Finance

Trio of North East entrepreneurs named on Top 50 Most Ambitious Leaders list


A trio of North East businessmen have been named on a list of the 50 most ambitious company leaders this year.

The LDC Top 50 Most Ambitious Leaders for 2021 list has been published to celebrate the entrepreneurial individuals behind some of the UK’s most successful and fast-growing medium-sized firms.

The programme, which is supported by The Times and now in its fourth year, includes business bosses from across the UK who collectively employ 9,500 people and generate annual revenues of £1.2bn. More than 600 people were nominated before the list was whittled down to 50.

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Three company bosses from the North East have made this year’s list, including Andy Gough, CEO of North East based e-Quality Solutions (eQS), an ed-tech specialist based in Hebburn, South Tyneside, for inclusivity and mental wellbeing.

The firm, which acquired London-based Equality Works Group specialist in July, is focused on creating a more inclusive world through its disability services and ED&I workplace divisions.

Mr Gough said: “I am delighted to be included in the LDC Top 50 Most Ambitious Leaders, it is testament to the hard work, passion for doing good and resilience of the whole team at eQS. It further establishes that as a business, eQS is on the right track to achieve our ambitious goals.

“I have two children with physical disabilities, hidden disabilities, and mental health issues. My children could one day be facing the same challenges as the students we help, and that really drives me to push this company forwards.

“When I joined the business in 2018, we were at £4m revenue and in our latest financial year it was £9m. We are confident we can get to £30m turnover by 2023 and in 10 years, I want us to be a leading global provider in equality, diversity and inclusivity solutions. This goal is going to be achieved through an ambitious buy and build strategy as well as strong organic growth.

“Our purpose has always been about unlocking true potential and removing barriers to education, but with strong investment behind us we can now be more ambitious and remove barriers to employment and life.”

Jonathan Grubin, founder of Newcastle based SoPost, also features on the list.

The company, launched in 2018, carries out sampling campaigns for its clients and helps them target the right customers, using AI and machine learning. It counts the likes of Neal’s Yard Remedies and L’Oréal as clients and has seen strong growth in the last few years, doubling its own workforce over the past year.

He said: “It’s a real privilege to have the ambition of everything we’re doing at SoPost recognised in this way.

“We’ve had a pretty incredible ride over the past year – more than doubling our sales and headcount – but what I’m most excited about is what we’re building and our vision for the future.

“I don’t view us as a product sampling business. We’re a technology company. We have 65 people right now and half of those are product-focused.

“R&D is critically important. Yes, we were the first to market but then people start to copy you. If we don’t keep innovating and building the stuff they haven’t even thought of yet, there will come a time when someone overtakes us. I won’t let that happen.”

Josh Gill, founder of Everflow Water, completes the trio of North East leaders.

He launched the company in Wynyard after spotting a gap in the market for a new tech platform for the water industry.

He said: “In 2015, my ambition was to make water simple for business customers, who were traditionally poorly served by the water market.

“To have grown to where we are in such a short time is testament to the whole team’s vision and hard work, so winning an award like this recognises everyone’s ambition, not just mine.”

LDC’s John Garner added: “The last 18 months have presented challenges that none of us could have foreseen, but despite everything, it’s fantastic to see that so many business leaders have achieved remarkable things. Through their resourcefulness and resilience, this year’s Top 50 Most Ambitious Leaders prove that the flame of ambition is hard to extinguish.”

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