Business Leader – Sponsored by Leadership & Management Wales

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The Inspire Wales Awards are an initiative of the Institute of Welsh Affairs in association with the Western Mail.

Inspirational people of all walks of life are being honoured in the second annual Inspire Wales Awards, a partnership between the Western Mail and the Institute of Welsh Affairs. The awards recognise the contribution of those in the fields of business, education, science and technology, arts and media, the environment and sport. They also aim to mark the work of young achievers, those that promote Wales to the world and the Welsh language in the workplace, as well as champions of citizenship. Here we reveal the finalists for the Business Leader category.

Kevin Crofton

A former military man, Mr Crofton has used his keen organisational discipline to help transform Newport-based global semiconductor firm SPP Process Technology Systems into an even more profitable company. After taking the role of chief operating officer at the in 2006, Mr Crofton has made it a personal challenge to instil discipline in the workforce and take painful decisions to change the company’s product portfolio and direction. With a team of 400 employees, operating across 11 countries, his collaborative approach has helped foster team spirit, and change a previously-demotivated workforce into a united one. Prioritising giving staff confidence and realising their strengths, giving them time and space to work independently and implementing a leadership development programme have all contributed to improving the company’s fortunes. The hard work put in my Mr Crofton and SPP saw the company post £39m net profits last year – the most profitable it has been for 40 years – while seeing a three-fold revenue increase to £131m, all in the wake of a recession.

Helen Shepherd

As a mother of three young boys, Helen Shepherd is a shining example of how professional and personal lives can be juggled successfully. After founding care provider ProCare Wales 10 years ago, Ms Shepherd has since used her 20 years of experience in the care sector to grow the company in numbers, quality and reputation. The Rhyl-based firm was the first in Europe to set up a residential service for young people with autism and severely challenging behaviour after the age of 19. Her drive has been recognised within the Welsh care sector – where the firm has won numerous accolades – and her heavy investment in training and management structures has meant that all managers at the firm are “home grown”. She will use the organisation she needs to balance work and family life in the next three months to develop ProCareWales’ Forensic Services service to support the most vulnerable people return to their homes.

Marcella Maxwell

Now at the head of a 200-staff recruitment and training company, Marcella Maxwell has shown that both life and work experience can aid you in business as she steered Caerphilly-based welfare-to-work firm Working Links Wales through the recession. A single mother in the 1980s, she went to university later than her peers, she has rapidly risen to her role as director, heading a company with a 20,000-strong client roster and a turnover of £30m, a three-fold increase during her tenure. She has had to make tough decisions, making cost savings and rationalising the firm’s property portfolio. But the result was that WLW was recently rated the highest-achieving region within Working Links, and transformed the company into the largest firm in the Welsh welfare-to-work sector as a result of her passionate belief in developing her staff and respond to their needs. A former chief executive Chwarae Teg, she has championed the role of women in the past and continues to promote diversity in the workplace in her role on the CBI Council.

Copy written by Graham Henry. Photos courtesy of Media Wales.

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