2007 Winners & Shortlisted


Businesses with more than 250 employees  

Phil Jones & Sam Marshall, Joint Managing Directors Nemo Finance

Nemo Personal Finance launched in January 2005 and is a subsidiary of the Principality Group. It provides secured loans to homeowners.

Phil Jones and Sam Marshall are a unique team who work together to inspire everyone who works with them. Phil and Sam’s leadership style is central to the culture of Nemo and has fostered an entrepreneurial spirit to grow the company into one of the top three lenders in the UK. Both have very different attributes and approach problems in different ways, but always come out with the same solution and create one vision and noticeably inspire each other to succeed and to improve.

As a team they empower their staff to make decisions, giving everyone a sense of purpose and ownership to make people want to go the extra mile to make things happen. They encourage people to think independently and make decisions themselves while operating an open door policy and always being on hand to support.

A key element to their leadership success is their innate ability to build lasting relationships with both staff and customers. They lead by example by practicing the characteristics they expect from others and challenge their thinking to create an even better solution.

Their clear vision and inspirational leadership has created a very special and successful company. Nemo is going places which is testament to the enthusiasm, drive and guidance of both Phil and Sam.


Voluntary and not for profit organisations

Chris O’Meara, Chair of Community Housing Cymru, Cadwyn Housing Association

Cadwyn Housing Association is a charitable organisation that works in partnership to build and manage permanent and temporary homes for people in need. It also provides services including tenancy support and community development.

Chris inspires others with her vision of what Cadwyn can achieve and how to get there. She is guided by deeply held values of fairness and respect for others, and her principles permeate the culture of the organisation.

She is passionate about what she believes in and leads by example, inspiring staff to higher levels of commitment and motivation. She communicates her vision to make it real for those around her, then extends this vision to reach not only staff and customers but colleagues in other housing associations and local authorities.

She always keeps the bigger picture in mind, communicating her vision so that people can share her vision and understand how the whole fits together. In this way Chris ensures that everyone sees the contribution they can make and where they fit in. She inspires innovation in people, encouraging people to think their minds and contribute to debate.

She gently challenges the assumptions of those around her, helping people think through solutions and develop their abilities to be able to do it independently in the future. She presents a challenge that people are eager to meet and inspires them to go the extra mile and exceed expectations.

She is honest, open and straight orward and always keeps her word.


Businesses with fewer than 250 employees

Mel Knight, Executive Chair of Castleoak Care Partnerships

Castleoak Care Partnerships is the UK’s leading specialist design and construction company working exclusively in the field of social care for older people.

With a clear business objective in mind, Mel has lead Castleoak to a position of pre-eminence in a specialised market which provides social care for older people.

By maintaining a positive work/life balance, Mel sets a real example for staff to follow. At the same time his strong desire to positively affect the communities in which the company works is embraced by all staff through the operation of an award winning community support programme.

He has been instrumental in the creation of an office culture that does away with blame replacing it with learning, swaps office politics for openness and honestly and recognizes and rewards talent.

Commitment to the pursuit of excellence and the fulfillment of individual potential are at the heart of Mel’s leadership style. Staff training needs are identified on an individual basis and an appropriate programme is put together. This includes a mixture of classroom and field based training. It also relates to technical, job specific needs and to broader areas of personal development.

Mel always has the bigger picture at the forefront of his mind and has developed a collaborative approach with staff, customers and suppliers. This approach has resulted in genuine and lasting partnerships, which are of mutual benefit to all parties involved.

He believes that team motivation is key to Castleoak’s success and as a result has developed a living, breathing staff communication programme. This includes weekly team talks, monthly newsletters, an annual conference as well as regular social events.

In 2005 Castleoak was ranked the best small company to work for in Wales and the 4th best in the UK according to the Sunday Times 100 Best SME Companies to Work For. Turnover of staff is very low and Castleoak is increasingly being acknowledged as a great place to work.

Mel epitomizes what’s best in a business leader – sound thinking, great determination and focus, a willingness to share rewards and an absolutely genuine sense of social responsibility.


Public Sector

Mark James, Chief Executive Officer

As Chief Executive, Mark has created an environment in which everyone has a clear understanding of where they are going and what is expected of them, enabling people to flourish

High performance, innovation, entrepreneurship, involvement, excitement and celebration have become the hallmarks of the organisation. By providing his staff with clear direction and understanding of priorities, making them understand in simple terms what they need to do as individuals, to deliver the council’s vision.

Mark’s commitment to “improving the way that we live and work” in Carmarthenshire is infectious and by changing the culture to a “Can Do, Will Do” organization has promoted a positive mental attitude amongst the staff.

Mark has re-structured and re-engineered the council to make it more efficient and effective. He has been the driving force behind a £450 million regeneration master plan for Carmarthenshire and a £120 million School Modernisation programme. During the last three months his commitment has resulted in the council being awarded the Gold Corporate Health Standard, together with an excellent Estyn Inspection on LEA Strategic Management and Joint Review of Children’s Service.

His leadership qualities are well know and respected all over Wales and are illustrated by the fact that he was a founder member of Public Sector Management Council (PSMW), past chair of Solace Wales and a member of the all Wales Making the Connection Steering Group.

Mark is a visionary motivator and communicator, who takes his staff along with him on the journey to make Carmarthenshire a better place to live and work.


Young Leader

Joe Llewellyn, Riverside Youth Forum

Joe, a 16 year old student at Atlantic College, passionately believes in young people’s rights, especially in their right to be heard and to have a voice which can influence both social and political agendas.

He is a founder member of Riverside Youth Forum, and has taken part in both national and European youth participation projects. His passion for safeguarding young peoples’ rights and entitlements led to his involvement in the Forum and Funky Dragon (the Wales Youth Parliament).

As a principled and enthusiastic leader, Joe uses his good communications skills to positively engage his peers in improving their immediate environment and considering the needs of the wider community. His ability to mix with people from a variety of backgrounds has resulted in him initiating and successfully rallying other young people to campaign to re-open the Riverside youth club in his area.

Joe has also engaged with and influenced people at various levels within organizations across Wales. He is a member of Save the Children Young People Team and has recently traveled to Brussels for a web cam discussion with
the European Commission Vice President, Margaret Wallstrom.

Joe’s determination and passion has resulted in real achievements and positive change for young people in his local community and throughout Wales. He is a positive role model for all young men.


Team Leader

Amanda Davies, Head of Human Resources Business Services, South Wales Police

South Wales Police is the largest force in Wales, with 5,000 staff serving a diverse community of over 1.5m people.

Amanda has been with South Wales police for over 25 years, starting out as an administrative assistant and working her way up to become head of her department, completing qualifications alongside full time work.

Amanda is an inspiration to members of staff new and old, she is a charismatic leader who ensures that her colleagues reach their full potential. A key part of her work ethic is to always treat people with the utmost respect and dignity and value every person’s contributions. Amanda puts this approach into practice by always finding time for people, no matter how busy she is.

After two key personnel left her department, Amanda stepped in and ensured the strategic direction of the department was maintained, whilst continuing a personal involvement with her staff and always supporting them.

Amanda leads by example, and would take on any activity she would be happy to do herself. She promotes flexibility and inclusiveness to get the best out of people.

One of Amanda’s key strengths is her ability to take strategic policies down to a common sense level, allowing everyone in an organisation to be involved and work together to achieve the organisation’s goal. She works hard to enable people to understand where they fit into the organisation’s strategy and make everyone feel like an important team member.

Amanda empowers her work force, making them feel involved and showing that their contribution is valuable. She makes work fun for people and gives them the confidence to see how they can contribute to the organisation as a whole.


Special Recognition Award – “Learning Leader”

Linda Narbeth, Managing Director, Cherryblue UK

Cherryblue is Wales’ leading provider of IT, personal and management development training programmes.

Linda is a prime example of someone who has led, inspired and motivated so many people to achieve beyond their expectations. Having left school with few qualifications, her first work experience was as a supermarket assistant, a role far removed from her childhood dream of owning her own business.

Through sheer determination Linda demonstrated her ability to lead and inspire others and was quickly identified as someone who could make a difference. By supplementing the life experiences she gained in several administration and sales job roles with a commitment to improving her own academic qualifications, she gained valuable first-hand experience of what it took to be a great leader of people.

Linda now runs her own successful business, dedicated to developing people’s real potential. As a team leader, she continues to inspire and encourage her staff to strive towards their own dreams and aspirations, as well as enhancing the success of those who have turned to Cherryblue to help improve their personal and business skills.

Linda’s player-manager leadership style has earned her personal success in the coveted Welsh Woman of the Year competition, as well as Investor in People accreditation for her company. By setting such high standards for herself and the company she is a truly inspirational learning leader.