Best of business attend 10-year celebration conference


November 19, 2019

The best of business attended a popular leadership and management conference in Llandudno.

Venue Cymru hosted the North Wales Means Business Event to mark the 10th anniversary of programmes funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) through Welsh Government at Bangor University, including ION Leadership and 20Twenty Business Growth.

More than 100 people enjoyed insightful talks by speakers such as Ricky Munday, founder of Inspire Alpine, a social enterprise which helps to close the attainment gap that exists between disadvantaged young people and their peers.

Ricky, a mountaineer and explorer - and a chartered accountant and Red Cross delegate - reached the summit of Mount Everest last summer after failing in a previous attempt and has since visited more than 70 schools and organisations across the UK to deliver inspirational talks to almost 15,000 people.

“Inspire Alpine isn’t about telling these children to become mountaineers it’s showing them that if you do fail you have to try again,” said Ricky.

“My dream took me from a Glasgow council estate to the summit of Everest, and if you work hard and persevere your dreams will come true too. Confidence and resilience are key to that.”

MC Gary Johnson from Innovation Relief introduced a selection of speakers including Claire Smith, Head of Business Development at Moneypenny; BBC Business Doctor Paul Thomas; TBC Marketing founder Teresa Carnall and Ashley Rogers, Vice Chair of the North Wales Mersey Dee Business Council and Director of Gill & Shaw marketing and business development consultancy, who discussed the North Wales Growth Deal and regional decarbonisation.

One of the highlights of the day was a Q&A with Supertemps and S2 Recruitment managing director Sarah Ellwood, Zipworld owner Sean Taylor, and Jonathan Hughes, founder of Snowdon Craft Beer, who were among the very first LEAD Wales cohort a decade ago.

All three encouraged people to join one of the popular courses, urging the audience to “Just do it!”.

Sean said: “Business can be a lonely place sometimes, so it was good to be able to share best practice with others and have a shoulder to cry on. That’s priceless.

“I had eight staff when I joined the course and have 450 now, so a lot has changed, including me. I am ferociously proud of the brand and have a great team in place. I am getting better at delegating and would urge others thinking about joining to just do it.”

Sarah added: “I thought the programme was too good to be true, but quickly found it was fantastic and a unique mix of action-learning, seminars with industry leaders and experientials – it was a great experience.”

Beginning in 2009 with LEAD Wales, Bangor University has welcomed hundreds of company owners, managers and entrepreneurs onto programmes up to 70% subsidised by the European Social Fund via Welsh Government.

The conference was sponsored by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), Gwynedd Business Network, West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce, The Management Centre at Bangor Business School and North Wales Business Academy.

Gwenllian Owen, Senior Programme Manager for the ION Leadership and 20Twenty Business Growth programmes, said: “I would like to thank our sponsors and everyone who attended, it was a fantastic day.

“We had some incredible speakers with amazing stories, and it was heartening to hear how the programmes have impacted upon so many companies in North Wales.

“We are already preparing for 2020, with lots of people signed up for 20Twenty and ION Leadership cohorts; if anyone would like to join them please get in touch.”

Professor Iwan Davies, Vice-Chancellor of Bangor University, added: “These programmes turn mirrors into windows and are committed to making an impact, not just to talk the talk but to be open with you as businesses. ION and 20Twenty give focus and connect alumni, which is invaluable.”