Meet the Judges

Diana Sterck

I am looking forward to being a part of the judging team, for the seventh year. This is a great opportunity for me to share my knowledge and experience, and at the same time, hear about all the wonderful business initiatives happening in our Borough. I specialise in strategic marketing and marketing communications. As Chief Executive of Merton Chamber of Commerce, I have over 20 years’ experience of public and private sector partnerships and of running a small business. I have led and developed the business to be recognised as the most successful and largest area based Chamber of Commerce in London. I used to be an international ice skater and judge, representing Great Britain in major European competitions. The discipline and commitment required to reach this level has contributed enormously to the drive and determination I demonstrate in the world of business.

Stewart Rolfe

For the seventh year in a row, I will be contributing to the judging team for this year’s awards. I am an Associate of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and a RICS Registered Valuer and I hold a BSc in Land Administration and qualified as a Chartered Surveyor in 1990. Before joining Andrew Scott Robertson in 2014, I worked as an Associate Director at DTZ and CBRE. My role was to advise clients on all aspects of commercial property from agency to development and investment with a strong emphasis on asset management. At Andrew Scott Robertson, I head up the commercial agency department and specialises in investment, development and acquisition for a range of clients. I have an eye for detail, strong inter-personal skills and provide a high level of professionalism and dedication in all matters. I am really looking forward to seeing your entries this year and seeing what amazing things are happening in Merton. Good luck to all the participants.

Helen Clark Bell

Managing a Business Improvement District is a really exciting, multifaceted job with very many challenges. Speaking with investors and developers one moment to responding to fly tipping and gum cleaning the next, whilst also planning major events, leads to extremely varied days in the Love Wimbledon office. However, all of these aspects are vitally important to the health and vibrancy of the town centre which in turn builds an attractive and sustainable environment for businesses to flourish. As an experienced Project Manager with many years of delivering business support projects, I am proud to be involved with the Merton Best Business Awards. Recognising the strengths of your business is sometimes only achieved by stepping back and completing an entry form such as this, to acknowledge achievements and taking a moment to feel proud….before the next email requires an urgent response!

Sarah Xavier

I am thrilled to be taking part in the judging process this year. I have worked in Merton for over twenty years and have experience in social and economic regeneration, strategic planning and development control. My current role as part of the London Borough of Merton 'FutureMerton' team involves the delivery of the physical and social regeneration for Merton with the responsibility of managing the economic development across the borough. I work closely with our businesses and partners to help them grow and support them to stay in Merton. I also work with our amazing Merton Partnership, which includes the voluntary sector as well as providers across the public and private sector to support residents and businesses in improving the economic wellbeing in the borough. I am looking forward to seeing your entries and hopefully seeing you at the Awards Gala Evening.

Jonathan Askew

I am an audit partner in the Wimbledon office of Hartley Fowler, technical partner for the firm and lead the firm's specialist charities and not for profit team. I divide my time between advising clients on a variety of subjects, providing support to the whole firm overseeing high level accounting and auditing issues and for professional compliance matters, training and mentoring of team members. My clients come from a wide range of sectors that include technology, property, venture capital, and a number of international groups. I work closely with owner managers and family run businesses delivering professional advice that helps them manage, run and grow their organisations. By obtaining an in depth understanding of my clients and their affairs, I am able to provide solutions that balance the needs of the business with those of the founder and family behind it.

Nicola Laver

I started my career in childcare where I was a Nursery Nurse and later a Nursery Manager at St Helier Hospital and a Community Day Nursery in North London. My first experience of
Apprenticeships was through St Helier where I trained as an assessor for their customer service awards. I later joined a training Centre in 2000 where I taught and assessed on Childcare Apprenticeships. Since then I have been a Childcare and Health and Social Care tutor working with both Apprenticeships and full time classroom based courses. I have worked in this field for 14 years and am now the Head of School at South Thames Colleges Group. These awards are very important to me as they are an opportunity to showcase all that is good with British Business within Merton. We are so pleased to be the sponsors of Best Apprentice of the Year.

Paul Harvey

I joined Morrisons in 1988 and became the Managing Partner in 2008. During my time as Managing Partner, I guided the firm through a period of significant growth – helping build the firm to what is now a team of over 150 people. This growth has been achieved through a combination of organic growth, lateral hires and strategic acquisitions. As Managing Partner, I lead the firm's management team, and play a pivotal role in driving forward
the firm’s strategy. This includes working closely with partners and support heads to ensure that the firm is focused on its client and employees, as well as ensuring the firm is well managed from a financial, regulatory and technology perspective. I am passionate about leadership, and was proud to see the firm awarded the silver accreditation against the Investors in People Standard, demonstrating the firm’s commitment to high performance through good people management. As well as being an avid football supporter, I am also Chair of Love Wimbledon – the Business Improvement District and chair of the leadership board of Morden Baptist Church.

Nick Parr

I joined the Ambassador Theatre Group in January 2018 as Theatre Director of New Wimbledon Theatre. I have over 25 years’ experience in cultural management having worked in theatres across the UK, including Dundee Rep, King’s and
Festival Theatres in Edinburgh, Motherwell Concert Hall and Theatre, Nottingham Theatre Royal, Derby Assembly Rooms, New Theatre Oxford, Liverpool Empire and Edinburgh Playhouse. My career has included senior marketing roles at Scottish Ballet and pantomime producer Qdos Entertainment. Before joining ATG, I was Chief Executive at Dundee Rep and
Scottish Dance Theatre where I had overall responsibility for the
organisation's commercial success alongside its charitable and community objectives. Previously, I helped transform the fortunes of two Edinburgh theatres, clearing an accumulated deficit of £1million within four years and securing a place in The Sunday Times Top 100 Best Companies To Work For list.

Lucy Kane

I am looking forward to being a judge for this years’ Merton Best Business Awards. It’s an opportunity to use the business skills I’ve gained from working with 100’s of local businesses since Time & Leisure Magazine was established over 20 years ago. Supporting many independent businesses has given me a complete understanding of the challenges they face and the significance of their achievements. As Managing Director for over 15 years, I have enjoyed building the Time & Leisure brand and establishing our trusted and much-loved magazines in the region. We have grown our print portfolio to cover ten amazing local areas across SW London and Surrey, plus our weekly Time & Leisure Weekend newsletter and the fantastically exciting Food & Culture Awards, to offer readers and businesses a complete print-digital-event media experience.  It is a genuine pleasure to extend our involvement in the community and be a part of these important awards. Good luck to all the participants!

Jenny O'Neill

As a strategic marketing professional with a commercial background I have a wealth of experience in devising and running marketing campaigns for much loved household brands in both agency and client side roles.  

In applying my skills to the Merton Giving initiative role I am striving to bridge the gap between businesses and charities to mutual advantage and have recently gained valuable insight into the Merton community. I am delighted to be involved in the awards, allowing organisations the opportunity to showcase their successes and for us to both recognise and celebrate the breadth and depth of talent that exists in the borough.

Andrew Bithray

Having graduated from Imperial College with an honours degree in mathematics, I undertook my training at WSM and became a member of the ICAEW in 2003. At WSM I manage a wide portfolio of corporate clients and qualified as a Chartered Tax Advisor. In recognition of my accounting, tax and IT skills, my calm and generous application of knowledge and wisdom around the office and my ability to deliver a first class experience to my clients, I was invited to become a partner of WSM in 2014. The Merton Best Business Awards are a fantastic opportunity for local businesses to showcase their passion and entrepreneurial talents. It is inspiring to be part of the process, getting to see the variety of entries and the motivations behind the businesses.

Somayeh Aghnia

Co-founder and Managing Director of Geeks Ltd, an award-winning and exceptionally innovative software house in Merton. I have over 15 years of experience in delivering complex software projects and implementing digital transformation programmes in businesses across different industries. I am focused on impacting the software development process with a mission to enable businesses to be more productive, innovative and future-ready.

I am looking forward to being a judge and seeing all your entries for this years’ Merton Best Business Awards.

Simon Plumb

Having just joined the team as Centre Manager of Centre Court Shopping Centre, this will be my first year in Wimbledon and my first as a judge. I have been involved in shopping centre management for over 15 years and have built my career from grass roots, starting in my first shopping centre as a security guard on a 0hr contract and working my way from there. I am a hands on manager and am just as comfortable with my head down a drain or a mop in my hand as I am in front of my PC. This gives me a unique perspective on service delivery allowing me to see all sides most situations. My current role allows me to work with a plethora of industries, businesses, customers and clients, each with their own perspective, wishes and challenges that do not always align. Regardless of what industry you are in the best measure of business is how you manage challenges and embrace change and those skills are more required today than ever before. I look forward to reading your entries and seeing how you manage your own challenges.

Iain Sinnott

I have worked in the technology world since the late 1980’s and in that time have witnessed some of the most dramatic changes to the workplace, the tools we have to do our jobs but most importantly the expectation and needs of our customers. The worlds of Sales, Marketing and Customer Service have dramatically changed in the last 10 years, to now become part of the same continuous experience enjoyed by our customers. With customers exploring our web profiles long before they engage with our teams the products we offer and how they are presented is hugely important. Once those prospects reach out to us however the importance of the customer experience is clear; we need to offer options of how to communicate with us, respond quickly and efficiently and engage them as seamlessly as possible. Once they become our customers it then becomes vital to keep up that professional level of engagement as success comes from long term relationships and referrals. I am delighted to be judging the Best Service Excellence Award and wish all participating businesses the best of luck.

Annie Lee

I am honoured to be called upon by the team at Merton Best Business and to join the panel of judges for the MBBA 2019. The volume of applicants has increased compared to last year, which is a delight to hear and I am eager to read about the journeys they have been on to reach this point in time. I am a fellow member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), joined WSM in 2001 and became one of the directors of WSM Advisors Limited in 2011. I am also a registered auditor with ICAEW. My expertise is in business advisory to small and medium sized businesses as well as in the not for profit sector and charities. During my years in practice, I have seen a variety of businesses at different stages of their business life cycle, from varied industries and sizes. I am looking forward to the judging day and to celebrate the successes and achievements at the Gala Awards night at All England Lawn Tennis Club.

Events and Key Dates

Join us in the run up to the big award celebrations as we host a number of special events for you and your colleagues. We also share key dates such as, entry deadline and when finalists are announced.

Entry Rules

Please read our entry rules to ensure you apply for the right category for your business. You will also need to adhere to a few things that we have outlined for you.