2012 Voting Panel

Mike BalfourFounder - Fitness First

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In November 1992 Mike Balfour, a chartered accountant, purchased the Queens Park Health Club in Bournemouth, an old squash club that had gone into bankruptcy.

In early 1993 the club was re-opened as Fitness First and during the next 17 years Mike created an international chain of health clubs in the UK, Continental Europe, Asia and Australia. Fitness First floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1996 and was taken private in a £415m management buyout in 2003.

With 550 clubs, 1.5 million members operating in 21 countries worldwide and over 20,000 employees, Fitness First is now the largest chain of health clubs in the world. In November 2005 BC Partners, a private equity firm, acquired Fitness First for £835m in a management secondary buyout. After 17 years Mike left the Board in September 2009 to pursue his other interests.

Mike is Chairman of The Hideaways Club which is now Europe's largest private residence owners' club.

Mike became PWC Entrepreneur of the year in 1999 and the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the year in 2001.

Married to Margaret Balfour for 31 years he has two children, Sarah 30 and James 27.

In 2008 James Balfour climbed Mount Everest and became the 5th youngest Britain to do so. James is now working with his father to develop a chain of health clubs in Eastern Europe.

His interests are as a seed capital investor in start up businesses, golf, travel and sailing.

In July 2008 Mike was awarded the OBE for services to business.

In August 2010 Mike was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by The American Fitness Industry, the first time the award was made to a non American.

Linda BennettFounder - LK Bennett

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After finishing a footwear design course at Cordwainers, the renowned shoe design college in Hackney, Linda Bennett learned her trade from the floor up, working at Robert Clergerie's studios in Paris followed by stints on the shop floors of Whistles and Josephs.

When she was 26, Linda spotted an opportunity:- she realised that there was a huge gap between the designer shoe market and what was available on the high street. Linda identified this area as being the "affordable luxury market" in beautifully made, well designed products at accessible prices. The idea for LK Bennett was born and she struck out on her own with £13,000 of her savings and a bank loan of £15,000, which she repaid within three months of opening her first shop; despite there being a recession on.

Now dubbed the 'Queen of the Kitten Heel', Linda spotted another niche in the market and LK Bennett launched a clothing and accessories range creating items for women that were a cross between mainstream high street and designer wear.

The combined successes of these enterprises has made Linda Bennett one of the most celebrated business women in Britain and winner of numerous accolades including Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award (Consumer Product category) in 2002; Best Women's Footwear Retailer (UK Footwear Award) in 2003; Veuve Clicquot Businesswoman of the Year in 2004; and Entrepreneurs' Entrepreneur award in 2009. She is a trustee of the Hepworth Wakefield, a new art gallery in Yorkshire.

In 2006, Bennett was awarded an OBE for services to the fashion industry.

After running the company for 18 years, Linda sold the majority stake in her fashion chain in 2008. Ms Bennett is still very much involved however and L.K. Bennett continues to expand internationally with 120 locations across the UK, USA, and Europe including 66 stand alone stores and 54 concessions. Clientele includes Kate Middleton, now known as Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Penelope Cruz, Kate Moss and Gwen Stefani amongst others.

Hugh SturgesManaging Director - Berry Bros. & Rudd

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After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant with KPMG, Hugh worked with Bacardi in their Head Office in Bermuda for a number of years.

Returning to the UK, Hugh worked with International Distillers & Vintners (now merged into Diageo) looking after the finances of their international spirits business as well as the Justerini & Brooks Wine Business in the UK. Hugh then changed industries and spent several years in the Forest Products Industry in both Finance and General management roles before returning to the Drinks industry joining Berry Bros. & Rudd as Finance Director in 2001 and being promoted to Managing Director in 2006. When not working Hugh enjoys family life and all forms of outdoor activity.

Jim BlakemoreCo-Director - Bikeworks

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With a number of successful small businesses behind him Jim decided he wanted something different and to try out a social enterprise.

In summer 2006 Jim left as Director of cycling company, City Cycle Hire, in Cambridge where he had purchased 600 bikes from a disbanding company, relocated premises and made profit within a year.

After working on the business plan for Bikeworks with his partner Zoe, Jim started up the enterprise, secured some initial funding and began activities in the spring of 2006.

Jim has previously worked with young people, including those with disabilities in East London, including the delivery of DJ Workshops and Life Skills and has a former life as a DJ and Manager of the Blue Note Club in Hoxton.

Paul DrechslerChairman and Chief Executive - Wates Group Limited

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Paul Drechsler was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1956 and graduated from the University of Dublin, Trinity College, with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree in Engineering Science.

He was appointed Chief Executive of Wates Group in September 2004 and became Chairman and Chief Executive in April 2006. The Wates Group is one of the UK's largest privately-owned construction and development companies with annual turnover of £1 billion providing construction services and land value enhancement.

The Wates Group serves a number of public and private sector markets including affordable housing, education, government services, and commercial and retail markets. It employs over 2000 people and is headquartered in Leatherhead in Surrey, UK. In 2007, the Wates Group won the best UK Family Business Awards by J.P. Morgan and Coutts banks. Wates was named BitC Company of the Year in 2011.

Prior to joining Wates, Paul spent 24 years with ICI PLC, holding senior positions and living in the UK, Brazil, the USA and the Netherlands, which culminated with five years as Chief Executive of one of ICI's principal international businesses and as a Main Board Director. He was also Chairman of the ICI Group Pension fund and a member of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

Paul was appointed a Non-Executive Director of Filtrona plc in May 2005 where he is the Senior Independent Director and also Chairman of the Remuneration Committee.

Paul is a member of the Trinity College Dublin Business School Advisory Board, a board member of Business in the Community and Chairman of its Education Leadership Team.

Sir Charles DunstoneCEO & Co Founder - TalkTalk Telecom Group plc

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Brought up near Saffron Walden in Essex, Sir Charles Dunstone attended Uppingham School. He had intended to do a business degree at Liverpool University but enjoyed his job as a computer salesman for NEC during his year off too much, and his plans to go to university were abandoned.

When Dunstone transferred from selling computers to mobile phones, he realised that corporate clients got good deals and were well looked after, but no one was catering for small businesses, the self-employed and Joe Public - for whom mobile phones would be the most useful. And that's where The Carphone Warehouse (CPW) came in.

Dunstone built the business on the premise that what the company stands for is more important than what it sells; in this case, a promise of great customer service and the ability to deliver 'simple, impartial advice' in the ever-complex world of mobile phone purchasing. In a sector where the product was all that customers cared about, The Carphone Warehouse was established to make customers realise that it is equally important to buy your phone from the right people.

With the same principles of impartial advice and unbeatable customer service, The Carphone Warehouse has expanded beyond the UK into nine countries in Europe and today has over 2,400 stores across Europe and is continuing to grow its distribution base.

In July 2000 the company floated on the London Stock Exchange and based on an issue price of 200p, the company was valued at approximately £1.7 billion.

In November 2002, The Carphone Warehouse Group acquired Opal Telecom, a corporate fixed line, voice telecommunications network provider. The acquisition provided the opportunity to launch a cost effective residential fixed line service to compete with BT. The company's landline service, TalkTalk was launched in February 2003 with the unique service proposition that all customers talk to each other for free, forever.

In April 2006, TalkTalk launched the UK's first ever free broadband service changing the broadband market place forever. Through both acquisition (Tele2's UK business and OneTel in 2005 and AOL in 2006) and organic growth, TalkTalk became the fastest growing telecoms business in the UK.

In May 2009, The Carphone Warehouse acquired Tiscali's UK operations for £236million making TalkTalk the UK's largest residential broadband provider in the UK with 4.1 million subscribers.

In November 2006 the company opened its first stores in North America as part of a joint venture with Best Buy Co., Inc under the Best Buy Mobile brand. The venture also brought a home computer service business to the UK under the Geek Squad brand in 2007. The group now has 1,070 Best Buy Mobile store within stores and 77 standalone stores in locations across North America.

In 2008, following a £1.1billion investment from Best Buy Inc, and the formal separation of the Telecoms division from CPW's Retail and Distribution business, The Carphone Warehouse created a new European consumer electronics company in partnership with the international retailer.

On March 29th, 2010 The Carphone Warehouse and TalkTalk separated to form two new holding companies, TalkTalk (which will be the holding company for the fixed line voice and broadband telecommunications business) and CPW plc (which will comprise a 50 per cent interest in the Best Buy Europe Group, a 47.5 per cent interest in Virgin Mobile France, a property portfolio consisting of four freehold properties, and a number of minority investments in other businesses).

Dunstone became Chairman of both TalkTalk and CPW PLC and remains actively involved in both businesses.

Dunstone remains passionate about his original aims; to put the customer first and to ensure that all employees share in the company's success. He is also Chairman of the Princes Trust. In December 2005, he was voted The Daily Telegraph's Business Person of the Year.

Miriam Gonzalez Head of EU Trade and EU Government Affairs – Dechert

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Miriam Gonzalez, head of the firm’s EU Trade and EU Government Affairs practice, focuses on international and EU trade law and policy, with particular experience in WTO and EU internal market regulations. Ms. Gonzalez advises clients on trade policy, trade agreements, sanctions and embargoes, export controls, antidumping, foreign investment proceedings and EU internal market regulations and infringement proceedings.

Prior to joining Dechert, Ms. Gonzalez led the trade practice of a major international law firm. She previously served seven years as a Senior Member of the Cabinet for EU External Relations Commissioners Chris Patten and Benita Ferrero-Waldner, where she had responsibility for trade policy as well as EU relations with the Middle East, the U.S. and Latin America.

Ms. Gonzalez also acted as lead EU negotiator for the WTO telecoms agreement and led the services negotiations for EU bilateral and WTO accession agreements on e-commerce as well as on energy, postal and construction services.

Ms. Gonzalez frequently authors articles on EU trade issues.

Peter GrayPartner - Cavendish Corporate Finance

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Peter graduated with degrees in Law and Commerce from Melbourne University in 1984. He joined the corporate finance department of Minter Ellison, a leading Australian law firm, where he qualified as a lawyer.

In 1989 Peter joined the corporate finance group of Clifford Chance in London. After completing an MBA in Finance, Peter joined Cavendish in 1994 and was appointed a director in 1997. Since that time he has been involved in the sale of over 50 companies including such household names as Avent Baby Products, Antler Luggage and Plymouth Gin. Peter is a frequent lecturer and author on the subject of mergers and acquisitions. He has published a book entitled "Maximising Value on the Sale of a Business".

Keith HattonChief Executive Officer - Currencies Direct

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Keith Hatton joined Currencies Direct in May 2011 as Chief Executive Officer. He has a wide range of banking, management, international and FX experience, initially gained during 19 years with NatWest, including 5 years in off-shore private banking and senior roles within corporate credit risk, product development and management development.

Subsequently he was Export Director of Bottomline Technologies and European Managing Director of Derivion now part of Metavante Corporation. Keith was Commercial Director and CEO of Moneycorp for over 8 years.

Warwick LongHead of Corporate and Strcutured Banking Leadership Team UK - HSBC Bank plc

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Warwick is Head of International, Sales and Distribution for HSBC Corporate Banking and is based in London.

Warwick's role involves helping mid market companies to grow internationally by working closely with HSBCs international offices along with external agencies and professional firms. Warwick has been with HSBC for 27 years and has held a variety of senior roles, mainly in the UK. Most recently, he was Deputy Head of Corporate in London, working with large private and public companies.

Charles HoffmanManaging Director – HSBC Private Bank (UK) Limited

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Charlie runs a team dedicated to the largest clients of HSBC Private Bank, advising individual clients and family offices on all aspects of their personal affairs, involving the appropriate specialists wherever necessary.

Charlie is a qualified lawyer, his background grounded in corporate finance at Freshfields, before moving to structured finance and then private wealth management. Charlie is an MBA, Member of the Securities Institute, nominated Private Banker of the Year (Spears 2008/Citywealth MagicCircle 2010); Winner of Spears Award 2010; Top10 Rising Stars in European Wealth Management/Top100 in European financial markets (Financial News).

Jonathan MoulesEnterprise Correspondent - Financial Times

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Jonathan has been writing about UK business life for the Financial Times since October 2003. Since September 2005, however, he has focused specifically on the issue of entrepreneurship. He now edits the newspaper’s Entrepreneur section, which provides news and practical advice on the challenges of running growing companies, as well as profiling interesting characters in the UK start-up community and covering the revival of entrepreneurship in the UK.

Before this he spent five years in the FT’s New York office, where he held a number of positions, including technology, media and telecoms news editor. He covered the 1990s dotcom bubble and the aftermath when it went pop, most notably the collapse of Worldcom, the US telecoms group. Jonathan also helped cover the 9/11 terrorist attacks which he witnessed first hand in Manhattan.

Earlier in his career, Jonathan was a senior technology writer at the Economist Group and one of original team of journalists at the Sunday Business newspaper. He was lucky enough in the early 1990s to have joined Computing, the IT industry’s trade magazine, just as the worldwide web came on the scene. He subsequently became an expert in the internet by knowing just a little bit more about the subject than everybody else. He has been a bit of a gadget geek ever since.

Jonathan graduated from Liverpool University with a degree in economics and worked for local papers, such as the Cambridge Evening News, before moving to the business press in London.

Born on May 10, 1970, he is married with three children, one of whom he delivered himself.

Rob MyersManaging Director and Head of UK – Equistone Partners Europe

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Rob Myers is a Partner in the London office and leads the UK investment team. Rob graduated in Economics and Politics from Durham University and qualified as a solicitor with Linklaters.

Prior to joining the firm he gained experience in Corporate Finance with Close Brothers in London and Paris. He joined Equistone Partners Europe (formerly Barclays Private Equity) in 2000 and is a member of the Management Board and Investment Committee.

Rob has led private equity transactions across a range of sectors including the buy-outs of Salter Housewares, Deb, Hydrasun, MRH and Bounty Group. In 2004, Salter Housewares was successfully sold, generating a money multiple of 3 times and an IRR of 65%. In 2010, Deb Group was sold generating a money multiple of over 5 times and an IRR of 35%. Rob remains on the boards of Bounty, MRH and Hydrasun.

Keith NeilsonCEO and co-founder - Craneware

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Keith co-founded Craneware in 1999 and has served as its CEO ever since. Under Keith's guidance, Craneware became recognised as the pioneer in revenue integrity management and a leading provider of superior products and professional services.

Keith's direction has helped Craneware to win multiple prestigious awards in such areas as international achievement, business growth strategy and innovation. Keith was named The Entrepreneurial Exchange's "Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year 2003" and was a finalist in the 2004 World Young Business Achiever Award, winning the Award of Excellence in the Business Strategy category. He received the U.K. Software & Technology Entrepreneur of the Year Award from Ernst & Young in 2008 and was the Insider Elite Young Business Leader of the Year in 2009. Prior to launching Craneware, Keith worked primarily in international management, where he handled sales, marketing and technical consulting for companies with operations around the world. He studied Physics at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, receiving a bachelor's degree in 1991.

Ruby ParmarPartner – PwC

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Ruby Parmar is a senior partner at PwC and among her various roles, she leads the Private Business practice in London across all their lines of service.

She is an active client service partner spending the majority of her time in the market building relationships and advising on her specialist area of corporate and personal taxation.

Ian RestallDirector - Flathill Communications Group plc

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Throughout his career, Ian has been involved with growth companies, both public and private.

His early career was as a stockbroker, analyst, broadcaster and financial journalist in this area, and since founding The Design Portfolio Marketing Services in 1991, he has been active in helping many companies in this sector with their investor communication and corporate reporting requirements. Ian is also Chairman of Flathill Communications Group plc, President of The Design Portfolio Marketing Services Inc. and a member of the Investor Relations Society.

Mark SamworthExecutive Director - Samworth Brothers

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Samworth Brothers is one of the UK's leading chilled food producers with a turnover of £800m and 8,000 people working for it.

It produces premium own label foods across many different categories for the UK supermarkets and is the owner of the Ginsters of Cornwall.

The business is 100% family-owned, and traces its roots back to 1896.

Mark is the 4th generation of the family to work in the business and is the only family member currently employed in it. Now 41, he started his career outside Samworth Brothers before joining the business in 1994 and has worked in all areas at all levels. He is a Director of the Holdings and Executive Boards and chairs three of its operating subsidiaries. Mark also undertakes much of the "family" role in chairing the family Trusts. Mark is also a director of the Institute for Family Business.

Carla StentCOO - Virgin Management

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Described as a "transforming visionary", she excels at leveraging her technical financial expertise to drive real commercial benefits. She is an inspirational leader who consistently builds and develops high performing teams. She has lived and worked in a number of geographies in the banking, retail and leisure industries.

In her current role as Chief Operating Officer for Virgin Management Limited, Carla is responsible for delivering an efficient, robust and value adding professional services organisation. She has full and direct responsibility for finance, IT, procurement and facilities, as well as having oversight of the Regional Offices and operating companies.

Carla also serves as a UK Ambassador to Schools where her role is to guide and inspire the next generation to excel and succeed. She is a frequent speaker on career planning and gender diversity and is strongly committed to the development of business opportunities for women today.

In addition to directorships on various Virgin companies, Carla is also a Non Executive Director and Trustee of LSN, an independent, registered charity committed to making a difference to education and training.

Carla joined Barclays in July 2005 as Chief Operating Officer for Barclays Asset and Sales Finance where she led major transformation activity. She was rapidly promoted to Chief Administrative Officer for Barclays where she was responsible for the strategic and operational management of the Global Retail Bank's operational risk, governance, process improvement and acquisition/divestment activity. Her role also included management of the group wide Anti Money Laundering Programme and the Treating Customers Fairly / Customer Relations agenda.

Prior to joining Barclays, Carla held a number of senior positions in banking and retail industries. She has had direct responsibility for corporate finance & post-merger integration, strategy, business operations, brand development & management and business transformation. Carla has operated at Board level in several countries for organisations including NatWest Equity Markets, ING, Barclays and the Thomas Cook Group.

Carla is a qualified chartered accountant and she was born and educated in South Africa. She is married to Martin and enjoys long-distance cycling and travelling (and has just entered her first ever half marathon!).

Justine WarrenPartner - College Hill

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Justine is a Partner in College Hill's Consumer team. Over the last 17 years she has built up a core specialisation advising clients on corporate and financial business communication in the leisure, retail and wider consumer sectors, including numerous branded businesses.

Amongst the clients she has advised are ASOS, A.G. Barr, Caffè Nero, David Lloyd Leisure, wagamama, Punch Taverns, Barracuda, London Clubs International, Wembley, Arena Leisure, SuperGroup and Coca-Cola. Justine joined College Hill from Arthur Andersen where she co-ordinated corporate positioning programmes across various business advisory divisions globally.

Sean WhelanManaging Director - ECI Partners LLP

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Sean Whelan is a Managing Director and a member of ECI's Investment Committee. Sean graduated in economics from Cambridge University in 1990 and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Prior to joining ECI in 1998, Sean worked as a strategy consultant for Gemini Consulting and Bain & Company. Based in London, Sean has overall responsibility for ECI's exit strategy across the portfolio and post-investment added value. He also heads ECI's Software and IT Services sector group. Sean's past investments include ClarityBlue, Bounty, Language Line and MM group; he is currently on the board of Clinisys and WCI Group.

Alastair WilsonChief Executive - School for Social Enterprise

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Having worked extensively in the private sector, Alastair became a student of the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) in 1998. Having established and run his own project, he returned to SSE as Development Director and then CEO.

SSE's core service is a year-long 'action learning' based programme supporting early-stage social entrepreneurs from a wide range of backgrounds. SSE also offers specialist shorter programmes e.g. Social Franchising, Public sector spin outs and Trading for growth. Over 500 have completed SSE programmes, and there are now 10 SSE franchises in the UK and overseas.

Alastair is also a trustee of UnLtd (foundation for Social Entrepreneurs), London Funders, the Social Enterprise Coalition and the Sheila McKechnie Foundation.

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