Our Judging Panels
Ian O’Donnell MBE, Owner of web Design company Real Point and National Councillor and Policy representative for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Coventry & Warwickshire.
Ian is completely dedicated to giving back to his local community both through his personal and professional activities. He started his business in 1994 and now employs 7 people at his office in Hampton-in-Arden, and alongside his commitment to his family and business, Ian is also Chairman of the local Federation of Small Businesses, Chairman of Birmingham Business Club, on the board of the Solihull Safer Partnerships, an active member and trustee of the local church where he leads a weekly youth group and also finds time to be a member of Massey Ferguson running club and Parkrun!
During his time with the FSB, Ian has been invited on a number of occasions to the Houses of Parliament and 10 Downing Street to represent small business in the region, which included a meeting with all Coventry, Warwickshire & Solihull MPs and the transport Minister Norman Baker to raise issues of transport in the region. He also was invited to meet the newly appointed Small Business Ambassadors.
Ian is passionate about skills and engaging with the education sector to ensure that future generations are equipped with basic skills to achieve in business, whether as an employee or a business owner. He has spoken at many Young Enterprise finals as entrepreneurial speaker and is often speaking on the issue of skills at a local and national level. Within his own business he has given opportunities to apprentices and graduates.
Ian has also been an advocate in the region in lobbying for increased broadband and mobile speeds in rural areas. Through his roles within the FSB he has responded to a number of consultations on rural broadband, provided evidence to support the CSW Broadband project and attended meetings with Coventry City Council reference Super connected Cities and involved in the development of the West Midlands Combined Authority and the broader Midlands Engine.
Paul Carvell, MD of the SFB Group and Past President of the Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce
Paul Carvell is more than just an accountant – he’s a businessman. He is extremely passionate about helping others in business achieve their goals.
Born and bred in Coventry, Paul attended Caludon Castle School then began his career in 1979 at Fox Evans & Partners as a Trainee Accountant.
Since Paul became the Senior Partner in 2007, Stewart, Fletcher & Barrett has grown from strength to strength. Under his leadership, the business has grown by nearly 500%. SFB are now a nationwide firm, located in Nuneaton, Coventry, London, Wakefield and Hinckley. Among their respective communities, SFB are known to help the localities of their offices thrive by continually recruiting, training and developing local staff. In total, The SFB Group employ over 100 staff.
On an individual level with Paul, there are many achievements. He is the Past President of the Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, as well as the past Chair of Coventry & Warwickshire First, the local network for professional services organisations and a past President of WSCA & Aims Award Chair.
Paul has won multiple awards, including Business Professional of the Year at the Coventry & Warwickshire First Pro Awards and is the driving force behind SFB constantly being recognised by the British Accountancy Awards.
In addition, Paul always finds time to support his local community – he supported the Nuneaton carnival for a number of years. He has recently formed the SFB Charitable Trust, so that SFB can support a wider number of good causes.
Emma Heathcote-James, MD, The Little Soap Company
Emma Heathcote-James set up The Little Soap Company in 2008. Its been a roller coaster journey since then taking Emma from making soap at the kitchen table to selling hundreds of thousands of bars in the national supermarkets.
Her accolades include being a finalist for the Worcestershire Woman of the Year, winning the Hereford & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2015 and collecting other industry awards along the way for her increasing range of products. Emma was the Winner of the Coventry Telegraph Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2016 and FSB Overcoming Adversity Award 2018.
Its also worth noting that the Little Soap Company was the first company to be taken on by Waitrose within its first year of trading. The reason why Emma’s company has been so successful is that she produced the first organic soap bar to hit the supermarket shelves and at an affordable price, enabling customers for the first time to buy organic soap as part of their regular weekly shop.
Fleur Sexton, MD, PET-Xi Training
Fleur Sexton DL is Deputy Lieutenant of the West Midlands, representing Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of the West Midlands, Businesswoman of the Year 2017/18and Managing Director and co-founder of multi-ward winning PET-Xi Training, whose relentlessly upbeat teams and innovative programmes deliver impact, inspiration, productivity and value across the UK. PET-Xi recently pioneered a UK wide “Upskilling the Nation” scheme for unemployed & homeless adults, helping them to return to the workplace and society and an apprenticeship scheme to help young people gain vital skills, experience and qualifications in the world of work while working with companies, helping employers to raise standards and close the skills gap.
Fleur is dedicated to breaking barriers and improving chances, investing much of her time and 10% of profits into these activities, campaigning to Government and employers to invest in skills, motivating women to fulfil their potential and running the PET-Xi Foundationwhich raises money for young people nationwide. She runs free childcare for staff children in order to provide role models for young people and make a family friendly working environment.
Also, a board member of Coventry & Warwickshire Champions, Historic Coventry Trust, Chamber of Commerceand The NSPCC Business Group. PET-Xi are very hands-on, sponsoring and actively supporting at Birmingham Hippodrome, were active bid development sponsors of the successful Coventry City of Culture 2021 bid, The Wasps Netball team STEM project and Coventry Blaze Ice Hockey community foundation. Fleur is a married mother of 3, tweets as @FleurSextonand can be found at fleursexton.com
Gallagher (Debbie Moss)
Alsters Kelley (Catherine Wahlberg & Julie McGarrigle)
Debbie Davies, Auditel
Linsey Luke, Area Development Manager, FSB (Federation of Small Businesses)
Angela Tellyn, Regional Lead for the West Midlands, Careers and Enterprise Company
Ann Burton, Founder of The Academy of Coaching and Leadership