Page 1










SPOTLIGHT FEATURE Introducing Em ily Allen, Head of Operations at re:find Interim & Executive Search.


TAG NETWORK M IDLANDS ENTREPRENEURIAL FRONTIERS: PANEL DISCUSSION & NETWORKING EVENT To celebrate 'Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019', TAG Network MIdlands' partnered with Santander to lead a discussion on Entrepreneurship and Intrapreneurship in the region.



CEO of Squibble, Kim Leary & Creative Designer, Karn Sylvester. Karn shares the power of when creativity meets technology.





Co-Founder of Gleeson Recruitment Group.

Group Sales & Marketing Director for Woodbarn. BanaBay, Purely & Heylus Recruitment.


Founder of She's The Boss International chats with us about motherhood, creating an empire

STU WOOD CEO of Woodbarn & Co-Founder of Woodshires Business Solutions


ANNA M ITCHELL & NAOM I ALY Reigning Young Professionals participants of TAG Network Midlands' Bright Thinking Project, making an impact on the third sector and employability within the region in support of Suited For Success.



DEE KUNDI Partner at Award-winning Law firm, VWV discusses the importance of diverse professional role models.


Deputy Lieutenant of the West Midlands, CEO of Nachural & Founder of Signature Awards, reiterates his thoughts on unity & opportunity within the region.



Star-studded Awards evening featuring Wolverhampton's highly celebrated recording artist & musical theatre actress, Beverley Knight MBE & Birmingham's very own singer, television presenter and actress, Jamelia.

Exclusive reveal of TAG Network Midlands' Insider Magazine's groundbreaking and inspiring two page spread.




A reportage that reveals how this issue was inspired by Young Professional & Leadership talent within the Midlands.


and supporting fellow women in business.


DENISE M ORRIS Inclusive Leader, Visionary, Connector, Mentor & Award-winning Networker, meet TAG Network Midlands' CEO and Founder.


M ARK O'SULLIVAN Multi award-winning Entrepreneur shares his career journey.


EVELYN ARM STRONG Director & General Manager of Bottega, Birmingham lets us into her fabulous world.


JAM IL SHABIR Multi-Award Winning CEO of Bootcamp Media toasts to great 2019.


Photoshoot Venue: Bottega with special thanks to Evelyn Armstrong & the Bottega Team Make Up Artist for Denise Morris & Evelyn Armstrong: Mary Sewell Luxury Chairs supplied by: THRONEZs

TAG Network Midlands Insider Magazine Contributors 1st Unit Photography

SANDEEP & GURJOTE NANDRA Director 's of family business, Dr Print UK talk about how their plan to revolutionise the print sector


Special Thanks

ANITA CHUM BER & IFRAZ AHM ED Co-Founders of Birmingham Awards shares the winners and celebrates the region in style.

Micheal Spooner at Just Nevaeh

1st Unit Videography & Production: Sophia Loren at Just Nevaeh Productions

Additional Photography: Edwin Ladd



Wh at son g w ou ld best descr ibe you ?

Wh at ch allen ges do you f ace daily?

Walking on sunshine ? it?s fun, upbeat and happy!

My biggest challenge is pushing myself out of my comfort zone at work ? which is so important to do to keep growing professionally.

Wh at is you r f avou r it e in spir at ion al qu ot e? ?If you can?t fly, then run, if you can?t run, then walk, if you can?t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.? Martin Luther King

Tell u s a lit t le bit abou t you r self ? I love to travel and experience different places and cultures. I volunteered in Uganda for 6 months, which was a fantastic experience. I have travelled India, China and most of south east Asia, which gave me an insight into so many different cultures and I spent 2 years in Australia ? the first year travelling and the second year living and working in Sydney, which I loved! I enjoy live music, socialising with friends and reading (preferably in the sun, with a cocktail in hand!)

Wh at ar e you r car eer goals? To continue to learn and develop and of course enjoy what I?m doing.

04 TAG Network Midlands Insider

Can you t ell u s w h at is t h e m ost f avou r it e aspect of you r r ole? Organising everyone ? I love a good list! But being surrounded by genuine and kind people is important and makes me happy.

Wh at h as been you r gr eat est car eer m ilest on e t o dat e? Being responsible for putting processes into place that have a positive effect on elements of the business. It?s really motivating to see positive results, however big or small.

Wh o h as been you r in spir at ion bot h per son ally an d pr of ession ally? My parents are my biggest inspiration, whom I look up to both professionally and personally. Both incredibly successful and hardworking, but also genuine people, who can still have fun and be liked and respected by those around them.


06 TAG Network Midlands Insider


Entrepreneurs and Intrapreneurs within the region ranging across various sectors, joined us in celebration of 'Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019' as we hosted our Entrepreneurial Frontiers: Panel Discussion & Networking Event in partnership with Santander, Birmingham. Special guest panel included; Sapr een a Ku m ar i, Director of Admissions at Aston University, M ich ael Wilson , Deputy Regional Director at Santander, Laur Beech, Managing Director of Interyoga & Panel Chair St u ar t Wood, CEO of Woodbarn & Co-Founder of Woodshires Business Solutions.

responsibility to help business owners to grow their companies which will have a positive impact on this city. "We are delighted to have partnered with TAG Network Midlands for this great event. It was fantastic to meet such a passionate group of trailblazers in Birmingham." TAG Network Midlands' Founder & CEO, Denise Morris added, "Our strength within the Midlands are the people.

"Enabling dialogue and knowledge sharing is how we gain the ability to create more opportunities well as understanding how intrapreneurship and entrepreneurship has a strong Michael Wilson said, "It is value as we continue to flourish as a important to nurture entrepreneurial talent as we have a region."

TAG Network Midlands Insider 07


06 TAG Network Midlands Insider

TAG Network Midlands Insider 07



06 TAG Network Midlands Insider

an amazing impromptu performance of Chaka Khans hit singles, Ain?t Nobody and I am Every Woman backed by the incredible Aston Performing Arts Academy. MBCC Event Director, Tru Powell said: ?I am really pleased we were able honour Beverley Knight and Jamelia with such a prestigious awards. Beverley is such an amazing talent and the fact she is celebrating 25 years in the industry this year is a testament to her longevity. This year we have received a record number of nominations and delighted we were able to recognise some of the regions unsung heroes.?

Bever ley Kn igh t h on ou r ed w it h pr est igiou s lif et im e ach ievem en t .

17 awards were handed out on the night, including the Inspirational Honorary Award, which was presented to singer/songwriter Jamelia. The ?Superstar ?singer attended the award with her two daughters whom she dedicated the award to. This Year 's Winner are:

Queen of British soul Beverley Knight was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Honorary Award at the Midlands Business & Community Charity Awards 2019 at the Aston Villa FC. The critically acclaimed singer has sold over 1 million albums in the UK and has a career spanning over 25 years in the industry.

Volunteer of the Year Award ? Broseley Festival Committee

The event, which attracted more than 550 guests on Saturday night is now in its fourth year and Knight, joins only three other people that have received the prestigious award including Sir Lenny Henry who was the worthy recipient of the honour in 2018.

Entrepreneur of the Year Award ? Angela Stewart

The glitzy ceremony was hosted by acclaimed TV and weather presenter Alex Beresford (Good Morning Britain) alongside former ?Loose Women?and BBC radio and Midlands Today presenter Trish Adudu.

Highly Commended: Inspirational Award ? Natalie Queiroz

Community Unsung Hero Award ? Peter & Phillip Sawyers Community Unsung Shero ? Anna Duffy

Networker of the Year Award ? Nicola Lathbury Most Inspirational Person of the Year Award ? Craig Pinkney

Charity of the Year Award ? Acorns Children?s Hospital Mentor if the Year Award ? Sandy Joseph

The annual event is aimed at showcasing people that are not only excellent in business and the community but who are also selfless, considerate to others and that go the extra mile. The event is a true celebration of all the wonderful deeds that are being done in the region and is one of the only events to celebrate unsung heroes in the Midlands. When receiving the award Beverley Knight said, ?I had to take a big old machete to cut a path through the music industry however if cutting that path means that someone like these kids from BOA, APAA and Liam Price can sprint down that path then every second of pain and every hurdle I have had to overcome was worth it. It?s been a wonderful, beautiful, edifying, illuminating night for me so thank you, all of you for making this truly one of the greatest days of my life.?

Most Influential Business Man of the Year ? Bobby Singh Most Influential Business Woman of the Year ? Teresa Boughey Role Model of the Year ? Aaron Ashmore Outstanding Business of the Year ? Sketch Creative Lifetime Achievement Award ? Catherine Cleary Highly Commended: Contribution to the Community ? Ian Ward Special Recognition Award ? Jamil Shabir Inspirational Honorary Award ? Jamelia Lifetime Achievement Honorary Award ? Beverley Knight

The Wolverhampton born star surprised attendees with

TAG Network Midlands Insider 11

SPECIALFEATURE BEHINDTHESCENES: PHOTOSHOOT TAG Network Midlands CEO & TAG Network Insider Magazine Editor-In-Chief, DENISE M ORRIS caught up with an assemblage of leaders and professionals within midlands for a ground-breaking photo shoot to capture the success and journey of these extraordinary change-makers. All dresses up on a dreary Friday morning at the beautiful Bottega Prosecco Bar & Restaurant situated at Birmingham Arena, the air is filled with laughter and merriment as our TAG Network Midlands Insider 's special guests were eagerly awaiting what was to follow. Without further ado, we proudly present our first exclusive special feature showcasing pioneering individuals who have made an impact in 2019.

12 TAG Network Midlands Insider

TAG Network Midlands Insider 13





Ninder Johal DL, the voice of the West Midlands, a successful entrepreneur arrives with his trademark smile as he is enthusiastically intrigued.

synchronised tracks in films and adverts and a huge global dance hit.

"Because of my experience as a musician who had toured He is warm and welcoming as he meets internationally and understood branding, event production then fellow leaders and talented young professionals as they get ready for this became the next natural venture. photo shoot. "My experience in sound, lighting, video production and branding meant that whilst we had moved into event Ninder shares his personal journey and production, our core offering remained career highlights to date. He expresses: in the ?entertainment?sector. "As CEO and co-founder of Nachural, "Whilst the business has been growing our brands include the Signature over the last few years, I have placed Awards, (Birmingham, London, and the importance of giving back to the Manchester), The Nachural Summer community as something very Business Awards (Wolverhampton) and important to me. If you have a set of the Nachural Entrepreneurship Awards skills that your community could benefit from, then you should take out (Leicester). We also have a film time to do so." production division (Nachural Films) headed by my son, Amarun Johal and a record company called Nachural Records. "I graduated in Finance many moons ago, however, 16 interviews later I knew that perhaps a career in accountancy was not going to happen for me. This lead me to Aston University where I completed an MBA. Upon graduation, I entered the world of management consultancy, a role that involved trouble shooting and travelling all over the UK.

Ninder has established a wide range of credentials and interests as an entrepreneur.

"My voluntary roles have included Chair of the Charity ? Steps to Work , President of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce, Vice Chair of Sandwell College, Governor at Victoria Park Academy, Chair at the Black Country Asian Business Association, Board Governor at the University of Wolverhampton and Board member at the Ethnic Minority Forum ( as part of "I was always interested in music and enjoyed the thrill of setting up my own Advantage WM). My current roles bhangra band ? Achanak. Nonetheless, include being a Non-Executive Director such was the success of the band ? that on the Black Country LEP, The West Midlands Growth Company, West maintaining a full-time role as a Midlands 5G, Albion Foundation, management consultant and enjoying Accord Housing and the representative performing till the early hours of the on the West Midlands Combined morning with the band was taking its toll. The success of the band led to me Authority (WMCA) on behalf of the Black Country LEP. set up Nachural Records with a dream of breaking this genre of music into the "Incidentally, I still continue to perform mainstream charts and this led me to with my band Achanak as we still drop the lucrative career in regularly perform at festivals management consultancy. Despite the throughout the UK and Europe. What ?nay sayers?and music industry many people do not know is that I have sceptics, after 14 years of endeavour, I had the good fortune with my band of realised the dream when the track having performed with the likes of Munde To Bachke broke into the UK Prodigy, Sir Tom Jones, Apache Indian charts at no.5, the US at no.7 and a Boney M, Fat Boy Slim amongst others." further 9 number 1?s.." Recalling the success, he adds: "We were able to license the track globally and it became one of the most

On the subject of challenges he faces within his sector, Ninder states: "The networking/awards events industry is

TAG Network Midlands Insider 17

getting increasingly competitive and consumers have a wide range of events that they can attend. We have placed extra emphasis on quality, customer experience and talent management. We have seen increased brand awareness and increased attendees with a growing number of corporate partners. Regardless, you must remain cognizant of the customer journey and continue to innovate whilst ensuring that the product remains relevant and continues to improve every year. The challenge of talent recruitment remains but we are making inroads into this."

With all the work Ninder does within the region, his impact and achievements are visible. Assessing the highlights of this year, he explains: "Without doubt my personal proudest moment of 2019 was being appointed Deputy Lieutenant of the West Midlands. This was a great honour and one which I intend to perform to the best of my ability for the region in which I was born, have worked and live in. This appointment gives me the opportunity to work closer with businesses and to identify those that ought to be considered for the Queens Awards for their work in the region. "With regards to my business, we have worked hard to establish the Nachural brand (the Nachural Entrepreneurship Awards) in the East Midlands and finally after three years we have now made considerable inroads in the region. "We have also consolidated the other two nachural brands (The Nachural Summer Business Awards and the Signature Awards) and are pleased with the direction of travel."

intention is to take the Signature brand to London in September 2020 and Manchester the year after. This is a considerable challenge as we go through the pain of scaling up. As any entrepreneur will tell you, scaling up brings challenges in terms of resources both financial and manpower. "2020 will be a year of consolidation with increased investment in technology as we prepare to deal with multiple projects/events and an increased customer base nationally. "We will continue to champion entrepreneurs and the role of SME?s as the backbone of the British economy and celebrate those doing most to create wealth whilst recognising the journey of entrepreneurship. "Finally, we are developing an expertise in film production for corporates and businesses to enable them to tell their stories and enhancing their communication capabilities. This will be our major product offering for 2020. "We are looking to grow the Nachural brand and its sub brands both nationally and internationally. To do this we are looking to enhance our talent management and recruitment and are looking to increase our product offering ? regionally, nationally and internationally. "We will continue to promote enterprise and the important role of entrepreneurship and are always looking to applaud and connect wealth creators throughout the country. "I will continue to promote great causes and charities and our charity for 2020 is the brilliant Acorns who does and continues to do such a sterling job in assisting those families who are less fortunate.

With the ever-changing commercial landscape in the region, Ninder talks in depth about an inclusive business community who are open to sharing and transferring knowledge.

"I personally will continue to contribute towards the economic prosperity of the region by continuing to devote my time as a NED on the various boards that seek to improve economic growth and productivity.

"One of the key elements of our events is the emphasis on learning and knowledge sharing. We invite influential entrepreneurs to speak at our events so that the attendees can learn from highly successful wealth creators.

"I also make myself available to coach and mentor young businesses that are looking to grow by signposting them in the right direction."

"I speak as often as I can so that I can inform audiences of the development of policies that can affect businesses whether they revolve around infrastructure, funding, skills and G5. "In addition, our strategy of taking Nachural national means that we are offering businesses the opportunity to network and connect nationally as well as being able to increase scalability by having access to national business opportunities rather than just ?fishing?locally." Looking forward to the future, he adds: "Our

18 TAG Network Midlands Insider

As every leader knows, a successful mindset and resilience is sustained with a strong support system of peers, family and positive role models. He advises: "Nothing would be possible without a support structure. We have a great team at Nachural but without a shadow of doubt the growth of the business has been accelerated because of my business partner and wife, Narinder. She is the real power behind the success of the brand. I am merely the ?front man?. Narinder is the creative force behind the brand and continues to work behind the scenes ensuring that the customer experience is uppermost in our delivery of the Nachural brands including the

"If someonetellsyouthat youdonot havethe requisiteskill set,ignorethem.If someonetells youthat it cannot bedone,ignorethem." TAG Network Midlands Insider 19

Signature Awards. Of course, I cannot forget the brilliant entrepreneurs that I meet every day (too many to mention), who continue to inspire and educate me with their insights into running multi-million pound companies.

As Ninder is a fountain of knowledge and vast experience, he imparts his philosophy: "Whilst wealth creation is very important ? of more importance is your contribution towards your community. Ask yourself, are you doing enough?, are you putting back into society? What is your legacy? "Secondly, how are you developing yourself? How do you continue to learn? Do you read extensively? Who do you network with? It?s not a question of who you know but who knows you? Are you mentoring others and lending advice to aspiring entrepreneurs? "How closely are you monitoring your environment and how well do you understand your customers journey? Can your business susceptible to disruption from an unseen competitor? Have you taken steps to future proof your business? Are you one click away from oblivion? "Finally, always important to have a focus and have goals. You should measure regularly against your goals. Be organised so that you can have a balance between work and life whilst building sustainable businesses that generate wealth and provide employment.

Ninder 's final thoughts: "If someone tells you that you do not have the requisite skill set, ignore them. If someone tells you that it cannot be done, ignore them. If sometime tells you that you should not dream...ignore them."

20 TAG Network Midlands Insider

TAG Network Midlands Insider 13

"Mylifephilosophy,advice andmethodologyfor the businesssupport I provide istoThinkBig, Take Action,KeepPushing."



e e e e "


She is calm, focused and passionate about helping women in business to thrive. To appreciate the great work that Daniella does, it is fitting to go back to the start. Born in Birmingham, raised in Nottingham and moved back to Birmingham in 2003 to complete a degree at Birmingham City University. Daniella shares her story into entrepreneurship. She recollects: "I studied Media & Communications with the aim of becoming a TV presenter or Producer.

of my business support clients in 2018. "Subsequently, after selling Aspire4u CIC in 2015 I embarked on my MBA specialising in Advance topics in strategy and entrepreneurship. I graduated in 2018 with a distinction.

"Whilst studying for my MBA, I launched my third business, She?s the Boss International, providing coaching, consultancy and training for ambitious women wishing to launch and/or grow profitable, sustainable, service businesses. During the same year I began a "Following University, in 2007 I started my first business and registered as a community contract as a Senior Business Advisor for interest company in 2009. Aspire4u CIC, was Enterprise Europe Network delivering on a a social enterprise specialising in coordinating project called Innovate 2 Succeed. I support SME?s across the East and West Midlands to corporate events and using the funding to develop Innovation strategies, generate, provide training, development and develop and launch new and innovative ideas showcasing opportunities for young people for their businesses and significantly grow from disadvantaged backgrounds. their enterprises. "The business grew to a team of 8 and we "Over the past year as a Senior Business organised events for institutions such as Millennium Point, Birmingham City University, Advisor and running She?s the Boss, I have supported over 30 businesses ranging from Matrix Housing Association along with a cleaning companies to art fabricators, laser variety of others. We organised various cutters to hair and beauty mobile apps. I have award-winning projects for young people in also developed a Youtube series interviewing the areas of Event Management, phenomenal women in business ?Shes The Entrepreneurship, Culture, Fashion and the Boss Female Entrepreneur Stories? and have Arts. interviewed over 40 women from all over the "After working with nearly 2000 young people UK, and as far afield as Bali and Canada. I am improving their life chances, employability, in the process of completing my first book networks and self-confidence, I sold the which is specifically for women who want to business in 2015. During my time running start successful businesses. Aspire4u CIC, my work was recognised by "I regularly share my entrepreneurial journey receiving several award wins including and my expertise by speaking at events across Birmingham Young Professional of the Year 2013 Entrepreneurial Category, Trinity Mirror the UK and delivering high impact workshops. Midlands Inspire Awards 2014 Young "I am also a committee member for West Enterprise Winner. I also won a place on both Midlands Womens Voice, a role I have the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business undertaken for the past year. This is another Programme and Unltd Big Venture Challenge. great opportunity for me to support women in "Due to the success of the business, I became the region. I also sit on the board of First Class a sought after business advisor and mentor. I Legacy, a Birmingham based charity dedicated worked with an array of freelancers, startups to improving the lives of the most marginalised young people in the city." and social enterprises providing a range of business support. "In the early stages of running Aspire4u CIC (circa 2008 ? 2009) I completed my Masters in Media Enterprise. In 2013, I started my second business The Alternative Wedding and Events Company with Truchio Powell. We started the business after being disillusioned with the lack of culture and creativity in the events industry. After having my daughter in 2015, I chose to step away from the business due to the time requirements. Truchio continued the business independently with me taking a mentor role. He later became one

Daniella divulges more about herself, as she expresses: "A little known fact about me: as that one of the main reasons I wanted to start Aspire4u was to provide opportunities for young people in performing arts. This is because as a young person I had been a singer and wanted to provide some of the opportunities that I never had. I strongly believe in helping others who would not usually have such good fortune, as we all have challenges to overcome. My main challenge over the past 12 ? 18 months has been

TAG Network Midlands Insider 23

learning to juggle my life. I provide client support during the day, evenings and weekends both in my role as Senior Business Advisor and as the Founder of She?s the Boss. I also have a 4 year old, a husband and a life that I need to include in my day to day activities. "For a period, I really struggled trying to make the necessary time for everything without getting stressed. When I started my first 2 businesses I didn?t have a child. Starting a new business with a child whilst also working on a part time contract has been a major challenge. However, I have always been amazing at time management and simply needed enough stress to force me to become as anal as I used to be with my time. I always have so much to fit in, I literally cannot afford to waste any of my precious time. I use the Trello app religiously to organise my life into 15, 30, 45 and 60 minutes slots. This has helped me fit everything in without feeling constantly overwhelmed.

increasing profits and revenues. The feedback and testimonials which have been received have been amazing and demonstrating the impact I have made not just to the businesses, but to the entrepreneurs themselves. I have really changed lives and that is something I am immensely proud of. I have proven that my approach and methodology works and this is evident from the outcomes my clients are having. "I have managed to rebuild my personal brand and have been invited to speak at a number of events throughout the year including several outside of Birmingham which has been a real confidence booster. I feel like I have been able to follow my own advice to achieve for myself what I have also been helping my clients to achieve.

"I have been incredibly proud of what I have achieved with the She?s the Boss Female Entrepreneur Stories campaign. I have interviewed so many phenomenal women and feel that my interview style has improved considerably. It is a great series and I look forward to "A follow on from this is also around 'mummy guilt'. interviewing more women from all areas of the Being a working mother comes with a lot of feelings world. The feedback has been really good and the and guilt can be one that creeps in. I have goals that I interviews have really inspired, motivated and want to achieve and therefore spend a lot of time empowered so many women who are embarking on working on them. I sometimes feel that my daughter their own entrepreneurial journeys." isn?t getting as much time with me as I would like because I am working. However, I have to remind myself that the time we do spend together is always Having worked with some many different people fun and I make a point to focus on her solely so she from all walks of life throughout her career, Daniella shares the importance of inclusion as she states: gets quality time. This is something that I know will "Inclusive organisations have diversity of thought. be continuous as a feeling I just need to learn to Diversity of thought leads to innovation. Innovation push it back down when it rears its ugly head. often leads to increased profitability. This is in my "The final challenge I have faced over the last 18 opinion the business case for inclusion. If months has been repositioning myself and my personal brand. Prior to having a baby and as the Founder of Aspire4u CIC, I feel that I had built up a strong personal brand and was being recognised for my achievements and expertise in the city. However, after having my baby and being on maternity leave, I didn?t continue to cultivate this. I literally went into hibernation doing mummy mode and studying for my MBA. It was quite difficult when I first launched the business as I expected to pretty much pick up where I left off. This wasn?t the case. Things change, the wheels keep on turning and I have had to basically rebuild my personal brand from scratch. I would say I feel like I am now in a place where I have achieved this, but in the early stages it was incredibly disheartening."

As she glances back over her achievements this year, Daniella enthuses: "2019 has been an absolutely phenomenal year for me. My work with Enterprise Europe Network has been so successful that my contract has been extended for three years. I have had some significantly positive metrics with the businesses that I have been working with including launching new products, hiring new staff, award wins,

24 TAG Network Midlands Insider

organisations continue to hire the same type of people, they will do the same type of things and get the same type of results. By opening up the doors and being inclusive of people from a diverse range of backgrounds, cultures, experiences, a rich eco system will be created which has a benefit for the entire region. Far too many sectors of business are exclusive and cliquey which is to the detriment of the region by side-lining or excluding talent that may not fit into the cookie cutter shape of what is expected or desired in the industry.

"I want to really raise awareness and engagement of both my business and the Female Entrepreneur Stories campaign so that I can empower, motivate and inspire more women in 2020. I plan on running She?s the Boss Live in summer 2020 which will include workshops, panels and pitching opportunities for women in business. This will be in partnership with some of the campaign participants. My plans for growing She?s the Boss include the introduction of new "However, by stepping outside of the products, training other coaches/consultants in my box and including varied people in methodology who will then the hiring process, significant deliver under the She?s the Boss benefits can be achieved. Far too brand and increasing my often I see individuals who are number of clients. By improving particularly precious about the the outcomes of female led knowledge they have and the way businesses in the region through they do things. Similarly, to being more inclusive, by being more open my products and services, I will have an impact on the business and transparent with knowledge sharing and developing partnerships, profile and economy of the region (albeit a small but businesses have a lot to gain. significant one). Particularly if partnerships or knowledge sharing occurs across "Supporting women supports sectors. the region. As a woman and a mother, I understand the very real challenges faced by women As Daniella embraces the future and who run businesses and have looks ahead at what she wishes to developed strategies to help achieve, she jokes: "World them overcome them. I also domination! Although my trading name is She?s the Boss, the business is registered as She?s the Boss International. This is because my intention is to become an internationally recognised brand. I want to speak at events around the world and provide services and products to people internationally. A big goal of mine is to speak at a TedX event. Ideally I would like to achieve this in 2020!

have the lived experience of running businesses, coupled with the academic frameworks and the training to provide impacting holistic support. My growth goal is to significantly increase the number of women that are able to access this support whether via products, training, workshops or 1 to 1 coaching/consultancy. "I am also in the verve of launching a new business in March 2020 which is a passion project of mine. I believe that if I follow my own guidance and advice, this business will be a success. All will be revealed at the beginning of next year. "I plan on continuing the great work I am doing with Enterprise Europe Network. I would like to work with more businesses that are in industries that I have never worked before as I find that these stretch me the most. When I achieve results for businesses in unknown industries, I feel a real sense of accomplishment. My aim is to do more of this. "I also plan on continuing to actively contribute to the organisations I am involved in; West Midlands Womens Voice and First Class Legacy, having a positive impact on women and youth in the region."

"The first step in achieving the vision of being an international brand, is my main goal for 2020, which is to release my first book with the aim to complete by the end of 2019. It has been a long time coming, but I finally feel that it is nearly ready. I am really excited to share my knowledge, expertise and thoughts with aspiring woman in business. I would love to write more books and do not plan for this to be my only book.

TAG Network Midlands Insider 25



Kim Leary is on all counts a creative narrator, a highly respected woman in business and driving force behind Squibble Ltd, a branding and design agency where commercial identities are crafted, brands are born and company voices become all the louder.


Kim breaks it down, "At our core we are a team of brand strategists. We combine business, marketing, communications, and design thinking to develop meaningful, differentiated, and authentic brands for companies big and small."

""Wehaveworkedwithsomeof the biggest brandsintheUK,thelikesof MarksandSpencer toAutoTrader. We especiallyloveworkingwithbrummy basedSME'swhoarejust onthecuspof highgrowth"". On Squibble's approach to working with clients, she adds, "We don't just come up with what?s cool; we craft the message your customers want to hear and one that you can deliver on. We?ve seen first-hand how the power of brand can elevate a company from a commodity to a valued partner; how it can rescue a business from the trenches of an impossible-to-win price war, and how it can motivate employees and customers alike to become fully-fledged brand ambassadors". Based in Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter, Squibble have a talented and diverse team. Kim states, "We are a small but highly productive team and I am very proud of our achievements. We have worked with some of the biggest companies in the UK. From the likes of Marks and Spencer to Auto Trader. However, we especially love working with Brummy based SME?s who are just on the cusp of high growth. Usually companies like this have a good handle on their aspirations and this gives us a great set of targets to work towards and where we can deliver the most value.

" Birmingham is abound with design agencies and what sets us apart is our team and the culture we are creating. I will leave you with my favourite quote as it sums up our position quite nicely: ?When all else is equal ? processes, services, pricing, and infra-structure ? it is talent that cannot be replicated.? Paul Roetzer, author of The Marketing Agency Blueprint".

Within Kim's nurturing culture is rising star and Squibble's creative designer, Karn Sylvester. Born and raised in the Black

TAG Network Midlands Insider 27

""Adaptabilitywill moveyououtsideof your comfort zoneandallowyoutobein situationsthat allowfor newpositive experiences,ideas,techniquesandobtainan understandingthat youcanimplement with your personal approachwhatever the situation"".

28 TAG Network Midlands Insider

Country, Karn has a passion for brand creativity, user-centric web design, and music. He shares his career journey, "I studied Graphic Design in London with a brief minor in Video Game Design. At my end of year, I was a finalist for my university?s D&AD graduate show and explored creative concepts that have shaped my design process. "In my spare time I enjoy playing in bands. Growing up, I?ve had a great relationship with music as it releases my originality. It provides a creative outlook that allows me to create something that is shared collaboratively and singularly. There is nothing more gratifying than locking into a groove on the bass guitar to create very loud dynamic and melodic music! When I?m not delving in music then you can also find me making cameo appearances in my twin brother ?s animated projects.

Reflecting on his experiences this year, Karn explains: "One of the main challenges I faced recently was the management of Birmingham Tech Week?s online and social media content creation. Being involved with such an amazing initiative through managing the Birmingham Tech Week channels, I had to quickly learn how to stay organised and manage multiple daily questions and requests. To give you an idea of scale, there were 68 events taking place across 40 locations. It is definitely one of those projects that I can say has helped shape a new perspective in my way of working and has challenged me to better manage my time with existing projects. "Being involved in the delivery and success of Birmingham Tech Week was extremely gratifying. The aim was to showcase the technological capabilities, highlight the community projects, talent and generally raise the profile of the Birmingham tech scene. It was great to see Team Squibble?s hard work pay off and bringing the tech community together. I was personally responsible for creating original social media, promotional content and graphics to promote the individual events that where taking place. Furthermore I was the first point of contact for all of the event leaders in arranging and coordinating their tone of voice. This ultimately leading BTW to the achieving over 67k impressions on Twitter and 13.6k impressions on LinkedIn. A number of events sold out and we also had the Secretary of State, Nicky Morgan celebrate the event in a post from the UK Government of Departments."

Karn shared another successful project he was involved with and was very hands on. He proudly says: "In addition, I was approached by TAG Network Midlands to develop and produce a new take on their brand identity. It was great to update the existing logo and provide it with a refreshing approach to mark the anniversary of their 5th year in providing Young Professionals, Graduates, Entrepreneurs and Leaders the opportunity to meet up, share ideas and prospects together. I?m very pleased with the way the new colours have provided a

vibrant way of communicating this fresh outlook to the company and the reveal of TAG Network Midlands' new service lines. It was grand to see it in the printed and promotional materials at the launch celebration!

Talking about how developing relationships and sharing ideas, Karn 's thoughts are: "At Squibble, we find this to be is very important as we?ve worked with companies in different sectors. Inclusion from different sectors and walks of life can greatly benefit and impact the way we approach clients and projects. Not only does it inform a greater understanding of businesses and their different sectors but it also allows yourself and/or your company to be open to a greater network. "For example, when I attend a TAG Network Midlands event or local event, I make it a prime feature to help and share the knowledge with companies and individuals that I?ve come into contact with. To share is to create opportunities which is something that is definitely a positive and beneficial for everyone in the network.

On his aspirations for the future, he states: "For growth, I am continuously developing my coding skills which will benefit the web development projects that we are involved in. The clear winner of this aim is that I?d have even more active solutions to solve client dilemmas and further expand on the depth of what is creatively possible. With the expansion of technological capabilities and methods of reaching audiences it would be great to create challenging designs that engage audiences. "I would like us to share a lot of the creativity that goes on at Team Squibble soon too. With Birmingham Design being launched and the region hosting an annual Design Festival it would be a great opportunity to highlight our voice amongst the wide range of design ideas that we have in the Midlands. "Finally, I also aim to continue growing professionally as a member of TAG Network Midlands. They have been a great resource in providing professional & relaxed networking events and discussions that

TAG Network Midlands Insider 29

provide an insight into the mindset and outlook of local leaders of trade and business. "There are a great number of people that have helped my professional and personal growth. Over at Team Squibble HQ, Kim Leary has influenced my approach to tasks. Every day she leads by example, provides and shares ideas for development and adds an additional perspective that has been beneficial in me since I began as an intern. "A lot of the lessons from my design lecturers and previous colleagues have also stayed with me; I?d like to credit Tim Foster, Steve Paxford, Justin Wiggan, Gary Underhill and Chris Baker for not only shaping my creativity and outlook on design but also their attitudes and meticulous attention to how far concepts can be taken. "Finally and most importantly, I wouldn?t be where I am without the guidance and support of my family. The foundation of my working ethic largely stems from them and their determination and attitude influence me greatly and set the bar of how far I can push myself. A lot of my family members are creative but I?d like to credit my brother Joseph for sparking my interest in art and design, his constant effortlessness and freeform nature has always had an underlying influence on my approach to art and design." Karn's parting advice to other professionals is, with an air of seriousness: "Be adaptable. In the design field it is commonplace that adaptability is a key driver in understanding an audience's needs and also a factor in creating fresh products and pieces that are in line with a customer 's view. "Adaptability will move you outside of your comfort zone and allow you to be in situations that allow for new positive experiences, ideas, techniques and obtain an understanding that you can implement with your personal approach whatever the situation."

16 TAG Network Midlands Insider


Jason opens up about the growth of Gleeson Recruitment Group, a specialist agency that has provided career opportunities for thousands of people within the region. Gleeson's culture of inclusion and nurturing talent speaks volumes in the city. Speaking frankly about the journey of Gleeson's he explains: "In the last seven years, we have grown from 5 to over 80 employees, increasing from one service line to ten, but we still maintain a boutique level service. We have invested in our office space, our tech and our staff to ensure that they have the tools, training and environment they need to provide the best service possible. "With a 42% increase in financial turnover, compared to 16.5% increase in headcount, last year marked a significant year of growth for us; our productivity per head continued to improve despite our continued investment in fresh talent. We pride ourselves in obtaining talented staff who not only embody our values around customer service but are able to consult our clients with a holistic understanding of the recruitment process." On the ethos of the firm, he adds: "We are grateful to be in a position where we can give back to the local community. We utilise the huge skill-base we have acquired amongst our employees to help educate young people about the job market, and increase their chances of finding work after studying, with Practice Interview Days, CV Workshops and Career Presentations at local schools. "Over the past two years we have fundraised over ÂŁ30,000 for charity; from hosting and attending golf days, to surviving sponsored Bear Grylls Challenges in South Africa. This year, we have partnered with Macmillan Cancer Support, raising funds and awareness for them. Most recently, we hosted The Glee Quiz: an event that raised a staggering ÂŁ4000 in one night!"

After years of networking, providing a personalised, consistent service have enabled them to consistently attract, recruit and retain the best talent. Jason proudly shares: "This year alone, we have been nominated for EY?s ?Entrepreneur of the Year ?, the Global Recruiter ?s ?Small Business of the Year ?and Nachural?s ?Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion? Award. We went on to win an award for ?Employer of the Year ?in October, so our efforts are being recognised across the industry. "Our plan for the future is to continue to push our TAG Network Midlands Insider 17 service levels, to build, and maintain the relationships that we have earnt and to continue to adapt and evolve."

TAG Network Midlands Insider 31


A Commercial Litigation Partner at VWV, a national law firm based in Birmingham; Dee Kundi has established herself as a multi award-winning woman in business and one of the market leaders in litigation and debt recovery. Dee heads up the debt recovery department and her growing team have specialist experience in sectors such as financial services, professional services, education, recruitment and energy.

"Never giveupandkeepgoing especiallywhenotherswant to keepyoudown. Integrityis everythingasit takesalifetime tobuildareputationbut onlya secondtoloseit."

Dee articulates, ?I am recognised both as a strong deliverer and a key innovator in the field. I continue to grow VWV's debt recovery offering to clients nationwide by advising independent schools, colleges and universities, financial institutions, professional services and companies ranging from major organisations to SMEs on all aspects of managing their debt portfolio.? ?I have demonstrated many achievements in my career to date as well as developing to a high level of seniority at a young age. When I joined VWV - it was as a Partner, taking just five years post-qualification experience to achieve this rather than the typical fifteen to twenty years which is the norm within the industry. Working my way up from paralegal was difficult with hundreds of applications for training contract being rejected and quickly losing heart in a non-diverse and non-equal opportunity profession. Women are underrepresented in the professional services field, as are people from ethnically diverse backgrounds. Much of this is a correlation of a lack of a credible role model. ?However, by sheer determination and hard work, I was driven enough to push through these challenges and finally became a trainee solicitor to now a partner and have worked over 100% breaking those barriers, rising up and cracking that glass ceiling.? On the subject of her various commitments within the city, she shares, ?Having no relatable role model or someone to approach for help back went I was trying to climb the ladder in law, I now spend my personal time to support, coach and mentor the younger generation trying to get into the profession. I feel that I have a responsibility to help promote female professionals in leadership within public and professional forums. ?I am involved in many membership organisations and pro bono activities such as: being a council, board member and director at Birmingham Law Society, a long term non-executive director at TAG Network Midlands and a Capital Development committee member for Symphony Hall and Town Hall. I was previously on the Executive Committee and the Board at the Asian Business Chamber of Commerce (ABCC) in Birmingham, and successfully became their Vice President. Knowing that I was, at the time, only the third Female Vice President in 27 years. In April 2016, I made history again by becoming the first Asian women on the board of the Birmingham Law Society since 1818, therefore almost 200 years.? Reflecting on her professional achievements this year, Dee fondly muses, ?There has been several highlights for me in 2019, but the one that stands out the most is receiving a special recognition as a 'Leading Individual' and ?the key name of note at VWV?in debt recovery for the

TAG Network Midlands Insider 33

Legal 500 and combining knowledge and experience of the debt recovery and litigation arenas with sharp business acumen. My team retained its ranking at tier 2 and continues to receive strong feedback in the legal directories.? She continues: "My team are currently spread across our four offices in Birmingham, Bristol, London and Watford. We are looking to expand the team further and continue our practice within our specialist sectors. We have several tenders coming up and look forward to continuing working with national and international debt recovery for our clients. "I am unsure what 2020 will hold for me and my team, but I am looking forward to growing my team, our reach, our client base and continue to work within the legal sector."

Dee's thoughts on inclusion within business strikes a kinship with her own experiences and personal ideology as she states: "Inclusion is essential within any business, and knowledge transfer it is especially important within my sector. All employees of all backgrounds should feel welcomed and equally treated. This is an important contributing factor to a successful business. Employees who feel welcomed are often much more committed to their work, they are more motivated and have higher levels of employee engagement. The process of inclusion focuses on making people feel valued and important for business success. When people feel valued and appreciated, they function at full capacity and feel part of the firm?s drive, ambition, ethos and its core values. Likewise, knowledge sharing enables a business to learn from its mistakes and keep their employees empowered and engaged so they can move forward with an improved strategy.

Pin-pointing her attributes for a successful career, Dee shares: "I honestly believe my hard work, business acumen, integrity and perseverance has helped me to achieve my professional growth. I have also benefited greatly by having a mentor, who has guided me in my personal and professional growth by offering sound advice and guidance. ?Life is honestly like a box of chocolates ? you never know what you?re gonna get?. Never become complacent. Always keep your head down and work hard. Never give up and keep going especially when others want to keep you down. Integrity is everything as it takes a lifetime to build a reputation but only a second to lose it. There is no glass ceiling as the only person to limit your trajectory is yourself."

34 TAG Network Midlands Insider

TAG Network Midlands Insider 2


""Spottinganopportunityand workingsmart andhardtospread thewordtocontactsandgaining business. Constantlyset goalsto achievetoensureyou?realways lookingforward.""

Woodbarn, a Tech consultancy that specialises in software and application development, strategy, concept, Tech financing, Tech recruitment, email campaigns and company branding; their clients have the opportunity to work with the most forward thinking companies to help their clients stay ahead of the market by developing and implementing the most innovative software and applications solutions. They offer a range of bespoke solutions all aimed at improving the way their clients effectively operate and to revolutionise the way they are perceived and conduct business in an increasingly competitive environment.

Matthew Barnsley, Group Sales & Marketing Director of Woodbarn, BanaBay, Heylus Recruitment and Purely, talks to us about his career, ambitious and challenges faced by entrepreneurs in the region. He recalls: " I started off my career as a Financial Advisor selling the mortgage dream as well as pensions. After a while, I moved onto a career in project management in logistics with Connect Group, always wanted to make a real change in the region, so I became interested in the area of political lobbying during the same time I began working for a networking group named Downtown in Business. As the Head of Business Solutions, this allowed me to build great relationships with some super cool leaders across Birmingham, whilst growing my own personal network. "I always knew that I was destine to something more, and a fantastic opportunity came about to start a business! The network that I had developed during my time working for others when the right group of individuals to support me in launching my own Tech consultancy, Woodbarn."

Now entering a new chapter as an business owner, Matthew shares his experience of being a young entrepreneur and starting a business from scratch. He explains: "Starting a business has so many challenges. Client attraction and retention, process, marketing, payroll, all the lovely stuff associated with a start-up. When you acquire your first client, it is so rewarding and all the long hours, planning and self-belief really pays off. You just have to keep going and don't give up. "The business has readily grown and we now have a fantastic team of seventeen wonderful individuals and helping clients solve problems with some truly incredible tech solutions. That in itself, makes me extremely proud."

In light of the increasing dependence on technology and the city of Birmingham being a beacon for tech start-up's,

TAG Network Midlands Insider 37

Matthew discusses the importance of sharing best practice and information as he adds: "It is everything, it?s impossible to stay ahead of the curve on your own.

His words of wisdom to other young business owners or those looking to start an enterprise is 'If an opportunity doesn?t knock, create a door.' It?s a great quote I have adopted in life delivered by Warren Buffett when speaking about opportunities "In a constantly changing world knowledge in business. Spotting an opportunity and working is power and people around you know so smart and hard to spread the word to contacts and much that you would never find out gaining business. Constantly set goals to achieve to without knowledge sharing through ensure you?re always looking forward." conversation. It?s also amazing as 90% of our business has been obtained through recommendation. The best team you have is your ambassadors."

Touching on future plans, Matthew notes: "Woodbarn as well as the group of businesses that I'm Director for, will be moving into a bigger office space and create a digital and creative hub in Birmingham. Continuing to collaborate with some of the best businesses to deliver exceptional products and services. To make everyone excited about tech and begin implementing it into their day to day work.

"As mentioned previously, we want to make a change. Birmingham has such a fantastic culture and some of the most exciting businesses are based here. Just take GymShark. An old concept visualised and re-invented. This is what Woodbarn is doing right now. A relatively familiar concept of marketing, app development, tech recruitment and finance but done totally differently. We cherry pick the very best businesses and project manage on work to ensure exceptional results. This helps not only Woodbarn grow but the organisations around it."

As he is candid about who has help inspire this young businessman, he openly states: "Everyone! Networking has taught me so much for a start. Connecting with people who have different standpoints, insights and knowledge has been the key to me being a much more well-rounded and successful business owner."

38 TAG Network Midlands Insider

With Birmingham being a vibrant haven for Start-Up's , Entrepreneurship and the Tech industry, we had the pleasure of meeting up with Co-founder and Director of Woodsh ir es Bu sin ess Solu t ion s and CEO of Woodbar n , Stuart Wood. Stuart is raising the bar as he takes us through his accomplished enterprises: "Woodshires offer specialist and independent tax advice on over 15 HMRC allowances such as R&D capital gains tax and many others. We have been operating for over 5 years and have handled over 1100 cases from all sectors and including the weird and wonderful anything from machine manufacturers to breweries to wheel barrow makers. "Woodbarn, which was established just over a year ago, specialises in tech consultancy offering a bespoke and independent consultancy whereby we assist in app development, tech financing, recruitment and general digital marketing services.

Stuart waxes lyrical on his passion for business and opportunities the city, as he explains: "I personally love the way business gets done. To understand business, ideology, the people behind it, and then finding synergies within opportunities that promotes growth. Through tax reliefs and tech support, this assistance shows immediately and it gives me huge pride knowing we 'did our bit'. "I think Birmingham is an incredible and diverse city and region. There are also some fantastic organisations who are really driving the region forward and that is why TAG Network Midlands fits so perfectly, bridging the gap between established leaders, entrepreneurs and young professionals. "Starting totally off my own back over five years ago. TAG Network Midlands would have been perfect to help me grow and connect with like-minded individuals to solve issues faced by most business owners and share best practice. "When I'm not saving the business world, one tax relief or one groundbreaking bit of tech at a time, I'm enjoying a beer or two, spending quality time time with my wife and two children, obsessing over the next 1990s JDM car to buy and have fun with! I believe being an entrepreneur is by no means an easy feat. Fundamentally I have learnt so much and developed so many skills to develop myself into a successful entrepreneur."

He concludes: "A thick skin, perseverance, blind faith in what the ultimate goal is and being collaborative and open to suggestion is key. Also appreciating the small things are huge when growing as an entrepreneur."



TAG Network Midlands Insider 2

EXCLUSIVE NEWS Meet An n a M it ch ell, Sales & Events Manager at Lost and Found Birmingham & Naom i Aly, Business Development Manager at Aluna and Siamais.

These two young professionals have made a big impact in the third sector this year as a result of participating in TAG Network Midlands' groundbreaking Br igh t Th in k in g Pr oject : Pr of ession al Developm en t Pr ogr am m e w it h a CSR Valu e which was in support of employability charity Su it ed For Su ccess in partnership with Gleeson Recr u it m en t Gr ou p over the summer.

Here are their stories, an insight into the Bright Thinking Project, they support of employability within the region, and the outstanding work they have


achieved to help an amazing cause.

18 TAG Network Midlands Insider 40 TAG Network Midlands Insider

TAG Network Midlands Insider 1





Naomi talks candidly about her role, in Birmingham and Bristol, working with the hospitality sector, celebrating women in the city, and what she has been most proud of this year.

Naomi is bubbly and humble by nature as she enthusiastically shares: "I work for family-run business who own restaurants called Aluna and Siamais. I have a huge interest in bringing event aspirations of our corporate and social clients to life. "This interest stems from my background of organising, hosting and managing events for a vast array of clients over my career life since graduating with a First-Class honours?degree from Events Management at Liverpool John Moores. My previous roles led me to the Hospitality industry from a Hotel sense but with a new challenge in mind, I joined the team at Aluna and Siamais in 2018. "Within this new dimension of hospitality, I have grown as an individual, especially with the great influence of networking as part of Birmingham?s profound professional scene. These particular times have seen me connect people with like-minded goals to add value to businesses alike as well as the communities we are in."

the community of Birmingham. This unique Programme was only eight week's in duration and She continues: "The biggest aspiration is to keep myself along with other young professionals within growing the businesses and the micro communities the cohort were developing project ideas. After we are in. Something I am really setting out to achieve finding a method to do this, and having the is growing the overall footfall to Brindley Place and the acceptance from Suited For Success, TAG Network Mailbox ? one way I am looking to do this is to build Midlands and their supporters, my project was that gap between the two sites by illuminating the light-lit as the charity will be moving forward with path down by the canal side and making the overall the concept I'd created. Furthermore, due to the area attractive for those from Birmingham and input of Denise, a selected few participants who beyond. graduated from TAG Network Midlands' Bright "There also other projects that I am getting involved Thinking Project were given an additional surprise. with within the Aluna and Siamais family which will "I was asked to be on the Young Professionals give a little something back to our loyal customers ? Board for Suited for Success. I am extremely proud, keep your eyes peeled in 2020 for that! as this is my first time in this role and I look forward to bringing the project to life as the charity starts to influence the community in new ways. Naomi fondly recalls applying to be on TAG Network Midlands Bright Thinking Project, she explains: "One project I have thoroughly enjoyed was actually created and facilitated by Denise Morris, CEO of TAG Network Midlands. Their Bright Thinking Project required young professionals in Birmingham to create a new arm to a fantastic local charity, Suited for Success.

Delighted with her achievements, Naomi continues to reflect on her professional and personal journey so far by adding: "2019 has been a year of firsts for me. It was the first year for me to nominated for three awards, and being a finalists for two those. I was a finalist for Female Networker of the Year for "The goal was to help employability, and commercial awareness for the charity to positively affect the funds City of Birmingham Business Awards as well as raised whilst increasing the impact the charity has on Networker of the year for Midlands Business and

42 TAG Network Midlands Insider

Community Charity Awards (MBCC Awards 2019).


"This has been an incredible personal achievement as my first full year on the networking scene, especially when compared to my finalist companions. This year was also the first year that I was asked to be on a Young Professionals Board."

Personal growth and sustaining best practices, is and has been important throughout Naomi's career outlook. Acknowledging the people who have helped her, she is insistent: "Firstly, the company I work for has been very significant to my personal growth. As a young individual, I was looking to really grow within this role.

With all the projects Naomi will be embarking on, the common factor for success is collaborations and thought leadership. She states: "Many people have the perception that businesses working within the same industry, especially hospitality, are very competitive and are frequently against one another. This is very wrong. Yes, we are all working in a competitive industry, however, we have the opportunity to share with one another in many different ways. In both Birmingham and Bristol (City homes to my three venues), I have built and been involved in a networking group that shares knowledge of marketing, experiences and inquiry referrals which help grow the businesses we work in. Knowledge sharing has also allowed me to add value to my offers to clients varying from preferred hotel rooms to photography to venue dĂŠcor. Networking has allowed me to meet people that have something to offer to my prospective clients too. Combining their skills and mine has increased the packages, making life easier for my clients, and in turn,

"This has been possible through the autonomy and decision making allowance that I have. This also goes hand in hand with the variety of projects that I have spearheaded and got involved with. These projects have led me to gain new skills. "Networking organisations, such as TAG Network Midlands have also helped my professional growth by introducing me to a wider audience within their networking community and directly supporting individuals in their career journey." Her advice to fellow young professionals whoare looking to make an impact within the business community is: "Always be true to yourself and your morals both in business and in life. I think good karma is a strong philosophy to live by ? be nice to others and the world will be nice to you. Also, always back yourself and believe in your hard work. Kindness and hard work will overcome everything!

Anna talks about her experience participating in TAG Network Midlands' Bright Thinking Project this summer. She explains: "I applied and was successful admitted on TAG Network Midlands' Professional Development Programme called the Bright Thinking Project in support of their chosen charity of the year, Suited for Success. During the eight week programme, we worked to create a project that could help commercialise aspects of the charity and generate an additional revenue stream, as well as adding additional services that the charity could offer its service users.

Parallel to Naomi's story, Anna Mitchell also works within the hospitality sector in Birmingham. Anna reveals her passion for her chosen industry and shares her experiences and values. She proudly declares: "I've worked in the industry for around fifteen years. I love interacting with customers and helping to deliver memorable experiences. Through the years I have held various positions and roles and in the last four years have moved in to a more sales and business development role within my current position at The Lost & Found. "Here, I have a passion for delivering high quality events and building strong relationships with local businesses. This is a massive part of my work within the hospitality sector. Collaboration with other local bars and restaurants within the Birmingham area is essential in order to be able to build our own businesses and also to help build a better community for everyone. Being able to collaborate with other venues allows for us to extend and enhance customer ?s experiences as we can link them with other individuals and venues within the region that may be able to assist with their event needs and requirements when our own venues may be full or unable to accommodate. This not allows us to enhance the customer experience to it?s full potential, it allows for us to keep revenue within our local community.

44 TAG Network Midlands Insider

"Following my involvement and creation of a project concept, I have been appointed to Suited For Success' Young Professional?s Board to continue my work in developing the ideas generated during the project. It is great to be able to be a part of a fantastic charity that is doing incredible work for individuals in Birmingham looking to get back into employment and I feel privileged to know the projects we worked on can help the charity to thrive."

Looking at all she has accomplished, the new skills that she has acquired during her professional development and for the future, she states: "Over the last couple of years, I have developed my skills and knowledge within my role tremendously. I have become more confident in my ability to create long term and stable relationships with local businesses and individuals which in turn has helped generate more leads and opportunities within my profession at The Lost & Found. "Being appointed onto the Young Professionals Board for Suited for Success has also been a great achievement as it will allow me to give back to others within the local community and share my experiences with them. "I am looking to build off the great year we have had at The Lost & Found in the lead up to the festive season. I am ambitious to exceed targets to beat sales year on year and to keep delivering exceptional customer experiences on every visit. "Being part of local professional networking organisations like TAG Network Midlands and BNI has really helped me to develop as an individual

and has also allowed me to grow my confidence in my own ability. I really enjoy meeting and getting to know other business owners in the community, which has given me confidence as well as further knowledge of the region and what others around me are doing. "Long term I would like to one day be able to own and run my own wedding venue, however, that is a dream that is a long way off.

Developed and delivered by TAG Network Midlands Founder & CEO, Denise Morris, this original 'Professional Development Programme with a CSR Value' was conceived with the direction of creating leaders within the city by focusing on achieving solutions to issues facing the business community, with 'employability' being a the heart of this inaugural initiative. In association with

Gleeson Recr u it m en t Gr ou p in support of Suited For Success, an awarding winning charity that helps ?unemployed men and women with interview skills and a With her new found inner confidence and ability to take suitable interview outfit will give them the confidence on new challenges, Anna shares her thoughts and they need to make that positive first impression and get advice to others. Anna enthuses: "To work hard a job that could change their life?. everyday, to never give up and to always be your best self in everything that you do. As long as you have given 100% every time, eventually, that hard work pays This programme has given young professional participants the opportunity to learn core business skills off and the rewards come around. Be honest in what and social entrepreneurship with a connection to the you do and people will always respect you for that." responsibilities involved when engaging with primary clients and organisations in the city. Professionals from across a range of industry sectors, were invested in help Wh at is t h e' Br igh t Th in k in g Pr oject diverse people find their way into employment. pow er ed by TAG Net w or k M idlan ds?

TAG Network Midlands Insider 45


The Bright Thinking Project brought together a group of young professionals to participate in a eight week programme giving them the opportunity to learn core business skills and social entrepreneurship with a connection to the social impact responsibilities of the business community.

Programme creator and facilitator, Denise Morris summarises: "TAG Network Midlands' Bright Thinking Project was enabled young professionals within the region to hear for industry leaders, embark on collaborative learning about leadership and project strategy, the end result has yielded amazing results and fantastically innovate

46 TAG Network Midlands Insider

projects that will have a substantial impact on the way the charity can generate self sufficient revenue streams with the help of an additional service line offering that will of great benefit to people from various socioeconomic backgrounds. "We have had amazing support throughout this programme from Gleeson Recruitment Group who have hosted our sessions and have truly embraced the projects as well as being an invaluable sounding board for our young professional participants."

To add to the roster of supporters; Anita Chumber of It Is PR, Katrien Goosens of LMJV, Sharon Morse and Jane Spearman of GRG delivered great

leadership and knowledge sessions to help enlighten the cohort. Patricia White, Chief Executive of Suited For Success shares:" The young professionals on TAG Network Midlands' Bright Thinking Project have created not one but two exciting creative initiatives for Suited for Success that work hand-in-hand to enhance our ongoing relationships with the corporate business community in Birmingham and further develop our work to impact unemployment. "We are excited to launch the pilot projects and will create ongoing opportunities for individuals from diverse backgrounds (mothers returning back to the workforce, veterans, and carers), to be encouraged/inspired to find equal routes to employment."

Denise says: "The programme participants presented their commercial projects to the Suited?s Trustees & Supporters. We are so proud the two Bright Thinking Project innovative ideas have been officially ?greenlit?by the charity and will be launched in 2020! I have been impressed with the hard work and outstanding dedication shown by standout individuals throughout the process! "I would like to congratulate Max Andrews, Apprentice Surveyor at Avison Young, Naomi Aly, Business Development Manager at Aluna and Anna Mitchell, Sales & Event Manager at Lost & Found for graduating and after months of secrecy I can now share that they will be joining Suited For Success?as appointed inaugural members of their Young Professional Board. They will be continuing to their great projects. I'm delighted to see these projects being implemented which will go a long way in directly helping unemployed people within the city gain a brighter future."

TAG Network Midlands Bright Thinking Project Graduation Event at Trowers & Hamlins: Anna Mitchell, Sharon Morse, Patricia White, Naomi Aly, Denise Morris & Max Andrews




TAG Network Midlands Insider 49

2019 becam e a m ilest on e year f or TAG Net w or k M idlan ds as t h is in depen den t n et w or k in g com m u n it y an d m em ber sh ip or gan isat ion celebr at ed it s 5t h year su ppor t in g m u lt i-sect or You n g Pr of ession als, Gr adu at es, En t r epr en eu r s an d Leader s w it h in t h e M idlan ds. Not on ly did TAG Net w or k M idlan ds lau n ch t h eir n ew br an din g, in t r odu ce addit ion al ser vice lin es an d gain ed r ecogn it ion f or t h e or gan isat ion's pr in ciples on diver sit y an d in clu sion , it also m ar k s an er a of evolu t ion f or vision ar y, bu sin ess leader , m en t or , en t r epr en eu r an d w om an beh in d TAG Net w or k M idlan ds. M eet t h e CEO an d Fou n der , Den ise M or r is.

On the heels of a collection of nominations acknowledging her as someone to watch out for in 2020, Denise's resounding message has been inclusion and regional excellence. As TAG Network Midlands has seen the year on year growth as well as the rise of more sectors joining their membership, the TAG Network brand is all about the experience for their partners [their members], supporters and board members as the city enters an exciting chapter for Birmingham leading up to the Commonwealth Games 2022.

What resonates with so many of TAG Network Midlands members and guests is Denise's presence and belief that everyone has the responsibility to connect, learn from others and raise aspirations within the region to make this the place to live and work. How did Denise's journey begin?

help young people and pupils who were going through really tough emotional changes. Smiling, Denise continues: "My mum was asked to speak at one of the school's final assembly for their Year Eleven students. If you know my mum, public speaking is not necessarily in her zone of comfort. She requested I attend with her for moral support and when we arrived we were sat She explains: "Growing up, my upbringing was about empowerment. All the women in my family have always on the stage facing hundreds of, well, indifferent been determined, resourceful, intelligent, hard-working students. and strong. I have always had fantastic female role "Various teachers gave their talks to a room full of models around me. I remember my mother imparting bored sixteen year old's and then it was my two very important pearls of wisdom to live by, one was; mum's turn to address them. She had prepared a 'As a woman, you must always be financially independent', speech and in that moment she stood up, left her and the other; 'Nobody is better than you and vice versa, it pre-planned words on her seat and approached is simply down to how much effort and hard work you are the podium. Her thoughts and words from the prepared to put into your achievements'. On both counts, heart poured out as I watched her wander down she is completely right and I thank her for those the steps, off the stage and walk amongst these lessons." young people, who were mesmerised and inspired by her honesty, her words of encouragement and compassion as most of them She recollects a pivotal moment as a teenager, when she were anxious about their future - their pending witnessed how empowering others can dramatically exams and if they were going to let themselves have an effect on hearts and minds which impacts down. people's lives. She proudly shares: "My mum, who was a Governor at a secondary school. She was always keen to "She was given a standing ovation at the end and students were so eager to spend time with her to

50 TAG Network Midlands Insider

ask questions and really engage. Sharing knowledge and experiences is so invaluable and can dramatically change someone's mindset. In that moment, I didn't realise that I too would be doing something similar years later ".

With a rich career history, Denise has worked in different sectors, from being a Recruitment Consultant for a large global recruitment agency to Business Development within a first tier accountancy firm. Looking back at her career path, she sincerely states: "Not everyone's professional journey is in a straight line. Learning and acquiring new skills is essential especially when you have to be multifaceted in business. She continues: "In 2014 was the turning point, I was working in professional services at the time and I really wanted to establish a purpose-driven entity. I had a strong desire to help people to grow and thrive. Networking was something that I naturally enjoyed, meeting and engaging with different individuals, sharing knowledge, learning from others as they told their professional stories and expertise, all resulting in great business opportunities along with amazing partnerships being created. "The only downside; I'd see a trainee or a young professional who was not overtly confident mingling with people holding certain job titles [usually director level] and were often recommended by management to attend and represent their organisation at the last minute with little time to known the type of audience they were going to be networking with. If you haven't networked before, it can be a very daunting prospect. As they would try to navigate their way through a busy room of individuals who have already formed strong business

TAG Network Midlands Insider 51

relationships, all the while feeling self-conscious not to say the wrong thing, on top of this, feeling pressure to introduce themselves to an unfamiliar crowd which, for some, takes a lot of courage and practice. "Going back to the core of why TAG Network came to fruition was from the need to truly support young professionals and graduates who were finding their way both personally and professionally to become super-connected with peers, including entrepreneurs and leaders to learn from, be inspired by and build mutually beneficial working relationships. As each person grows within their roles and industries, at the same time looking after their new/established contacts to their left and to their right along the way, leadership emerges. "In TAG Network's inaugural year, only two events were hosted with a couple of differentiators my brand had compared to other junior peer to peer networks at that time. TAG was and remains distinctively inclusive; our age range for young members and audience 18 - 35, our geographic reach was and remains within the Midlands region, and most importantly; TAG was and remains multi-sector friendly. Within the subsequent years, we've hosted more and more networking events which has incorporated Professional Networking Lunches, Professional Development Sessions, Bright Thinking Project, to our Leadership Collective Series and more."

TAG Network Midlands' question to their audience as a brand is; 'Are You The Kind Of Individual Who Wants To Expand Your Professional Development Whilst Becoming Super Connected?' Denise reiterates the message as she delves into the core answer: "Understanding people's why is so essential, we have to constantly ask our members how we can help them invest in themselves so they are able to get the most out of their experiences and interactions. Our amazing networking community of Young Professionals, Entrepreneurs and Leaders have seen so many different individuals all joining TAG for a plethora of reasons, however, self-investment and professional growth are the most popular causes."

TAG Network Midlands

Since then, she discusses how the network has organically evolved to include leaders, who have always been enthusiastic supporters of Denise and her brand. During the last couple of years, she has established a Young Professional Board and appointed esteemed members of the business community within the Midlands to join her Non-Executive Directors Board. She breaks things down, As she talks about how TAG Network Midlands has stating: "I have been really privileged to have the support changed people's lives in small and significant ways, of some of the region's most impressive achievers in Denise is extremely modest in her response. She is quick business. I have an outstanding team of great to add: "Yes, I have created a space for professionals from powerhouses within their industries supporting my vision a diverse range of backgrounds to flourish, but their and my ideas. As an entrepreneur, having a fantastic group successes have been their own, TAG's platform has of people who are willing to give their time and input. My enabled people to engage with so many different peers advice to anyone starting out in business is to seek out a and leaders, build confidence, enhance the region's mentor, work in partnership with others who shares your economy, and increase leadership as our members are values and have different experiences and prospectives in the ones who are embracing the movement and making business who can help you to personally development. an impact with the tools provided." "It can be lonely at the top, so having individuals that you

52 TAG Network Midlands Insider

As the interview concludes, Denise smiles as she suspects that her final question will be the one she gets asked a lot. As an award-winning Networker, what is her tips and advice for others who are looking to make impression and become 'super-connected' within their sector or locale. She states: "Networking is simply a series of quality conversations and interactions with a person or number of people who have a strong interest in understanding how they can create new opportunities and work together, which are mutually beneficial. "How relationships develop can vary, however, your approach to every interaction should be positive, interesting, and of great value. It is important that you listen more then you transmit as this is where you find out so much information that will be useful for you, pure gold for someone within your network and vital to build and support commercial ideas in business. Understanding what is going on in the marketplace goes a long way to enhance your ability to connect individuals to opportunities and other people, create partnerships, and position yourself as a great influencer. "You have a responsibility to help others and treat an opportunity as something many can positively benefit from."

s Leadership Team from L-R: Mark O'Sullivan, Anita Chumber, Denise Morris, Jamil Shabir, Dee Kundi & Stuart Wood

With an exciting year of opportunities and events hosted by TAG Network Midlands in 2020, be sure to keep updated and informed.

trust to be a sounding board for your ideas and who you can be candid about how you are feeling does make such a difference to your wellbeing."

On the topic of inclusion, Denise has always had her views and has frequently being praised for how innately inclusive the TAG Network Midlands brand is. She shares: "I strongly believe that regardless of a title, people should to treated with respect and equality. I also strongly believe that everyone's life experience is a teachable and expressive moment for others to learn from. We add value to our own lives when we accept that someone else has an outlook and journey that differs from our own and we should challenge whenever there is inequality as well as to be open to help improve relationships, opportunities, knowledge, leadership and the prosperity of the region."

Follow Us: Tw it t er @TAGNet w or k M ids Facebook @TAG Net w or k M idlan ds Lin k edIn @TAG Net w or k M idlan ds Lim it ed

TAG Network Midlands Insider 53




Sitting majestically on the throne, multi award-winning serial entrepreneur, Mark O'Sullivan tells of his first steps into business, how he has turned opportunities to his advantage and what it takes to build an empire.

Mark casually shares how it all began, as he explains: "For the first 20 years of my career I worked in logistics and supply chain management in FMCG, chemical, dairy, packaging and other industrial sectors. My very first job was a Logistics Analyst role in Halesowen for Rieter Automotive which was a first tier supplier to Jaguar Land Rover amongst other car plants. I fell in love with logistics and developed a passion for fast paced business and also loved the challenges of managing large teams of people across the whole of the UK.

McVoy. Woodbarn is a technology consultancy where we work with companies helping them develop their businesses through tech improvements. I have also invested in Bottega Bar and Restaurant as well as Toppa ? an elearning app for entrepreneurs and corporates which aims to be the Netflix of e-learning. "The diversity of my current businesses as they span from fresh produce, recruitment, tech and retail sectors has given me a diverse skill set and a deep understanding of the challenges faced by many businesses.

"I fulfill numerous trustee positions for Midlands charities including WAITS (Women In Today?s society) which provides support to women who have suffered domestic abuse and their focus is on supporting these women to thrive again. I am also a trustee for Free@Last an organisation that works "In 2012, I started my first company BanaBay with under privileged young people in the Nechells area of Birmingham. I also sit on Limited which is a fresh produce company the Non Executive Director Board for TAG and where we ship mainly bananas from Network Midlands, a networking south and central america to different organisation championing inter-connectivity countries around the world. of professionals, entrepreneurs and "In 2017, I opened with my co-founder intrapreneurs in the Midlands. I am also Stefania Pellegrino a company called Vittoria board member of the Birmingham Chamber Enterprises and we started our brand Purely Council and the Birmingham Transatlantic Plantain Chips. This is a business where we Chamber Council, my role on the council is sell a healthier alternative to potato crisps to boost visibility of the chamber in the with three flavours of Plantain Chips. We sell wider Birmingham Business Community and into Harvey Nichols, Selfridges, Harrods, to ensure the Chamber members gain Fortnum & Masons and soon Ocado and maximum benefit from their partnership Malmaison." with the chamber. I have also been really privileged to be an ambassador for the MBCC awards in 2019 and have just asked to His passion for business continues as he be on the advisory board for Birmingham also has been instrumental in working with City University and also an ambassador for individuals who, like himself, have a vested the Education Awards. I was also extremely interest in bringing more business proud to be on the board for Birmingham opportunities to the region. He adds: "In the Tech Week and as a board we are now past 18 months I have also become involved working for the next stages of Birmingham in Heylus with my business partner Shaheen Tech." Shah which is a creative, digital and tech So, when he is not travelling internationally recruitment company. We are passionate on a monthly basis, creating strategies and about education, helping people find their executing business deals, what does this career paths and we aim to work hard to disrupt the recruitment industry. I have also busy businessman do for fun? Mark muses: "Outside of work, I love spending time with become involved in Woodbarn with Stuart and Paul Wood, Matthew Barnsley and Craig my family and also watching sport and

TAG Network Midlands Insider 55

especially football, tennis and cricket and prior to having my children was a football scout for Aston Villa watching games all over the Midlands."

During any entrepreneurial journey, there are often challenges to overcome. Mark is very clear about how and why adversity can reshape your views to reveal where the real opportunities are, as he divulges: "The biggest business challenges I have overcome are in the fresh produce industry when in 2015, I had two major issues in China and Russia which nearly closed the company due to bad debts. I have had to re-structure the whole of the company and make many extremely difficult decisions to keep the business running and to re-build again. This taught me so much during this period and has enabled me to look at business very different and makes me resilient to cope with anything in the future." Personal strength plays a huge part in life too, as he continues: "Nothing can compare in business to my own personal challenge of losing my sister who was one year younger than me a number of years ago and is something that I still struggle to cope with but this has made me focused on achieving my business plans and objectives to allow me to spend more quality time with my family. If there is ever anything that can bring things into perspective in life then it is something like this. I am definitely a different person since this day and this has definitely changed me in how I think about everything."

In business, it is wise to reflect on your achievements as Mark states: "2019 has been truly amazing and it has been a fantastic year for both me, my business partners and the team. To pick one highlight wouldn't do the year justice. During the year I have been honoured and humbled to be voted winner of the City of Birmingham Business Awards Man of the Year award and the Nachural Summer Business Ball & Awards as the Entrepreneur of the Year, both awards whilst an accolade for me are only thanks to the support I have from my various business partners, mentors and the world class team I work with. I am also extremely proud of everyone involved across my various business investments and the work going on behind the scenes is setting up 2020 as an even more exciting and successful year. It is such a great honour to be asked by so many key people in Birmingham to be involved on boards or as ambassadors. I take my positions very seriously and have enjoyed them

22 TAG Network Midlands Insider

immensely in 2019. I have also been so lucky to have so many wonderful people within the teams and the businesses I am involved in. To be able to have businesses where you can have a great atmosphere and a collaborative high performing team is something that is very special, so creating and working within a focused team of people is also another highlight of this year. "With all of our businesses we intend to scale them and employ more people in the region and develop apprenticeship and intern programmes across the businesses. We have a number of tech business ideas which we expect to come to fruition next year but you are going to have to watch this space but it will indeed

enhance the region and help others for sure! Not long to wait... "We also have a plan for the Purely Plantain Chips business to get investment from food industry experts and then introduce 3 new flavours and a 30g bag. We believe that next year will see Purely in at least 2 main retailers and to keep developing more sales internationally. As all of our businesses improve the recruitment will all be in the Birmingham area and this excites us all for our growth plans for next year. "I think collaboration are absolutely fundamental to business success. It is imperative that we work together, draw skills and talents from various members of the teams and ensure that everyone feels part of what the business is

creating regardless of their role. These are absolutely fundamental and developing culture, team values and having a proactive and involved team is essential. As a range of businesses we all present to each other every month and work cross-functionally in providing referrals and opportunities for everyone. "I am extremely proud of the development of people across our businesses in 2019 and how much they have already achieved and I do not understand how any business would not consider this an absolute priority when there are so many great ideas that comes from our conversations and meetings. Knowledge is power and the more we can include across the team the greater the results.

With the future looking bright, Mark lays out an exciting year ahead. "2020 is an absolutely key year for us and the businesses I am involved in. We have a young range of businesses still, so helping develop them and grow them is essential. We have so many targets and objectives to achieve and our aim is to scale them and look at our corporate social responsibilities across the businesses. "Our aim is to achieve success in 2020 whilst also give back to the community. Birmingham is an amazing city with amazing leaders and I am so proud to be part of the business community and my aspiration is to continue the momentum which we are seeing here and to develop bigger and better teams whilst also working closer to the earlier stages of education to help people with their career options and visibility of what is available to them. "I intend to also apply and join a couple of NED boards in 2020 and also mentor a number of business entrepreneurs to help them progress their businesses. My biggest aspiration for next year, however, is to spend more time with my family and also to progress the work/life balance of my team.

""Alwaystreat everyonewith kindness,respect andhonesty. You never knowwhat peoplegothrough behindcloseddoorsandregardless of ?title?everyonehasvaluetoadd acrosstheboard."

Continuing his thoughts on the importance of being surrounded by a strong supportive network of people both personally and in business, he shares: "To name one individual wouldn?t be fair on how many incredible mentors and influences there are on my life. First and foremost my wife and my two boys inspire me incredibly, knowing I have their backing, their guidance and them watching and supporting me is a huge boost to ensure I am working to the greatest of my potential. Secondly my direct and indirect supports are those I am

TAG Network Midlands Insider 57

in business with, their passion, zest for creating a truly successful business deeply inspires me to continue growing and working on my professional and personal growth. There are a number of people in Birmingham who have also given me so much time, support and introductions over the past few years and I am truly thankful to all of them. My team are absolutely outstanding and help me on a daily basis with the plans we set for growth. They are all over achieving and should be so proud of what they do and they inspire me daily."

Mark's values and integrity is a huge part of his meaningful interactions with everyone he meets, as he states: "Always treat everyone with kindness, respect and honesty. You never know what people go through behind closed doors and regardless of ?title?everyone has value to add across the board. "No matter how hard you work in life the one thing you will not be thinking about when you are lying on your death bed is work, so always find a way to find time for your family and ensure they have the best time possible. Make your working life the best it can be for you and for the people that work from you ? Have fun and enjoy life as it can be so short and everyone goes through difficult and challenging times in their life, so having a good work environment can make all the difference to people.

"I always think there is so much to learn from people and listening is key as a leader and giving people trust, space and responsibility to develop and grow is essential. I think that networking is also a great thing as being part of a group that can advise you of things is so useful ? life as an entrepreneur can be very lonely and we all go through so many similar things, so work around people or network with people to get the support when you need it. "Finally, it is really important I believe to have a mentor who you see regularly. It is good to have someone who pushes you and challenges you and where you can have accountability. If you have a networking group and a mentor then this makes a major difference to what you can achieve."

Sharing more positivity, Mark says: "Never give up! No matter what happens in your entrepreneur journey and even in the times when things feel impossible and you are swamped there is always a way forward. The more you can surround yourself with positive energy, the easier the difficult times will be but if you truly believe in something despite what noise you hear around you that maybe negative then keep moving forward and prove them wrong. It will be even sweeter when you achieve what you set out to do."

Mark O'Sullivan winning The Nachural Summer Business Ball's 'Entrepreneur of the Year 2019' Award, sponsored by Oxbridge

58 TAG Network Midlands Insider

TAG Network Midlands Insider 2



""It'sreallyimportant that youhavepeoplethat constantlypushyouand inspireyoutobethebest that youcanpossiblybe.""



Evelyn Armstrong is a formidable, trailblazing woman in business, who has had the pleasure of meeting Nelson Mandela, yes.. the Nelson Mandela during her career in hospitality. Now Director and General Manager of the ultra stylish Prosecco Bar and Restaurant, Bottega, she discusses her extraordinary professional path that has led her here. She introduces her journey: "I was born in Zambia and when I was thirteen, my family moved to South Africa, where I spent the next thirteen years. While it was hard enough living as a black woman in post apartheid South Africa, it became unbearable once I met Neil, a white English South African (as distinguished from a white Afrikaner). "I had long thought about leaving South Africa but the treatment we received while dating became a catalyst for me to leave and relocate to the UK. Fortunately, Neil followed me and we made Birmingham our home and are blessed with two children. "In 2009, as a mother to a six month old, Neil advised me to abandon my full time job to become a stay-at-home mother, a notion to find something interesting to do that wouldn?t take me away from our daughter too much and allow me to earn some income. My first project was the creation of a local business directory which over time evolved into the glossy GEM magazine. "As publisher of the magazine, I set the magazine?s focus on being positive about Birmingham and the West Midlands and in doing so, attracted the attention and cooperation of the region?s movers and shakers ? people in business, in politics, in health and education. and individuals who supported many charities with feature stories and fundraising events. I knew my efforts were recognised when I received an invitation first to No. 10 Downing Street by Mr Gordon Brown, the then Prime Minister for dinner in 2010, followed by an invitation to a garden party at Buckingham Palace in 2017. "People were surprised to see me opening a restaurant this year but my life in hospitality started decades ago when I worked in Cape Town?s leading hotel at the time. She fondly recalls: "One amazing experience I had back then was being the waiter on the top table where Nelson Mandela was seated with Gracia Machel. On entry, Mandela greeted everyone by hand who worked at the event. He even called out to the glass washer in the back of the bar, so that he could shake his hand. After the meal, he thanked everyone and holding my

TAG Network Midlands Insider 61

hand, he thanked me personally. I said to him, ?It?s an honour to serve you, Madiba.?He replied, ?Aah, it?s an honour to be served by you.? I was young and could not believe that someone with so much influence, and a symbol of hope and inspiration was thanking me!"

At a time when GEM Magazine was flourishing, technology was changing and Evelyn saw a commercial opportunity. She explains: "Print has been around for over 500 years, but in our lifetime, with the advent of the digital age, it was no surprise that digital would replace print as the primary means of published communications. With this in mind, I set out to change GEM Magazine to GEM Media and in 2017, the inevitable happened. I had to close down GEM Magazine and having created GEM Media, I had a smooth transition from a magazine publisher to running a PR, sales, marketing and events agency. "The demise of GEM Magazine freed up time for me to focus on a new business venture. Having had a lifelong dream of owning a hospitality business, I started looking for restaurant opportunities. "On 27 August 2018, celebrating my son?s birthday at Legoland at Birmingham Arena, I spotted an empty unit which led to today?s Bottega Birmingham restaurant. By December 2018, I had put together a business plan for the restaurant, which I originally called Charlie?s, and had also attracted investors. By the end of that month, fruitful discussions with Bottega SPA led to them becoming a licensing partner and I changed the original branding of Charlie?s Restaurant to Bottega Birmingham. "Having received the keys on 6 March this year, I successfully project managed the refurbishment of the space, secured suppliers, appointed staff and organised the launch, which I?ve been told by many that it was one of the best they had ever attended. I had set a deadline for the opening of 4 April and we successfully hit it. "Now open and fully operational, making a success of the restaurant means that we build a reputation of which we can be proud of and that financially, it can stand on its own."

Even with her vast achievement under her belt, Evelyn appreciates all who have supported her as she acknowledges: "My immediate response is family,

22 TAG Network Midlands Insider 62

friends and books. "My husband has played a very big role in my personal and professional growth. He has always been there, not just encouraging and supporting me but also putting in the work behind the scenes to make the ventures successful, usually after putting in the hours on his day job. "My parents have always instilled in me a great work ethic and one of their famous sayings is that hard work has never killed anyone yet. "Literature has inspired and guided me also. There are a few key books. Personality Plus by Florence Littauer is the first of these. The subtitle of the book is How to Understand Others by Understanding Yourself. I found her personality type descriptions very helpful in coming to

understand myself. The second book is Five Love Languages by Doctor Gary Chapman ? and his five ways of showing love became a conscious part of my being: touch, words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, gifts. Both of these books were recommended to me by my husband. "As a young business woman, I read Napoleon Hill?s Think and Grow Rich. What I took away from this was the lesson that I should recognise that there are no barriers to what I want to achieve. I also found myself joining a mastermind group, spearheaded by my good friend Carole Manship, based on Napoleon Hill?s recommendation to do so. He defined a mastermind group as 'The coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony'. It was at this mastermind group, that I was introduced to my fourth key book: Nancy Kline?s Time to Think. I keep on my home office wall a quote from the book: ?The quality of everything human beings do is dependent on the quality of the thinking we do first.?

At No 10 Downing Street: Mrs Sarah Brown, Evelyn Armstrong, Gisela Stuart MP & Prime Minister, Gordon Brown - 2010

As a savvy woman in business, Evelyn understands the importance of creating a positive and collective environment for her team. She states: "Inclusion is core to my way of thinking about running a business. It?s important to have a diverse staff ? whether we?re talking about gender, ethnicity, age, background or level of experience. You need all types of people. This diversity makes for a richer, more vibrant environment in the Evelyn Armstrong pictured behind Nelson Mandela workplace and in society. It means older colleagues can knowledge but be careful which knowledge pool you?re help younger workers by transferring knowledge and drinking from." skills; younger staff can bring energy, fresh ideas , new skills and knowledge. "There are a number of ways I seek to gain knowledge. I enjoy attending meetings that bring people together from different sectors as one can always learn from others about how things are done. I am always eager to share knowledge and because of that, I also have no problem in asking others for their knowledge. And I generally find that there?s always someone I can call on when I need information, advice or assistance and that people who come to me for my knowledge usually ask me to help them make connections, e.g. a phone call asking, ?Do you know someone who?...? "I have come to understand that the more I learn, the less I know. I?ve also learned that just because someone comes and tells you they can help you out, doesn?t mean they can. Successful people don?t have time to sell themselves as people who will train you, but if you find a successful person in the area you need, you can ask them nicely, build a relationship with them and be willing to pay for their time, you could learn a lot. It?s important to share

Sharing her wisdom, she adds: "The more I have studied successful people in business and life, I have learned that there is no such thing as work/life balance. I find that if you have a goal, you usually have to get off balance in favour of that goal until you achieve it. Trying to find balance during that period is demoralising and not realistic. So it's best to surround yourself, during that period with people in a similar state of mind, or those that have been through the process, who can support you and cheer you on to the finish line. "My life philosophy is the harder you work, the luckier you get and of course when in doubt I always remember Henry Ford?s famous quote: ?Whether you think you can or think you can?t, you?re right.? "The advice I would give to my children is to never accept someone?s view of you if it?s less than you think of yourself. If it?s a higher view than your own view of yourself, accept it with grace."

TAG Network Midlands Insider 63

Bootcamp Media?s Jamil Shabir wins The Chief Executive Award 2019

Downtown in Business Birmingham awarded Bootcamp Media CEO the prestigious Chief Executive?s Award.

Hosted at the fabulous Edgbaston Cricket Club, the third annual City of Birmingham Business Awards was attended by over 300 of the region?s leading business personalities.

The awards were originally introduced in 2017 to recognise the very best the Birmingham Business community has to offer and have proved incredibly popular ever since.

The award was given out in recognition of the hard work that the CEO and team at Bootcamp Media have done over the past 12 months.

Highlighting employees of the year, the best newcomers, female and male networking champions and those who have had the biggest community impact, the awards are a celebration of all that?s great about Birmingham.

?I was not expecting to win the Chief Executive?s Award, but I?m very grateful and humbled? explained Jamil after the event. ?You cannot imagine what it means to have won something like this.

?It?s not just for me, though - it?s for the entire Bootcamp Media team. And it?s particularly important given Downtown in Business?s commitment to working with organisations up and down the country. They know how to support local businesses, and these awards recognise the considerable hard work that goes into running modern enterprises. I?d therefore like to take this opportunity to congratulate my fellow winners - you all deserve it so much!"

64 TAG Network Midlands Insider


""It'sreallyimportant that youhavepeoplethat constantlypushyouand inspireyoutobethebest that youcanpossiblybe.""


Dr Print; a family run business based in Birmingham, has been working with SME?s and corporates to future proof their designs across all mediums print, merchandise and web. Brothers Gurjote and Sandeep Nandra have figured out the formula of working closely together to expand their business offering.

Their individuals journey into the boardroom has taken different paths, however, their passion for business eventually led them back to where it all started. Gurjote explains: "I?m born and raised in Smethwick and I am the second son of a Printer, Raghbir Singh Nandra. Our father had started Dr Print (UK) Ltd, a 4 Colour Printers back in 1976. Unlike my brother [and business partner], I didn?t go straight into the business after University. "The original plan was to start studying towards becoming a Clinical Psychologist after graduating from the University of Leicester with a BSc in Psychology in 2009. However, I couldn?t sit through another lecture and the sheer thought of more exams put me off. Like many students graduating in 2009, I was hit with a 'now what?' moment. "It was an interesting time to graduate as the UK economy was finally moving out of recession during the last quarter of 2009. Nevertheless, the job market was tough. My first thought was to join the family business, but I hit my first hurdle, my Dad. He said something that I will never forget, ?Sorry son, you need to go out and get some experience before you can and work for me!?. My second thought was, ?Damn, I just got my first rejection, from my own Dad?. It didn?t seem like it at the time, but this was my first lesson in life. You can?t just ask for things and expect to get them. "The following day, I made a trip back down to my University to seek advice from a career ?s advisor. After an hour-long chat about my choices, the advisor turned to me and said, ?You seem like a people person, have you thought about Recruitment?? At that time, I knew nothing of recruitment other than it was a job where people helped other people to find jobs. I had nothing to lose so I explored it as a career path. "Subsequently, I was rejected by eight Recruitment firms in Birmingham. I came back from my last interview deflated and trawling for answers on the web to that question, 'now what?'. The same afternoon, I got a call back from another Recruitment firm that had found my CV. I took the call and was invited for an interview the next day. I was offered on job on the same day! There was my second lesson, to be tenacious and persistent in reaching your goals. My next five years were spent with Hays Recruitment, where I gained invaluable experience in running a business. Having worked in the industry, I have a deep respect for the work recruiters do and work they do to change people's lives. "In my last year before I left Hays, an opportunity presented itself with Dr Print and it was the right time for me come into the business. My role at Dr Print is new business development and

TAG Network Midlands Insider 67

marketing. So my main focus is to establish commercial opportunities through networking and other marketing activities to grow the business.

Sandeep Nandra, descirbes his first steps into entrepreneurship as he too was inspired and influenced by their father. Sandeep shares: "I grew up seeing my father develop his print business from a small studio at home to his first unit that he purchased on Anne Road in Smethwick. He nurtured the business into a successful lithographic printing company that specialised in producing swing tickets for the booming textiles industry in the 80?s and 90?s. I worked for my father during school holidays whilst at School, Sixth form and University. I enjoyed watching how swing tickets and other products were designed, printed and finished. By working in the family business, I quickly learned the trade and loved the technical aspects of print and production. I even helped with packing goods and made deliveries to customers.

local charities with free products and services, as we believe in supporting the local community.

As two heads are better than one, both Gurjote and Sandeep discuss the importance of working collectively, as they state: "As a business, we believe that greater growth can be achieved through collaboration which is why we love Birmingham so much. "There is a real sense of togetherness in this city and a great deal of people that are willing to support your business. We hope that many more businesses see the value in collaboration and the positive impact this have on the community, creating a better city for all. "Over the last three years it has been challenging to grow and market the business. Graphic design and print is a highly competitive industry and we have learned that relying on one strategy is risky in the

"By the mid-90?s the textiles industry significantly declined, and my father diversified the business and started to produced packaging for Indian Sweet Shops. The business required more space the grow the packaging business, so in 2003, the business moved into a larger site on Downing Street in Smethwick. "I graduated from the University of Birmingham with a degree in Economics in 2004 and was faced with a decision to either find employment or work in the family business. I chose the latter! The printing industry had changed dramatically since the business was originally established and it needed another string to its bow in order to grow. After working in the business for two years, I realised we could add value to our offering by selling branded promotional merchandise. At that moment in time, my brother, Gurjote also joined the business in 2014 after working in recruitment for five years. Since joining, he took the lead in the marketing strategy for the business. "Fast forward to 2019, and Dr Print has forged a strong place in the marketplace as supplies of print and branded merchandise lead by highly creative graphic design. The ethos is to achieve brand consistency across print and merchandise. In addition, we?re helping client?s to use printed materials to increase customer engagement in a crowded digital space ? it?s refreshing to receive something tangible and personalised, rather than an offer by email! "Ultimately, the vision is to grow a business that creates opportunities for people to develop themselves and their careers, whilst delivering exceptional products and 22 TAG Network Midlands Insider services. Over the years, we have supported numerous

""Don?tcompareyourself toothers. T just positivemindset,preparation,e

current climate. There are so many methods to market a business and we have invested a lot of time and money to develop the right strategy for Dr Print." They add: "Improving and growing our network has helped us to develop the business. Networking has helped us to find better advisors, mentors and customers. We?ve have also found that sponsoring events and exhibiting at the right events has helped us to raise our profile and get in front of key decision makers. "People still do business with people, despite the growth of digital platforms. Ultimately, we have found an approach that combines both offline and online marketing has worked best for our business. The strength of any successful business is its team. Over the last few years we have excelled in the quality of products and services which has attracted the right talent to join the business."

Thereisnosecret tosuccess,it?s effort andlearningfromfailure""

Talking about their achievements, Gurjote states: "Over the past four years we have worked incredibly hard on our networking strategy within Birmingham and beyond. This has led to working with the likes of Bentley Birmingham, TAG Network Midlands, Right Time Recruitment, Sky Creative Agency, Confederation of British Metalforming, to name a few. Largely our success is due to the SME?s that consistently support our mission to help brands become more memorable through our creative approach to print and promotional marketing. "Personally, 2019 was a massive learning curve where I have been constantly striving to improve my own interpersonal and leadership skills through networking and seeking proactively seeking advice from people that I consider to be great leaders." Sandeep adds: "I have become a better networker. It?s great to attend an event in Birmingham and know other people attending! Networking was a daunting exercise three years ago. However, by consistently attending events and joining networking groups I have grown in confidence. This has not only attracted prospects for the business but also allowed me to help others by making introductions to decision makers in Birmingham. "The of social media and offline marketing has been one of the key drivers for success of the business this year. Our recent marketing campaign titled, ?How to Use Confectionery to Market Your Brand?, was a huge success, as it demonstrated the value of direct marketing combined with digital media. "We created an advent calendar with a QR and unique landing page so that we could track the success of the campaign based on the number of leads and conversions made. The landing page shows a video containing marketing ideas using confectionery. The calendars were sent to a database of 150 clients. From initial investment of ÂŁ1,000, we have generated over ÂŁ15,000 in sales in the last four weeks. Direct mail is still a viable method of generating sales, especially when used in conjunction with digital marketing. "Consequently, we created ?The Brand Surgery?? a new video series where we are collaborating with other design agencies and marketing professionals to dissect what works when it comes to marketing, and in particular offline marketing. The aim is to help people make the right choices about their marketing strategies by seeing how other SME?s adapt multiple strategies to grow their businesses.

Sandeep and Gurjote are keen to leave a legacy within their sector as the best creative print agency in the UK. With plans to expand their team, engage with partners and continually assist organisations in Birmingham to improve our PR to increase brand exposure and encourage collaboration.

TAG Network Midlands Insider 69



Meet the city's biggest advocates; Ifraz Ahmed and Anita Chumber, founders of the Birmingham Awards. Established in 2015, their inaugural awards ceremony was met with overwhelming positivity, not just for the city - but for the achievers doing their bit to shine a spotlight on how great Birmingham truly is. Anita explains: "We created the awards because we believe that a city of ambitious, vibrant, inspirational people and organisations needs a platform to highlight and celebrate the incredible work being done.? Ifraz adds: ?We are passionate about ensuring that we all come together collectively to celebrate each other. We want to identify and acknowledge the unsung hero, using their stories to inspire others to do the same. Recognition, support, collaboration and celebration are key to our city and region to grow and prosper.?

This year 's host, Heart FM?s Ed James, did a magnificent job of keeping the evening proceedings in order with plenty of exciting entertainment.

On Saturday 9th November the Library of Birmingham was sparkling with red and blue ? the brand colours of Birmingham Awards. For the Awards' 5th year, both Anita and Ifraz felt such a milestone should be marked by celebrating in one of Birmingham most iconic buildings the Library of Birmingham. The logistics involved to transform a place of reading and learning to a place of recognition and celebration in just under two hours felt almost impossible to comprehend but the organisers, Ifraz and Anita succeeded to deliver a magnificent evening of celebrations. The night kicked off with a sparkling drinks reception hosted by Bottega Birmingham, in the Rotunda of the library. Five years ago, the duo set out with a vision to create a platform to bring together the various sectors of the city to collectively honour and further unite Birmingham to allow for a

TAG Network Midlands Insider 71



22 TAG Network Midlands Insider 74 TAG Network Midlands Insider

dialogue of opportunity and growth. The pair were proud to see so many new organisations and individuals which is a testament to their original vision. Keynote speaker was Midlands Metro Mayor, Andy Street with an engaging and inspiring opening speech heaping praise on the city and saying ?the future of Birmingham has never looked so optimistic?. Live entertainment on the night was provided by Aston Performing Arts Academy who had the whole room on their feet. No matter how many times you may have seen them perform, it always feels like the first time, they are an amazing act and know how to energise a room. This year ?s 'Brummie of the Year 2019' was awarded to chair of Town Hall & Symphony Hall, Anita Bhalla OBE who has transformed Birmingham and beyond.

Judges Award ? Hailey Han son Networker of the Year ? Adam An dr ew Hayes

The lifetime Achievement award was awarded to UK?s first lady of soul Jaki Graham who said ?Thank you so much for my Lifetime Achievement award! To get this recognition from my very own hometown makes this that much more special! It makes me proud to be a Brummie. Congratulations to all the well deserved winners?.

Big winners on the night included; Arts & Culture Award: M idlan ds Ar t s Cen t r e (M AC) Social Enterprise of the Year ? Evolve Bir m in gh am Contribution to Education Award ? Sar ah M u lin (Pr ior y Sch ool)

Excellence in Media ? Balvin der Sidh u (ITV) Best Shopping Experience ? Tou ch w ood Independent Retailer of the Year ? Ch ou ch ou t e Ch ocolat er ie Best Use of Social Media or Marketing ? Bir m in gh am Hippodr om e

Finally, Birmingham Awards would like to thank the headline sponsor Love Your Postcode. Supporting sponsors Bootcamp Media, F5 Foster Care, Falcon Insurance, Heylus Recruitment, Oxbridge, Squibble, Thorns Group and United Carpets.

Young Achiever of the Year ? An n a Assin der Bar or Pub of the Year ? Hot el du Vin Bir m in gh am Business of the Year ? Un iqu e IQ lt d Sporting Initiative of the Year ? WBC Wom en s Boxin g Clu b Community Initiative or Charity of the Year ? Bir m in gh am St M ar y 's Hospice

Drinks sponsors Bottega Prosecco Bar and Swallow Drinks. Supporting partners Asaysi, Baked in Brick, Glimpse, Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, Hollywood Monster, Purely, Subway, Town Hall Symphony Hall, Vibrant Networks and Unique Venues Birmingham.

Restaurant of the Year ? Ch u n g Yin g Can t on ese Small Business of the Year ? Tr im z an d Tan t r u m z Ch ildr en s Salon Professional of the Year ? St eph an ie Taylor Venue of the Year ? Ast on Villa Holt e Su it e

Media partners Dluxe Magazine, Birmingham Updates and PR Partner It Is PR. A big thanks to the generous donations to help raise money for the charity partner Love Brum.

Business Man of the Year ? St acey Bar n f ield Business Woman of the Year ? Nat alie Taylor -Her r ick

Ifraz and Anita closes with:"We?ll look forward to what Birmingham Awards brings to us next year."

TAG Network Midlands Insider 75

22 TAG Network Midlands Insider

ADVERTISEWITHUS TAG Network Midlands Insider magazine is a quarterly digital publication that showcases the talents of multi-sector professionals, entrepreneurs and corporations within the Midlands.

Each issue provides editorials, interviews, features, news and events from the region's business community. Send us your content, special announcements and press releases to in sider @t agn et w or k m idlan

For advertising, sponsorship opportunities, or to request a TAG Network Midlands Insider Media Pack contact in sider @t agn et w or k m idlan


We offer a fantastic opportunity for you to join and gain access to TAG Network Midlands' community of professionals, entrepreneurs, graduates and change-makers within the Midlands region. We provide the tools and knowledge for you to develop or your employees to engage with various individuals within industry, and understand how to optimise commercial and reciprocal opportunities. BETTER BUSINESS, BETTER REGION!


Profile for TAG Network Midlands

TAG Network Insider Magazine - Winter Issue - December 2019  

Our exciting edition including special features from Business Leaders; Ninder Johal DL, Mark O'Sullivan, Dee Kundi, Evelyn Armstrong, Stu Wo...

TAG Network Insider Magazine - Winter Issue - December 2019  

Our exciting edition including special features from Business Leaders; Ninder Johal DL, Mark O'Sullivan, Dee Kundi, Evelyn Armstrong, Stu Wo...


Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded