Over sixty of the UK’s leading directors were shortlisted for the Institute of Directors’ annual Director of the Year Awards Finals, which celebrate business leaders.
The prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award was won by veteran entrepreneur, Richard Branson, in recognition of his extraordinary achievements over nearly half a century in business.
A total of nine directors represented Wales at the awards, which recognise and celebrate some of the nation’s most impressive business leaders, with nominees coming from a range of industries, sectors and backgrounds. The high-calibre entrants have all made outstanding contributions in their fields, and the overall winners were announced at the Lancaster London hotel on Friday.
James established SuperStars straight from university and his company aims to supports schools to raise standards in sport, music, art and drama through the deployment of inspirational subject specialists.
Over the last seven years he has grown and led the business to where it is today – working with over 400 schools across Wales and the South West, employing 240 staff, working with 62,500 children a week.
James currently leads the Welsh Government’s Entrepreneurship Panel, despite being the youngest person on it, and said: “I’m completely overwhelmed at winning this award. I was up against directors of huge companies, based all over the UK, so I’m shocked but absolutely ecstatic. The best thing was having my partner and parents in the audience, their support means everything to me.
“I believe it is the first time someone from Wales has won the overall title, so I’m delighted to be representing Wales. We’re a nation of thriving and innovative businesses so I’m proud to help put Wales on the map through this award win.
“This award is not just for me, it’s for my talented and hardworking team who help not only ensure that SuperStars is a commercial success, but a success socially helping to raise the standards of learning in hundreds of schools. While recognition like this is great, my passion comes from developing bright futures for children by giving outstanding experiences and opportunities.”
Robert Lloyd Griffiths said: “These were our most successful awards yet with a category winner, two Highly Commended Welsh Directors and an overall Welsh winner – it has been a fantastic afternoon.
“This was our best performance and I’m thrilled that Wales triumphed with the overall Director of the Year winner. James Taylor gave two very inspirational speeches – one for his category win and then when he was announced overall winner, for which he was given a standing ovation.
“He paid credit to his parents and spoke about the importance of inspirational business directors in driving the economy forward and how business leaders are responsible for providing positivity and using good governance in business, which can make such a great difference to society.
“I am very proud of our Welsh directors – all those who were shortlisted are amazing individuals. James’ win along with Shane Bissett and Penny Brockman being highly commended is a huge shot in the arm for the IoD in Wales.”
The national finals of the Director of the Year Awards have been held every year since 2010. Winners from the regional heats progress to the final where they compete against directors from across the UK. Previous overall winners include Graham Honeyman of Sheffield Forgemasters, and Lawrence Tomlinson, who was appointed Entrepreneur in Residence at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, following his victory at the awards in 2013.
Ian Dormer, chairman of the Institute of Directors, added: “We hold these awards every year because we believe in the value of leadership. In big corporates, small businesses, the public sector and charities, the different between success and failure is leadership.
“The quality and range of entrants showcase the very best of the UK’s talented business leaders. Every day they dedicate themselves to navigating their organisation through economic challenges and complex regulations, finding room for the creativity and innovation needed to take their business to the next level.
“This year, the calibre of entrants was exceptionally high and all of our winners and highly commended business leaders deserve immense credit for seeing off some tough competition to impress our panel of expert judges. We look forward to following their continued success in the years ahead.”