NBS Business Leaders Series

Behind every great company is a great leader. Nottingham Business School strives to learn from the first-hand experience, advice and knowledge of just some of our high-achieving network – this is Business Leaders. For 2020/21, Business Leaders takes the form of a podcast, presenting a series of regular conversations with inspirational business leaders you won’t want to miss.

Listen to our latest podcasts here.

Ep.1 – Lee Kidger was made Managing Director of Raleigh UK earlier this year – at the age of just 31. He started his career serving customers in a cycling shop. Less than a decade later, he manages the world’s best-known bike brand. In this episode of the Business Leaders’ Podcast, he tells Nottingham Business School’s Mike Sassi about the importance of doing something you love – and of being in the right place at the right time.

Ep.2 – Charlotte Cox created headlines when she led the development of the Canterbury international rugby shirt worn by England at the 2019 World Cup in Japan. After more than a decade in global marketing, she is now a member of the executive team at Pentland Brands. In this episode of the Business Leaders’ Podcast, she talks to Nottingham Business School’s Mike Sassi about motivating her staff, measuring her achievements and methods for building unstoppable teams.

Ep.3 – Robin Foale was a banking executive with both Barclays and Santander during the international financial crisis of 2008. Which may be one reason why he places integrity top of his list of attributes for any successful leader. Robin is now a highly-respected business mentor and leadership guru. In this episode of the Business Leaders’ Podcast, he talks to Nottingham Business School’s Mike Sassi about young entrepreneurs, benevolent banks and the importance of data.

Ep.4 – Sara Blair-Manning has come a long way since helping to run her dad’s waltzers, as a schoolgirl at Nottingham’s Goose Fair. Now she is Chief Executive of Nottingham Castle – and the driving force behind what she hopes will become one of England’s biggest visitor attractions. In this episode of the Business Leaders’ Podcast, she tells Nottingham Business School’s Mike Sassi about her career and her plans for the castle.

Ep.5 – Jonathan Sims manages a billion-pound budget as chief procurement officer with international energy company Engie, in Britain and Ireland. His corporate career has taken him from construction to procurement, via engineering – and seen him pick up four university degrees, all from NTU. Not bad for someone who left school in Mansfield with a handful of O-Levels. In this episode of the Business Leaders’ Podcast, Jonathan talks to Nottingham Business School’s Mike Sassi about good management, green energy and the importance of looking after your personal brand.

Ep.6 – Judy Naake MBE is the Queen of Self-tanning who built a cosmetics empire in less than a decade – then sold it for £70m. She spent years as an agent selling high-class beauty products. But she started her working life behind the counter of her dad’s Nottingham fruit and veg shop. In this episode of Nottingham Business School’s Business Leaders’ Podcast, Judy talks to Visiting Honorary Professor Mike Sassi about the importance of knowing your own industry, negotiating a good contract and trusting your gut instincts.

Ep.7 – Shamshad Ahmed founded Britain’s first private stem cell blood bank. It offers parents the opportunity to collect and store cells from their babies’ umbilical cords – cells that could be used in the future, to treat family blood cancers, genetic disorders and brain infections. But he is a businessman, not a doctor. Shamshad set up his company Smart Cells after spotting a gap in the market to collect the potentially life-saving cells. In this episode of the NBS Business Leaders’ Podcast, he tells Honorary Visiting Professor Mike Sassi what three decades as an entrepreneur has taught him.

Ep.8 – Stephanie Sirr is one of Britain’s most experienced and accomplished regional theatre executives. During twenty years as Chief Executive of the Nottingham Playhouse she has established a reputation as a dynamic and innovative arts leader – and a national spokesman for her industry. In this episode of Nottingham Business School’s Business Leaders’ Podcast, she tells Honorary Visiting Professor Mike Sassi why she loves being a leader.

Ep.9 – Sir Ken Olisa OBE is the Queen’s Lord Lieutenant of London and has been recognised as one of the most influential black people in Britain. He has enjoyed an inspirational 40-year career in IT, during which time he has founded two merchant banks. But Sir Ken grew up in a two-up, two-down terraced house in Nottingham – on a street that has long-since been demolished. In this episode of the Nottingham Business School’s Business Leaders’ Podcast, he tells Honorary Visiting Professor Mike Sassi he believes Britain is entering a period of unparalleled opportunity for young entrepreneurs.

Ep.10 – Dr Peter Homa CBE believes the best leaders are those who look after their health. And he should know. Because as Director General of the Defence Medical Services, he is responsible for the health of all Britain’s soldiers, sailors and air force officers. Peter also spent more than a quarter of a century running three of Britain’s biggest NHS hospitals. In the latest episode of the Nottingham Business School Business Leaders’ Podcast he tells Honorary Visiting Professor Mike Sassi that leaders who don’t care about their own wellbeing will make poorer decisions.

Ep.11 – Sarah Walker-Smith is a high-profile business leader. And as one of the very few women CEOs of a Top 50 law firm, she has role model status. Since becoming CEO of Shakespeare Martineau, her willingness to be candid has established a big social media following. In this episode of the Nottingham Business School Business Leaders’ podcast, she talks about the need for business leaders to be open – and authentic.

Ep.12 – Sam Thorne is director of the critically acclaimed Nottingham Contemporary gallery… the gallery that has helped secure Nottingham’s place on Britain’s cultural map. By trade he is a writer, curator, magazine editor and art critic. But his stewardship of first the Tate St Ives gallery, where he was previously artistic director, and for the last five years Nottingham Contemporary have made him a prominent leader in British Arts.