By Marcus Leach

Microsoft chief Bill Gates was today hailed a “legacy leadership inspiration” after joining forces with British Prime Minister David Cameron to pledge £1.4billion to fund vaccination programmes in poorer countries.

The funding arrangement was announced at a global vaccine conference in London and will help vaccinate more than 80million children against diseases including pneumonia and diarrhoea.

Niamh O’Keeffe, whose company CEOassist provides leadership consultancy to CEOs, believes many more business leaders should follow in the footsteps of Gates by signing up to legacy leadership projects.

O’Keeffe is urging CEOs to sign up to her C5 Mission which aims to bring together clusters of five leading CEOs who would work together on transformational projects either within Britain or globally.

The CEOs would either come from the same industry sector or have shared interests and each C5 Mission would have a time frame of three years.

“Bill Gates is a legacy leadership inspiration as is Sir Richard Branson, but there are simply not enough people like them," O'Keeffe said.

“Many more CEOs of leading organisations in the UK and elsewhere have the authority and capability to put in place their own legacy leadership projects, either on their own or by working with fellow CEOs in their sector or where there are common interests.

“While today’s announcement by Gates and Cameron is focussing on vaccination programmes, there are any number of other global initiatives waiting to be taken up by CEOs wanting to make a difference in the world.

“These could include improving literacy rates, tackling poverty, improving water supplies, combating climate change or creating a new generation of business leaders at home and abroad.

“The world is coming to terms with the financial meltdown it has endured and our business leaders have a unique opportunity to emerge better and stronger. They need to try harder, take more responsibility and understand fully the responsibility and power they hold.”

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