Winners Revealed: British Ex-Forces in Business Awards 2021

In its fourth annual celebration, the British Ex-Forces in Business Awards summoned 1,000 business leaders to showcase the achievements of military veterans in second careers.



The exceptional value that military veterans bring to employers across all industries was on strong display last night as the world’s largest business celebration of the ex-forces community returned to London for its fourth annual outing. 

By promoting the synergies between military skills and values and business excellence, the flagship awards programme is designed to challenge misconceptions which have traditionally caused companies to overlook the veterans talent pool. In a study by SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, a third of UK hirers said they’d feel reluctant hiring a veteran, and just 48% of workers said they would feel comfortable working with a service leaver. 

As the leading platform for promoting the outstanding talent pool formed by the thousands of people who leave the Armed Forces each year, the Ex-Forces in Business Awards is a powerful vehicle for cultivating a more positive perception of veterans as well as increasing visibility of role models and career opportunities for service leavers.

Through that mission, the Awards have showcased the second-career achievements of nearly 850 veterans and reservists since it was launched in 2018. The sheer breadth of opportunities available to service leavers, and the organisations that employ them, are exemplified by the wide variety of sectors represented by these talented role models. 

The 2021 edition of the UK Awards was no different, attracting a record-breaking 600 nominations. The unenviable task of selecting winners for the 20 award categories fell to a 30-strong judging panel of business leaders from organisations including Boeing, Serco, Northern Trust, Lloyds Banking Group, Knight Frank, Dell, MBDA and the NHS.

Anchoring proceedings on stage for an enthusiastic audience of 1,000 business and military leaders, representing around 400 UK employers, was TV presenter Jacqui Oatley MBE, who introduced a programme of live entertainment, an exciting awards ceremony and a roster of special guest speakers from business, government and sport. 

Neil Watkinson, Deputy Director of the UK government’s Office for Veterans’ Affairs, said: “The government has got the ambition to make this country the best place to be a veteran. I suspect those of you who are veterans, like me, would say there is quite a long way to go. That’s part of what our role is about. We’re introducing a strategic action plan to help drive that agenda forward and one of the key pillars of it is employability of veterans. It’s fairly obvious that if we’re going to be the best country in the world to be a veteran, we’ve got to ensure that that transition is as smooth and as fruitful as possible.”

Team GB rowing legend Major Heather Stanning OBE, who has continued to serve in the British Army after winning gold in both the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic Games,  also addressed guests of the Awards. “The veterans community is such a powerful network of skills and talented individuals who enjoy performing at the highest level,” she said. “It’s important your hard work is recognised – from employers to employees – and the Ex-Forces in Business Awards is a brilliant platform for educating everyone on the value of veterans and the talent they bring to business outside of the military.”

The Awards, which took place in the InterContinental London – The O2, are held in partnership with headline sponsor Barclays. Other partners include Amazon, Babcock International, Barratt Developments, BFBS, FDM Group, Galliford Try, Kuehne + Nagel, Pall Corporation, Santander and official charity partner SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity. The Awards have raised nearly £70,000 in support of SSAFA’s work in 2021.

Alistair Currie, Global Head of Consumer Banking and Payments at Barclays, said: “As a leading employer of veterans in the UK and admirer of their skills and talents, Barclays are extremely proud to be headline sponsor of the British Ex-Forces in Business Awards for the second year running, and we congratulate all of the finalists for being incredible role models to service leavers. 

“These Awards play a crucial role in promoting the huge value that ex-forces personnel add in their second careers, both to their individual employers and to the economy as a whole. It is wonderful to see the veterans community come together in force and I have no doubt this outstanding talent pool will play a vital role in the UK’s economic rebound.”

British Ex-Forces in Business Awards 2021 – The Winners

ADVOCATE OF THE YEAR

Jimmy Quinn, Institution of Safety and Health / Multiplex

BUSINESS LEADER OF THE YEAR (Large Company)

David Stubbs, SSGC

BUSINESS LEADER OF THE YEAR (SME)

Karen Jobling, Lincolnshire & Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance

CHAMPION OF WOMEN AWARD

Louie-Mae Gibson, Knight Frank

EMPLOYER OF THE YEAR

FDM Group

ENGINEERING EXCELLENCE AWARD

Neil Davies, Optimum Group Services

ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR

David Hamlet, Zoom Food

EX-FORCES INITIATIVE OF THE YEAR

Alex McAnespie, Homeless Veterans Project

INNOVATOR OF THE YEAR

John Hoyle, Sook

INSPIRATION OF THE YEAR

James Smith, JamesSmithGroup / Primal Europe

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Justin Packshaw MBE, Joro Experiences

MILITARY VALUES IN BUSINESS AWARD

Jonathan Brasher OBE, George McFarlane & Steve Lagadu, Serco

NEW SERVICE LEAVER OF THE YEAR

Josh Vause, Amazon

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVER OF THE YEAR

Mark Smith, Red7Marine

RESERVIST OF THE YEAR

Brigit Coleman-Green, Babcock International

RISING STAR OF THE YEAR

Wesley Langley, Amazon

ROLE MODEL OF THE YEAR

Richard Stevens, PwC

SERVICE LEAVER OF THE YEAR

Paul Biddiss, PBMilitary Advisors to TV and Film

TEAM LEADER OF THE YEAR

Graham Thomson, Irwin Mitchell

YOUNG LEADER OF THE YEAR

Adam Greenwood, The Pointer School

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