2019 Judges

Judges are senior business and community figures who have been carefully selected for their expertise and professionalism.

Mike Clare

Mike Clare

Mike Clare is best known as the founder and former CEO of Dreams PLC, which he grew to over 200 stores nationwide before selling the firm in March 2008.

Since then, Mike has formed Clarenco, amassing an impressive commercial property portfolio consisting of commercial properties, large residential homes and venues suitable for the hospitality sector.

Piers Linney

Pies Linney

Piers Linney appeared on the BBC TV series Dragons’ Den from 2013-2015, he is also a Non-Executive Director of the UK government-owned development bank, British Business Bank, which has facilitated over £12 billion of financing for UK small and medium-sized businesses and also operates the StartUp Loan Company and British Patient Capital, a £2,5bn fund launched in 2018. 

Jackie Fast

Jackie Fast

Arriving from Canada in 2007 with the intent to backpack Europe, Jackie Fast ended up staying in London and launching her career. Her first business – Slingshot Sponsorship – was started in her bedroom in 2010 with just a laptop and £2,000. Six years later, she sold it for millions.

Recently Jackie launched her latest disrupter business REBEL Pi, an ice wine brand and starred on the latest season of The Apprentice.

Matt Gubba

Matt Gubba

Matt Gubba is CEO & founder of BizBritain, a provider of alternative start up finance, and of the largest brokers of UK government funded Start Up Loans.


In 2012, Matt founded BizBritain, an organisation which works closely with the UK government and to date has funded close to 2,000 entrepreneurs to the tune of around £14m.

Maggie Rodriguez-Piza

Maggie Rodriguez-Piza

Maggie Rodriguez-Piza has been CEO of Funding London since 2009, Maggie has been at the helm of two funds which have been launched: the MMC London Fund and the London Co-Investment Fund.

Funding London has invested £50m through its equity and loan funds into more than 500 small and micro enterprises.

Steven Smith

Steven Smith

Steven Smith Founded Poundland In December 1990. He Sold His Business For An Astonishing £50 Million In 2002.
Steven was part of BBC1’s prime-time programme “Pound Wars and he recently featured on the ITV show ‘Million Pound Properties’. Steve is now an investor and mentor and was recently also voted Britain’s Best Boss.

Naomi Timperley

Naomi Timperley

Naomi Timperley is an Honorary Industry Fellow at Salford Business School, Co-Founder of  Tech North Advocates which champions tech in the north of England and Chair of investment platform Capital Pilot.

Naomi was part of the Maserati 100 in 2015 – a definite list of entrepreneurs who support the entrepreneurs of tomorrow from the Centre of Entrepreneurs. Naomi is also a mentor, TEDx speaker and consultant.

Donna O’Toole

Donna.O'Toole

Donna O’Toole owns August, a consultancy which helps businesses stand out as an industry leader.
Donna is an experienced awards expert and judge  who has helped hundreds of household brands, businesses, and leaders to grow their business and increase their sales through winning prestigious awards.
Donna has even been recognised for her outstanding contribution to judging by the UK Employee Experience Awards.

Mark Nutter

Mark Nutter

Mark is a successful Entrepreneur and has founded, acquired and sold several business in the IT and software sector and sold his last business to Capita Plc in 2015.
Having experience in start-ups through to being a CEO at the Isys Group, Mark is now an active investor and business mentor.
Mark is also Chairman and Founder of Emirates HR, a Dubai based HR software business.

John Courtney

John Courtney

John is highly ranked in the Top 100 UK Entrepreneurs list by City AM and is winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award from techSPARK. He is also a business Mentor, with Microsoft Scale-Up and HRH Prince Andrew’s Pitch@Palace.
John has been a Board Director for over 40 years and founded 7 of his own businesses. He is now Chief Executive of Boardroom Advisors which provides “real world” Non-Executive Directors to Scale-Ups and  SME’s.

Umerah Akram

Umerah Akram

Umerah is Head of ELITE in the UK and outside Europe. ELITE is London Stock Exchange Group’s initiative for private companies. Umerah led the launch of ELITE UK in 2014 and since then has focused on continuing to grow the ecosystem to support ambitious, private companies prepare and structure for external investment and the next stage of growth.
Umerah joined London Stock Exchange in 2005 as part of the AIM Regulation team responsible for the day to day regulation of the Exchange’s market for small and mid caps. Prior to LSEG, Umerah worked within the Audit & Assurance practice of Deloitte where she qualified as a chartered accountant.

Charles Tuke

Charles Tuke

Charles Tuke is a Director at Home Grown, a new private members’ club, launching in Marylebone, London in Spring 2019, that will bring together entrepreneurs, investors and business innovators from a wide range of sectors and industries.
Home Grown is being developed by the team behind renowned private members’ club Home House, one of the companies belonging to the Fairford Holdings Group. For over 12 years, Charles has provided business development support for Fairford.

Justin Urquhart Stewart

Justin Urquhart Stewart

Justin, perhaps best known as one of the most recognisable and trusted market commentators on television, radio and in the press, is co-founder and senior advisor at Regionally, a new regional investment exchange that is being launched to plug the £5.5bn equity gap that exists for rapid growth SMEs in the regions.
Set up to redefine business finance for SMEs throughout the UK, Regionally pairs investment ready investors looking for good income streams and returns, with exciting, fast growth regional businesses looking to raise £0.25-£10million through equity and bonds.

The 2019 Business Leader Awards


The Business Leader Awards are free to enter and you can enter any number of awards. Entry is open to organisations where the principle activity or head office is based in the UK. Please refer to the Award Entry Guidelines for each category.

If you have any questions regarding award entry, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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    2019 Awards Sponsored by


  • Stackhouse Poland
  • Castle Business Finance

2019 Awards is supported by