Our Judges

We have developed our judging over 18 years and our judges, all top business people within their chosen arena, have cited our awards as both the most transparent and professionally executed. Each application is scored by up to 4 different judges from a panel of up to 30 judges, all applications are seen by different members of the judging panel. The judges spend several hours and score not only their own sponsored category but several others too, this ensures transparency. The first page of questions is designed to give the judges a real feel for your business, followed by several questions that are scored from 1 to 5. It is worth noting that although all judging is computer based please ensure you upload images or screen shots of all important pages. There are no site visits or presentations involved. The finalists are chosen by adding all the scores and up to 16 entrants can make it through to the final, however if scoring is low, less entrants make it through. Should you wish to read our Top Tips, please click HERE

Danielle Michaels

HR Director | The Grove

Given the opportunity, what advice would we give our 18 year old self?  The benefit of hindsight is a wonderful advantage, but would our 18 year old self listen?  I wanted to be a child psychologist, to make a difference, to be a beacon of inspiration, but instead of studying psychology, I pursued languages as I thought it would open a gateway to travel.

Staying faithful to my passion for people and their development, my career started with Marks & Spencer where I was responsible for a CSR budget funding education and social welfare projects.  Building on my interest for learning, I set up an Education programme as part of a careers attraction strategy for schools, colleges and universities.  I moved from one family business to another and I have been responsible for The Grove’s HR function for over 12 years, creating development opportunities within an inclusive and fun environment.  Hospitality is about people and as a local business we work as one with the community.

Although life doesn’t always turn out the way you expect, never lose sight of your aspirations, because you will achieve your goal by making it happen sometimes through a circuitous and unexpected route.

Cherie Norris

Economic Development Manager | Watford Borough Council

As the Economic Development Manager of Watford Borough Council, I lead on supporting the growth of Watford’s thriving economy.  This includes providing the strategic direction and practical support, to enable Watford to become an even more vibrant business community.

My background includes a highly successful business career in sales and business development in the technology sector helping businesses develop and implement new growth strategies and sales channels.

More recently, I led the Hemel Hempstead based Hertfordshire IQ Enterprise Zone Programme, which was tasked with creating 8,000 new jobs and boosting sector growth in smart construction and agri/environmental tech fields, before coming back to Economic Development in Watford Council last summer.

I’ve been a Watford resident for 17 years, and it’s great to be working with our fantastic business community again

Karl Spinks

General Manager (Director)| Wenzels The Bakers

Karl Spinks is an experienced Leader with 17 years of retail bakery background and has knowledge in multiple areas including logistics, procurement, sales, marketing and manufacturing. At his time with Wenzel’s, Karl has led multiple departments in his various roles. He has been on the Board of Directors since April 2019 and is now the company’s General manager.

Driven by providing quality food and customer service, his goals include taking the Wenzel’s brand forward into new markets both through digital routes and traditional methods and to grow the business nationwide. Karl is known for his passionate approach to leadership and commitment to creating opportunities for talent growth within the business.


Michael Brown

Operations Director | Wenzels The Bakers

Ross Robbins is an energetic and inspiring leader with 16 years in management in various settings. In his role as sales Director ross lead the sales team and was involved with training and development, driving sales, and marketing. Now the operations Director his role has seen him involved in the logistics and general operation of the business.

Ross’  primary focus within business is people. Not only the Customers who are at the forefront of his decision making process, but also the individuals within his remit. He believes strongly in development and focuses his attention on getting the most from individuals.

Michael Brown

Partner | Sobell Rhodes LLP

Michael is an experienced general practitioner with over 15 years’ experience servicing a diverse portfolio of clients with particular emphasis on businesses related to the property sector.

He utilises his comprehensive knowledge across both accounting and tax in order to benefit his clients and ensure they keep up to the date with the myriad of ever-changing legislation. He is a true business advisor to his clients, concentrating on building and sustaining strong, trusted relationships which allows him to provide reliable and proactive advice through understanding their businesses and goals.

Michael is a fellow of The Association of Chartered Certified Accounts and a member of The Association of Accounting Technicians.

Outside of work, Michael is a keen family man, spending time with his wife and two children. Other interests include tennis and supporting both Arsenal and his local football team in Borehamwood.

Jeremy Leboff

Technology, Business Information (BI) & Data Viz Partner | Sobell Rhodes LLP

Jeremy says he feels like one of life’s lucky people, enjoying his work and the challenges it brings. His analytical approach also enables him to undertake complex investigations and prepare reports for company and personal disputes, including asset tracing assignments. He also advises clients on contractual disputes and consequential loss claims.

In addition to being a Chartered Certified Accountant, Jeremy is a member of the British Institute of Innkeepers as a result of his successful 13 year managerial career in the restaurants, pubs and leisure sector.  The combination of first-hand high level managerial experience, alongside his professional accountancy expertise, means Jeremy brings a unique blend of financial and commercial advice to his clients.

As a XERO certified partner Jeremy embraces the challenges and changes occurring in the accountancy profession. He enjoys the opportunity to introduce streamlined accounting systems to his clients, in doing so a world of opportunities is opened up for every business.

Having an operational business background and forensic skills helps him build robust accounts systems for businesses of all sizes. Jeremy has a finely tuned sense of emotional intelligence and an understanding that behind every business there are real people, with dreams, ambitions and challenges, this has allowed him the insight to facilitate strategic development processes in the leisure and health sectors, as well as a variety of other businesses.

Jeremy is married with two children and is an enthusiastic family man.

Ian Randell

Director | CBJ Digital Ltd

I have been in the web development industry for more years than I care to remember, but when I actually did the calculation it turned out to be 16. I am passionate about learning and self-improvement and initially saw web development as a way to achieve these passions. However, it quickly became clear that what actually drove me forward was the desire to help businesses achieve their goals by building websites that deliver and work as effectively as a member of staff.

I work with clients who want to take advantage of my experience and knowledge to deliver a high functioning website that contributes and delivers results for the business. The cost of entry into the web development industry is getting ever lower, so you need to be sure that you pick the right developer who will not only deliver a website, but also take the time to understand your requirements and online objectives and deliver a product that will actually work for you.

When I am not doing all of the above, I am enjoying my life with my wife and two daughters, cycling whenever I have the time and enduring the sometimes questionable pleasure of supporting Watford FC.

Jolene Upshall

Audit and Business Advisory Partner | Mercer & Hole

Jo is based at Mercer & Hole’s Rickmansworth and St Albans offices, where she manages a broad range of audit clients and provides business services support for non-audit clients. Her clients include those operating in the manufacturing, construction and retail sectors, as well as UK subsidiaries of overseas companies.

Jo has a pragmatic approach, coupled with broad technical knowledge. She takes pride in getting to know her clients well and adapting to their individual needs, delivering advice in an efficient and effective manner. As well as providing audit and compliance services to a number of large companies, Jo also supports a number of owner-managed business at varying stages of their business life cycles, from startups through to advising and supporting business owners with an exit strategy.

Jo previously worked as a Finance Analyst at the European headquarters of a global US listed entity. Prior to that Jo trained and qualified at an accountancy practice in Harrow.

Mark Cassidy

Audit and Business Advisory Partner | Mercer & Hole

Mark is an Audit and Business Advisory Partner based at Mercer & Hole’s Rickmansworth office. He manages a portfolio of business clients, operating across a range of industries in the SME sector, and provides them with audit, accountancy, tax planning, and business strategy and structuring advice. Specifically, Mark has a great deal of experience in the construction, property and retail sectors.

Inward Investment is an area of significance for Mark and he works closely with assisting overseas companies and entrepreneurs to set up and establish business in the UK. Mark works alongside other professionals to assist with setting up UK banking relationships and trade finance for these clients. Presently, Mark has a particular focus on Greek businesses and he has developed strong client relationships, meeting with them regularly in both the UK and Greece.

With over 25 years of experience in practice, Mark has developed a commercial outlook, which enables him to consider the challenges his clients face from their perspective. This has been consolidated by Mark having spent time on a management board himself.

Previously, Mark was at Saffery Champness, where he worked with a portfolio of private
clients. He trained and qualified at a London-based accountancy firm.

June Cory

CEO | My Mustard

June Cory has a career spanning almost thirty-five years in media management, sales, and training. She fell into selling newspaper advertising space and not only did she love it, but she was also rather good at it. After thousands of deadlines, hundreds of targets, and a few awards she moved into management & training for industry names including Newsquest & Yell.com.

After managing a specialist digital project team in 2006, June understood that the ability to target an audience, measure results & truly control spend would redefine advertising for local businesses & swapped the ink in her veins for zeros and ones and launched My Mustard, an online advertising agency in 2007.

A highly enthusiastic on and offline networker June is a Google Premier Partner and talks about Google to anyone who will listen at various forums. She drinks a lot of coffee…..

Simon Hughes

Partner | Taylor Walton Solicitors

Simon Hughes is a Partner in Taylor Walton’s Corporate department, specialising in mergers and acquisitions, buyouts, joint ventures, equity investments, corporate finance, restructuring and other corporate transactions. Before joining Taylor Walton, Simon was a partner in the London office of a global law firm and brings 30 years’ experience of domestic and international corporate work.

Saffron Johnson

Operations Director | Watford and West Herts Chamber of Commerce

Finding the right connections for your business can be difficult. It’s often overwhelming to know who to speak to, or to know what exactly your organisation needs to grow. But at the Chamber, that’s what we do best.

As Operations Director at the Watford and West Herts Chamber of Commerce, I have an incredibly varied role.

I plan and host multiple events, meet with potential and existing Chamber members, work with various partners on collaborative projects and sit on many local strategic and steering groups that drive change in our community.

I’ve always been a people person. For me, there’s nothing like connecting businesses and people, and watching them collaborate and grow. I drove a change through the Chamber when I first joined shifting the way we network. Now, the Chamber is community driven. It builds connections, gets businesses out there and has a focus on young people – there’s something for everyone.

It’s hugely important to us that everyone gets the same level of help and support; whether it’s a new business or a huge corporation. We create bespoke plans of action tailored to your business’s needs.

Chris Luff

CEO | Watford and West Herts Chamber of Commerce

For 30+ years I have witnessed the rising demand for corporate social responsibility. If you do not have strategic planning for your CSR initiatives, you’re falling behind the times and missing opportunities to earn customer loyalty and grow your business. In a 2016,in a report published by Statista Research Department, UK C-suite executives interviewed listed “demonstratable CSR” as one of the leading concerns of their customers.

Let me ask you, what socially responsible actions do customers associate with your brand? If the list is short, I can help…

My consultation provides you with a stakeholder analysis, assessment of corporate values, and guidance on the best way forward to communicate these values to your community. Ideally CSR design is forward-looking, meaning we work together to determine actions that will benefit your customers and your bottom line. However, my CSR guidance can also lead you to the most appropriate response to a public crisis.

Socially responsible actions yield benefits money cannot buy. If you are looking to generate more positive business outcomes.

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