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DIRECT LINE GROUP: Mentoring, taking risks and equality

Season 3, Ep. 11

This month our host Oli Barrett MBE is joined by Direct Line Group Chief Executive Penny James and Ivan Kayima, CEO and Founder of collaborative community, Spiela.


In this episode our host Oli Barrett MBE gets an understanding of how to empower people to respond to change and the surprising power of vulnerability.


And of course, our host asks both Penny and Ivan who they’d most like to meet for coff­ee and which books they’ll be adding to the famous Lens Reading List.


Our Guests



Penny James is Chief Executive Officer of Direct Line. She joined the Board as an Executive Director in November 2017. The Board benefits from Penny’s deep understanding of our sector as well as her leadership skills, financial and risk expertise, strategic thinking and cultural alignment. As CEO, Penny is leading both the delivery of the Group’s short-term strategic imperatives, including technological and business transformation, and the development of the next stage of our strategy of targeting long-term sustainability.


Penny was previously Group Chief Risk Officer and Executive Director at Prudential plc, where she was responsible for leading risk oversight globally. Before this, she was Director of Group Finance at Prudential. Penny was previously Group CFO at Omega Insurance Holdings Limited and CFO, UK General Insurance, at Zurich Financial Services. She was a NED of Admiral Group plc from 2015 to 2017. She is an Associate of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.


Ivan Kayima is CEO of collaborative network Spiela – an online platform for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to find opportunities. Its mission is to create a social hub where users can come together to share, collaborate, and support one another to grow personally and professionally. Born and raised in Lewisham, Ivan wanted to give back and better to his community by providing opportunities to others He graduated with first class honours in Digital Media from the University of Portsmouth and graduated from New Entrepreneurs Foundation. 



The Lens Reading List


Penny chose Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A Milne. Penny explains: "When my daughter was young, I realised it was full of philosophy and there’s a great quote, it’s one of Tigger’s, and it goes ‘It doesn’t matter how fast you run or how high you jump, it’s all about how well you bounce’. A great resilience line from a Zebedee of a Tigger. So, look to Winnie the Pooh if things get tough."


Ivan chose The Kybalion: A Study of The Hermetic Philosophy of Ancient Egypt and Greece by The Three Initiates.

Ivan says "it’s an old, mystic book in terms of energy transference, and how to shift and apply your mindset within any single situation you’re going through. And whenever we experience phenomena or things in life that doesn’t necessarily make sense to us through our eyes, the book explains how the mind and the thought process works, how energy puts that altogether and how the universe leads to where you are now."


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. 



Don’t forget to follow The Lens on Instagram and to rate, review and subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. instagram.com/thelenspodcast

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