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Nationwide's Beale named most people-focused CEO

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Graham Beale, chief executive of the Nationwide Building Society, has been named the most people-focused CEO in the private sector at the HR Excellence Awards 2015.

Speaking backstage during the show at London's Hilton Park Lane Hotel, Beale said that he felt "amazing".

“This is the first time I’ve ever won anything," he told HR magazine. "This is an award for the whole of Nationwide, and the team that support me.”

Beale recently announced he will be leaving Nationwide, and described the award as the perfect way to begin his last year as chief executive.

“I am retiring in a year’s time," he said. "I’m totally dedicated to finishing that year and I wish my successor all the best when we find him or her. In the mean time, I’m in the hot seat still and look forward to leading the people.”

The panel of HR directors who judged the award were impressed with Beale’s personal approach to leadership. They commented on his commitment to responsible buisness, such as paying the Living Wage to all staff, including apprentices and contractors.

They praised Beale’s “hands-on, visible leadership”, while one judge lauded his leadership as “excellent” and described him simply as “inspirational”.

The most people-focused CEO: private sector award was kindly sponsored by Penna.

In the category of most people-focused CEO: public and not-for-profit sector, supported by Best Companies, the winner was Karen Armitage, chief executive of housing association Stafford and Rural Homes.

Armitage was recognised for the way she gives her employees a voice and her commitment to engagement. One judge praised her "amazing leadership".

Armitage told HR magazine she was "chuffed to bits" to win the award.

“I’m absolutely amazed and thrilled to be [a winner] because we are a lovely company, we have great people working for us, she said. "I just feel as proud as proud, and it is very unexpected. We have a lovely culture, it’s a great place and people love working here."

HR magazine develops the shortlist for the most people-focused CEO categories in association with workplace engagement specialists Best Companies.