2013 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.

Sir Michael Bibby Bt.Managing Director, Bibby Line Group Limited

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Bibby Line Group – a business-to-business services group involved in Shipowning and operation, shallow water accommodation, offshore oil and gas services, contract logistics, financial services, memorial parks, employment law and health & safety advisory services, contract plant hire and retail.

Upon graduating from Oxford University in 1984, Michael joined Coopers & Lybrand in London where he later qualified as a Chartered Accountant. He then spent several years at Unilever as a project accountant where he was involved in a number of acquisitions, disposals and joint venture projects before taking up the position of Finance Director of Bibby Line Limited in 1992, culminating in being appointed Managing Director of Bibby Line Limited. In January 2000, Michael was appointed Managing Director of Bibby Line Group Limited.

External appointments include: Director of the Chamber of Shipping, Mersey Maritime and Typhoon Holdings (who manufacture wet suits and dry suits). He is also Chairman of the Fundraising Committee of the Princes Trust in Merseyside.

Jonathan BiggsCFO, Accel Partners

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Jonathan joined Accel Partners in London as CFO at its inception in 2001. The London team now manages 4 venture funds, totalling $2BN, focused on investing in early stage technology companies across Europe and Israel.

Many of Accel’s portfolio companies have defined their categories, and investments made by the London team include Angry Birds (Rovio), Atlassian, Kayak. Playfish, QlikTech, Spotify, Supercell, Varonis and Wonga.

Accel Partners was founded in 1983, and has a long history of partnering with outstanding entrepreneurs and management teams to build world-class businesses. Accel today invests globally with offices in Palo Alto, London, New York City and Bangalore, as well as in China via its partnership with IDG-Accel.

Prior to joining Accel, Jonathan held a strategic role at AXA Investment Managers, and before that worked at Deutsche Bank and Mirabaud & Cie in London. He qualified as a Chartered Accountant from PWC having focused on asset management. Jonathan holds a BSc in Economics from the University of Bristol.

Niccei CastanheiraInstarmac Group plc

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Inspirational, passionate and incredibly creative are just some of the words used to describe Niccei. With an undeniable talent for creating forward thinking approaches to employee engagement and welfare, Niccei has helped direct the shape of Instarmac Group plc to award winning success during her 5 years.

With specialism in an area sometimes viewed as “flocculent”, a 16th place ranking in the Great Place to Work® awards, recognition as an Employer of Choice by the Chamber of Commerce, Sunday Times Best Company accreditation, Sunday Times Top 100 Company listing and a former winner of the PWC Employer of the Year award are just some of the outstanding achievements gained and a testament to the pivotal work she does.

A CIPD qualified HR generalist, with additional Training and Psychology study, Niccei also designs and delivers varied in-house training programmes to improve management and employee development.

Using Instarmac as a case study Niccei regularly speaks at Wellbeing forums and events within the West Midlands and has supported local schools with career days and business enterprise days, helping year 10 & 11 students increase their work ready skills. She has also joined in regional events held by the Engage for success taskforce headed by David Macleod.

Prior to joining Instarmac, Niccei worked for leading logistics firm DHL which is where she met her partner. With a son, two step children and a fostered daughter, home is where her heart is outside the boardroom. With a love of the theatre, interior design, home baking, art, handbags and shoes, Niccei is usually found in the kitchen creating or indulging in a little retail therapy.

Hugh CrosseyChair of Bryson Charitable Group

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Following his retirement in June 2011 from his role as Regional Chair and Managing Partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) in Northern Ireland, Hugh Crossey joined the Bryson Charitable Group as Group Board Chair.

While with PwC he held a number of leadership roles including Regional Chair/Managing Partner of the N.I. Region. In this role Hugh had overall responsibility for the strategic direction and financial performance of the region, which comprised of 800 people and 30 partners. A partner from 1987, Hugh was an experienced and highly-respected management consultant and he spent over 30 years as an advisor to Public and Private Sector organisations in the UK, Ireland and Europe, where he planned, evaluated and executed a wide variety of major public policy studies and organisational reviews.

Hugh is an acknowledged authority and commentator on Public Sector modernisation, including procurement, PFI, technology and financial systems and outsourcing and has undertaken a number of large Public Sector strategic reviews and modernisation programmes in education, shared services, infrastructure, ICT and finance.

Hugh has directed a wide range of assignments in the Public and Private sectors. He is an expert in Public Private Partnerships and has significant experience of leading large, complex procurements in the technology arena, including shared services and outsourcing.

His particular areas of expertise include:

  • Business and culture change
  • Business vision and strategy
  • People development
  • Large-scale ICT and infrastructure procurement including waste management
  • ICT Shared Services/Outsourcing
  • IS/IT and E-business Strategy
  • Feasibility Studies and Economic Appraisal

Hugh is a former CBI (NI) Council member; a former Chair of the European Education Research and Innovation Centre (EERIC) and a former Chair of the IBEC/CBI All-Ireland Joint Business Council (JBC).

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.

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.

Charlie 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).

Rob MyersPartner – 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 a number of 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%. In February 2013, Hydrasun was sold generating a money multiple of 2.6 times and an IRR of 22%. Rob remains on the boards of Bounty and MRH.

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.

Mark PearsChief Executive Officer - The William Pears Group

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Mark Pears has been Chief Executive Officer of The William Pears Group for 28 years. Mark is Chairman of Talisman Global Asset Management, Chairman of Telereal Trillium and a Founder/Trustee of The Pears Foundation.

The William Pears Group is one of the UK's largest private family companies; founded in 1952 it is wholly owned by the Pears family.

The Group's principal activities are residential and commercial real estate investment on a global basis; Telereal Trillium - the UK's largest property outsourcing company; Talisman Global Asset Management - a proprietary fund management and investment company with assets under management in the region of £2 billion.

The Group's property portfolio has a gross value in excess of £6 billion.

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.

Steve RigbyChief Operating Officer – Rigby Group plc

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Steve Rigby is Chief Operating Officer for Rigby Group PLC. The group founded by Sir Peter Rigby in 1975 has transitioned into a substantial family concern with net assets in excess of £300m.

He joined the business in 1989 and assisted in the creation of Byte Computer Superstore where he operated as Managing Director from 1996 – 1998. This business was subsequently sold to Dixons Stores Group and integrated in their PC World brand.

From 1998 – 2001 he managed and led the group’s distribution businesses, which doubled in size and tripled in profitability during this term. He later went on the transform SCC, the groups IT services business, running the UK operations and latterly the Dutch, Italian, German and Spanish business.

In 2006 Rigby & Rigby was launched and quickly became a top three developer of prime London residential property working in the super prime markets of Knightsbridge and Mayfair.

Through recent years he has led a substantial change in the nature of the group by selling a number of loss making subsidiaries, acquiring a series of businesses and most latterly in November 2012 successfully selling a £1.2bn pa division SDG for £220m.

Today Rigby Group PLC has a number of diversified assets ranging from IT to Property, Aviation to Hotels and Investments to Private Equity.

He operates the family private office dealing with all investments, finance and tax affairs and is driving a change management programme to deliver a high yielding, diverse and secure family business.

Steve lives near Banbury and is married to Jenny and he has three children aged 14, 8 and 6. Steve is an obsessive polo player and has spent many years racing cars.

Peter SchofieldGroup Chairman – Tetrosyl Group Ltd

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Peter Schofield is the Chairman of Tetrosyl Group Limited which was founded in 1954. Peter joined the business at the very young age of 16 and since then has worked in almost all aspects of the business including Sales & Marketing. Peter has 100% control of the business and the business is privately owned.

Tetrosyl is the largest car care manufacturers in Europe and the largest independent Oil blenders in the UK. With a portfolio of strong brands including T-Cut, Carlube. CarPlan, Bluecol and Triplewax to name a few, Tetrosyl also specialises in Research and Development, innovation technologies, in-house graphic design & creativity and strong brand awareness. Brands are regularly advertised on National Television, Premiership Football perimeter boards, Sponsorship of Motorsport, National newspapers and relevant magazines.

Jayne SeafordHead of International Sales & Distribution - HSBC UK Corporate

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Jayne joined HSBC in February 2013 as Head of International, Sales & Distribution for the UK Corporate business.

Jayne is responsible for executing the Corporate Banking international strategy in the UK, developing strategic relationships with key partner countries and product specialists to support the overseas finance and banking requirements of our UK customers. Jayne's career spans 26 years in banking across the large corporate and mid market enterprise segments. She has worked within a variety of business functions in the UK and USA encompassing strategy, risk management, and customer facing roles including relationship management for corporate and real estate clients, and origination and transaction execution within the structured banking market.

David SuddensCEO - Dr Martens

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Before joining Dr Martens, David Suddens had spent his career in the European textile industry, latterly as CEO of William Baird. He became a Turnaround Director in 2001 and was Chairman of William Ransom PLC between 2007 and 2010.

David has been CEO of Dr Martens for 10 years and has overseen its transformation from a manufacturing business to a global brand. The business almost collapsed in 2002 but has recently flourished with new products, new routes to market and a focus on sales in Asia. EBIT has grown from £3 million in 2008 to £22 million in year ended March 2012 on sales of £126million. This year sales are set to reach £160 million and EBIT £26 million.

David has an MA from Queens’ College Cambridge and an MBA from INSEAD.

He was awarded with Dr Martens Turnaround of the Year in 2005, Entrepreneur of the Year (Ernst & Young) in 2011 and CEO of the Year at the Private Business Awards 2012.

Angus ThirlwellCEO & Co-founder - Hotel Chocolat

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“I count myself as one of the luckiest people around – to work every day in a business that lives by my obsessions for chocolate, true creativity and honest ingredients, and which also has a link back to my childhood in the West Indies through our cocoa estate in Saint Lucia”.

To say that Angus Thirlwell is passionate about chocolate would be an understatement because, as he willingly admits, it’s more of an obsession. Together with his business partner, Peter Harris, he founded Hotel Chocolat in 2004 with two specific aims – to make chocolate that really excites the senses and to make that chocolate widely available.

Angus religiously eats chocolate every day, tastes and approves every single recipe, and is as much at home in the development kitchen as he is in the boardroom or amongst the cocoa trees. It was a bold move to become a cocoa grower, a point underlined by the fact that Hotel Chocolat is one of very few to do it, but it was the natural progression of Angus’ passion for chocolate.

Fittingly, he was inspired to guide the company towards growing its own cocoa by one of his own customers, who sent him a book she had found while tidying her husband’s study. It was a 1920 edition of Cocoa & Chocolate, Their History from Plantation to Consumer. The history it told was of cocoa growing in the West Indies and it was particularly inspirational to Angus, having spent much of his childhood there. After an intensive search that took in several islands, Angus and Peter found The Rabot Estate in Saint Lucia, which they bought almost immediately in April 2006.

There, he has led the rejuvenation of the island’s oldest cocoa plantation, kick-starting a ‘cocoa renaissance’ on the island in the process, through the innovative Engaged Ethics Cocoa Programme. The rare Trinitario strains grown on Rabot Estate and by the Island Grower partners have already won several awards. The stunning setting of the plantation also inspired the opening of the boutique Boucan hotel and restaurant on the Estate, which fully opened in February 2012.

Set in the dramatic beauty of Hotel Chocolat’s own cocoa plantation in Saint Lucia, The Rabot Estate, the hotel has 14 stylish rooms for guests. With its stunning position 1,000 feet above the Caribbean Sea and with views of Saint Lucia’s iconic Piton Mountains, Hotel Chocolat’s aim is to create a place where luxury, wellbeing and style come together with, of course, cocoa and chocolate. Guests can stay in one of six luxury Lodges or one of the eight larger Luxe Lodges. They are all built in a blend of Hotel Chocolat’s contemporary style and traditional West Indian charm.

2012 was a big year for Hotel Chocolat, also marking a move into Europe with the opening of two stores in Amsterdam and Copenhagen, the launch of beauty range Cocoa Juvenate and the opening of Roast + Conch in London, an entirely new cocoa concept.

Roast + Conch meant that all three of Angus’ passions came together in a brand new concept in London’s Seven Dials district. Here Rabot Estate cocoa is freshly roasted every day for small batch chocolate making and new style cocoa drinks; ‘cacao cuisine’ dishes from Boucan are served; and Hotel Chocolat gifts and treats can also be found.

The brand new Cocoa Juvenate range of beauty products launched at the end of 2012. Developed at the spa of the same name at the company’s Boucan Hotel & Restaurant on Saint Lucia, the range makes full use of cocoa’s natural properties – being rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, with nourishing, softening and hydrating properties. And don’t expect these new products to smell of chocolate; they have been created to invigorate with a scent inspired by the refreshing, uplifting tang of a freshly cut cocoa pod.

As a cocoa grower and chocolate maker, Hotel Chocolat already has a deep understanding of the benefits of cocoa and latest step was a natural development.

Thirlwell said, “We know better than most about cocoa’s natural goodness and mood-lifting properties. At our hotel spa we began to create treatments from the cocoa growing all around to take full advantage of those properties, with great success. Creating this range felt like a very natural progression for us. So now you’ll understand if we no longer reserve all of our cocoa for chocolate – we like the idea that it can provide happiness on the outside as well as on the inside.”

From growing fine cocoa in Saint Lucia, to the exciting chocolate and beauty products available in UK and European stores, nine years on it’s clear that Angus’ passion is as strong as ever and that he’s on a mission to let the world know that British chocolate is once again a force to be reckoned with.

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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