Against the backdrop of a global pandemic and economic uncertainty, the exceptional entrepreneurs we met as part of this year’s cohort stand out as bastions of hope and positivity. They are the strategists, innovators and calculated risk takers that are pulling the nation and our economy forward.
At LDC we know first-hand that there will be challenges to overcome in every business leaders’ journey. That’s why it was even more important that, with the support of The Telegraph, we continued to shine a light on those achieving extraordinary things.
We received an incredible 350 nominations in 2020 and it was never more difficult to choose just 50.
The Top 50 of 2020 operate across a multitude of industries, from global consumer brands and hosiery manufacturers, to digital transformation specialists and an innovator using lasers to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems.
They hail from every corner of the country and collectively contribute more than £1bn to the UK economy, employing more than 5,250 people. Their grit and determination proves that it is really possible to find opportunity in times of crisis, and that in itself is something to celebrate.
It was this calibre that made choosing the winners of 2020 so difficult – but for our judges there was one standout success story.
Fokhrul Islam, CEO of Global Procurement Group, which trades as Northern Gas and Power in the UK was selected as The Most Ambitious Business Leader of 2020, for his determination, attention to detail and proven track record. He impressed the judges with his energy procurement and management platform, which is generating international traction and helping 20,000 customers of all sizes reduce their energy consumption.
My ambition comes from an innate determination to succeed; to grow my own successful business and make it something special.”Fokhrul Islam, CEO
Global Procurement Group
The remainder of The Top 50 Awards were hotly contested and each winner has their own story.
Resilience is a required trait in the current climate and Brigitte Read epitomises just that. Her inclusive tights business, Snag, ran into difficulty during the first lockdown. But Brigitte dug in and her loyal customers supported the business.
Dr Graeme Malcolm OBE was difficult to beat in our Innovation category. He founded M Squared to create the world’s purest light, which is tackling some of the world’s most pressing problems, from killing coronavirus to helping track climate change.
The Making a Difference award went to Nick Hynes of digital transformation specialist Somo. Nick has made it his mission to give back, whether through founding a digital board for the NSPCC, or supporting The Prince’s Trust.
Brexit has made International Expansion more complex than ever before, but Marisa Hordern, founder of demi-fine jewellery brand Missoma has a head start, having grown international sales by almost 350 per cent last year.
There were three additional Top 50 business leaders the judges felt deserved a special mention as Rising Stars, each tipped for great things: Maxine Laceby, Founder of supplement business Absolute Collagen, Rachel Pendered of creative communications agency Media Zoo and Cassandra Stavrou MBE, Founder of healthy snacks brand Proper Snacks.
And finally, in the Ones to Watch, Jennifer Sundberg and Pippa Begg, Co-CEOs of Board Intelligence stood out. They are providing products and services to help unlock board potential and have quadrupled their client roster in three years.
“Congratulations to all of The Top 50 of 2020. These impressive business leaders showcase the breadth of entrepreneurial talent across the UK,” says John Garner, Head of New Business at LDC. “LDC has supported ambitious business leaders for 40 years. We’re here because we like to champion success. And that’s something the Top 50 have in spades!
If you know an ambitious business leader who should be featured in next year’s programme, we would love to hear from you: www.ldc.co.uk/2021t5