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Happy dealiversary to us!

On 4th February, we will celebrate two years of partnership with our brilliant owner/investor, Great Hill Partners. That’s two incredible years of growth, innovation and success.

When I look back and see all that we have achieved together, I’m blown away.

Like many entrepreneurs, I had some preconceptions about private equity. I’d heard the horror stories: founders losing control and companies being pulled in the wrong direction. My experience couldn’t have been more different. We raised £75m to supercharge growth, valuing BigChange at £100m. Great Hill have always operated with integrity, with the best interests of the business at heart, and their support has surpassed all my expectations.

The deal has been a gamechanger for me, my colleagues, our customers, and our future.

Last year, I posted about our experience with Great Hill, one year in. Since then, we have continued to thrive. I want to thank Drew LoucksChris BusbyGreg StewartRyan O’Malley, and Pablo Ramirez for all their support. I also want to thank our exceptional CEO Richard Warley, who was introduced to me by Great Hill. He’s added such value to the business and his leadership has been transformative as we enter this new chapter of growth.

Great Hill’s support over the past 12 months has been invaluable in two key areas: marketing and technology. Suaad Sait at GHP has been our point man on marketing. His experience helping fast-growth companies like Rackspace to grow has been such an eye-opener. He has helped create over $15 billion in value over the course of his three-decade career. We are extremely lucky to have him on board.

On the technology side, our non-executive director Mike Profit has brought a wealth of experience and advice. He’s been driving growth at US-headquartered start-ups and blue-chip companies for more than 25 years.

Over the past two years, BigChange has doubled in size. That recurring revenue growth has been accompanied with an increase in headcount to support that growth. Great Hill recognised that we had an opportunity to grow faster, and provided extra investment to support that growth. As we look to the future, we are well-capitalised and every team has the firepower it needs to grow and succeed.

Great Hill is opening an office in the UK as we speak. Drew and his family have relocated permanently. This is an incredible development for fast-growth firms across Europe. Every midmarket entrepreneur that wants to go places should speak to Great Hill.

“Great Hill has been investing in Europe over the last 20 years,” Drew tells me. “Given the amount of strong entrepreneurs like Martin, we felt that now was the time to put a more concerted effort to build more of those relationships.”

It will be exciting to watch Great Hill add value to even more businesses as they grow their presence here.

Happy dealiversary to BigChange and Great Hill. Here’s to many more years of success.

The relationships you build today could last a lifetime

In business, relationships are everything. Something incredible happens when two people connect, listen to one another, and try to help each other succeed. An enduring bond is formed in those moments.

I know this because I have been fortunate enough to meet many incredible people throughout the course of my career. These people have been colleagues, customers, investors and even rivals. The amazing thing is that those relationships have lasted years – even decades.

The impact of these relationships is huge – and cumulative. Your network of fascinating, talented people snowballs over the years. Customers that I met when building my last business, Masternaut, over 20 years ago have followed me to BigChange. Brilliant people who have worked alongside me on previous ventures are now integral to BigChange’s success today. People that I meet at events and exhibitions often become valued business partners or suppliers – if not immediately, then often down the line.

People have long memories. We have all had conversations with friends or colleagues who warn us off working with someone because they had a bad experience with them many years previously. There’s a reason for the old adage – “Be nice to people on your way up because you meet them on your way down”– we never forget the bad bosses, the times we were side-lined or patronised. But equally, we remember all the people who were kind, honest and fair.

It is my belief that the most powerful and enduring relationships can only be forged face-to-face. It’s rare to remember someone that you’ve only met via email or online. And a lot can be lost in translation when you communicate digitally. All those non-verbal cues are lost, the tone is different, and there’s little opportunity to find common ground. Small talk gets a bad rap, but it can be a great tool for breaking the ice, creating friendships, and making people feel more comfortable. One 2020 study in California found that chatting about non-work-related subjects even makes people happier in their jobs. No wonder that six out of 10 workers said they missed “watercooler moments” in the office during the pandemic.

I’m saying this as the founder and chairman of a technology company. Yes, we make software, but we will never lose our human face. There will always be opportunities to meet us in real life, or at the very least hear our voices down the phone. Email and chat functions are great, but you can’t laugh together at a joke or show empathy through a screen. 

I’m always telling my colleagues at BigChange to get out there and meet customers. When I mentor other entrepreneurs, I tell them the same thing – spend time with your customers and teams. There really is no substitute for getting out there and talking to people.

So, if you have been putting off having that coffee with so-and-so, dropping in on a colleague, or visiting one of your shops or manufacturers, let today be the day that you prioritise relationships, and get out there. 

Entrepreneurs, your communities need you

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”
 
The legendary boxer Muhammad Ali said these words back in 1978. They have always resonated with me: I am a great believer in giving back.
 
Throughout my career, I have always tried to carve out time to support charities, fellow business owners, and my local community. When you’re building a business and working every hour of the day, cramming more into your to-do list may sound like madness – but I have found these experiences to be rewarding, eye-opening, and life-affirming.
 
Many studies have found a strong link between giving and happiness. Whether we are spending money on others instead of ourselves or giving our time to those that need it, the results are undeniable: a marked increase in wellbeing. There’s even evidence showing that elderly people who help those around them tend to live longer
 
Over the past year, I have doubled down on my efforts to make a difference in my local community. I am now President of a Leeds Synagogue, and I’m supporting a their Kosher Bakery, which makes the most incredible speciality breads,  bagels, cakes and doughnuts. Juggling these roles around my chairmanship of BigChange isn’t always easy – I work most evenings and Sundays – but I love it.
 
As the founder of BigChange, I’m able to make a real difference to businesses like these. I created the platform to simplify and streamline processes, eliminate paper, and help organisations become more efficient, so it won’t surprise you that both the bakery and synagogue are now customers. 
 
BigChange is now so much more than a mobile workforce platform – it’s also a facilities management tool, a members management system, and a health and safety resource. The synagogue has around 2,000 members and BigChange has replaced five separate software packages with a single system. As you can imagine, maintaining such a large building can be challenging. With BigChange, we can be more proactive, creating a planned preventative maintenance schedule, which means we never reach breaking point.
 
I used to run a bakery business, and it’s been great to draw upon this experience to help the Street Lane Bakery. The bakery now uses BigChange technology to track its delivery van, find the most efficient routes and flag when customers get their bread, but it’s also handling rotas, finance, and health and safety in the bakery and shop, which is massive when you’re dealing with food hygiene. We do all this without using a single sheet of paper – previously, bits of paper were constantly passed back and forth.
 
I love using my experience as an entrepreneur to help others, and it’s so exhilarating watching the technology I created make such a difference to these charities. Right now, times are tough for many business owners, so if you have skills and resources that you can share, make the time. You won’t regret it.
  
 #community #entrepreneurs #technology

BigChange celebrates its 10th birthday

New Year’s Day 2023 is a very special time for BigChange: we will celebrate our tenth birthday. In the beginning, it was just me, my wife Amanda, Andrew, Johann, Anthony, Roger, Matt, Edward, Simon, George, Francis, Alex and Jerome. We now employ more than 230 people and almost everyone from that start-up team is still with BigChange today.

It’s hard to believe that our first ever business plan aimed for just 100 customers across Europe – and we thought that was ambitious. Our technology now supports 2,000 customers hailing from as far afield as Australia and Canada, with 80,000 users on the platform.

To celebrate this landmark birthday, I’d like to share a bit of our history – a timeline of all the important milestones. It’s been an awesome journey!

2011 – The year I sold my last business, Masternaut. But I wasn’t ready to retire at 50. I soon began work on a new start-up: BigChange.

2013 – I launch BigChange on New Year’s Day. Technologist and co-founder Johann Levy, who developed the first iteration of JobWatch and is still our Head of Innovation today. Watch a younger Martin Port introduce JobWatch https://youtu.be/L2u7TwV_GNA

2014 – Over the past 18 months I have raised over £1m in growth funding.

  • Revenues grew 300% this year and we really hit our stride.

2015 – We enable one-man bands to grow into national players. Michael Taylor at pest control specialist Contego https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/chairmans-spotlight-michael-taylor-founder-ceo-contego-martin-port/?trk=pulse-article_more-articles_related-content-card began using BigChange this year. In 2022, he employs 140 people.  

2016 – BigChange wins the BigChip Award 2016 for best B2B eBusiness project.

2017 – We now have 600 customers, ranging from local councils to utility companies, with 15,000 individuals using the technology. This was the year we won our first international customers in France and the US too.

  • Listing in the Deloitte Fast 50 Tech Track – a list of the fastest-growing technology firms in the UK. We were the only tech company in Yorkshire to make the Top 50.
  • We launch our Motivational Monday initiative, inviting inspiring people from all walks of life to come and share their stories with the team. Over the years, we have welcomed Falklands war veteran Simon Weston CBE; Kevin Keegan OBE, football star and manager; and the model turned entrepreneur Caprice. 
  • The year of our office move! Our new headquarters in Thorpe Park Leeds allows us to double our workforce from 70 to 170 over three years.
  • We feature in the Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100 league table, which ranks Britain’s private technology, media and telecoms companies with the fastest-growing sales – we made the ranking in 2019 and 2020 too.
  • We launch our Road Safety Leaders for Life campaign in Partnership with Brake, the road safety charity.  

2019 – BigChange pioneers the 4.5-day working week. Our Flexi Friday initiative was a huge hit with the team.

  • The BigChange Network launches in April 2019 to make it quicker and easier for organisations to win new business and collaborate with suppliers and contractors. 

2020 – BigChange wins the Queens Award for Enterprise in the innovation category. This is one of the highest official honours for companies in the UK.

  • We launch the BigChange University, pioneering a new online training curriculum and inviting customers to take part in free sessions to learn how to make the most of our technology. More than 2,500 students enrol in that first year.
  • We hire 30 new team members, despite two national lockdowns and a recession.

2021 – We raise £75m from Boston-based Great Hill Partners. The deal values our business at £100m and supercharged innovation.

  • I move into a chairman role at BigChange, appointing the brilliant Richard Warley as CEO.
  • BigChange wins the coveted Best Companies to Work for award, gaining recognition for being an outstanding employer. We also win the Yorkshire Post’s Best Company 2021 in the £10m to £50m category. In the GP Bullhound Northern Tech Awards 2021, BigChange is recognised as one of the Top 15 Fastest Growing Larger Technology Companies in the North of England Scotland and Ireland.

2022 – BigChange launches its Channel Partner Programme, which will help to accelerate international growth.

  • BigChange takes a major step on the road to Net Zero, carrying out its first carbon audit and putting in place a carbon reduction plan. We will be carbon neutral this year through offsetting.
  • BigChange won Business Enabler of the Year at the Lloyds Bank British Business Excellence Awards, which are the ‘Oscars’ of business awards.
  • We also retained our coveted Best Companies to Work for award.
  • This year, we hit the incredible milestone of £500,000 in charitable contributions.

Over the past decade, we have forged lasting partnerships with some incredible companies. From Sunbelt Rentals, the UK’s largest rental equipment company, to household names like Dyno-Rod and public sector organisations like Sheffield City Council. We are the platform that underpins their growth and drives efficiency and productivity. Over the coming years, we will continue to attract more enterprise clients, while also supporting the growth ambitions of smaller companies.

We have done our bit to help some brilliant organisations through our corporate social responsibility scheme, such as: Transaid, the international development charity; Business in the Community; road safety charity Brake; Living Potential Care Farm; national hearing loss charity RNID; and homelessness charity St George’s Crypt. Philanthropy will continue to be an important part of our work here at BigChange. 

We have a world-beating product, an unbeatable proposition and we are streets ahead of the competition. Over the coming decade, we plan to hit a billion-dollar valuation, and become a “unicorn”. Huge thanks to our incredible customers and the first-rate team here at BigChange for a decade of excellence. Here’s to the next 10 years.

Season Greetings from all at BigChange

Season Greetings from all at BigChange.  As the year comes to a close, I hope that the holiday season brings you joy, peace, and time to relax with loved ones.

I am grateful to have such an engaged and supportive readership, and I look forward to continuing to bring you informative and thought-provoking content in the year ahead. Thank you for joining me on this journey, and I hope you enjoy reading my most popular blogs of the year.

I am excited to share the top-performing articles from the past year. These are the pieces that resonated most with my readers and generated the most engagement and discussion.

First on the list is We all deserve a chance. This post was all about the chronic shortage of opportunities for people with physical disabilities and learning difficulties. This received an overwhelming response from my audience. Next up is Don’t wall yourself off from your team. Most modern bosses are no longer found on the battlefield but in the boardroom – but the lessons from ancient times are as valuable today as they have ever been. You need to have a rapport with your team, and you need to spend time in the mix with your colleagues to stay close to the inner workings of your business. This is why I am such a fan of an open-plan workspace, where leaders sit beside colleagues, not in their own offices. And finally, No more empty desks sparked some interesting debates among my readers.

2022: a year of growth, energy, and customer obsession

As another year draws to a close, I’d like to reflect on all we have achieved here at BigChange. This year has surpassed all our forecasts – like many business leaders; we expected a difficult 12 months because of political upheaval and the sudden biting recession and cost of living crisis.

Despite these challenges, our team has outperformed our wildest expectations, our customers have thrived, and our ground-breaking technology has attracted many new businesses – large and small – into the fold. Our customer numbers are up, revenues are soaring, and we are moving ever closer to our ultimate ambition – to be a “unicorn” business and the global brand leader in our industry.

I look forward to continuing our relationship in the new year and working together to create even more success. Wishing you all the best. 

2022: a year of growth, energy, and customer obsession

2022: a year of growth, energy, and customer obsession

As another year draws to a close, I’d like to reflect on all we have achieved here at BigChange. This year has surpassed all our forecasts – like many business leaders, we expected a difficult 12 months because of political upheaval and the sudden biting recession and cost of living crisis.

Despite these challenges, our team has out-performed our wildest expectations, our customers have thrived, and our ground-breaking technology has attracted many new businesses – large and small – into the fold. Our customer numbers are up, revenues are soaring, and we are moving ever closer to our ultimate ambition – to be a “unicorn” business, and the global brand leader in our industry.

Here’s an overview of our year to date.

The best in class

Our platform continues to outperform all our rivals and the proof is in our numbers: over the past year, new contract wins are up 40% on 2021, generating £33m in new business for BigChange.

We welcomed nearly 400 new customers this year, taking our total to 2,000. Across the globe, some 80,000 individuals use our technology day in and day out, which is an incredible achievement.

Our technology now supports every function within our customers’ organisations, and we logged 30m transactions in total over the past year, as companies created jobs and invoices, tracked vehicles and tools, logged time sheets and processed expenses. BigChange is truly the architecture underpinning business success: some £2bn-worth of invoices were delivered though our platform.

A diverse and thriving customer base

We built BigChange to be the partner of choice for companies of all sizes, across every industry. We are proud to say that we now boast customers across 60 sectors, from one-man bands to multinational enterprises.

This year alone, we have welcomed an impressive range of new clients, including: EFT Systems, which does everything from sprinklers and fire alarms to cyber security and CCTV; fleet installations specialist RS Connect; ventilations expert EnviroVent; RGE Services, which protects people and property through fire and electrical compliance; Edinmore Contracts, the building insurance and maintenance contractor; property repair specialist Merlin; Shenton Global, which has over 30 years’ experience in the supply, installation and maintenance of critical diesel power systems; Motivair Compressors; and Kaboodle, the  independent installer of white goods.

Helping our customer become more resilient

The beauty of BigChange is that we grow only when we help our customers become more successful: it’s a virtuous circle. This year, we have continued to drive efficiencies and cost savings across the board. DBS, a specialist in the repair and maintenance of petroleum forecourt structures and retail sites, has boosted operational productivity by 20%. J W Hinchliffe (Tanks), a specialist in fuel tank services, has boosted its annual turnover by 35% following the introduction of a BigChange job management system. While new build after-care specialist A&S has used our mobile workforce technology to double its business to a £5m turnover in two years.

We call our dedication to customer service, “Customer Obsession”. This year, RoadCrew has supported over 100,000 calls, emails and self-service requests. Onboarding is a crucial part of the BigChange journey but it doesn’t end there, and our Customer Success team works tirelessly to nurture existing customers and help them get even more out of our technology.

As we continue to improve the lives of our customers, it’s been great to see our Customer learning team launch our Digital BigChange University. There are now 67 online modules; over 21,000 modules have now completed by our customers (that’s 11,000 hours of online training!). The BigChange help centre has had over 130,000 page views allowing our customers to get the support they need instantly!

People power 

We have strengthened and grown our BigChange sales and marketing team by adding an extra 60% headcount to the most knowledgeable team of experts in the industry.

The team here at BigChange is our most valuable asset. We are blessed to have the most innovative, hard-working and dedicated colleagues in the industry. As we have grown the business, we have recruited new BigChangers and given our existing team new responsibilities and opportunities.

To ensure that our unstoppable, entrepreneurial, and customer-centric culture remains at the heart of our business we have worked hard in 2022 to define what it means to be a successful BigChanger. This led to us launching the BigChange Leadership Principles which apply to all of us and are embedded in our customer interactions, our recruitment and the way we judge success.

Spreading the word

Like most companies, BigChange became a remote-first company during the pandemic but I’m delighted that, this year, we have been getting out and about again.

We set ourselves the mission to create an established events calendar, consisting of 14 tradeshows across a variety of industries. We attended those exhibitions, showing attendees how we can help their business become unstoppable. Next year, we are setting our sights even higher and have 30 shows on the calendar.

We have also entertained many customers and prospects at our Leeds United box and are looking forward to the last game of 2022: Leeds v Manchester City.

International ambition

Our team in France has continued to drive the business forward. BigChange France is now fast approaching 100 customers, which is an incredible result.

Meanwhile, our Partnerships team has continued to build upon the successes of our international resellers, establishing new relationships in both Canada and Greece. Our resellers in New Zealand, Australia, and Cyprus, have all seen continued growth in 2022. We now have 130 customers in these countries.

Technological advances

Over the past year BigChange Technology has lived up to its name, and we have increased investment into innovation. This has enabled us to start delivering even more value into the BigChange platform.

We now have a data warehouse with new dashboards (currently in beta) that will be going to general release early in the new year. We have transformed the foundations of our Job Finance function, helping our customers to better understand profitability, work in progress, and forecasting. We have enhanced our group job functionality to allow for greater control over multi-job projects. We have launched a completely new look and feel to our booking site that resizes for any device.

Alongside all this, we have developed a very exciting roadmap for 2023 that will see lots of great new functions for Job Finance, Business Intelligence and Job Management.

Making a positive impact

In 2022 BigChange took a major step on the road to Net Zero by carrying out its first carbon audit and putting in place a carbon reduction plan and commitment to be carbon neutral this year through offsetting.

Our BigChangers have carried out litter picking, lobbied for better recycling and worked with our local business park to encourage car sharing and other joint sustainability initiatives. We know that BigChange helps our customers be more sustainable through its reporting of driver behaviour, scheduling and job visibility and we will be focusing on understanding how we can improve this support in 2023.

We have also continued our proud history of charitable donations in 2022 through a series of employee-led initiatives to help our community. With our wonderful Customer Success Director, the unstoppable Tansy Sheehy, leading the charge, we have organized food bank collections, a day in the community at Living Potential care farm, clothing donations, volunteering at St George’s Crypt to support the homeless, and our Christmas Party with a Purpose where BigChangers overwhelmed us with their generosity buying presents for the homeless and teenagers in care.

Awards for BigChange

Our dedication to the team helped BigChange to achieve a Best Companies 2* Award in 2022, which means we continue to be an outstanding employer. We also completed our re-certification in ISO27001 in October. Other awards include: Lloyds Bank British Business Excellence Award, Virgin Atlantic & Delta Air Lines Business Enabler of the Year, a ranking in the GP Bullhound Northern Tech Top 100 Companies, and Mid-Market Corporate of the Year at the Yorkshires Business Awards.

Thank you all for your ongoing support. I – and all of us here at BigChange – wish you a joyful festive season. 

Deactivate to reactivate: Take time to switch off

Want to know how to be a more effective entrepreneur and leader? Take some time off.

It may sound counterintuitive but it’s true: ensuring that you have enough downtime each week will make you a better manager of people and allow you to make better decisions.

I know how all-consuming it can be when you are building or starting a business. You feel as though you need to work every single hour of the day if you are to achieve your goals.

Even sleeping at night feels wasteful.

Commit to taking time off each week

There have been times in my life when I have worked non-stop for weeks on end. I remember the impact it had on me, how my mind started spinning and I struggled with basic tasks.

I wish I knew then that I could have been 10x more productive if I had just taken breaks to recharge.

These days, I have a rule. I take one day off every week where I switch off my phone, silence my emails, and put work out of my mind. I deactivate to reactivate.

When I wake the following day, and fire up my laptop, I do it with renewed vigour. It feels so easy – and enjoyable – to complete tasks and work on my business interests.

It’s as though, throughout the week, I have been slowly depleting my supply of oxygen but after a day’s rest, I get a whole new tank.

Did taking a day off every week when I was first building BigChange slow its growth? It did the opposite.

BigChange smashed every goal that we set over the years. I believe that embracing downtime – not just my own, but the whole team’s – helped bring about that success.

We were pioneers when we gave 34 days holiday, giving people more time with their families. 

I don’t know if I would have chosen to do this if it weren’t for my faith. I observe the Sabbath because it’s one of Judaism’s most important rituals, but I feel the benefits in all aspects of my life.

Rest and recharge

Whatever your beliefs, it’s important to make that space in your life to rest and recharge.

It’s important to understand what downtime really means. It’s a time where your brain isn’t focusing on anything. Scrolling on your phone or watching TV isn’t downtime.

Naps, walks, meditation, and mundane tasks where your mind can wander – that’s real downtime.

Many studies have shown that the human brain desperately needs enough sleep at night and plenty of breaks during the day.

In his book, Rest: Why you get more done when you work less, Alex Soojung-Kim Pang says that allowing the brain to enter a “resting state” is vital.

“When we are not directly focused on a task, it’s still active, engaging its default network to plug away at problems, examine and toss out possible answers, and look for new information.”

So, leaders, whatever you do this week, make sure you make time to do nothing. Set a good example for your team by having at least one day off and setting your ‘out of office’.

I promise you; you won’t regret it – I never have. 

Leaders, it’s time to get back into start-up mode

The coming recession is likely to be deeper and more severe than we originally thought.

Forecasts suggest that the economy will continue to shrink until the summer of 2023 and that the UK will experience a 1.4% contraction across the whole of next year.

That’s a major U-turn from the Office for Budget Responsibility’s initial forecast for 1.8% growth, which was only published in March.

What does this mean for entrepreneurs and business leaders?

It means you need to get back into start-up mode.

Remember those heady early days of your business when you rose before dawn and worked well into the night, waking at 2am to send a quick email to suppliers in another time zone? Those days are back.

Tough times ahead in 2023

These are going to be tough times and you need to be absolutely focused on your business. You need to know what’s working and what’s not.

That means getting back into the detail. Even those running larger organisations need to get back into the trenches – don’t just rely on your direct reports.

Go and speak to people in every department. Ask them what’s really going on – their challenges and pressure points. Ask them what customers love and what developments would really make your product or service stand out in the marketplace.

This complex trading environment also means you need to sweat your assets like never before. Rip up your budget forecasts for 2023; it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

Any “nice to have” investments must wait. If you were going to hire more people in advance of growth, it might be better to get through the coming year first.

Explain to your teams that you will be expecting them to give 100% as we move into this critical period – reward them, motivate them, and make sure they know how important their efforts are to the continued success of the company.

Invest and spend wisely

Costs must be controlled but don’t cut back on the spending that generates more business. You still need to be out there prospecting, meeting customers, and getting your brand name out into the world.

These are not “nice to haves”- these are business critical expenses, and you will cut them at your peril.

Data is going to become your best friend (if it isn’t already). It’s only by analysing every single metric of success that you’ll understand what kind of work brings in the most profit, which jobs lose you money, and which assets are underutilised.

When you have absolute clarity on your data, you can even see which loss-leaders are worth keeping because they open the doors to other, more lucrative projects.

This is the kind of insight that we at BigChange are bringing our customers. I believe it will ensure they remain unstoppable, despite the challenging times ahead.

In fact, BigChange has launched a new campaign with this mission, mantra, and customer promise: be unstoppable.

We want ambitious entrepreneurs and business owners to feel empowered to act and unleash their energy – even when the going gets tough. 

Whatever technology you use to help drive efficiency, lean on it now. Many businesses only use a small percentage of the tech at their disposal.

That’s the kind of waste that can easily be utilised – especially by leaders with a start-up mindset, who don’t mind burning the midnight oil to plumb the depths of their business software.

2023 won’t be easy but the businesses that survive will be fitter, leaner, and better prepared for the future than ever before.

Recessions test our mettle, as leaders. They hone our business models and cement our place in the hearts of our customers. Think of this time as an opportunity to go from good to great. 

Think like a start-up, and you’ll be fine.

#unstoppable

Rewarding our exceptional team at BigChange

Human beings are social creatures. We need to spend time with one another to feel, well – human. 

BigChange may be a technology company, but we pride ourselves on our humanity. There is always a person at the end of the phone if you need us, our people are unfailingly kind and considerate – and all are excellent problem solvers.

To reward this outstanding team, we host a special seasonal get-together every year. After a long hiatus for Covid, we brought it back last year. I’ll never forget the incredible atmosphere in the room as colleagues who had interacted solely online for two years met and danced the night away. 

Last night, we held this year’s BigChange Awards and Thanksgiving party (we are part-owned by an American company, after all) and it was just as wonderful as last year’s bash.

A glass of bubbly, and a proper sit down dinner, followed by dancing. A token of our appreciation for our people’s hard work in recent months. 

Most of us are back in the office for at least a day a week now, but the event brought together more than 200 people from across the whole of BigChange’s international operations. Nothing beats meeting IRL [in real life] for raising the spirits.  

The event was held at the Royal Armouries in Leeds. It was a privilege to be surrounded by such incredible exhibits – slices of British history.

BigChange is about to celebrate its tenth birthday, so the moment was even more meaningful. 

BigChange award winners 2022

But on to the highlight of the evening: the awards. The ceremony was a little different this year. The categories this year were all aligned with BigChange values.

Here’s a little roundup of who won what.  

Big on ethics

The “Big on Ethics” award went to business development manager Eli Sufrin.

This is the second time Eli has picked up an award at our winter event. A true team player, he is always fair, authentic, and puts customers’ needs first. 

Big on Change

He was not the only person to win over two consecutive years. Fellow business development manager George Dibb, who picked up the CEO award in 2021, won the “Big on Change” category this year, for his ability to help those in the plumbing, heating and electrical contracting sectors to adapt and thrive. 

Mission award

Sarah Cox, our Customer Success Director, won the “Mission Award” this year, reflecting her ability to generate brilliant outcomes for customers while upholding our values.

Purpose award

Tansy Sheehy, a fellow Customer Success Director and productivity queen, claimed the Purpose Award.

Big on Energy

Our scrum master Catriona Faulds is our “Big on Energy” champion this year as a result of her dynamic and vibrant approach to recruitment and promoting women in technology.

Big on inclusion

HR advisor Maisy Hampton won the “Big on Inclusion” award for her refreshing approach to talent acquisition. 

Big on Sustainability

BigChange’s green champion, Installations Co-Ordinator Fatimah Fellah won our “Big on Sustainability” award for her work helping customers to slash emissions and dramatically reduce waste.

Green Flag award

Lee Wilkinson picked up the “Green Flag Award” for consistently providing an exceptional customers experience through his role as Network Customer Experience Director.

CEO award

Richard Warley was hard pressed to choose a winner for the CEO Award this year, so he chose two!

Lead Software Engineer Joe Woodhead and Senior Product Manager Andy Knight (who also won an award last year) both impressed Richard with their technical skills, vision, and ability to execute complex projects.  

Chairman’s award

And finally, it was a great privilege to give out my own Chairman’s Award again this year. Huge congratulations to Andy Davenport, our tireless Technical Support Manager, who picked up Employee of the Year in 2021 and remains passionate, committed, and totally irreplaceable. 

Many congratulations to all of you. These awards are very well deserved. Thank you for all you’ve done for this company and your teams.

What a treat to spend time with all of you – with no screens in sight! I hope you enjoyed the party.

Deaf and proud

I have lived with acute hearing loss for most of my life. Over the past year, my hearing has deteriorated – I am now profoundly deaf to high frequency sounds.

Amazing technology exists that helps me live a full and hassle-free life, and there are new developments all the time.

But I do sometimes wonder whether I would have had the successes I’ve had if I were born in a different century.

Beethoven may have composed many masterpieces after losing his hearing, but he is one of very few stories where a disabled person triumphs against adversity.

In Beethoven’s case, he lived in almost total isolation once he lost his hearing. 

UK Disability History Month


It’s timely to chew over these ideas. The 16th of November marked the start of UK Disability History Month. It was created to celebrate the achievements of people living with a disability and raise awareness of the challenges they continue to face.

Yes, the world has become a much friendlier place for those living with disabilities. From tactile paving to hearing aid induction loops, assistance for those with sensory impairments is widespread.

But there is still a long way to go.
 
Earlier this week, my investment company Port Growth Partners partnered with the Royal National Institute for the Deaf (RNID) to help put on a little quiz night.

John Bishop, the comedian, hosted the quiz – his son has an autoimmune disorder that causes deafness, and he is very passionate about the cause.

We had some great supporters in the room – the likes of Sir Rocco Forte our host – and we raised £50,000.

The RNID is a crucial champion in the battle for equal rights and support for the deaf – there are 12m of us in the UK alone. 

Every company should be inclusive


At BigChange, we have worked really hard to be an inclusive organisation, which welcomes people from all walks of life.

We actively recruit those with disabilities and have programmes in place to support neurodiverse colleagues.

We believe that by having a truly diversified team, we create better, more considerate technology.

For most of my life I have tried to hide my deafness. I have shied away from wearing visible hearing aids. You worry that people make certain assumptions about you when they see those clunky gadgets tucked behind your ear.
 
UK Disability History Month has been an opportunity to reflect on that approach. I no longer want to hide my disability. There is no shame in my hearing loss. People wear glasses without embarrassment – they are a fashion accessory!
 
Life was actually easier for me – in some ways – during lockdown. We all communicated via Teams, which meant I could wear a headset and hear every word.

It’s only now we’re back in the office and meeting customers that I’m reminded how little I can hear in ordinary life.