‘The diversity we have in this county inspires me’

Aerial view of Adastral Park in Ipswich

Adastral Park is a cluster of high-tech telecommunication and technology companies - Credit: Mike Page

The Suffolk Business Awards are now open for entries. This week we find out more about Scale-up Business of the Year judge Paul Whittingham, from sponsor Ashtons Legal, and what he’ll be looking for in the winner of this category. 

Can you tell us a bit about your business journey?  

I have worked at Ashtons Legal for many years. I’ve seen many businesses start, helped them to grow and guided them through selling on, diversifying or acquiring new ventures.   

I have been fortunate to work with people from many different types of business and I find that getting to understand what they do and how they do it is really intriguing. 

Why were you keen to get involved in the Suffolk Business Awards?  

The Suffolk Business Awards are a great way of bringing together and showcasing the diverse range of businesses which make Suffolk the fantastic and thriving county that it is. We live, and work here, so it is an honour to offer our support to fellow businesses in the area. 

Picture of Paul Whittingham from Ashtons Legal with Ipswich waterfront in the background

Paul Whittingham from Ashtons Legal is one of the judges for the Scale-Up Business of the Year Award - Credit: Ashtons Legal

What do you bring to the judging process?  

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Myself and my team have many years' experience working with businesses of all sizes, from start-ups to well established companies, and from all parts of the UK and overseas. We are perfectly placed to recognise organisations with solid leaders and a great work ethic. 

Have you ever been judged for an award yourself?  

My firm, Ashtons Legal, has entered and been judged for awards in the past, many of which we were successful in winning. My advice when being judged – be honest. 

Will you use that experience when judging this award?  

Absolutely! Through our own awards processes I know what judges are looking for and am well versed in seeking out ‘blue sky thinking’ that entrants have perhaps omitted from their entry. 

What have your previous experiences of judging been like?  

Really good fun. I have met some truly inspirational people and learned a lot about products and industries I’ve never had dealings with. I have also visited parts of Suffolk that I forgot existed and forged some good contacts and working relationships with the people that I have met. 

What inspires you in business?  

Suffolk businesses and the diversity we have in this county inspire me. We have not only world-leading food and drink businesses, but also our high-tech hub (BT) and the country’s largest container port.  

We have large, established businesses such as the insurance companies in Ipswich, and small start-ups coming out of Adastral Park. 

Do you have any anecdotes of moments that changed your business strategy?  

Franklin D Roosevelt once said: “There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still.” This really resonates with me.  

I have seen a steady growth of my own business over the years as we have embraced change to adapt to rapidly-changing conditions. Those that have stood still - I don’t remember them. 

What will you be looking for in the winner?  

Growth and evolution. A scale-up business will need to have something to differentiate it from established competitors and be nimble in changing as it grows. 

What advice would you give to a business that’s considering entering?  

Go for it – you have to be in it, to win it! 


SCALE-UP BUSINESS OF THE YEAR CRITERIA 

Entries in this category must have achieved a minimum of 20% year-on-year financial growth (turnover) for the last three years.  

As well as this we are also looking for growth in market share as well as a business that has evidence of a growth in customers and/or employees.   

The closing date for entries is August 15. To enter, go to www.suffolkbusinessawards.co.uk 

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