Norfolk Business Awards 2021: meet the Business Person of the Year finalists

Christine Malcolm of The Maids Head Hotel in Norwich

Christine Malcolm has been general manager of The Maids Head Hotel in Norwich since 2009 - Credit: The Maids Head Hotel

The Business Person of the Year award, sponsored by FRP Advisory, recognises Norfolk business leaders who have worked in the industry for many years, or entrepreneurs who are accelerating their career at speed. Meet the finalists for this year’s Business Person of the Year award at the Norfolk Business Awards.

Christine Malcolm – The Maids Head Hotel

Christine Malcolm has been general manager of The Maids Head Hotel in Norwich since 2009. During that time, she has project-managed the multi-million-pound programme of renovation and refurbishment of the hotel, which has seen it rise from AA3 star status to AA4 star silver, while also winning Best Independent Hotel in the 2019 Norfolk and Suffolk Tourism Awards.  

The judges said Christine is clearly the driving force behind change and innovation at The Maids Head. “She is never afraid to take the difficult path if it is the right choice for the business – and the rewards of her struggles are plain to see. The Maid’s Head has become a destination hotel in the city.”  

They added: “The manner in which that has been achieved is in no small part down to Christine and the team she has built around herself – and it is a team she clearly has a deep affection for. Her projects to keep the staff engaged and motivated really came to the fore during lockdown.”   

James Groves of Indigo Swan

Under James Groves' leadership, Indigo Swan has enjoyed its most successful years to date in 2020 and 2021 - Credit: Andreea Radu Photography

James Groves – Indigo Swan 

Starting his career in the finance sector in 2003, James Groves joined energy consultancy Indigo Swan in 2010 and became the company’s managing director in 2019. Under his leadership, Indigo Swan has enjoyed its most successful years to date in 2020 and 2021.  

James has a passion for leading and developing people – embracing a balance of happiness first with a drive for high-level performance, and helping his team of ‘Swans’ be the best versions of themselves.  

The judges commented: “The move up to managing director has been seemingly effortless for James, and his boundless enthusiasm for the business shines through. It is clear his team value his efforts – who wouldn’t want to be a ‘Swan’? – and are determined to deliver. 

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“The firm focus on people is driven by James, and that investment in development will continue paying off in years to come. There are bright times ahead for the business with James at the helm.”

Julie Hunt, founder and managing director of Face to Face Finance

Julie Hunt has led Face to Face Finance for 18 years as founder and managing director - Credit: vicky plum photography

Julie Hunt – Face to Face Finance 

Julie Hunt is founder and managing director of Face to Face Finance, an independent financial advice firm based in Norwich. Having led the company for 18 years, Julie recently launched The Money Compass, a podcast and online community aimed at helping female business owners take control of their finances. She has also published her first book, The Money Compass: An insider’s guide to financial success. 

The judges said Julie stands out in the “often stuffy, traditional and inaccessible world of finance”, successfully building Face to Face over a long period by doing things slightly differently. “Upskilling her staff has been key to the firm’s success,” they commented. “Julie understood from the off that reinvesting time and money into her team would build loyalty and ultimately success." 

The judges were also impressed with the diverse services and products on offer. As well as Julie’s personal finance book, Face to Face Finance has also published three books for children, told from the perspective of its mascot and director of happiness, Eddie Teddie.

Sarah Mintey MBE of Developing Experts

Sarah Mintey was awarded an MBE for her services to education and the tech industry - Credit: Developing Experts

Sarah Mintey MBE – Developing Experts  

Sarah Mintey is the founder and CEO of Developing Experts, which delivers online science lessons to children aged 4-14. In February 2019, the company won the government-backed Tech Nation Rising Stars competition and was recognised as the best education technology product in Europe.  

In 2020 Sarah was recognised as one of ten most influential female founders in the tech industry, won a place as one of ten companies to join the Google for Startups Immersion Program for 2020 and was awarded an MBE for her services to education and the tech industry. 

The judges were inspired by Sarah’s path from teacher to business leader, and that “she has done it with a positive outlook and smile so often missing from CEO’s faces”. They added that her company has achieved a lot more than just a healthy bottom line – it has helped young people excel.