Global thought leaders unite for the Business Excellence Forum


Sponsored by NatWest and ActionCOACH, April’s annual Business Excellence Forum & Awards was the biggest and best yet. The Harrogate International Centre hosted over 1,000 coaches and clients, with the sound of a Yorkshire Brass Band kicking off proceedings.

The Business Excellence Forum (BEF) exists to recognise and honour the innovation, passion, risk-taking and results of some of the best companies and business owners in the world and help them take their business to the next level. It brings together a like-minded community of entrepreneurs to share ideas, build relationships and learn from some phenomenal success stories. This year seven world-class speakers and thought leaders were invited from Australasia, the Americas and the UK to fill the programme with breakthrough content and, once the forum had concluded, every single attendee left with multiple actions to grow their business.  The likelihood of execution, of course, magnified by over 150 Action Coaches, the ‘secret partners’ behind so many of the success stories.

Learning from and celebrating the best

On day one, Professor Steve Peters entertained delegates with examples of their inner chimp whilst Baroness Michelle Mone spoke about the hurdles and successes of business ownership. Australian, Richard Maloney, took everyone through his experiences of increasing employee engagement by fixing the heart of businesses and Brad Sugars led a fast-paced session on business growth through productivity and performance.

Christopher Watkin is a business owner and, with the guidance of his ActionCOACH, has become a lettings agency growth guru. This was his second time at BEF, “The conference was a cocktail shaker of words of wisdom, enjoyable speeches and awesome learnings. Brad Sugars is a true leader and gave me so much to take away for my business.”

Recognising excellence

The Business Excellence Awards celebrated the last 12 months of client achievements at a black-tie ceremony. Sixteen awards were given, ranging from Best Company Culture and Best Retailer through to CEO of the Year. For those award winners, it was a chance to celebrate and for everyone else it was something to aim for in the next 12 months.

Husband and wife team, Laura and Chris Frost, own Fulham-based business, Aspect Flooring. They jointly took the title of CEO of the Year. Laura said, “We had developed the business as far as we could in terms of the products and services we supply and install. The problem was that we got to a stage where we were unable to, ourselves, build the infrastructure to support that, and take the business to the next level.  Now, I feel very different, I think my horizons have widened. I think I’ve seen potential for our business that I never really saw before. ActionCOACH has shown how we can build a business, enjoy the process, reap the benefits and work ahead. This is a wonderful recognition of our teamwork.”

Motivating and enlightening

Dr Marshall Goldsmith kicked off day two with an inspirational session on leadership. Every delegate was out of their seats, offering advice to each other; proving that leadership is a contact sport! Black Box Thinking author, Matthew Syed, explained the importance of mindset and learning from the past with some fascinating stories from the world of sport. Philip Hesketh was the final guest speaker and was back by public demand after he wowed the delegates of 2014’s Forum. Philip shared several of his business growth practices including the formula for reputation, 5 things to save and make money, his secrets to excellent customer service and all you need to know about time management.

John Cottrell has been an ActionCOACH for nearly 10 years and recently won Executive Coach of the Year 2017 for the Europe, Middle East & Africa Region. He recommends this annual event to all his clients, “It’s not just about the speakers, business owners get fresh ideas and a passion for growth from everyone they meet.”

If you’d like to find out more about next year’s Business Excellence Forum & Awards, visit

If you’re interested in becoming a secret partner behind a multitude of business success stories and you get a buzz from helping others succeed, love learning and developing yourself and have enjoyed success in your career or sport, then find out more by watching the six-minute overview video at