The judges for our 2017 Entrepreneur Of The Year programme.
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Diane Foreman Chelsea Group
Diane is one of New Zealand’s most successful entrepreneurs. She was presented with Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to business in 2012 and was also named in Forbes Asia magazine as one of Asia’s 50 most powerful women.
Diane has owned investments in a range of industries including healthcare, manufacturing, recruitment and a boutique hotel. Diane created the Emerald Food family of brands: Mövenpick, Killinchy Gold, Heavenly Treats, Lite Licks, Chateau Premium and iconic brand, New Zealand Natural. The Emerald Foods business was sold to offshore interests in 2015.Entrepreneur Of The Year New Zealand winner 2009
Saleem Asaria Chief Executive Officer, Cambian Group
Saleem is one of the founders of Cambian Group. He has spent the majority of his career leading healthcare and education businesses that he has founded.
Cambian Group seeks to be the highest quality provider of specialist education and behavioural health services for children. They are currently one of the largest provider of these services in the UK.Entrepreneur Of The Year UK finalist 2012
Melissa Bethell Managing Director, Bain Capital
Melissa joined Bain Capital in 1999 and relocated to London in 2000 as a member of Bain Capital’s European investment team. As Managing Director, her focus is on technology, media and telecommunications. Prior to joining Bain Capital, Melissa worked in the Capital Markets group at Goldman Sachs, with a focus on media and technology fundraising.
Bain Capital Private Equity partners with management teams to provide the strategic and analytic resources needed to build and grow great companies. Its success is built on a collaborative approach that harnesses the power of great teams to generate the best ideas and strategies.
Matthew Bridge Principal, The Virgin Group
Matthew is a senior member of Virgin’s investment team, and also heads up strategic and commercial development of the Virgin brand. Matthew has an MPhil in Economics with Finance from the University of Cambridge and a BSc in Economics and Econometrics from the University of Nottingham. Prior to Virgin, Matthew was a Vice President at Deutsche Bank in their UK Corporate Finance team.
At Virgin, Matthew is primarily focused on sourcing, funding and developing new business ventures for the group. He leads investments ranging from the development of new Virgin branded businesses through to more traditional growth and VC equity investing.
Kym Denny Chief Executive Officer, hVIVO
Kym is a leading pioneer in clinical research site management. As well as Chief Executive Officer of hVIVO, she is also currently serving on the Mayor of London’s Business Advisory Board. Her Entrepreneur Of The Year award win was coupled with the Gold Award in the Female Executive of the Year in Europe, the Middle East and Africa category at the Stevie® Awards for Women in Business.
hVIVO is a life sciences company pioneering a human disease models platform to accelerate drug discovery and development in respiratory and infectious diseases.Entrepreneur Of The Year UK category winner 2016
Matt Isaacs Founding Partner and Executive Chairman, Essence
Matt is Chairman of Essence, the global digital agency he co-founded in 2005 and led as CEO until 2014. Essence manages over $1bn in media spend in more than 70 markets. It is now owned by WPP, the world’s leading communications services group.
Prior to its sale to WPP, Essence was the world’s largest independent digital media buyer and is the only company ever to have ranked #1 in both the Sunday Times Tech Track and International Track league tables of fastest growing UK private companies.
Matt is an active angel investor. He is also an advisor to internet startup Headbox.com, social enterprise Positive News and not for profit Rainmaker Foundation, and trustee of two charitable foundations.Entrepreneur Of The Year UK finalist 2015
Michelle Morgan Founder and Managing Director, Livity
Michelle helps connect global and world leading brands with young people, by creating socially relevant campaigns that address business and brand objectives, whilst also delivering social outcomes. She is also Chair of Livity Africa.
Livity is a socially responsible youth marketing agency, training provider, publisher and social enterprise. The company works with young people every day, engaging in a range of positive, practical vocational experiences. Livity provides its clients with a deep ethnographic understanding of the youth market.Entrepreneur Of The Year UK category winner 2011
Chris Sellers Group Business Development Director, Capita
Chris joined Capita in 2005. He works with clients across the public and private sectors to help them transform services through innovation. He is the author of two books on the topic of unlocking the value of information within organisations. He is a Chartered Engineer and Member of the Institute of Directors, and has worked in both the UK and Australia.
Capita is a leading provider of business process management and integrated professional support service solutions. Its 75,000 staff across the UK, Europe, South Africa and India help make processes smarter, organisations more efficient and customer experiences better.
Tracy Lewis Portfolio Director
After a career in fashion retail, Tracy joined private lingerie business Eveden in 2003. She devised and led a highly successful brand and international expansion, culminating in a trade sale to Wacoal in 2012. Tracy continued as CEO until March 2016, then acted as a board advisor before leaving to focus on her portfolio career and charitable interests. She currently holds positions as NED & Chairman of RemCo for AIM listed Staffline Group Plc and NED for Bridgepoint Development Capital backed Inspired Thinking Group.Entrepreneur Of The Year UK category winner 2012
John Blakey Chief Executive Officer, Coach & Author, The Trusted Executive Foundation
John has helped over 120 Chief Executive Officers from 22 different countries achieve their goals, as well as Team GB/England sports coaches in rowing, cricket, diving and shooting. He is a member of the CEO executive coaching faculty at Vistage, the Institute of Directors, the NHS and the FA. His coaching expertise has been captured in two acclaimed books - 'Challenging Coaching' and 'The Trusted Executive', which includes findings from his prize-winning doctoral research on trust and was shortlisted as the 2016 Chartered Management Institute book of the year.
Rob Freer Director and Head of Midlands, NorthEdge Capital
Rob joined NorthEdge Capital in 2016. He is an investment professional with a breadth of experience built up over 25 years. A chartered accountant, Rob has worked in private equity, acquisition finance, corporate finance and restructuring at a number of organisations including EY, Royal Bank of Scotland, Deloitte and Lloyds.
NorthEdge manages £525mn of private equity funds aimed at lower mid-market buy-out and development capital transactions. They invest in like-minded businesses and management teams who have real ambition and the potential to shape global markets from the North of England.
Caroline Green Chief Operating Officer and Chief Finance Officer, ProLabs
Caroline joined ProLabs in 2016. Prior to this she held chief financial officer positions in both PE-backed and listed businesses, and has also spent eight years in private equity. Caroline is also a Non-Executive Director at British Business Bank plc and Vice-Chair of Unseen (UK).
ProLabs is a leading global provider of infrastructure and connectivity products for applications in telecom, datacentre and enterprise markets. The company has its global headquarters in the UK, offices in the US and key staff in locations across the US, EMEA and China.
Phil Hodgkinson Global Product and Architecture Strategy Director, Jaguar Land Rover
Phil has 40 years' automotive experience in a variety of roles including Product Development Director and, most recently, Global Business Expansion Director. Phil’s current focus is on the development of future product and architecture strategies that underpin Jaguar Land Rover’s ambitious growth plans.
Jaguar Land Rover is the largest automotive manufacturer in Britain, accounting for more than 30% of domestic car production in 2016. Their vehicles account for five of the top ten British best-sellers globally.
Iain Lister Executive Chairman, Greenray Energy Solutions
Iain has more than 25 years’ experience of managing aftersales service for rotating equipment in the Power Generation, Oil & Gas and Industrial markets. Iain joined Greenray in 2007, and led the Greenray Energy Businesses as Managing Director of the Energy Division until 2012, when he acquired the business and became Chief Executive. Iain has also won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in International Trade.
Greenray Turbines provides servicing solutions to the industrial gas turbine and steam turbine markets.EY Entrepreneur Of The Year UK finalist 2016
Paul Kehoe Chief Executive Officer, Birmingham International Airport
Paul Kehoe joined Birmingham International Airport as Chief Executive Officer in October 2008. His aviation career started as Air Traffic Controller in the RAF and he has worked for a variety of companies including British Aerospace plc, Serco Aviation and TBI plc. Paul is a member of the AOA, currently Chairman of Marketing Birmingham, and also President Elect of Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce.
Birmingham International Airport offers both domestic flights within the UK, and flights to international destinations.
Catherine Wall Chairman, Signum Technology Limited
Catherine Wall has worked as an independent non-executive director/chairman since 2013. She has 30 years experience of helping boards address strategy, plans for growth, fund-raising, acquisitions and maximising shareholder value. Much of this was gained as a partner at Equistone Partners Europe, where she led the management buyout of Leyland Trucks and numerous other successful transactions. She is currently Chairman of Signum Technology, a PE owned manufacturer of valves. She is also NED of a quoted Venture Capital Trust and of a leading national carpet manufacturer Cormar Carpets. She also does pro-bono work with Westminster Abbey.
Marnie Millard Chief Executive Officer, Nichols
Marnie joined Nichols in 2012 as Managing Director of the UK Soft Drinks Division and was appointed to her current role in May 2013. She is a Non-Executive Director for Finsbury Foods and is the Chair of the North West Region of the CBI. She is also a member of the Executive Council and Management Board for the BSDA (British Soft Drinks Association).
Nichols is the home of Vimto, a soft drink which was established in 1908 by John Noel Nichols. The business operates internationally and turnover for the group is £117mn.
Jon Batson Joint Managing Director, Ralawise
Jon, along with his twin brother Jeff, is the driving force behind one of Europe’s leading B2B multi-brand distributors of clothing and apparel, Ralawise.com. From a modest background, the twins alongside their parents, helped develop the family business. Now award winning, Ralawise generates revenues over £120mn and has developed from a traditional UK wholesale business to a leading global dot-com trading in over 50 countries.
Ralawise provides the foundation, platform and opportunities for its entrepreneurial customers to grow and develop their own businesses.Entrepreneur Of The Year UK finalist 2016
Rachel Clacher Chief Executive Officer, Moneypenny
Rachel co-founded Moneypenny with her brother Ed Reeves in 2000, with £10,000 and a shared vision to create a customer-centric business that people wanted to work for. Today Rachel focuses on the company’s strategic direction, sits on a number of boards and runs Moneypenny Foundation, a charity that brings opportunities to disadvantaged young women.
Moneypenny is a world leader in telephone answering and outsourced switchboard services, and was recognised as one of the top five best companies to work for in the UK by Sunday Times in 2015. Moneypenny has over 500 employees across its offices in the UK, US and New Zealand.
Richard Law Chief Executive Officer, GB Group
Richard became Chief Executive Officer of GB Group (GBG) in 2002. He led GBG through the launch of the world’s first electronic ID verification service, combatting the rise in identity-related fraud. He is an investor in and Chairman of Zuto, an investor in Realitymine and Interim Chairman of ResponseTap.
Today GBG is a world leader in identity data intelligence with a market value that has risen over 70 fold since Richard became Chief Executive Officer.Entrepreneur Of The Year UK finalist 2013
Chris Rea, OBE, BSc, CEng, FIMechE, DL Managing Director, AESSEAL
Chris founded AESSEAL in 1985. He is also a shareholder and Non-Executive Director of British Rototherm Group Ltd. In 2002 he was awarded an OBE for Services to Industry.
AESSEAL is the UK’s last remaining and the world’s fourth largest mechanical seal manufacturer, it has 42 subsidiary companies globally and operates in over 75 locations. Over 30 years the company has grown from 8 to 1,700 employees. The company's product and process development, information technology, and over 90% of its manufacturing, are still based in the UK.Entrepreneur Of The Year UK finalist 2006
Clare Roberts Chief Executive, Kids Planet
Clare founded Kids Planet when she struggled to find quality, flexible childcare for her oldest child. The group was named number one childcare provider in the country in the league table published by Nursery World and was awarded ‘Nursery Group of the Year’ by Nursery Management Today in November 2016.
Kids Planet is a North West based group of children’s day nurseries. The group was started in 2008 and has grown to its current size of operating 18 nurseries. The group is committed to delivering outstanding childcare to all children regardless of their socio-economic backgrounds.
Chief Executive Officer, dock10
dock10 operates The Studios at the heart of MediaCityUK with clients including the BBC, ITV, independent producers and agencies. It hosts many iconic programmes, including Match of the Day and The Voice UK, and also delivers high end commercials and corporate films.
Mark started working for The Peel Group at MediaCityUK in 2010 and took over as Chief Executive of dock10 in 2012. Under his leadership revenues have grown to more than £25m with a team of over 150.
Mark has also served as a non-executive director of Pinewood Shepperton plc, the leading provider of services to the global film industry, and spent his earlier career in Corporate Finance, latterly as a partner at EY in Manchester.
Garry Wilson Executive Chairman, Endless
Garry is the Executive Chairman and one of the founding partners of Endless LLP, a private equity house.
Endless has offices in London, Leeds and Manchester and, since its establishment in 2005, it has completed over 70 acquisitions and 45 exits of UK businesses. The firm has £1bn of funds under management and is currently investing the Endless Fund IV of £525mn. It currently owns 23 businesses with combined revenues of £2.5bn, which employ 15,000 people. Endless has consistently delivered top decile returns for its investors.
Keith Neilson Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, Craneware
Keith co-founded Craneware in 1999. He is a member of the Young Presidents' Organization (YPO), syndicate member and partner in Par Equity LLP. In addition, Keith is also a board member of CodeClan, the Scottish Digital Skills Academy and the Scottish North American Business Council (SNABC).
Under Keith’s guidance, Craneware is recognised as the pioneer in revenue integrity management and a leading provider of superior products and professional services.Entrepreneur Of The Year UK category winner 2008
Sherry Coutu Chairman, Founders4Schools
Sherry is Chairman of the charity Founders4Schools and is a former Chief Executive Officer and angel investor, who serves on the boards of companies, charities and universities including Raspberry Pi, Zoopla and the London Stock Exchange Group.
As a philanthropist Sherry is a supporter of the Crick Institute and Yourlife Campaign and is currently listed by Management Today as one of the Top 50 Most Inspiring Women in Europe.
She serves as an Ambassador for London, is the author of ‘The Scale-up Report’ on UK economic growth and was honoured with a CBE for Services to Entrepreneurship in 2013.Entrepreneur Of The Year London finalist 1999 Entrepreneur Of The Year London finalist 2000
Chris Gauld Chief Executive Officer, Spark Energy
Chris is one of three founding directors of Spark Energy, founded in 2007. He has grown the business to over 200,000 customers, 400 employees and in excess of £130mn turnover.
Spark Energy is the only independent energy supplier focused on supplying energy to rented accommodation and counts the UK’s largest private, social and PLC housing providers amongst its clients.Entrepreneur Of The Year UK category winner 2016
Mark Kerr Head of Scotland, LDC
Mark heads up LDC’s Scottish team and has 20 years' experience in private equity. He has invested in over 25 companies across a range of sectors including healthcare, financial services, software and energy. He sits on the boards of Ramco Tubular Services, PDG Helicopters, CMS Enviro and the Aberdeen Sports Village.
LDC is one of the UK’s leading regional mid-market private equity houses, having invested £1bn over the last three years in ambitious UK businesses, with a desire to see their organisations grow.
Mike Loggie Chief Executive Officer, Saltire Energy
Mike established Aberdeen-based firm Saltire Energy in 1986. He has grown the company, creating three operating divisions: Saltire Energy Products, Saltire Pressure Control Products and Saltire Drilling Tools.
Saltire Energy is a leading rental specialist in oil and gas equipment to the global energy sector. The group has operations across the globe with seven bases, spanning Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Australasia.Entrepreneur Of The Year UK finalist 2015
Andy Lothian Chief Executive Officer, Insights
Andy leads with passion and commitment. He lives the purpose “to create a world where people truly understand themselves and others, and are inspired to make a positive difference in everything they do.”
Insights is one of Scotland’s most successful growing businesses, a global leader in innovative learning and development. Insights serves the world’s leading companies to build great leadership and purposeful, inspiring cultures.Entrepreneur Of The Year UK finalist 2016
Amanda McMillan, OBE Chief Executive Officer, AGS Airports Ltd
Amanda is Chief Executive Officer of Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton (AGS) Airports Limited and is also Managing Director of Glasgow Airport. In 2013, she received an OBE in recognition of her services to business and tourism. Her success as Managing Director was further recognised in 2016 when Glasgow Airport picked up three major industry accolades.
AGS Airports Limited operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and support over 8,200 jobs.Entrepreneur Of The Year UK category winner 2008
Dr Deborah O'Neil Chief Executive Officer, NovaBiotics
Deborah is a biotechnologist and founded NovaBiotics in 2004. She has grown the business into a leading global drug discovery company with three clinical-stage products, all with annual earning potential of over US$1bn. This value-build has been achieved through strategic equity finance and landmark co-development and licensing deals for NovaBiotics’ therapeutic candidates, each of which addresses critical unmet needs in antimicrobial medicine.
NovaBiotics is a leading global biotechnology business developing novel, highly disruptive and high-value anti-infective therapies to combat a looming antimicrobial resistance crisis.Entrepreneur Of The Year UK category winner 2014