Judges for 2018 will be announced soon
Judges from 2017:
Partner at Broad Chare Partners
Stephen started his professional career in audit with Deloitte before entering private client investment management with Brewin Dolphin plc, during which time he was invited to become a Fellow of the Securities Institute. He managed financial planning for Bank of Scotland Private Banking in the North of England prior to establishing the Practice in 2006.
Broad Chare Partners is a Partner Practice of St James’s Place Wealth Management and offers business owners and individuals bespoke wealth management services. The Practice’s clients include professionals and directors of growing businesses, the latter for whom they provide comprehensive support in respect of the overlapping needs of the individual, family and business, which change markedly from start-up to exit, succession or retirement.
Bank of England, Agent for the North East
Director of Business Assurance and Head of Internal Audit, University of Sunderland
Having worked in local government for almost 9 years David joined KPMG in 2001. During his time with KPMG he worked in the FE / HE assurance and advisory teams. In 2005 David joined the University of Sunderland as Deputy Director of Planning and Finance. In 2009, remaining in the University, he moved roles to take over responsibility for the newly formed Business Assurance Service.
Jodie Barwick Bell
Former Chair of the North East CIOT and ATT
Jodie specialises in taxation for High Net Worth families. She trained as a tax adviser at Deloitte and then worked at KPMG’s Newcastle office for 13 years, leading the Private Client Tax practice there from 2008 to 2013.
Jodie left KPMG to work in-house for high net worth families. Jodie was initially a Director at Vardy Family Office and now is Head of Family Office at HMC Group.
Performance Horizon Group
Chris Blaxall returned to the North East in 2006 having spent the previous nine years in Australia. He had left the North East in 1997 after successfully seeing Derwent Valley Foods (Phileas Fogg) through a trade sale to United Biscuits as Group Finance Director, and the turn round and refinancing of Tomorrows Leisure plc and its listing on the London Stock Exchange as Managing Director.
In Australia, Chris developed the national private equity advisory and M&A business of Deloitte as a partner, before being headhunted for a global CFO role for a software company.
Upon returning to the North East, he has assisted in the growth and development of a number of companies including the Tanfield Food Company (‘’Look What We Found’’), Kilfrost Group plc and latterly Carlton Manufacturing from start up, leading to its sale to a major public company in 2015.
Chris is currently the CFO of Performance Horizon, the global leading provider of SaaS solutions for partner marketing, enabling large enterprises to drive significant sales through their online marketing partners and affiliates. The world’s top digital content, retail, travel and financial services companies rely on Performance Horizon’s highly scalable platform to generate over $3 billion in sales across 200,000 marketing partners. The benefits include highly flexible partner management capabilities; real-time measurement and tracking of performance; optimization through deep analytics; and settlement in over 60 currencies in 185 countries around the world. With offices in the U.S., UK, Japan and Australia, Performance Horizon is backed by top-tier investors in London, New York and San Francisco.
Senior Controller, Finance Department, Nissan Motor Manufacturing
Alison is a Senior Controller in the Finance Department of Nissan Motor Manufacturing (UK) Limited in Sunderland. She has spent all of her industrial career at Nissan, a total of 30 years.
During that time she has witnessed the plant growing from its humble beginnings in 1986 to the major North East employer it is today. She has covered many roles in the Finance Dept. including Treasury, Financial Planning, Financial Reporting and is currently responsible for Corporate Governance.
Alison is also a Trustee and Deputy Chairman of the company’s Defined Benefits pension scheme. She is a chartered accountant having trained and qualified with Coopers & Lybrand in Newcastle.
Investment Executive – FW Capital
Keith is a Chartered Accountant and has been active in the venture capital and investment sector for over 14 years. He currently works as an Investment Executive for FW Capital, making and managing investments in growing North East based SME businesses.
Prior to this, Keith qualified as a Chartered Accountant in the City of London, then worked as a Senior Executive in the Supervision Division of the Securities and Investments Board (now the FCA) and as a Regulatory Adviser in the Listing Department of the London Stock Exchange. Upon returning to his native North East he has provided fund raising, disposal, pre-investment appraisal/due diligence and financial management and consultancy services and acted in Finance Director roles to a number of local businesses. He has gained a valuable understanding of SME businesses and the difficulties they face raising funds, as well as first-hand experience of the key drivers of successful businesses.
Professional Qualification – FCA
Partner, Muckle LLP
Philip is a Partner in the Corporate Team at Muckle LLP. He advises clients on a whole range of corporate finance matters, such as business acquisitions and disposals, public company transactions and corporate reorganisations. He frequently acts for clients buying or selling businesses and also regularly advises on company law and corporate governance matters.
Retired Performance Specialist with the Audit Commission
With over 40 years in public service George has delivered audit, inspection, financial services and corporate governance advice to a range of public sector organisations Spent 25 years at Newcastle City Council where he rose to the post of Chief Internal Auditor and head of risk management and insurance.
Joined the Audit Commission as an Inspector delivering over 50 assessments across a range of Local Authority, Health, Police and Fire Services. After being made redundant from the Commission in February 2011, George has gone on to use his skills on Boards, Audit Committees or Governance Committees of Gateshead Housing Company, Your Homes Newcastle, Nexus, North East Combined Authority and South Tyneside College chairing many of them. George is also Independent Person for both Newcastle and North Tyneside Councils where he is consulted on all complaints against Councillors
Has worked with the Shanghai Municipal Reform project, with the Crown Agents and Chief Internal Auditors from Nigeria, Tanzania, Malawi, and Georgia. Had four tours of Bosnia helping to develop proper internal control processes and establishing effective Internal Audit. Has also worked with the Federal Republic of Macedonia developing anti corruption hotlines and training programmes for the staff operating them.
He is a past President of CIPFA North East Region and was awarded the Dr Hedley Marshall award for outstanding voluntary service to CIPFA’s regions over a 21 year period.
AAT Tyne and Wear Branch
Deborah has been running an accountancy practice specialising in small business since 2008, following a career change from commercial accountancy. Before that she gained over 18 years of experience within sectors such as logistics, trade and retail, finance, project development and manufacturing.
Deborah is ACCA qualified, an AAT Member in Practice, and the former chair of the AAT Tyne and Wear Branch
North East Region Director, Department for International Trade
Department of Trade North East Region Director David Coppock previously led LG-Philips Displays in the UK and managed its Durham manufacturing plant. He has also worked for Rover and Rank Xerox. He is now focussed on helping the North East to continue to grow its export-led economy.
Executive Director of Finance, Newcastle University
As Newcastle University's Chief Finance Officer, Richard has overall responsibility for the institution's finance function and the management of effective financial planning, monitoring and control necessary to support its academic and commercial activities. He is also tasked with ensuring that the University is able to deliver on its business plans as it continues to build its reputation regionally, nationally and internationally.
Prior to his appointment, Richard held senior finance, sales and operational roles in the private sector, principally with BT.
He has strong international experience, having lived and worked in the USA, and led financial aspects of the BT’s expansion in Eastern Europe, Africa and Latin America.
Chairman, Square One Law LLP
Alan is an experienced corporate lawyer and a founding partner of Square One Law. As well as being qualified in both Scottish and English law Alan also qualified as a chartered accountant with Arthur Andersen before working for Ernst & Young in Newcastle. During almost 20 years in professional practice Alan has been responsible for the provision of the whole range of corporate and commercial services, including M & A, refinancing, IPOs, joint ventures, not for profit, corporate governance and company secretarial matters.
Investment Director, Rathbone Investment Management
James helped to open the Newcastle office of Rathbones in 2013. He has 17 years investment industry experience having previously worked at UBS Wealth Management and Brewin Dolphin. He helps private individuals and trusts manage their money. James graduated in law from Newcastle University, holds the Chartered Institute of Securities and Investment (CISI) Diploma and is a Chartered Fellow of the CISI. He is also a trustee of the Great North Air Ambulance Service.
Professional Qualification - Chartered FCSI
Chief Operating Officer, North East England Chamber of Commerce
David qualified as a Chartered Accountant with Chamber Partners KPMG in Newcastle and before joining the Chamber has spent a number of years working with entrepreneurial businesses in the North East of England. His experience spans audit and transaction services in practice, through to financial and operational management and strategy in business. He has worked with businesses across the whole spectrum of size and industry in the region.
Professional Qualification - ACA
Chief Executive Officer, North East Access to Finance Limited
Stephen is Chief Executive Officer of North East Access to Finance Limited, the body responsible for the management and stewardship of the financial legacy from the region’s SME investment funds.
Stephen is also Hon. Treasurer of Newcastle University and a member of the University’s Council.
He is a chartered accountant having trained with KPMG in Newcastle and was formerly a partner with Haines Watts in the North east.
He holds a small number of non-executive and trustee positions with private organisations.
Development Director, Leathers LLP
Tim has practised in tax for over thirty years and has held senior roles with a number of accountancy businesses across the North East. A Chartered Accountant and Chartered Tax Advisor, he is now the Development Director at Leathers LLP. Tim sat on the committee of the CIOT North East England branch for over ten years and was Chairman of the branch from 2010 to 2012.
Finance Director, Grainger Management Ltd
John is a Chartered Certified Accountant with an MBA from Durham University Business School.
He has a background in the offshore oil and gas industry having worked in Scotland and the Middle East for many years.
Presently he holds a number of finance director roles with companies based in the North East of England and is is a former President of Northern Counties ACCA
Associate Director, Nigel Wright
Richard leads the Accountancy, Supply Chain & Procurement, Professional Services and HR business units at Nigel Wright and is part of the operational business leadership team. Richard’s specific recruitment focus is C-Level appointments across the North, predominantly CFO, FD, CEO and COO positions.
Richard also assumes a market figurehead position for Nigel Wright, sitting on regional committees, developing a strong professional services / advisory network and leading the delivery of several keynote industry events
Originally from Wales and a graduate of Cardiff University, Richard moved to the North East in 2004, he spent three years training as an Accountant before making the switch into recruitment in 2007.
Employee 13 , Leaf.fm
Paul is an experienced accountant with a specialism for start-ups in the digital sector. In his current position he heads up finance and operations for Leaf.fm, the next generation music experience. A social network that combines music, community and commerce; giving fans a direct way to discover, connect and support the artists behind the music they love.
Professional Qualification – CIMA
Partner, Bond Dickinson
Robert is a corporate finance partner with over 25 years’ experience of advising clients on private and public company mergers and acquisitions, IPOs, domestic and international joint ventures and corporate governance.
In over 20 years working in the North East corporate marketplace as part of an award winning regional firm, Robert has advised on some of the most significant transactions in the region and worked with some of the region’s best known entrepreneurs. Robert’s specialisation is working with owner-managers and shareholders around strategic direction and maximising value when exiting their companies and also on the reverse side of those transactions, acting for corporates acquiring new businesses and companies as part of growth strategies.
Robert has been named Insider’s North-East corporate lawyer of the year on three separate occasions – and worked on 4 of the awards’ ceremony “Deal of the Year” in the North East Region.
Following outstanding client feedback Robert was named as a star lawyer in the ‘Acritas Stars’ global database 2017
Chief Finance Officer, Northumberland CCG
Former Director of Finance and Corporate Governance and Deputy Chief Executive at South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust, having previously fulfilled a similar role at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle.
Vice President and Chairman of St Oswald’s Hospice
Professional Qualification – CIPFA and Fellow of Healthcare Financial Management Association
Chair, ACCA Northern Counties Network
Gillian is the Chair of the ACCA Northern Counties Network supporting over 2000 ACCA members and students in The North East. ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants which aims to offer business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management. ACCA supports 178,000 members and 455,000 students in 181 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers.
After qualifying as an accountant with ACCA, Gillian decided to specialise in corporate rescue and recovery. She currently heads up Begbies Traynor Newcastle upon Tyne office where she works with businesses and individuals throughout the north east to try and find solutions when they are facing cash flow and financial problems. If a solution is not available she will work with the business or individual to achieve an orderly wind down of the estate.
Professional Qualification – FCCA/JIEB
Prof Richard Slack
Professor in Accounting at Durham University Business School
Prior to his academic career, Richard, an Economics graduate of St Andrews University, worked at Price Waterhouse, Newcastle, and is a qualified chartered accountant.
Richard is a fellow of the Higher Education Academy and currently teaches accounting as part of the collaborative KPMG/ICAEW Accounting degree at Durham. He also teaches on the full time and Executive MBA programmes. Richard’s research encompasses areas of accounting disclosure. Richard is principal investigator on an ACCA funded project examining the use and usefulness of integrated reporting to capital market users and supervises a funded doctorate examining the meaning and value of mutuality.
Externally, Richard has served as visiting professor at The University of Florence and The University of Sydney; is co-chair of the annual Financial Reporting and Business Communication (FRBC) conference and a member of the executive committee of the Financial Accounting and Reporting special interest group of the British Finance and Accounting Association.
David R Smith
Financial Accounting Advisory Services, Ernst & Young LLP
David is an Executive Director with EY and currently leads the Accounting Compliance Reporting team within the national Financial Accounting Advisory Services (FAAS) practice. He manages both Corporate and Government & Public Sector (G&PS) clients delivering finance and accounting advice in areas such as accounts closedown, monthly reporting, technical accounting, budget and project management, value for money, performance improvement as well as finance function effectiveness. He is currently growing his team within EY’s Centre of Excellence at Citygate in Newcastle. David is married with two teenage daughters and lives on Teesside.
Partner, Bond Dickinson
Jeremy heads the business tax team at national firm, Bond Dickinson LLP. He acts for a range of clients, both in the public and private sector, and advises on:
- company acquisitions and disposals;
- property acquisitions and disposals;
- private equity transactions;
- corporate restructurings and reorganisations; and
- the design, implementation and operation of employee incentive arrangements (including cash bonus arrangements and tax-advantaged share schemes).
Director, Witton House Associates
Educated at the Universities of Leeds, Caen and Oxford, Fiona began her career as a fast-track Civil Servant in Whitehall, before joining Royal Mail plc where she undertook operational, training and management posts both at home and abroad, culminating in Business Implementation and Delivery Director on a UK-wide IT Programme.
Returning to the North East, Fiona set up her own consultancy practice providing language services, project management and business development support to SMEs across all three sectors. Currently Fiona is working in and with Social Enterprises across the region. In addition, Fiona is employed by the Ministry of Justice as a Specialist (mental health) Lay Tribunal Member and is a Non-Executive Director of Together for Children - Sunderland.
Fiona enjoys voluntary positions as a Visiting Fellow of Newcastle University and member of the Business School’s International Advisory Panel, a Trustee of Vindolanda, Chair of Northumberland based performance arts company November Club, a member of the Common Purpose North East Advisory Panel, Chair of the North East Advisory Panel for the charity Safe Families for Children, a member of the Local Governing Body of Northumberland College and a Trustee of the Kielder Observatory Astronomical Society.
Director at Northern Clothing Company
Paul works in a number of SME organisations in a range of sectors in a Exec and Non Exec capacity. He is a Director at Northern Clothing Company who are re-shoring clothing manufacturing from the Far East and a Director of underwear business “OddBalls” selling boxer shorts on-line and driving awareness of testicular cancer. Paul also spends his time as Chair at Northern Rights, a North East based welfare to work provider who look at helping those furthest from the job market with health problems progress into employment.
Paul has been a Non-Executive Director on the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) since its inception in 2011 and is a Non Executive Director at North East based ITPS, the datacentre and unified communications specialists, providing strategic insight to help them grow their business.
Paul was Chief Executive at Premiership Rugby Club Newcastle Falcons and prior to the Falcons was at Carillion plc where he was the Managing Director of Carillion Energy Services (formerly Eaga plc), the UK’s leading independent energy services provider and one of the largest installers of domestic renewable technologies across the UK.
Paul started his career qualifying as an accountant at Procter and Gamble and worked on various projects across Europe during a nine year period. Prior to joining Eaga Paul worked for Logica as a Business Development Director and for three years at Siemens as an Operations Director.
Paul lives in Gosforth, Newcastle, and is married with two children.
Chief Finance Officer, North East Combined Authority
Paul Woods, Chief Finance Officer, North East Combined Authority
After 33 successful years at Newcastle City Council, including 12 as City Treasurer/Director of Resources, Paul set up his own consultancy company in April 2014. He started work at the new North East Combined Authority in May 2014 as interim CFO on a part time basis, and continued to advise the Association of North East Councils on funding issues. As the challenges of securing Economic Growth and the Devolution agenda have grown, the work for NECA has become almost a full time job. The contribution of Paul and his team have been recognised by awards for regional and national Finance Director of the year; awards for innovation; and he is included in the prestigious Public Finance list of Top 50 Trailblazers in 2015 and 2016.