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Alumni of the month – September 2014

June O'Sullivan MBE
Masters of Business Administration, 2005

Robert Humphreys

June O’Sullivan MBE is CEO of the award-winning London Early Years Foundation (LEYF), the UK's leading childcare charity and social enterprise providing London’s diverse communities with day care and parental support. As well as being a regular television, radio and newspaper commentator on social enterprise and child poverty, June was also awarded an MBE in 2013 for services to children in London.
A social enterprise is defined as “a business that operates to tackle social problems, improve communities or safeguard the environment, making their money from selling goods or services in the open market, but reinvesting profits back into the business or the local community. And so when they profit, society profits.” (
June is keen to demonstrate LEYF’s social impact and has developed a “magic sum” to ensure her social enterprise makes a positive and measurable difference to London’s families: “At LEYF that means building community nurseries, where children from all social and cultural backgrounds are educated together. We choose to place some of the nurseries in poor neighbourhoods where there are no nurseries or, where those that are there, are failing both financially and educationally. We also employ apprentices, many of whom are not in education, employment or training (NEET) and train them to level 3 childcare qualifications. Of the last cohort 100% were given jobs.  In addition, we recruit from local communities which predominate in areas of high unemployment and build in community activities to enrich the whole community.”
The social impact delivered by LEYF is not limited to high quality childcare provision, as it also includes increasing social mobility, reducing child poverty, supporting parents returning to work and enhancing social cohesion. Reward and recognition for its commitment to improving the lives of London’s children and parents soon arrived, as the LEYF won the Transformational Change award at the 2012 National Business Awards. This achievement is all the more remarkable given that LEYF competed with larger commercial business and were the only social enterprise to win such an award.
June looks back on her time as an LSBU student with fondness, citing the University’s flexibility for those with families and in full-time employment as key factors in deciding to study here. She has since put what she learned on the MBA to good use, recently launching an ambitious growth plan aiming to increase the company to twice its current size within three years: “LSBU attracted other working people which brought real live experience to the course. I learned a great deal about strategy, marketing and the language of business, which I use every day in my role. I also still keep in touch with some of the group.”
And what would a typical working week look like in this role?
“There is no typical week but generally I try and balance the inside with the outside. Inside could mean weekly executive management meetings, diary planning or looking at growth and operations plans. Outside will be giving keynote speeches on subjects ranging from early years education, social enterprise, child poverty, challenging government policy such as Ofsted or employment changes.”
In June 2013, June was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to children in London and she admits to being “mighty surprised” in receiving this accolade: “My family, team and colleagues were all very proud and I loved the fact that I was nominated by an anonymous real ordinary person rather than an organisation. I have yet to collect the medal so it’s still not sunk in!”

Find out more about the LEYF