41 episodes

LEADING talks to leaders at the top of a wide range of organisations to discover how they learnt to lead, the big decisions they’ve taken and the advice they offer to others.

From the worlds of business, charity, the arts, sport, technology and healthcare, CEOs share their take on leading vital causes, famous brand names, multi-million-pound enterprises and fast-growing start-ups. The podcast is presented by the journalist James Ashton.

Leading with James Ashton James Ashton

    • Business
    • 4.3 • 14 Ratings

LEADING talks to leaders at the top of a wide range of organisations to discover how they learnt to lead, the big decisions they’ve taken and the advice they offer to others.

From the worlds of business, charity, the arts, sport, technology and healthcare, CEOs share their take on leading vital causes, famous brand names, multi-million-pound enterprises and fast-growing start-ups. The podcast is presented by the journalist James Ashton.

    S4 Episode 15 - RFU

    S4 Episode 15 - RFU

    Bill Sweeney is chief executive of the Rugby Football Union, English rugby’s 150-year old governing body that oversees half a million regular players and strives for elite international success.

    Sweeney joins James Ashton to discuss:

    Bringing back the fans and steadying the finances in the wake of the Covid-19 closedown;

    Making your own luck on and off the pitch;

    Instilling a team ethic in the athletes who brought back a record medals haul from the Rio Olympics in 2016 when he led the British Olympic Association;

    What he learnt from working with Usain Bolt and the All Blacks during his time at Puma and Adidas and his hopes for future Rugby World Cup victories.

    Bill Sweeney was a junior footballer with Chelsea and played rugby for Aberdeenshire and Rosslyn Park before gaining corporate experience working for Shell, Mars and Unilever.

    His passion for sport saw him join Adidas, a supporter of Team GB at the Beijing and London Olympic Games, and later become head of business development at Puma.

    Sweeney was appointed chief executive of the BOA by Lord Coe in 2013, describing his decision to depart for the RFU in 2019 as “the only opportunity I would have left the BOA for”.


    Leading is supported by Lockton, the world’s largest privately-owned, independent insurance broker. Lockton's independence means its 8,000 associates worldwide are free to focus solely on their clients' risk and insurance needs. To hear more from Lockton experts, please visit locktoninternational.com/gb/insight

    For further details of this series, follow @leadingpod or go to leadingpod.com

    James Ashton’s book The Nine Types of Leader (bit.ly/NINEbook) is available to order now

    • 41 min
    S4 Episode 14 - Marks & Spencer

    S4 Episode 14 - Marks & Spencer

    Katie Bickerstaffe is joint chief operating officer at Marks & Spencer.

    She is part of the top team tasked with reviving the retailer’s clothing and home business while capitalising on the appeal of its expanding food operation and the shift towards shopping online.

    Bickerstaffe joins James Ashton to discuss:

    Her quest to make daily improvements to the business that still frustrates customers;

    Career confidence and experience gathered at Dixons, Dyson and SSE;

    How she makes a four-day week work;

    And why she believes M&S’s new alumni network M&S Family will benefit both the business and its leadership.

    Bickerstaffe is a product of Unilever’s graduate scheme but has also worked at PepsiCo, Dyson and the supermarket group Somerfield, where she became managing director at the age of 33.

    Spending a decade at electricals retailer Dixons, she led the UK and Ireland arm and bedded down a merger with Carphone Warehouse.

    Bickerstaffe had been a non-executive director at M&S since 2018. She became strategy and transformation director in 2020 and took on her current role in May 2021.


    Leading is supported by Lockton, the world’s largest privately-owned, independent insurance broker. Lockton's independence means its 8,000 associates worldwide are free to focus solely on their clients' risk and insurance needs. To hear more from Lockton experts, please visit locktoninternational.com/gb/insight

    For further details of this series, follow @leadingpod or go to leadingpod.com

    James Ashton’s book The Nine Types of Leader (bit.ly/NINEbook) is available to order now

    • 48 min
    S4 Episode 13 - Mars Petcare

    S4 Episode 13 - Mars Petcare

    Poul Weihrauch is global president of Mars Petcare, the largest division of the family-owned food empire still best known for its chocolate bars and chewing gum.

    Selling brands including Whiskas and Pedigree, the business also runs thousands of pet hospitals and comprises a workforce of 85,000 operating across 55 countries.

    Weihrauch joins James Ashton to discuss:

    Keeping up with demand as pet ownership boomed during lockdown;

    Concerns over rip-off vets' fees;

    Navigating his way up through a global organisation that plans for the long term;

    The founding Mars family’s approach to leadership;

    And how taking his dog to work is good for business.

    Weihrauch began his career marketing chewing gum in his native Denmark and after six years with Nestlé arrived at Mars in 2000 as Snickers’ brand leader in Europe. Following a succession of broader roles, he joined the 110-year old American firm’s leadership team in 2011.

    Weihrauch took on his current petcare role in 2015, leading the $8bn acquisition of veterinary business VCA two years later.


    Leading is supported by Lockton, the world’s largest privately-owned, independent insurance broker. Lockton's independence means its 8,000 associates worldwide are free to focus solely on their clients' risk and insurance needs. To hear more from Lockton experts, please visit locktoninternational.com/gb/insight

    For further details of this series, follow @leadingpod or go to leadingpod.com

    James Ashton’s book The Nine Types of Leader (bit.ly/NINEbook) is available to order now

    • 41 min
    S4 Episode 12 - National Trust

    S4 Episode 12 - National Trust

    Hilary McGrady is director-general of the National Trust, keeper of the nation’s treasures including the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, Sir Winston Churchill's family home Chartwell in Kent and Scafell Pike in the Lake District.

    With 5.5m members and more than 50,000 volunteers in normal times helping to keep stately homes, parks and coastline open and maintained, everyone has a view of what the boss should be doing.

    McGrady joins James Ashton to discuss:

    Her plan for recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, which cost the Trust a third of its revenues and resulted in 1500 redundancies;

    Inspiring members to do their bit to combat climate change;

    The very personal reason she joined the organisation in 2005;

    Lessons learnt from marketing whiskey and clashing with politicians in Northern Ireland earlier in her career still come in handy today.

    McGrady took the helm of the Trust in 2018, the first director-general to have worked her way up through the organisation. She previously worked for drinks firm Diageo, an arts charity and led Belfast’s unsuccessful bid to become Europe’s city of culture.


    Leading is supported by Lockton, the world’s largest privately-owned, independent insurance broker. Lockton's independence means its 8,000 associates worldwide are free to focus solely on their clients' risk and insurance needs. To hear more from Lockton experts, please visit locktoninternational.com/gb/insight

    For further details of this series, follow @leadingpod or go to leadingpod.com

    James Ashton’s book The Nine Types of Leader (bit.ly/NINEbook) is available to order now

    • 54 min
    S4 Episode 11 - Arts Council England

    S4 Episode 11 - Arts Council England

    Darren Henley is chief executive of Arts Council England, the public body that distributes £700m every year to support galleries, theatres, museums, dance studios, music venues and libraries.

    He joins James Ashton to discuss the challenge of restarting the arts post-pandemic and their importance on the world stage.

    Henley’s background is in radio, having risen from weekend newsreader to managing director during 22 years at Classic FM.

    After leading reviews of music and cultural education for the government, he swapped the private for the public sector in 2015.

    At Arts Council England, Henley is treading a fine line by ploughing more taxpayer and National Lottery money into the regions without damaging London’s cultural gems including the Royal Opera House and Southbank Centre.


    Leading is supported by Lockton, the world’s largest privately-owned, independent insurance broker. Lockton's independence means its 8,000 associates worldwide are free to focus solely on their clients' risk and insurance needs. To hear more from Lockton experts, please visit locktoninternational.com/gb/insight

    For further details of this series, follow @leadingpod or go to leadingpod.com

    James Ashton’s book The Nine Types of Leader (bit.ly/NINEbook) is available to order now

    • 46 min
    S4 Episode 10 - M&C Saatchi

    S4 Episode 10 - M&C Saatchi

    Moray MacLennan is chief executive of M&C Saatchi, one of the most famous names in advertising.

    He joins James Ashton to discuss taking over the reins at the start of 2021 at a critical time – after a boardroom exodus and accounting crisis rocked the business.

    MacLennan joined Saatchi & Saatchi in 1983 and followed the brothers Maurice and Charles when they set up their breakaway agency M&C in 1995.

    He made his name overseeing key accounts British Airways, Silk Cut and Famous Grouse whisky and in 2010 became worldwide CEO, building a global network of communications agencies operating in 30 countries.

    Now MacLennan must get the firm back on track and remake the working environment post-pandemic to get the best out of his creative team.


    Leading is supported by Lockton, the world’s largest privately-owned, independent insurance broker. Lockton's independence means its 8,000 associates worldwide are free to focus solely on their clients' risk and insurance needs. To hear more from Lockton experts, please visit locktoninternational.com/gb/insight

    For further details of this series, follow @leadingpod or go to leadingpod.com

    James Ashton’s book The Nine Types of Leader (bit.ly/NINEbook) is available to order now

    • 46 min

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5
14 Ratings

14 Ratings

Darrellcreasey ,

Mr 5 Star Ellis

What an amazing and insightful interview with Kevin Ellis from PWC...the way he speaks about the importance of being proud of the Company you work for and having a love for the job makes so much sense.
I shall be making sure my teenage Son listens to this. Finding what you love to do is the Holy Grail of Happiness and Success....luckily for Kevin he found it early in his working life.

Top Podcasts In Business

Listeners Also Subscribed To