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Leading the way at South Coast Business Awards

“No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit for doing it.”
— Andrew Carnegie, 19th-century business magnate and philanthropist.

As we cruised from Basingstoke to Southampton last Thursday night, heading for the South Coast Business Awards, the effervescence of a potential win overtook my mind.

Part of this year’s marketing plan has been to showcase our successes through business awards, it is a great way to meet new people, reconnect with old friends and update each other and most importantly bring the whole team together and show them that other people are impressed with their achievements.

Following our success at the Eagle Biz Surrey & Hampshire Awards in the category of “Digital Innovation” I felt we were all on a bit of a roll, submissions being shortlisted to finalist slots, interviews being requested as our story was clearly resonating with judging panels, it would be amazing if we could roll out of Southampton with another win under our belts.

We were finalists in two categories, “Best Use of Technology” & “Business leader of the year”, and all my eggs were in the former basket, I had studied the competition in my individual category and surely I was just there to make up the numbers.

Despite Liam’s best efforts we made it past the security check, who doesn’t put their Swiss Army knife into their tuxedo pocket? Right??

The surroundings of St Mary’s Stadium were sublime, the company exquisite, the atmosphere friendly, buzzing and excited. We had press photos on the pitch, squinting into the warm summer sunshine and then headed upstairs for dinner, bumping into friends from Paris Smith (more about them later) and The Knights Foundation on the way.

The first scientific proof that it was going to be a good night for us appeared on the table plan, Apps In The Sky – Table 13. Unlucky for some maybe, but 13 is my house number, 13 is Liam’s house number, Katie lives at number 4 so all we had to do there is figure out what 1 + 3 equals. It was written in the stars.

We were joined on the lucky table by Brymor Group whose own MD, Mark Dyer, was also in the category for Business Leader and their Chairman, Stephen Morton, nominated for the Entrepreneur Award.

Dinner was sublime, the after-dinner speaker Jez Rose (@thatjezrose ) was superb, his talk was funny, poignant, inspirational and educational, I have never been so enthralled listening to someone talk about bees but Jez runs the worlds first carbon-neutral bee farm and is making a positive impact on our world in many ways.

Did you know that UK tomato growers have to import 60,000 bees every year to get their plants pollinated as there aren’t enough bees in the UK!! And then once they have done their job the bees have to be destroyed – I was shocked and appalled with this. You can find out more here – www.beesforbusiness.com

We were then into the awards presentation, this is the bit where I desperately try not to zone out as I wait nervously for the categories we are listed in. Happy faces fill the room as people start to pick up awards and before we know it we are on to “Best Use of Technology” where we are pipped to the prize by Applied Driving Techniques who help deliver driver safety needs for companies. Congratulations folks!

The host rolled us through a few more awards and then it was here, “Business Leader” – the words emblazoned on a series of large screens around the room and my name there as a nominee – a little surreal. The category sponsor Peter Taylor of Paris Smith took to the stage and I am pretty sure I had an out of body experience as he read my name out as the winner as even I could see the total shock on my face. It was extra special to have Paris Smith as the category sponsor as we are currently working with them on a fantastic charity project for The Knights Foundation, please do take a look at our blog here.

The next few seconds were a blur, I remember uttering the words “no f**king way” and “wow” a number of times as I walked to the stage and I just about managed to pull myself together enough to say a few words, and they were really important words for me. “A business leader can only be recognised if he or she has a fantastic team to lead” and I certainly have that, an inspirational blend of skills and experience but all united by the common goal of self-improvement.

An award like this may appear on the surface to be recognition for an individual but it really is one for all the team to share and I am proud to be given the chance to lead them.

My one regret – we weren’t all there to celebrate together, but hey, you have to let people have holidays at some point right?