Is success determined by a great idea or how it’s brought to life?

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Meet the 2018 judges

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UK

Chair

Penny Hughes, CBE
Chairman of The Gym Group PLC, Chairman of iQSA and
Non-executive of Superdry

Jacqueline de Rojas, CBE
President of techUK, Non-Executive Director and business mentor

Hamid Guedroudj
Founder, CEO and Chairman of Petroleum Experts

Bhikhu Patel
Co-founder and Co-chairman, Waymade Capital

 

Jon Wright
Partner, JamJar Investments

London & South

Chair

Saleem Asaria
CEO, Cambian Group

Matt Isaacs
Founding Partner and Chairman, Essence

Martin Leuw
Chairman, Growth4Good

Henrietta Morrison
Founder and CEO, Lily’s Kitchen

Lubna Qunash
Director, The Carlyle Group

Sam Smith
CEO and Founder, finnCap Ltd

Lubna Qunash

Director, The Carlyle Group

As Director of Global Partners for The Carlyle Group, Lubna focuses on investment opportunities in European markets. Before joining Carlyle, she was a manager at the Dubai Investment Group, where she focused on opportunities in the financial institutions sector. Lubna is a Fulbright Scholar, a CFA Charterholder and holds an MBA and a Masters of International Trade and Investment Policy from The George Washington University.


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Sam Smith

CEO and Founder, finnCap Ltd

Sam established her firm, finnCap, in 2007 having orchestrated the buy-out of a small broking subsidiary of a private client stockbroking firm. Today she remains the only female Chief Executive of a City broking firm, and finnCap is ranked number one Nominated Adviser and Broker to AIM companies. Sam is a qualified Chartered Accountant and a University of Bristol alumni. She is passionate about ensuring that women and girls see only opportunities for success, rather than barriers, in whatever industry they want to be in.

What makes a successful entrepreneur?
"Someone with passion for what they do, utter resilience and determination. They must have a positive mind-set and true self-awareness, with the ability to always want to improve and learn”.

What will you be looking for in this year’s finalists?
“A true passion for their business that comes across with energy and a real vision for the future. They must have a clear goal as to how they can change the game in their industry segment.”

Twitter: @SamSmithfinnCap


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Martin Leuw

Chairman, Growth4Good

Martin leads Growth4Good’s investment strategy and is a serial entrepreneur specialising in digital media, with a 25-year track record driving growth. From 2001-2011, as CEO and significant management investor, he grew IRIS Software from small beginnings to become the UK’s largest private software house. He is currently Chairman/NED and investor in a range of businesses in both the technology and talent management sectors.

What makes a successful entrepreneur?
“A truly successful entrepreneur spots market opportunities where there is a significant problem that needs to be solved. Their skill is in designing a solution that delights customers and clearly differentiates itself from the competition. They have a big vision and are prepared to battle adversity to achieve their ultimate goals.”

What will you be looking for in this year’s finalists?
“I will be looking for a big vision, leadership, team building skills and persistence. They must possess the ability to scale and build a high growth, ultimately profitable business that can sustain its growth and delight employees, customers and shareholders, enabling it to stand out from the crowd as a leader in its market.”

Twitter: @MartinLeuw


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Henrietta Morrison

Founder and CEO, Lily’s Kitchen

Lily’s Kitchen is a high-growth business that makes ‘Proper Food for Pets’. It has been named as one of the most ethical companies in the world and has been listed on the Virgin Sunday Times Fast Track 100 for three years running. Henrietta launched the company in 2008 after her border terrier Lily became ill from eating mass-produced pet food. Fast-forward 10 years, and Lily’s Kitchen now employs 65 staff and turns over £40m annually from its Hampstead base in London.

What makes a successful entrepreneur?
“A successful entrepreneur is often someone who has had a number of failures! It’s the ability to deal with breakdowns and get up over and over again. Being passionate, single-minded and unstoppable – often in the face of criticism and disbelief – causes the breakthrough to create a successful business.”

What will you be looking for in this year’s finalists?
“I will be looking for entrepreneurs who are going beyond start-up towards a high growth agenda. Challenger businesses that are disrupting the status quo to bring something unique to consumers.”

Twitter: @HenriettaLily


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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.

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year New Zealand winner 2009


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Saleem Asaria

CEO, Cambian Group

Saleem is one of Cambian Group’s founders with 20 years’ experience in the healthcare industry. Aiming to be the highest quality provider of specialist education and behavioural health services for children, Cambian looks after 2,100 children and employs over 4,300 people across 224 residential facilities, specialist schools and fostering offices in England and Wales.

What makes a successful entrepreneur?
"Exceptional entrepreneurs think in the art of the possible, not the probable.”

What will you be looking for in this year’s finalists?
“I will be looking for an individual who is able to clearly articulate their vision, has a proven concept and has created a route map to take it to the next level. The journey never stops, and great visions always have great future possibilities!"

Twitter: @Cambian_Group


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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.


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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.


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Kym Denny

CEO, 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.

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year UK category winner 2016


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Matt Isaacs

Founding Partner and Chairman, Essence

Matt is Chairman of Essence, the global digital agency he co-founded in 2005 and has led as CEO until 2014. Now owned by WPP, the world’s leading communications services group, Essence manages over $3bn in media spend in more than 70 markets. Prior to its sale to WPP, it was the world’s largest independent digital media buyer, and it is the only company ever to have ranked number 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, an advisor to internet start-up Headbox.com, social enterprise Positive News, and not for profit Rainmaker Foundation, and trustee of two charitable foundations.

What makes a successful entrepreneur?
“Grit, charisma and just enough craziness to believe your own dream”.

What will you be looking for in this year's finalists?
“Their personal story of creation, challenges overcome and their contribution beyond their obvious successes”.

Twitter: @MattIsaacs


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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.

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year UK category winner 2011


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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.


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Midlands

Chair

Tracy Lewis
Executive Chair, Inspired Thinking Group (ITG)

Nicholas Georgevic
Chairman and Chief Executive, Scrivens Opticians & Hearing Care

Andy Lyndon
Head of West Midlands, LDC

Marg Randles, OBE
Co-founder and Chief Financial Academic Officer, Busy Bees

Josh Rathour
CEO and Founder, UNiDAYS

Jenny Wynn, DL
Former MD, TTC Group UK PLC

Nicholas Georgevic

Chairman and Chief Executive, Scrivens Opticians & Hearing Care

Having qualified as a chartered accountant in London in 1988, Nicholas Georgevic returned to Birmingham to join Scrivens Opticians and Hearing Care in 1991.
Since then, Scrivens has grown from 38 primarily Midlands-based branches to more than 180 high street stores nationwide. Today it employs more than 1,000 people and is enjoying its most successful trading period in a proud 80-year history.

What makes a successful entrepreneur?
“A successful entrepreneur must first start with an overriding passion for an idea that will create new space in its markets. Through a combination of innovation, efficiency, superior product and keen pricing, this idea must result in growing sales, eventual profits and, ideally but not critically, clear benefits to the communities they serve and live in.”

What will you be looking for in this year's finalists?
“To prevail in such a prestigious competition, candidates must demonstrate personal drive and ambition, together with an absolute clarity of thinking, planning and analysis. These business leaders must inspire, enquire and encourage, as well as be ruthlessly objective, realistic and indomitable, to overcome the challenges and disappointments they will certainly encounter on the road to sustained success.”

Twitter: @NJGeorgevic


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Jenny Wynn, DL

Former MD, TTC Group UK PLC

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2016 Midlands finalist

For more than 20 years Jenny has been a driving force behind TTC Group’s journey to becoming a recognised and respected UK leader in road safety education nationwide. From helping write the first drink drive rehabilitation programme pioneered by the Government in 1993, to turning her organisation into a UK road safety leader, Jenny has been at the company’s helm, with the aim of reducing road deaths and injuries. The TTC Group is the largest driver training company in the UK, working in partnership with police forces focusing on driver safety. It now educates more than 330,000 people each year and manages work-related road safety for professional drivers and the corporate sector.

What makes a successful entrepreneur?
“Having a good idea, implemented with a business plan, which demonstrates strategy and vision. Seeing setbacks as opportunities to improve. Demonstrating commitment, resilience, and resourcefulness, and showing outstanding leadership – but above all having the passion and hunger to succeed”.

What will you be looking for in this year's finalists?
“Evidence of excellent leadership; understanding the importance of investing in staff; having a clear, focused and effectively communicated strategy for the business; demonstrating commitment and passion for their product/service and people. A willingness to share their journey and their setbacks, and how they have utilised the learning from those. Evidence of CSR and how this is integral to the company.”

Twitter: @TTCGroupUK


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Marg Randles, OBE

Co-founder and Chief Financial Academic Officer, Busy Bees

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2016 UK category winner

The first Busy Bees nursery – The Rocklands in Lichfield – was opened in 1984, by three couples dissatisfied with their childcare options. Marg Randles, one of the founders, still works full time in the business. Today, Busy Bees is the UK’s leading provider of quality childcare, looking after 35,000 children across the country in 344 nurseries, and operating two children’s centres and an independent primary school. In 2013 the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan invested in the business, enabling Busy Bees to expand internationally. In early 2015, 70 Knowledge Universe nurseries across Singapore and Malaysia and Singapore’s Asian International College became part of the Busy Bees family, followed by BrightPath in Canada in 2017.

What makes a successful entrepreneur?
“A successful entrepreneur is someone not afraid to take a risk, someone with commitment, determination and belief in what they do. They must be driving, forceful, determined and never lose sight of their vision.”

What will you be looking for in this year's finalists?
“I will be looking for the person who has taken a great idea and found the magic formula to bring it to life. It must be unique and inspirational, and something that could change people's lives and thinking.”

Twitter: @busybeesuk


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Josh Rathour

CEO and Founder, UNiDAYS

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017 UK category winner

Founded in 2011, UNiDAYS is the world’s leading Student Affinity Network, connecting 8.5 million members to brands and services in 32 countries. The business has a team of 160 based at its headquarters in Nottingham and offices in London, New York, Silicon Valley and Sydney. One of Josh’s core responsibilities is to spearhead UNiDAYS’ development and ‘future gaze’ for the business. He works closely with his teams to ensure their current strategy and resources are focussed on building the most effective channel for brands to engage with the world’s 200 million university students.

What makes a successful entrepreneur?
“The etymology of entrepreneur is ‘the bearer of risk’, so to be successful you'll need a strong stomach and be comfortable working with uncertainty and change. The curiosity to challenge conventional wisdom enables you to see things others can't, and the ability to inspire your people and wider ecosystem to see your vision will be key to success.”

What will you be looking for in this year's finalists?
“I'm looking for entrepreneurs who have built purpose-driven companies, who lead motivated and passionate teams aligned around a clear mission, vision, culture and set of values. I'm keen to see strong awareness of market opportunity and a strategy and product that will deliver success.”

Twitter: @joshsrathour


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Andy Lyndon

Head of West Midlands, LDC

LDC is Lloyds Banking Group’s private equity arm and the most active mid-market private equity investor, having completed over 25% more buyouts and expansion deals than any other equity investor in the last 10 years. With a team of 50 investment professionals based across nine offices, LDC backs ambitious management teams, partnering with them to add tangible value while allowing them to run their business.

What makes a successful entrepreneur?
“For me, a successful entrepreneur is someone who shows consistent ambition, drive and determination to succeed. While running a business is no mean feat, building a market-leading firm which has the ability to adapt, innovate and grow is a true measure of success, especially as we navigate tougher economic times.”

What will you be looking for in this year's finalists?
“The Entrepreneur Of The Year has to be someone with a track record of delivering standout business results while making a measurable contribution to the region’s economy. There are so many stellar businesses here in the Midlands, but this year’s finalists will need to prove they have gone that extra mile to be crowned one of the Midlands’ flagship performers.”

Twitter: @LDCPE


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Tracy Lewis

Executive Chair, Inspired Thinking Group (ITG)

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2012 UK category winner
EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017 Midlands Chair of judges

After a successful career in fashion retail, Tracy joined private lingerie business Eveden in 2003, bringing in minority PE backing from LDC in 2006 to support business expansion. She devised and led a highly successful brand and international expansion, culminating in a trade sale to Japanese lingerie giant Wacoal in 2012. Tracy continued as CEO until March 2016, supporting the group’s aspirations of growth across the western hemisphere. After a period as a board advisor to the transition, she left to focus on a cross-sector plural career and further her charitable and volunteering interests. In 2017 she moved from NED to Executive Chair of Inspired Thinking Group (ITG), PE-backed by Equistone. As a disruptor in the tech-led marketing industry, ITG has grown in the last seven years to become an innovative and respected leader in this space, driving significant and measurable improvements to global brands and retailers.

Tracy is also NED & Chairman of RemCo for AIM-listed Staffline Group Plc, and is involved in mentoring female business founders and scale up businesses in the consumer sector.

What makes a successful entrepreneur?
“Someone with the passion, motivation and courage to make their business a success. Never losing sight of the value of their team and their customer, they will be driven, flexible, wise and have an innate desire to keep improving and being the best in class.”

What will you be looking for in this year’s finalists?
“Inspirational business people who have channelled their passion and sector knowledge into growing and leading successful companies. People who value their teams and customers, who have supported them on their journey, and those with a vision for their business’ future and the ambition to get there.”


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John Blakey

CEO, 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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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


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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.


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North

Chair

Mark Whitworth
CEO, Peel Ports Group

Tayyab Akhlaq
Director, Public Desire

Sarah Louise Fairburn
Brand and Sales Director, L J Fairburn & Son

Dr Alison Fielding
Venture Partner, IP Group plc

Matthew Hirst
CEO, Utiligroup

Catherine Richards
Partner, Inflexion Private Equity

Glenn Timms
CEO, IESA

Mark Whitworth

CEO, Peel Ports Group

Peel Ports provides port-centric logistics solutions, working with importers and exporters, shipping lines and logistics providers, rail operators and hauliers, and businesses from around the world, to improve supply chains’ efficiency and environmental impact. Mark joined the company in 2010 and has seen their profit increase from £119m a year to over £210m. He is in charge of BG Freight Line, a shipping line which turns over more than £70 million, and Peel Port’s entire ports operation, including its major facilities at Port of Liverpool, the Manchester Ship Canal, Clydeport, London Medway, Heysham and Great Yarmouth. Under Mark’s guidance, Peel Ports has been instrumental in progressing the Northern Powerhouse agenda, helping Liverpool become the gateway to the North and creating opportunities for importers, exporters and manufacturers in the region.

What makes a successful entrepreneur?
“Entrepreneurs are bold, ambitious and determined. They look beyond ‘business as usual’ and traditional solutions. In thinking differently from the crowd, they see opportunities that others miss, and are willing to put in the hours needed for success. Entrepreneurs also take managed risks and are agile enough to adapt as circumstances change.”

What will you be looking for in this year’s finalists?
“Entrepreneurship is more about attitude than anything else. I’m looking for creativity, resilience and a willingness to work really, really hard, even when times are tough. But they also need to have the foundations of sound business understanding and judgement, so that they can channel their innovative thinking and energy wisely”.

Twitter: @PeelPorts


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Sarah Louise Fairburn

Brand and Sales Director, L J Fairburn & Son

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017 UK finalist

Sarah Louise has been a formidable influencer in the Fairburn family business. As Brand and Sales Director, she has boundless energy, drive and enthusiasm, which have helped take the family business to a leading position within the UK egg industry and retail market. Since her appointment, the business has been listed five years in a row on the London Stock Exchange’s 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain list, has won over 30 prestigious awards, including the IGD Award for Business Transformation in 2014, and has increased its turnover from £12m to £80m in five years.

What makes a successful entrepreneur?
“An entrepreneur’s success is down to hard work, belief and having the tenacity to go out and reach your goals. Work when others want to play, invest, innovate and work with integrity to develop a strong sustainable business and an enviable brand that customers can trust. You are your own brand ambassador, so be who others can only aspire to be, and always remain focused on your strategic business relationships.”

What will you be looking for in this year’s finalists?
“When judging the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year awards, I will be looking for those businesses that show a genuine passion for what they do. It takes tenacity to win and succeed, and investment and innovation are of critical importance in business today. I congratulate everyone taking part for making their mark in UK business, and wish everyone the best of luck!”

Twitter: @FairburnsEggs


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Matthew Hirst

CEO, Utiligroup

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2016 UK finalist

Utiligroup, a leading provider of technology and services to the utilities and energy industry, aims to make utilities smarter for everyone. Matthew sits on its ESG board, leading the European business, setting strategic direction and building a world-class culture amongst its people. In 2014 he piloted a £16.1m management buyout of the firm, alongside private equity firm NorthEdge Capital. He has since led the Chorley-based company through a period of rapid growth, with long-term contracted turnover increasing over 200% between 2014 and 2016.

What makes a successful entrepreneur?
“Entrepreneurs come from all sorts of backgrounds and no two entrepreneurs are the same. That said, they all share some of the same attributes: a significant amount of drive, the ability to take an idea and scale it, and the willingness to take significant personal and business risks.”

What will you be looking for in this year's finalists?
“I will be looking for passionate people that have come through adversity in order to succeed. I am not necessarily interested in an idea-generator but someone that has proven they can take a disruptive idea, focus on monetising it and then build a scalable business with a robust business model.”

Twitter: @Utiligroup


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Glenn Timms

CEO, IESA

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017 North category finalist

IESA, a £300m market-leading disruptor providing BPO services for the management of indirect goods critical to manufacturing businesses, now operates in six countries. It provides full outsourced services via an SAP-based and cloud-enabled platform developed specifically to meet the challenges of complex manufacturing, assembly, digital and processing operations. Following an MBO in 2012, Glenn joined the company as CEO to lead its next growth chapter, with a track record of growth in multi-site, multi-national businesses, including business and support services, and manufacturing.

What makes a successful entrepreneur?
“A successful entrepreneur is often an eclectic combination of several qualities, including vision, ambition, drive, empathy, persuasiveness and resilience.”

What will you be looking for in this year's finalists?
“I will be looking for people who have built something that is both commercially successful and sustainable and has the potential to become a material enterprise. Equally, someone that appreciates the nuances of taking their organisation seriously, but not themselves – business should be fun.”

Twitter: @IESA_UK


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Tayyab Akhlaq

Director, Public Desire

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017 North category winner

Founded in 2014, Public Desire has fast become a leading fashion-forward retailer and industry innovator. Tayyab built its online retail business quickly, going from a standing start to £10m turnover in just two years. When its Instagram channel first launched, it was used as a way of building the brand rather than simply a place to post images, and now has over one million followers in over 150 countries. The brand has been worn by celebrities all over the world and is challenging established fashion brands through its agility and pace of development.

What makes a successful entrepreneur?
“A successful entrepreneur is someone who is not afraid to fail, someone who challenges the norm and someone who inspires others to do the same.”

What will you be looking for in this year's finalists?
“I am looking for someone who has created an opportunity for themselves that others may have had the chance to do, but didn't.”

Twitter: @tayyabakhlaq


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Catherine Richards

Partner, Inflexion Private Equity

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2010 North judge

Cath joined Inflexion in 2005 and has helped build the firm’s strong market position in the north of England. As a Partner she has built a track record of working alongside management teams to accelerate significant growth within their business, in the UK and internationally. Catherine has co-led successful IPOs and sits on the board for Mobica, Shimtech and PD&MS Energy. Based in Inflexion’s Manchester office, she is responsible for sourcing new investment opportunities and enjoys meeting talented management teams with dynamically growing businesses.

What makes a successful entrepreneur?
“I have spent over 12 years backing successful entrepreneurs and believe there are four key characteristics essential to their success. These are a deep-rooted passion for what they do, a crystal clear vision of what they want to achieve, an unrelenting drive to make things happen and an ability to take their team on the journey with them.”

What will you be looking for in this year's finalists?
“I’ll be looking for an individual who demonstrates excellence in all areas. They need a real passion for what they do, a razor sharp vision and determination to succeed, combined with a stellar track record of success. They also need to demonstrate an effortless ability to lead and inspire others whilst navigating the inevitable challenges that the competition may throw at them.”


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Dr Alison Fielding

Venture Partner, IP Group plc

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2014 London & South category winner

Dr Alison Fielding became CTO and then COO of IP Group after it acquired Techtran Group Ltd, a business Alison co-founded, in 2005. Today she remains with the company as Venture Partner and sits as a Non-Executive Director at Nanoco Group plc, Royal Voluntary Service and Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland. Alison was recognised by Entrepreneur Of The Year in 2014 for growing the business and making a significant contribution to the economy.

What makes a successful entrepreneur?
“Successful entrepreneurs demonstrate passion and perseverance, and are perceptive. Entrepreneurs are hugely enthusiastic and energetic about what they do, and they are committed and determined to succeed under all circumstances. They have a self-awareness that allows them to be open-minded to change and also to understand their own strengths to build complementary teams around them.”

What will you be looking for in this year's finalists?
“I’ll be looking for evidence of the key traits of a successful entrepreneur – passion, perseverance and perception. The questions I’ll ask myself are: are they passionate about what they do and can they convey that enthusiasm and knowledge? Have they shown drive, commitment and battled against the odds? Are they open-minded to change and adaptive? Are they self-aware, acknowledging their strengths and building strong organisations around them?”

Twitter: @IPGroupplc


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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.


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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.

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year UK finalist 2016


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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.


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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.

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year UK finalist 2013


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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.

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year UK finalist 2006


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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.


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Mark Senior

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.


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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.


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Scotland

Chair

Andy Lothian
Group CEO, The Insights Group

Dame Sue Bruce, DBE
Portfolio Non Executive Director, SSE PLC

Chris Gauld
CEO, Spark Energy

Dr Deborah O'Neil
Founder and CEO, NovaBiotics Ltd

Mike Sibson
Investor, BGF

Theresa Shearer
CEO, ENABLE Scotland

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.

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year UK category winner 2008


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Sherry Coutu

Chairman, Founders4Schools

Sherry is Chairman of the charity Founders4Schools and is a former CEO 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.

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year London finalist 1999
EY Entrepreneur Of The Year London finalist 2000


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Chris Gauld

CEO, Spark Energy

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2016 UK category winner

Chris co-founded Spark Energy in 2007 after identifying an opportunity to offer a better utility solution for letting and estate agents, landlords and home movers. Today, Spark serves over 400,000 customer accounts, employs over 400 people across Britain and will see its turnover top £200m in 2018. Chris took over as CEO in 2014 and led an MBO in 2016, which gave the company the institutional backing and financial support it needed to accelerate its growth as the only multi-utility provider built around the needs of home movers. In 2017, Spark acquired Home Telecom, adding superfast broadband and SKY TV to its offer.

What makes a successful entrepreneur?
“You have to be determined, resilient and tireless in pursuit of your vision. You need to be able to take people with you on your journey, whether staff, partners or customers – the ability to build a team that enables you to achieve your goals is a huge asset.”

What will you be looking for in this year’s finalists?
“I want to see finalists coming forward with products, services, and solutions that improve outcomes for the end user and a clear plan to deliver it and make it big. Everyone has made it this far because they’ve got a great idea, but ultimately that idea is only going to succeed if you can demonstrate a real benefit to the customer and the drive to make it happen.”

Twitter: @chrisgauld


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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.


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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.

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year UK finalist 2015


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Andy Lothian

Group CEO, The Insights Group

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2016 Scotland overall winner

Insights is one of Scotland’s most successful growing businesses and a global leader in innovative learning and development. With a presence in over 40 countries, it helps the world’s leading companies build great leadership and purposeful, inspiring cultures.

Andy established Insights over 20 years ago, and continues to lead with passion and commitment. He lives by his purpose “to create a world where people truly understand themselves and others, and are inspired to make a positive difference in everything they do”.

What makes a successful entrepreneur?
“Purpose; creating a compelling vision; resilience; communicating with impact; building a strong team; consistent values; coaching, developing and leading others; authenticity and self-understanding; agile thinking; creativity and dogged determination are just some of the cocktail of ingredients that makes a great entrepreneur. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ answer – the combination of these elements is always unique.”

What will you be looking for in this year's finalists?
“I’ll be looking for many of these elements, in combination. But most of all, I want to understand ‘why’. Why does this person do what they do? Why does their business exist? A strong purpose goes a long way to enabling great entrepreneurs to keep going when others might not. It is the root of long-term success.”

Twitter: @andylothian


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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.

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year UK category winner 2008


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Dr Deborah O'Neil

Founder and CEO, NovaBiotics Ltd

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2014 UK category winner
EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2016 Scotland judge

As a trained immunologist, Deborah founded NovaBiotics in 2004 and has worked to grow the business into a leading global clinical-stage biotechnology company. In 2014 Deborah was announced as an Entrepreneur Of The Year UK award winner in recognition of her contribution to health and science. She is an innovator in the world of biomedical science and was also named one of 2015’s 15 women leaders in European Biotechnology.

What makes a successful entrepreneur?
“Every successful entrepreneur is unique, but common to all are drive, passion, tenacity and an innate ability to create and grow great businesses that ‘stand out’ almost as much as the entrepreneur.”

What will you be looking for in this year's finalists?
“What I’m looking for is their story and I’m interested in how and why each of the finalists have trod where others would fear to in order to achieve their success.”

Twitter: @debsoneil


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Mike Sibson

Investor, BGF

Mike joined BGF in January 2012, where he leads its Aberdeen office with responsibility for originating and delivering investments in the north of Scotland. BGF has over £100m invested in north Scotland, and Mike works with the investee companies’ management teams to help maximise their potential. He is also a director on the boards of five BGF investments, Spex, Rovop, Petrotechnics, Inoapps, and Frontrow Energy Technology Group. He started his career as a drilling engineer with Shell, working mostly in exploration in Angola and Congo, then joined 3i, and, after spells in Birmingham and Cambridge, moved to Aberdeen in 2004, where he invested in both oil service and exploration and production companies.

What makes a successful entrepreneur?
“A successful entrepreneur is by definition a strong and non-conformist character, with a passion for the business, a drive to make it work, and inspirational leadership to get the best from the company’s people. He/she is usually outward-looking and the company’s best salesperson, is not be diverted by risk, has absolute clarity of what the business is trying to achieve, and sets an unrelenting pace.”

What will you be looking for in this year's finalists?
“As Peter F Drucker said, ‘Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision’. I have a huge amount of respect for people who have taken risks to set up a business. I really look forward to hearing about the courageous decisions the finalists made, and the vision and tenacity required to scale it up.”

Twitter: @msibbo


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Theresa Shearer

CEO, ENABLE Scotland

Theresa was appointed as the first female CEO of ENABLE Scotland in 2015, having previously run a successful consultancy business that helped other charities in the sector with strategic development and leadership. She is a motivating leader who empowers staff to create an equal society for people with a learning disability in all that they do. As CEO, she is responsible for the development and delivery of ENABLE Scotland’s organisational strategy, and through this continues to ensure it is in a strong and sustainable position to continue its work in communities across Scotland in a challenging economic climate.

Theresa recognises and values the social care workforce’s vital role, and is committed to achieving the best pay and conditions for social care staff not just within ENABLE Scotland, but across the wider sector. In line with this, she has led vital influencing work at a Government and sector level to achieve the payment of the Scottish Living Wage for all social care staff across all hours worked.

What makes a successful entrepreneur?
“Bravery, pace, clarity of purpose, unwavering focus and the ability to lead others to share and deliver their vision. Beyond that, I believe that a strong focus on ethical leadership and striving to have a positive impact on the lives of your employees and wider society is what lifts success into excellence.”

What will you be looking for in this year's finalists?
“A dynamic individual who has successfully implemented their innovative vision into reality. I will be looking for the ability to demonstrate leadership with an aptitude for focusing on the core purpose of their business, and leading others to see the purpose of their role and the impact that it has.”

Twitter: @Theresa_ENABLE


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Dame Sue Bruce, DBE

Portfolio Non Executive Director, SSE PLC

Sue held a variety of roles in local government in a career which spanned 40 years. She was Chief Executive at both East Dunbartonshire Council and Aberdeen City Council before taking up the role of Chief Executive at the City of Edinburgh Council.

What makes a successful entrepreneur?
“I believe a successful entrepreneur is someone who can develop new ideas and turn them into reality, a successful and sustainable business proposition. This takes strong business acumen, ability to plan and focus on their goal, manage finances and exercise their risk appetite. They must be willing to look into the unknown, and have the capacity to deal with what they are faced with. A successful entrepreneur will be unafraid of hard work and commitment. They will be a strong communicator and creative thinker. Notwithstanding these proactive qualities, the ability to listen and receive constructive comment or criticism will be a balancing quality.”

What will you be looking for in this year's finalists?
“I will be looking for energy, resilience, innovation and agile thinking - someone who is passionate and motivated to succeed and who can inspire others. I would expect to see knowledge of the relevant market and wider context. I will be looking for confidence and risk taking, but also humility and integrity.”

Twitter: @SSE


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