You would be forgiven for thinking that UK enterprise had stalled in the wake of COVID-19. Or that the pandemic has curbed ambition. Yet where some see crisis, others see opportunity. In the third year of LDC’s Top 50 Most Ambitious Business Leaders programme, supported by the Telegraph, we will unveil the strategists, innovators, and calculated risk takers that are pulling the nation and our economy forward, generating hope and optimism for the future.
Our hunt for the 2020 cohort began shortly before COVID-19 struck the UK; it was uncertain whether the awards could – or should – go ahead. But, once again, the sheer number and calibre of the leaders nominated confirmed that British ambition is alive and well.
We received an incredible 350 nominations this year and it’s never been more difficult to choose just 50. While maintaining a focus on the mid-market, which rarely gets the attention it deserved, we received nominations from the leaders at some outstanding larger businesses too, like MoonPig, GymShark, Fortel Group, adi Group, Done + Dusted Productions, Ground Control and Martin James Network. We also heard from the leaders of some businesses that are still too small to feature in the programme, but we hope to see them again next year.
This year’s Top 50 operate across a multitude of industries, from distance learning to events, software design to essential oils. The leaders hail from every corner of the country and collectively contribute more than £1bn to the UK economy, employing more than 5,250 people.
Over the coming weeks, we will unveil the bold and driven individuals who continue to grow their firms, have pivoted to serve new markets, or expand overseas. These are extraordinary times, so alongside the awards recognising ambition, international prowess, innovation and social purpose, the Top 50 includes a new category highlighting the resilience of some of this year’s leaders. It is only during times of crisis that you really learn the measure of a leader and we want to recognise those who have continued to make a difference in their communities, supported their employees, and delivered a positive impact despite the adversity.
Since The Top 50 launched in 2018, it has showcased some incredible leaders. Julian Hearn, who founded plant-based brand Huel, which has now sold 100m meals, was voted our first most ambitious leader. Last year, the accolade went to Clint Wilson, founder of ParentPay, whose platform solves the age-old payments problem for schools and parents. Claire Trott, managing director of Plantforce Rentals, which supplies machinery and labour for big projects like Hinkley Point, was also recognised as a standout leader by the 2019 judges.
Each Thursday for the next five weeks, we will unveil another 10 of this year’s most ambitious leaders, sharing some of the characteristics and strategies that have helped these individuals to reach the top of their game.
You will hear their awe-inspiring stories. Their relentless optimism and triumph against adversity is a beacon of hope for us all.
Next Thursday meet 10 ambitious business leaders and hear how our Top 50 alumni have responded to the Covid-19 pandemic.