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Suffolk Business Awards: ‘We are used to recognising ambition and talent’

PUBLISHED: 14:06 22 May 2020 | UPDATED: 14:06 22 May 2020

2019 Young Business Person award winner Stuart Dantzic, from Caribbean Blinds  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

2019 Young Business Person award winner Stuart Dantzic, from Caribbean Blinds Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Are you a young entrepreneur? The judges from Suffolk New College and West Suffolk College explain what it takes to become Young Business Person of the Year at the Suffolk Business Awards.

Viv Gillespie, principal of Suffolk New College, which co-sponsors the Young Business Person category at the Suffolk Business AwardsViv Gillespie, principal of Suffolk New College, which co-sponsors the Young Business Person category at the Suffolk Business Awards

One of the knock-on effects of the Covid-19 crisis has been the postponement of many of the summer’s key events. The Suffolk Business Awards is one that’s affected – but that’s good news, as it means there’s still time to take part. Get your entry in before June 14 and it could be you hoisting the trophy at the awards night in September.

That kind of success is great for any business. Winning the Young Business Person of the Year award, sponsored by Suffolk New College and West Suffolk College, can have a transformative impact on the career of the successful young entrepreneur.

“Not only does the achievement send positive shockwaves through the local business community, but also it reinforces a positive message to your customers and helps you stand out from the competition” says Viv Gillespie, principal of Suffolk New College.

“Previous winners have used this stage as a springboard to grow their business, support others locally and to cement their organisation in the business community,” says Phil Stittle, executive director for business development at West Suffolk College.

Phil Stittle, executive director for business development at West Suffolk College, which co-sponsors the Young Business Person category at the Suffolk Business AwardsPhil Stittle, executive director for business development at West Suffolk College, which co-sponsors the Young Business Person category at the Suffolk Business Awards

The college works with more than 1,000 different employers, connecting students with businesses.

“It is our responsibility to create and nurture the workforce and the business professionals of the future,” says Phil. “This gives us invaluable insight from industry on what it looks for in the next generation of employees.”

Suffolk New College also supports businesses through skills development, to access the workforce of the future and to upskill their current staff.

“We are used to recognising ambition and talent,” says Viv. “We’re proud to celebrate achievement with the successful local companies.”

There’s no doubt that firms doing well under the current conditions will deserve a celebration by the time September comes.

“We have seen businesses adapt in a truly exceptional way to the current circumstances,” says Phil. “Many have adopted a new digital approach to ensure trading can continue effectively. It has also been truly humbling to witness the way businesses have joined forces to support one another.”

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The colleges understand the pressure on businesses, as they have also had to adapt.

“We immediately set up online platforms for our students and apprentices to continue with learning remotely,” says Viv, explaining how Suffolk New College reacted to coronavirus.

“Lecturers have been getting creative to ensure everyone is engaged and we have been regularly staying in touch with our learners to offer pastoral support.”

Despite the tough trading conditions, many businesses are planning for the future.

Phil recommends three key steps for young entrepreneurs to take: “Consider how your business could operate in a similar pandemic. Look at how you can use technology to drive your business forward. And check your staff have the right training and skills.”

To become Young Business Person of the Year, you’ll need more than a plan. You’ll also need to demonstrate, “Ambition, resilience and creativity” says Viv.

The judges will also be looking for: “Evidence of commercial excellence, business acumen, imagination, entrepreneurship and passion, alongside strong self-belief,” adds Phil.  

“This is a chance to reflect on your journey, to showcase your business and to thank all those who have supported you,” says Viv.

“The Suffolk Business Awards are a brilliant platform for you to be recognised locally for your business acumen and performance,” consludes Phil.

The Suffolk Business Awards have been rescheduled because of Covid-19, which means you still have time to enter. Entries close on June 14.

To enter, click here.

The awards will be presented at Kesgrave Hall in Ipswich on September 24.


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