The Lens – UK Responsible Business Podcast
UNIPART: Helping charities thrive: learning on the job, criminal justice and the 'Unipart Way'
In the latest episode of The Lens, Unipart Chairman and Group Chief Executive, John Neill CBE and CEO of Spark Inside, Baillie Aaron join our host Oli Barrett MBE for a conversation. Our guests discuss judgement and policy when employing people who’ve been through the criminal justice system, the ways in which the charity and corporate realms intersect and how each can best support, influence and inform the other and, how to prepare for a burgeoning digital revolution.
Oli and John also explore the story of the Unipart U, corporate universities and learning from the factory floor. Listeners are granted a behind-the-scenes view of John’s journey in becoming one of Britain’s youngest Managing Directors, now a business icon with decades of experience. John and Oli also cover the importance of coaching, coding and how to learn at 10 and do at 11.
Baillie, the Founder and CEO of Spark Inside, a not-for-profit organisation providing valuable coaching support in prisons to encourage rehabilitation and reduce reoffending, describes her passion for entrepreneurship, diplomacy and development. She, Oli and John also discuss the British criminal justice system, politics, good books, leadership and human-centric language.
[00:00] Our host Oli Barrett MBE introduces our guests, John Neill and Baillie Aaron. [01:20] John Neill kicks off our conversation by talking Oli through his career beginnings. His relationship with General Motors, his ambition, working with British Leyland and beginning a Managing Director at 29. [4:36] John details British Leyland returning to the private sector and the survival of the company now known as Unipart, his role in the transition and putting lessons into practice. [6:17] John explains a little about Unipart’s role today, it’s production, consulting, logistics operations, partnership with the NHS and preparing for Brexit. [7:52] Oli asks John about the ‘Unipart U’ a corporate university, the first of its kind. [12:00] John describes the response to the Unipart U and how a rapidly changing digital landscape affects and continues to affect jobs across the world.
[15:12] Oli introduces Baillie and Spark Inside. Baillie explains her motivations for founding the organisation, how coaching in prisons works in practise and what constitutes effective coaching. [16:46] Baillie describes the origins of her journey, her study of economics, public policy and criminal justice and her passion for social advocacy. [17:58] Baillie talks about her time at Harvard Kennedy School and how this inspired her to begin working in prisons. [19:28] Oli asks Baillie about her view of the UK’s criminal justice system and the lack of systemic change, reoffending rates and why ‘prison doesn’t work’. [20:50] ‘What would you say to a large employer listening today on how they give an opportunity to someone who’s spent time behind bars?’ asks Oli. [22.25] Baillie describes her own policy at Spark Inside for dealing with biases against people who’ve been criminally convicted in the past. [23:15] John commends Baillie on her conviction and speaks a little on Business In The Community award winners such as Timpson, Nemi Teas and Recycling Lives, offering people rewarding opportunities.
[24:33] Baillie discussed the need for person-centred language, why labels can cause harm and how terms like ‘young offenders are unhelpful. [25:29] Oli asks Baillie what she views as a ‘helpful partnership’ between charity and corporate sector businesses and she describes her personal experiences, transferable skills and the current search for her replacement as CEO of Spark Inside. [28:12] Oli and Baillie discuss ‘growth CEOs’ and the evolution of a company. [29:08] Oli and John discuss how to thrive in a tough role and John provides advice and insight on his thought processes, what works and what doesn’t. He also describes his journey in learning to code. [32:23] Baillie puts her questions to John regarding corporate and charity partnerships.
[35:00] John, Oli and Baillie discuss the need for business leaders to do more. [35:44] Oli asks our guests which living person they’d most like to meet for coffee, their recommendations for The Lens reading list. [36:44] Oli asks John for his view on how well the UK’s currently being run and John gives a candid response. [40:45] Baillie shares the advice she’d give to her younger self and her plans for the future. John also shares his advice and two more book recommendations.
The Lens Reading List
John’s choice for The Lens reading list, a book he says changed his life is The Machine that Changed the World. A 1991 book based on MIT’s five-million, five-year study on the future of the automobile, written by James P. Womack, Daniel T. Jones, and Daniel Roos. The book popularised the concept of ‘lean production’ worldwide.
Baillie’s recommendation for the list is Franz Kafka’s The Trial. This topical pick speaks volumes on the sometime senselessness of bureaucracy, she says. Our guests also suggest two more books to add to our ever-growing shelf: Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else by Geoffrey Colvin and Bounce: The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice by Matthew Syed.
The Lens Podcast
Powered by Fujitsu, supported by McCann and in partnership with One Young World, The Lens represents the breadth, diversity and priorities of the responsible business agenda. From gender equality to zero hours contracts, learning on the factory floor to activist businesses, The Lens covers a range of topics from a host of varying perspectives.
Each episode brings together a business and future leader to foster disruptive conversations and fresh connections. Innovators and CEOs join Oli Barrett in the studio for a unique conversation covering their journeys, lessons learned, advice, insight and of course, the inspirational person they’d most like to meet for coffee.
Business in the Community is The Prince's Responsible Business Network. We convene a unique network of purposeful leaders to share insight, expertise and create innovative programmes that deliver impact. Together our ambition is to make the UK the world leader at responsible business.
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10. VERIZON BUSINESS AND BAYER: When our people win, everyone wins33:13This month our host Sarah Travers is joined by Tony Judd, Managing Director of Verizon Business for the UK and Ireland. Verizon is one of the largest communication technology companies in the world, and we hear about Verizon’s plans for the future and how it is taking its responsibility for people and the planet to the next level. And our second guest is Loek Hageman, Early Careers Talent Development Programs, Bayer. Based in Berlin, Loek’s company, Bayer, is a global enterprise with core competencies in the Life Science fields of health care and agriculture. Its products and services are designed to benefit people and improve their quality of life, and at the same time, it aims to create value through innovation, growth and high earning power. In this episode, we will explore how Tony and Loek’s shared passion for people development plays out in both of their businesses, how development talent for the future is critical for business success, and we’ll ask them what a responsible future looks like for them personally, professionally and digitally. Find out more by listening to the latest episode of The Lens.
9. Coca-Cola (HBC) and rePurpose Global - Packaging with Purpose33:40This month our host Sarah Travers is joined by Tom Burke, Corporate Affairs & Sustainability Director at a very well-known global brand - Coca-Cola and Svanika Balasubramanian, Co-Founder and CEO at rePurpose Global - the world's first Plastic Credit Platform. In this episode, we will explore packaging with purpose. We’ll look at how one of the world’s biggest drinks production companies is continually innovating in how it packages its products, and how another is helping consumers and businesses across 26 countries create impact by catalysing innovative waste management and circular solutions that stem the flow of ocean plastic.
8. CARL FRAMPTON MBE: Men in Crisis (recorded at a live event)15:12In this bonus episode, our host Sarah Travers hands over the reins to her ex-colleague BBC's Health Correspondent Marie-Louise Connolly, who interviews two-weight world champion boxer, Carl 'The Jackal' Frampton. Marie-Louise interviewed Carl at a recent Business in the Community event (please be aware that this episode contains background noise).Carl has proven himself as one of the world’s leading professional boxers, quickly climbing the ranks by winning both the IBF and WBA Super-Bantamweight belts, before going on to win the WBA Featherweight Championship. If you’ve ever seen Carl in the ring, he was one of the most exciting boxers to watch operating with incredible punching power, intelligence and speed.Carl’s background is interesting and complex, so you’ll hear more about that in this episode of The Lens. Recently Carl worked on a thought-provoking documentary for the BBC called Men in Crisis focusing on the troubling reality of men’s mental health. Listen in to find out more about what Carl discovered and how business leaders can spot the signs with their people.It's good to remember that every person is different and those companies that can develop a human-centred approach to their people can really make a difference. If your business would like help and support with wellbeing and inclusion, please get in touch with Business in the Community at www.bitcni.org.uk.
7. McKINSEY and KLM Sustainability and profitability – complement or competition?34:00Sustainability and profitability – complement or competition?This month our host Sarah Travers is joined by Anna Moore, Partner at global management consulting firm, McKinsey & Company, and One Young World Ambassador, Robin Spierings, Project lead – The Sustainable Flight Challenge, KLM and In this episode, we will explore whether sustainability and profitability can work hand in hand, how green credentials can make a difference for businesses, and how responsible businesses are positively influencing their supply chains.
6. MARY MACLEOD: Visioning the future of responsible business in the UK28:44In this special one-off episode, we meet with Business in the Community’s new Chief Executive, Mary Macleod to discuss the future of responsible business in the UK. With a plethora of challenges for business, how can businesses not just survive, but thrive and fully meet these challenges for the benefit of people and the planet?Find out more by listening to the latest episode of The Lens with Mary Macleod, Chief Executive of Business in the Community.
5. BISHOP FLEMING and RECKITT Building a responsible business culture32:30Building a responsible business culture This month our host Sarah Travers is joined by Pippa Clarke, Chair and Partner at Bishop Fleming Chartered Accountants – experts in accounting, audit, tax, and advisory needs; and Hamzah Sarwar, Global Social Impact and Partnerships Director at Reckitt – a multinational consumer goods company that produces health, hygiene and nutrition products. In this episode, Sarah and her guests explore how businesses can build a responsible business culture, how are guests are using their personal passions for people to create workplaces that are agile and creative; places where people want to come to work every day.
4. NEXBA and TAILORED FOOD: Exploring the Ethics and Responsibilities of the Food and Drink Industry32:42This month our host Sarah Travers is joined by Troy Douglas, Founder of drinks company Nexba. The company is taking the world by storm and has already removed more than 5 billion grams of sugar from global diets, and it’s just getting started. Our second guest is Taylor Quinn of Tailored Foods, whose ambition is to be a key catalyst in ending hunger by 2030 by building delicious, nutritious, low-cost food systems around the world. In this episode, Sarah and her guests explore the world of responsible food and drink, how the ingredients we use, or don’t use, impact the health and wellbeing of nations, how those living in areas of severe deprivation are benefitting from the work of our guests, and what’s next innovation in these sectors.
3. ENCIRC: Climate change and environmental action to achieve net zero by 205031:43This month our host Sarah Travers is joined by Adrian Curry, Managing Director of glass manufacturer, Encirc, and Wen-Yu Weng, Principal Consultant of Energy and Utilities Practice, PA Consulting.In this episode, Sarah and her guests explore how businesses are addressing the pressing issues of climate change and environmental degradation as the UK heads towards meeting its goal of net zero by 2050. In this episode, we will explore environmental sustainability and climate action. The UK has committed to achieving net zero by 2050, but many scientists are saying that we are not scared enough about the implications of global warming. With that in mind, how are businesses taking practical action and innovating to make a difference.Find out more by listening to the latest episode of The Lens.
2. FORD: Responsible supply chain management and sustainability35:46This month our host Sarah Travers is joined by Lisa Brankin, Managing Director, Ford Britain & Ireland, and Kofi Gyamfi, Strategic Sourcing Analyst for Unilever West Africa. In this episode, Sarah and her guests explore supply chain and sustainability. We discover how one of our guests, who hails from Northern Ireland has developed in her career to become a leader of one of the UK’s biggest car manufacturers, and all the way from Ghana, our other guest will share his passion for ensuring responsible sourcing and the circular economy is at the forefront of his business. Find out more by listening to the latest episode of The Lens.