- Tony Goodwin, Antal International: Tony Goodwin spotted an opportunity for an international recruitment business when multinationals were starting operations in eastern Europe and Russiain the wake of the collapse of communism. Launched in 1993 in Budapest, today Antal is a £10m-turnover business with more than 100 offices in 30-plus countries, with plans for Vietnam, Mongolia and others. Goodwin: “with little idea how I was going to achieve my goals, I had the guts to start my own business and make it work. Despite the unknown territory and language barriers, I’ve developed a flourishing business on a global scale. I am not particularly talented, but I am relentless!”
- Phil Burgan, Maria Mallaband Care Group: Philip Burgan has run the Maria Mallaband Care Group (named after his grandmother) since 1996, building it into one of the UK’s largest independent providers of care for the elderly and mentally ill. Recently, the fast-growing group took over 35 homes from Southern Cross, after it went into a high-profile administration. The acquisition secured 2,250 jobs. Maria Mallaband employs 4,000 people, with a £90m turnover. Previously, Burgan built up and sold the Medimart chain of pharmacies. Now 60, Burgan recently completed the Three Peaks challenge for the second time. “I can’t imagine anything worse than retiring,” he says.
- Alastair Lukies (pictured), Monitise Group: Alastair Lukies is CEO and co-founder of Monitise, which he set up in 2002 after an early career as a rugby player. Lukies’ vision was for Monitise to be “the world leader in mobile banking, payments and commerce, providing services to hundreds of millions of consumers.” With revenues doubling to £14m and on track to double again, 2011 has been a breakthrough year. Monitise has also formed a JV in Indonesia, renegotiated its global agreement with Visa, and launched the MobileMoney Network, in partnership with Carphone Warehouse founder Charles Dunstone. “I am extremely proud to be CEO of a British-based technology company exporting skills and expertise,” says Lukies.
- Gareth Williams, Skyscanner: Gareth Williams is CEO and co-founder of Skyscanner, the travel search site that provides online price comparisons on millions of flights, car hire and hotels. The business was born out of personal frustration at the difficulties of finding flights: Williams started a spreadsheet to compare prices, and Skyscanner was born. Today, Skyscanner receives more than 15 million hits per month, with 94 per cent year-on-year growth; more than 130 people work at its Edinburgh office, with a new outpost recently set up in Singapore. This year alone, Skyscanner has launched an iPhone app (two million downloads in six months) and the world’s first free-text flight search tool on Twitter, allowing users to “tweet a flight”.
- Helen Dhaliwal, Red Hot World Buffet: Helen Dhaliwal runs the UK’s fastest-growing restaurant chain, Red Hot World Buffet (RHWB). She operates the most popular restaurant in five out of six of the cities she operates in, and will own 25 restaurants by 2014. She’s overseen profits growth of 9,000 per cent in seven years, and aims to continue that growth by ensuring that every single RHWB outlet generates the highest turnover in its respective city. Before RHWB, the “all you can eat buffet” conjured images of tatty restaurants displaying luke-warm food; Dhaliwal has turned that image on its head by bringing in world-class artisan-chefs from around the world. Helen’sapprenticeship programme will recruit 200 young people this year, and she aims to become the UK’s largest apprenticeship provider.
- Sam Smith, finnCap: Starting her business in 2007, at the age of 33, Sam Smith became the youngest and only female CEO in the City’s investment banking community. In just four years, finnCap has grown to a 50-strong team and is the number two-ranked broker by number of clients trading on London’s AIM. Despite the rough economic conditions, finnCap has grown profitability by 130 per cent, across all areas of the business, driven by a series of successful fund-raisings, totalling £140m. Described as “a hard taskmaster and driven to succeed”, Sam is also a keen contributor to society and, in particular, the development of young female talent in the UK.
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