We invited Lesley Batchelor, Director General of the Institute of Export and one of our judges to share what she looks for in a winning entry.
The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise are the gold standard for businesses across all sectors and an acknowledged mark of excellence. At the Institute of Export (IOE) we actively encourage our members to enter because the awards have so much kudos internationally.
We should not underestimate the immense credibility that the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise have abroad – business people around the world know about the awards, they are a significant talking point and they help British companies to stand out in a competitive global market. Interest and knowledge of the awards is also linked to a global resurgence of all things Britannia - driven partly by the legacy of the successful London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Being a judge in The Queen’s Awards’ International Trade category is a real privilege and gives me the opportunity to look closely at some outstanding companies whose exporting activities are making a significant contribution to the UK economy.
The whole application process is extremely vigorous so by the time entries reach the judges we are seeing the ‘best in show’ – those companies that are excelling in export and international trade.
There are robust criteria to reach the shortlist with companies expected to demonstrate a real commitment to selling overseas as an integral part of their business strategy and goals. Entries are assessed in three key areas; overseas earnings’ growth, commercial success and strategy.
As a judge I will be looking for evidence of a planned approach to international trade rather than exporting happening by chance. I want to see entries embracing international trading as an integral part of their business strategy and growth plans. This might be exemplified by considerable research into new markets and pricing as well as investment in training staff in the necessary skills required for international trade. For example, an entry that shows that key employees are working towards the IOE’s own qualifications would signify a real commitment to international trade.
There is no particular product or sector that is likely to impress more than others. What we look for is originality in approach. A good example is Nails Inc - 1 of 116 businesses to win a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the international trade category this year. From a UK base of 60 outlets Nails Inc is establishing itself in the USA, Singapore, Middle East and Hong Kong and making inroads into newer markets including Mexico, South Africa and Brazil.
The bar is set very high for entrants to The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise – and justifiably so. The awards are the highest accolade for UK businesses. I would urge business across all sectors to enter and I look forward to judging some outstanding entries.
Established in 1935, The Institute of Export is the only professional body in the UK offering recognised, formal qualifications in international trade.