A picture of James Hayton

WBS Pro-Dean James Hayton will be raising money for the homeless at a CEO Sleepout in London

Warwick Business School has joined forces with the CEO Sleepout to host the very first Leaders With Purpose event at WBS London at The Shard.

Hosted by Maja Korica, Reader in Management and Organisation, the invitation-only event was fully subscribed with business leaders and WBS alumni attending to be inspired by leaders who are creating lasting social impact through some exciting business initiatives.

CEO Sleepout is a national initiative that encourages businesspeople to help raise money to combat homelessness with local business leaders taking part.

Two academics and a Director from WBS slept outside in Birmingham last December as part of CEO Sleepout's campaign to raise money to help combat the impact of addiction and homelessness.

Nicola Burgess, Reader of Operations Management, James Hayton, Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Pro-Dean for External Affairs, and Karen Barker, Director of Recruitment and Marketing, raised more than £3,400.

At WBS London business leaders, brought together by Bianca Robinson, CEO of the CEO Sleepout, explored why change has to come through human-centred leadership and what being a leader with purpose meant.

The panel consisted of John Sage, Head of Corporate Responsibility at Tideway, the company building London’s ‘super sewer’ to clean up the River Thames; Jason Allen-Lane, HR Lead for sales platform Outreach; Henrik Muehle, Managing Director of Flemings Mayfair Hotel; Henrietta MacEwen, Head of Partnerships at Driving for Change, part of the homeless social enterprise Change Please Foundation; and former rough sleeper Kerri Douglas, Author of Gutter to Glory: From Pavements to Parliament.

Professsor Hayton said: "We were very pleased to be able to offer our partnership and support to CEO Sleepout and the first Leaders with Purpose event.

"At WBS we share in the belief that leaders should choose to make a difference, within and beyond their organisations. Such purposeful leadership is needed today more than ever."

Helping hand: Nicola Burgess (left) and Karen Barker raised more than £3,400 at a CEO Sleepout in Birmingham

Ms Douglas, who is also CEO Sleepout’s Lived Experience Ambassador, revealed how she overcame living on the streets of Westminster between the ages of 13 and 24, and spoke from the heart about what it means as a rough sleeper to be noticed and talked to. She went into detail on the support required to overcome homelessness.

Mr Sage, meanwhile, talked about the work Tideway is doing to create a lasting legacy for London using the waterways to connect and strengthen communities, and detailed how creating social value is part of the company's mission.

At tech company Outreach, Mr Allen-Lane discussed how teams can be motivated to get involved in causes, and how this in turn encourages company leadership to back community initiatives in a virtuous circle. 

Furthermore, Mr Muehle detailed how his Flemings Mayfair Hotel, situated in one of the most affluent areas of London, has inequality literally on its doorstep.

It has inspired him to be passionate about educating his team on the need for compassion. Indeed, every Friday Mr Muehle oversees the distribution of more than 200 hot meals to people in need at Charing Cross – a need that has only grown in recent years.

Ms MacEwen, whose Driving For Change operates London Buses that visit rough sleepers and offers services such as dental checks and support in opening bank accounts, spoke of the importance of listening and really hearing and bearing witness to those people who are suffering homelessness. It can mean the world to someone who is often ignored by passers-by and effectively locked out of society.

Goodie bags were provided for each attendee by Scentered, who make wellbeing balms to sooth and support focus and sleep, and have kindly offered to support the CEO Sleepout charity with a donation of 30 per cent of its profits or any orders that come through the charitable connection. 

Professor Hayton is taking part in the next CEO Sleepout in London on November 21 and can be sponsored here.