&M believes places it in a uniquely dynamic position, is integral in appropriately understanding clients’ needs and developing the solutions required to improve those same clients’ outcomes.

R&M’s success is ultimately down to the success of its clients. By listening to those clients, carrying out exacting analysis and research, and designing bespoke yet cost effective solutions that enable client goals to be reached, this client-centric investment specialist continues to grow in reputation and strength.


Superb CEO Secures Legacy


Founded in 2005 by visionary retail expert Peter O’Toole, RMS has consistently grown year on year to become one of the country’s leading merchandising companies for many of the top retailers throughout the United Kingdom. Following the passing of the baton to son Daniel O’Toole, discover his journey to become the UK’s leading CEO for 2019.

Almost fifteen years after the firm’s initial formation, RMS has come a long way under the sage leadership of both father and son, Peter and Daniel O’Toole. Following his father’s death in 2015, Daniel’s appointment as CEO has seen him go on to secure his father’s legacy and cement his own place amongst the very best CEOs in the United Kingdom today. Making significant progress, securing big-money clients and driving the business forward, the story of this family business is fascinating.

Working with some of the UK’s biggest retailers such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s, ASDA, John Lewis, Boots, B&Q, Argos, Waitrose and Wilko to name just a few, RMS are fulfilling their potential to be the retail change partner of choice Experts in the retail industry, the leadership team’s unrivalled knowledge, passion for the industry, and cuttingedge technology has firmly established them as more than capable of delivering industryleading services.

Daniel’s story of growth from loving son to inspiring leader is the exemplification of how RMS works, their people and growing talent from within. Upon his appointment to CEO in late 2015, Daniel was thrust into a brand new world of executive leadership in which he had previously experienced very little. However, being a family firm, the choice was logical, and has since proved to be the right one.

Regardless of his lack of experience in retail and the fact he was now responsible for a large company that had exciting future prospects, Daniel delivered. Not just for the firm, but for his father as well. Peter always worked hard to grow the business, and Daniel has made that happen as CEO. Between 2015 and 2017, RMS went from 100 to 500 employees in the field, as well as almost doubling turnover from £8m to £15m.

The expertise and experience of the leadership team around Daniel at RMS cannot be overstated. Despite the challenges that lay before the firm following the tragic passing of founder Peter O’Toole, both sons Daniel and Connah have truly stepped up and delivered the company into a period of great prosperity and success. Alongside a management some team of twenty experts, the team leaders and all the flexible merchandisers at RMS boast a combined 3,000 plus years of retail experience.

Since becoming CEO, Daniel has successfully managed to get his entire team to buy into a new culture and new business model with a refined strategy and core company values. With such a wealth of experience and knowledge around him, Daniel felt it key that RMS management staff were engaged and empowered to not fear failure or innovation, instead seeking out opportunity to influence the direction of the business.

Partners of the firm had such faith in Peter, given his retail expertise and consistently high quality of work. Despite the low expectations for how the company would fare following his sudden death, Daniel was keen to meet with partners and lay to rest any concerns. His commitment and drive for the business’ achievement won over clients, and have continued to do so to this day, as success keeps on coming.
In his short time as CEO, Daniel has already made significant progress for RMS staff. Ensuring the company recognises the effort and commitment of its staff, the pool of direct company employees has grown, and the firm have introduced the “RMS-First” policy which puts staff before anything else. All members of staff can now also access increased levels of benefits, with a massive focus placed on training and development to ensure everyone is at their best.

As part of his staff development plans, Daniel ring fenced significant spending for training purposes. Key staff have been enrolled on courses designed to enhance management and finance skills, and every officebased employee has a personal development plan to better see how their RMS career will benefit both themselves and the business. Taking his father’s idea that staff are the company’s most valuable asset, Daniel has expanded greatly on it and truly put his staff at the heart of the business.

Incredibly, Daniel’s refreshing outlook on leadership earned him not just one, but two Institute of Director Awards in 2018, which was made even more special because Peter won the same award a few years previously. After Peter’s passing Daniel had big boots to fill, and it is fair to say that he is certainly doing that.

Not just delivering for his inhouse workers, Daniel has also continued the growth of RMS as a business. Over the last few years, securing Sainsbury’s as a multimillion-pound client has proven to be a major accomplishment, finally catching the one that got away from Peter for so long. As was also signing a contract with Boots, seeing the firm become involved in a nationwide revamp project in 400 stores.

One of the company’s newest core values is that of innovation, as Daniel is determined to have RMS find better ways to do things. Sharpening their focus on the role that technology plays at the firm, they have invested heavily in developing a new end-to-end system, flex. The initial purpose of flex was to replace an archaic scheduling system. However, in December 2017, RMS supported several of their biggest retail partners at the busiest time of the year with replenishment support. In two weeks leading up to Christmas, RMS moved £500m of retail stock from storage to shop floor. Fundamental to this successful project was flex, and RMS’s partners soon began having conversations about how this technology could suit their needs. It was a lightbulb moment; Daniel realised that with further development flex could be a force to be reckoned with, a true industry disruptor.

The core philosophy upon which flex is built is the idea that any company, regardless of size, should be able to find skilled, flexible workers to complete shifts and support projects. flex also aspires to make flexible working actually be that – truly flexible. Daniel wants workers to take control of their worklife balance, giving them the power and choice over when and where they work, because he understands that happy employees have such a positive effect on productivity.

Constantly evolving and innovating, flex has provided RMS with a more productive workflow, greater quality control, improved brand awareness, and reinforced positive relationships with partners. Once flex is launched, Daniel knows that other companies will reap these same rewards.

Instead of deliberating, idling and remaining fixed, the successes of both Daniel and RMS are down to the company’s ability to do, innovate, and flex. With an expert team around him, including Chief Morale Officer Murphy the dog, Daniel has calmly steered the business through turbulent times into a future of financial prosperity. A business is only as good as its leaders, and therefore, this business is very, very good indeed.