Our Judges

We have built a large panel of experts from which we can select a bespoke judging team that has an in depth knowledge of the sector to which the individual entries relate.

Mark Beer OBE

Partner at Keystone Law

Mark is a globally recognized advisor and academic known for his ground-breaking work in AI, legal tech, and innovation within the legal sector. With an exceptional ability to solve complex issues, Mark has been acknowledged as one of the ‘Top 50 most influential Brits in the UAE’ and listed among the 100 Inspiring Leaders in the Middle East. 

His distinguished career spans diverse leadership roles, including his tenure as Chief Executive of the DIFC Dispute Resolution Authority and Registrar General of the DIFC Courts. Mark’s pivotal contributions have led him to be twice shortlisted as the UK’s Solicitor of the Year – In-House and as one of the UK’s most innovative lawyers by the Law Society of England and Wales. 

Mark’s passion for technology and justice is evident through his role as Chairman of the AIFC LawTech Advisory Council and his active participation in the UK Government’s LawTech Delivery Panel’s Commercial Dispute Resolution Taskforce.  

As a Visiting Professor of AI and the Law at Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, Mark continues to shape the future of law. He co-founded the Deep Tech Dispute Resolution Lab at Oxford University, a pioneering research centre dedicated to leveraging AI for dispute resolution. 

Mark is a sought-after speaker and lecturer on LawTech, blockchain, smart contracts, and the implications of emerging technologies in commerce and dispute resolution. His relentless commitment to advancing the rule of law through technology has made him a leading authority in the global legal community. 

Sadie Groom

CEO, Bubble Agency

An entrepreneur since an early age, Sadie founded Bubble, a global PR, marketing and events company focusing on the entertainment technology, sports and AV business, in 1999 and is still very much the driving force. Sadie not only looks after the business side of Bubble and client strategy but also heavily promotes the role of women in the industries she works in. In 2017 she founded the Rise – Women in Broadcast group which is now a global group offering mentoring, training and awards across all job roles. 

Sadie has been awarded the Women in Business Champion of Change and IABM Shining Star for her work on gender diversity. Sadie is also on the board of the DPP and Buckinghamshire New University. 

In 2020 Sadie founded a new business, Marketing Leaders Circle, a global network for marketers in the media and entertainment industry, in July 2022 this business was expanded into The Circle Society welcoming the following job functions – sales, HR, finance, operations and leadership.  

Sadie is a keen traveller for business and pleasure and would like to spend more time on the golf course.  

Dr. Baoli Zhao

Founder and Managing Director, Allsee Technologies Ltd

Dr. Baoli Zhao is the founder and Managing Director of Allsee Technologies Ltd, a manufacturer of Digital Signage Displays. The company was awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation in 2017. The company has been recognised for their flexible all-in-one Digital Signage solution that allows users, regardless of budget and IT resources, to implement future-proof commercial displays in a diverse range of settings. Their innovation makes Digital Signage accessible to everyone, allowing small businesses to promote their services and products in an exciting and dynamic way.? 

Baoli is a mentor at Oxford University Innovation to help the university spin-outs with Intellectual Property, new venture creation, investment raising and technology marketing. Baoli is also an Ambassador of the Be the Business movement that was established to bring together companies large and small and make the UK home to the most ambitious firms in the world. Recently, he started an arttech company Vieunite. This innovative platform revolutionise how we consume art on a daily basis. It combines the Textura™ digital canvas with an online art community where artists can share and sell their work to art lovers all over the world. 

Baoli holds a PhD in Speech Recognition from Nottingham Trent University and an Executive MBA from Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. Baoli is also an Associate Fellow of Management Study in HSBC Business School (PHBS), Peking University. His responsibilities in this role include teaching practical management for MBA students to understand the roles of innovation, marketing and strategy in business. 

Natalie Bellis

Chief Executive Officer

Throughout her career, Natalie has been appointed across a wide range of Governance roles, including being a regulatory auditor for globally established brands such as Selfridges, EasyJet, Toyota and Nintendo. Natalie has also led large, well-known retail and financial services operations with over 500 employees in each sector, delivering their corporate strategies alongside chairing Corporate Risk Committees.

A highly experienced compliance specialist with a wealth of regulatory and administrative knowledge, Natalie has over 10 years in the sector and has a background specialising in creating and implementing governance frameworks and FCA regulations.

As CEO of The Seventy Ninth Group, Natalie’s role sees her managing and directing the company toward its primary goals and objectives, overseeing employment decisions at the executive level of the company and leading a team of executives to consider major decisions, including acquisitions, mergers, joint ventures, or large-scale expansion.

and https://the79thgroup.co.uk/

Charikleia Stouka

Founder ALMA Real Estate Hellas Agency

Charikleia’s story is the stuff that (business) fairy tales are made of. From struggling to find employment and forge a new path for herself in life to running one of Greece’s most beloved real estate agencies and helping younger people find their way in the professional landscape, hers is a story of passion, perseverance, and success — a story of how determination, grit, and commitment to growth can truly transform everything.

Over the past two years alone, Charikleia has garnered a series of accolades, including 3 GBE Awards and media features. She was named Most Influential Leader in Real Estate (Greece) at the Corporate Excellence Awards 2021 and emerged as the winner of three categories — Outstanding Entrepreneur, Outstanding Customer Service Initiative, and Outstanding Public Relations — at the Global Business Awards 2020. She has also been interviewed for, featured in, and written for a number of print and digital publications, including Business Partners, CIOLook, Corporate Vision, and Prime View magazines, and was chosen to participate in the Who’s Who of the World 2021 luxury coffee table book.

ALMA Real Estate Hellas was founded in 2001 on the principle of putting real estate back in the hands of the client. And like all things great, it started out small — a tiny operation, on a shoestring budget, run from a small desk in the corner of her parents’ living room. But Charikleia was determined. With a fresh voice and mindset, she set out to realize her vision of a company built around truly customer-centric thinking, outstanding personalized service, and a commitment to lifelong learning and the pursuit of excellence.

and https://www.almarealestatehellas.com/

Matthew Sanders

Executive Chairman at Suits Me Ltd

Matthew Sanders is a British, Award Winning Entrepreneur.  He founded several successful businesses in just over 20 years having set up his first business, de Poel in 2001 at the age of 26. He sold de Poel (now trading as GRI UK) in 2017/18 to Bain Capital, a US private equity company.  He now heads up Cheshire based Fintech and alternative banking solution, Suits Me Ltd.  Matthew has won several awards but has more recently been acknowledged by the Great British Entrepreneur Awards as a North-West finalist in the Scale-Up Entrepreneur of the Year Award. He is a keen supporter of The Outward Bound Trust. When Matthew isn’t busy working you will find him spending time with his family, supporting Liverpool FC, and racing his Classic BMW M3 and Triumph at various racetracks across the UK and Europe.

and https://suitsmecard.com/
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Haylee Benton

Founder & CEO, The Silver Fern Group

Originally from New Zealand, and now living and working in the UK, Haylee Benton is an entrepreneur with 15 years’ experience in creating sustainable business growth, both for her own start-ups and as a manager and director of large corporations.

Since the age of 22, Haylee has been transforming struggling businesses into multi-million-pound organisations before she successfully launched PamperPad, a platform where people can find top-rated beauty treatments nearby.

Now, she’s spearheading The Silver Fern Group where she is turning her concept of accessible VIP beauty and floristry experiences into a reality. Her four brands, Alchemy & I, Cecily Spa, Hanako and Koha Skin Clinics, all aim to turn ordinary services into extraordinary experiences, leading to them quickly becoming High Street successes.

Supported by a hand-picked team of hair, beauty, skin and floristry experts, Haylee’s brands are continuing to expand globally while picking up a number of awards, both within business and the personal care sector.

Visit: https://www.thesilverferngroup.co.uk/

Penelope Cheshire

Founder, Beauty Works Limited

Penelope Cheshire founded Beauty Works Limited in July 2010. She is an undisputed industry leader and pioneer in the hair industry. Through her extraordinary leadership, she has guided the organisation in becoming one of the world’s most successful and exciting beauty brands, selling hair extensions to more than 4000 professional salons and consumers in over 180 countries.
Penelope has successfully established a recognised multi-million-pound global concern, and with distributors in the US, Europe and Dubai, is on target to become the leading powerhouse in the hair and beauty space.

A respected, and revered businesswoman, Penelope’s efforts have been award-winning. The industry has taken notice of Penny’s extraordinary successes and acknowledged her talents with accolades from the Marie Claire Hair Awards and the OK Beauty Awards. In July 2020, she was named Outstanding Entrepreneur at the Global Excellence Awards and in September, Outstanding Female Entrepreneur at the Best Business Awards. Her products have featured in Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Grazia Magazine and Glamour, and been awarded at The Hair Awards every year since 2013. They have been worn by Nicole Scherzinger, Olivia Palermo, Bella Hadid and Dame Joan Collins. In 2018, Hollywood actors, Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, wore Penelope’s hair extensions in the film, ‘A Star is Born’, and in 2015, she collaborated on a range of hair extensions with Jen Atkin, voted the most influential woman in hair on the planet.

An inspiring businesswomen and entrepreneur, Penelope has created employment for local people in Cheadle and is particularly proactive in employing young women from low socio-economic backgrounds who struggle to secure employment elsewhere. Of her team of 60, 50 are women.

Penelope is a vocal advocate for men and women’s rights to wear hair pieces without fear of judgement or embarrassment, vital for those suffering from illness-related hair loss and cancer. She is deeply committed to inclusivity and diversity, providing equal opportunities for plus-size models, embracing different ages and skin colours. A genuine philanthropist, in February 2020, Penelope launched the Penelope Cheshire Foundation through which her continuing charitable work will be filtered. In October 2020, she was named Founder Patron of Hideout Youth Zone, a charity that helps underprivileged children in Manchester; its objective is to provide young people aged eight-19 with somewhere to go, something to do and someone to talk to. She is donating her time to the organisation, and £25,000, annually, for the next four years.

Visit: https://beautyworksonline.com/

Ryan Dempsey


Ryan has held several positions across a variety of sectors which has naturally moulded his character and fuelled his motivation to operate outside of the norm. From years in the military, a police officer onto becoming a fully qualified electrician his career path took him into the world of Social Housing where he was quickly recognised as a leading figure in the management of compliance and risk.

In October 2017 Ryan was awarded a Fellowship of the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET). At the age of 35 he was one of the youngest Fellows to be elected for his outstanding contribution to the Electrician, Technology and Housing Markets. He is currently the Chairman of the Electrical Safety Roundtable – Social Housing. The committee created pioneering guidance which was publish in the Houses of Parliament as a Code of Practice in 2017.

Co-Founding TCW Ryan wanted to disrupt the old, inefficient ways of managing assets/compliance. With 41 million checks performed to date and processing 4,000 documents daily, the software is turning previously unsearchable data into a searchable database of scrutinised information and knowledge, enabling data-driven planning and strategic decision making. He truly believes if you support and empower people by giving them visibility of data and information, things will change for the better.

Visit: https://www.tcwin.co.uk/

Michael Tobin OBE

Michael was CEO of TelecityGroup plc, where he led the business from a market cap of £6m to Europe’s leading Data Centre operator worth over £1.5bn. He is currently engaged in non-executive roles across 4 continents, helping businesses within the TMT space to drive growth and profitability both at an early stage and at exit level. Michael is on the board of tech companies Pacnet in Asia and DataPipe in the USA. He is also chairman of Ultrahaptics, the developer of ultrasonic free-space haptics technology. He is author of ‘Forget Strategy. Get Results.: Radical Management Attitudes That Will Deliver Outstanding Success’.

In 2014 he was awarded an OBE by the Queen for Services to the Digital Economy. Michael has won multiple awards including the PwC Technology CEO of the Year and the EY Entrepreneur of the Year three years in a row. Michael is also engaged with many charities including being chairman of CEO Sleepout UK and of the Friends of the Loomba Foundation. In 2016 he will be completing 40 marathons in 40 consecutive days to raise £1m for the Princes Trust’s 40th Anniversary year to help disadvantaged children.

When asked to talk about his ‘radical’ approach to management, Michael said: “When I wanted to encourage my team to break old patterns of thinking, I treated them to an unprotected swim with sharks. When I needed to diffuse tension between colleagues who had previously been bitter rivals, I took them up to the Arctic Circle where they had to huddle together to keep warm at night”.

Stuart Lyons CBE

Stuart is chairman of Beales department stores. He is also chairman of the furniture manufacturer and distributor Airsprung Group Plc. In his executive career, he was a managing director of UDS Group plc, which owned the Allders Department Stores, Richard Shops, John Collier and Timpson businesses. Subsequently, he joined Pearson plc, where he was chairman and chief executive of the Royal Doulton group. He has been chairman of the British Ceramic Confederation, the West Midlands Development Agency, Gartmore Absolute Growth and Income Trust PLC, The Wensum Company plc and the Development Board of King’s College, Cambridge.

Stuart has served on the Ordnance Survey Review Committee, the Monopolies and Mergers Commission, and as a parliamentary front-bench advisor on trade and industry, health and education, and transport and the environment. His publications on the privatisation of Royal Mail and the remodelling of the DTI as a Department for Business both proved influential. Recently, he founded the Entrepreneurship awards scheme at King’s College, Cambridge.

In 1993 Stuart was awarded a CBE for services to the china industry.

Howard McKenzie

Managing Director, HMSL

Howard McKenzie spent 30 years as a manager and academic in education and training rising from tenant dairy farmer to Principal of a large College in Scotland. In 2008 he returned to the portfolio life of a consultant building an international client base in the engineering, financial services, education and publishing sectors. He remains the senior academic consultant for Pearson plc. – Direct Delivery who deliver education and training to 20000 students across the Gulf region. He is deployed to make high level educational management interventions including a four month assignment as Interim Dean at TQ Pearson Makkah College in Saudi Arabia. Howard is a Fellow of the Institute of Directors and a Chartered Director with experience of providing high level advice and support for Boards and companies. He is also a published romantic novelist.

Ian Hughes

Managing Director, Consumer Intelligence

Driven by his passion for information technology, Ian has made it his life’s work to help companies understand how to improve their world by helping them better understand and serve their customers. He started his career by combining his love for IT with Marketing in roles at M&S and MM Group, and went on to form eCharity.com during the .com boom.  In 2003, he launched Consumer Intelligence – an insight partner for financial services which uses its unique data offering to provide compelling consumer understanding and a comprehensive view of the marketplace, inspiring confident decisions that build consumer trust. Ian is also Fellow of the Institute of Direct Marketing, an I Love Claims Board member, and a graduate of Harvard Business School.

Visit: www.consumerintelligence.com

Nicky McCrudden FCMI

Organisational Psychology – Doctoral Researcher

Nicky McCrudden is an entrepreneur, L&D consultant and chocolate devotee, who recently returned to her first love, academia to study for a doctorate in humanistic leadership.

A fellow of both the Chartered Management Institute and the Royal Society of Arts, Nicky’s career spans the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. After managing projects for the RNIB and leading strategic service redesign projects for the NHS, she founded McCrudden Partnership, a creative learning and development company dedicated to providing highly effective learning to operational managers in 2005.  As Managing Director, she guided the company from a ‘harry potter’ business operating from the cupboard under the stairs through a decade and a half of continual growth. Surrounded by a team of highly sought-after consultants and trainers Nicky worked with clients including the Natural History Museum, England Rugby, NHS, Canon UK and Europe, and British Gypsum.  She personally designed and developed a cutting-edge digital learning platform and her ‘partnership’ philosophy won her recognition in a host of awards, including the prestigious Training Journal Awards (2019) and CIPD People Management Awards (2021).

After 17-years at the head of McCrudden Training, Nicky transitioned back to academia, now studying for a PhD with the University of Sussex’s Business School. Despite her full-time research commitments, Nicky remains a Non-Executive Director of McCrudden Training and ‘keeps her hand in’ approach as Chair of a CIC for a community interest company.

Visit: mccruddenpartnership.co.uk

Niall Shanahan


Niall is an international consultant and Digital Transformation Lead at escalla, providing services to multi-nationals, systems integrators and central and local governments.

He has designed and delivered learning programmes supporting technological and cultural transformation in leading commercial and governmental organisations around the world, helping them embrace new ways of working and doing business, to achieve positive and sustainable outcomes.

Niall led the submission that won escalla a National Training Award for their work supporting organisational and community regeneration through radical recruitment and training programmes. He is also an integral part of the team that consistently wins the company multi-million-pound training contracts around the world. He is a Fellow of the LPI and contributes to leading think tanks, especially around successful global learning initiatives and developments in learning and technology.

Visit: http://escalla.co.uk