The best in business: IoD Director of the Year Awards 2015


The brightest stars of the business world were honoured at the IoD Director of the Year Awards 2015 UK final. Director was on hand to celebrate the leaders at the forefront of excellence and hear the success secrets of the deserving winners

Few occasions in the business calendar spark excitement and anticipation quite like the IoD Director of the Year Awards. The annual event celebrates the very best in business – from entrepreneurs driving SMEs and family-owned companies, to the heads of large firms and those directors making outstanding achievements in corporate governance.

This year’s lunchtime awards ceremony, which took place at the London Lancaster hotel on Friday 23 October, was no exception. Seventy-five finalists had come through the IoD’s tough regional awards process, the culmination of a 12-month search for the country’s most outstanding business leaders.

A respected line-up of 33 judges, including IoD director general Simon Walker, head of fleet at Škoda, Patrick McGillycuddy, and commercial director of TotallyExec, Dan Richards, picked through the entrants’ detailed submissions to draw up a shortlist of finalists over 14 categories. One of those winners also took home the coveted Overall Director of the Year award.

After a three-course lunch, comedian Miles Jupp – chair of Radio 4’s long-running comedy show, The News Quiz – hosted the ceremony and offered his own observations of the business world and current political climate. Describing the occasion, Lady Barbara Judge, who presented the award for International Director of the Year, said it “recognises the people behind the scenes who work tirelessly… Too often when we think of large companies, small businesses, charities and the public sector, we see the things they do, but not the individuals that make it happen.”

During the celebration there was also time for reflection as the room paid its respects to retail expert and long-standing IoD member Peter O’Toole, who had been shortlisted in the SME Company Director of the Year category but sadly passed away two weeks before the awards. O’Toole was remembered as a visionary Welsh business leader whose customer service experience had inspired him to establish Retail Merchandising Services a decade ago.

There were tears and smiles too in memory of Dr Neville Bain, chairman of the IoD from 2006 to 2012. His significant contribution to business and seminal work on corporate governance had led the organisation to inaugurate the Dr Neville Bain Memorial Award in 2013, which is open to Chartered Directors only.

Kate Brackenbury, the IoD’s director of membership and regions, presented the final award of the day – the coveted Director Lifetime Achievement award – to Lord Allen of Kensington. The chairman of Global Radio, who is also the focus of this month’s cover interview, was honoured for an outstanding multi-sector career of over 30 years.

In a week that had seen China’s president Xi Jinping visiting Britain to sign multibillion-pound investment deals, Lady Judge spoke of her great pride in the achievements of the IoD membership, and of British business.

“He chooses Britain because we are open for business and we are a major player in the world economy,” she told the audience. “This is testament to the fortitude, dynamism and vitality of British businesses and company directors.”

Lady Judge’s words summed up all the IoD’s winners and while every victor was visibly humbled by their wins, the ecstatic cheers and applause from the room was testament to the deserving nature of their great achievements.

Over the next fortnight will profile the winners of the Director of the Year Awards 2015 and learn some of the secrets of their success. Click here to discover the winner of the family business director award.

Director of the Year Awards 2015: on the day…

What we ate 

Mushroom cannelloni with caramelised baby onions and a balsamic cream sauce, followed by pot-roasted guinea fowl with gratin dauphinoise, spinach, carrots, celeriac and edamame beans with a green peppercorn sauce, and for dessert, raspberry treacle sponge served with rhubarb and honeycomb ice cream.

What we drank 

Quinteiro Blanco Gallegas 2014 and Quinteiro Tempranillo 2014.

What we saw

Škoda, headline sponsor of the awards, displayed four models of the new Škoda Superb for guests to check out.

What we played

Visitors to the LeasePlan Go stand got into the swing of things on a miniature putting green, while few IoD members could resist the urge of the Director magazine photo booth (wigs, sunglasses and comedy moustaches were optional).

For details of next year’s Director of the Year Awards, see

What the sponsor said…

ŠKODA is proud to sponsor the Director of the Year Awards. Much like the winners, the ŠKODA brand has had a landmark year, hitting record sales in the
corporate and SME markets, and firmly positioning ŠKODA as a leader in the business car sector.

The new ŠKODA Superb offers a unique balance of style and space, with cutting-edge design on the outside and luxurious room on the inside. It’s packed with smart technology to make every journey easier, more enjoyable and safer. The ŠKODA Superb offers exceptional value which makes choosing it for your next company car a smart decision.

Click here to discover the winner of the family business director award.

About author

Richard Dunnett

Richard Dunnett

Richard Dunnett is an associate editor who writes about entrepreneurs, SMEs, FTSE 100 corporations, technology, manufacturing, media and sustainability.

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