So as far as Wednesday nights go, last night was a big one… award-winning in fact!

After putting our very own Cathi Harrison, CEO, forward for a Great British Entrepreneur Award (GBEA), last night we gathered around our screens to watch the ceremony unfold online, even creating a WhatsApp group so that we could have a live running commentary between us.

With our fingers (and toes!) firmly crossed, we awaited the category for which we’d felt compelled to nominate Cathi for – a brand-new category this year, ‘Pivot Entrepreneur of the Year’This category was added this year specifically ‘to recognise entrepreneurs who have embraced uncertainty and successfully adapted their business during the global pandemic, to ensure their company can succeed during, and thrive after, the crisis’.

GBEA were looking for entrepreneurs and teams that have shown incredible spirit in adapting to, and overcoming, 2020 challenges. And personally, when we read that criteria, it was like a choir of angels sang. It felt the perfect opportunity to get external recognition for the blood, sweat and tears that was ploughed into our #Project2030 launch back in June.

After correctly predicting a lockdown that would last months, not weeks, at the outset, Cathi’s outstanding leadership saw us implement a bold plan early into lockdown, resulting in the rebuild (at an unprecedented rate of change) many elements of The Verve Group’s various core services. She shared with us her vision of the reformed industry she expected to see beyond lockdown, and we all embraced her focussed improvement plan, otherwise known as #Project2030. Cathi gathered us a team (on Zoom, naturally!) and things that would have typically been worked towards as a 10-year plan, now became a 10-week plan. You can read more on #Project2030 and its innovative live online launch.

Technology had newfound importance in #Project2030, which brought us full circle to sitting in front of our laptops last night to take part virtually in the GBEA awards ceremony.

Some of us had champers at the ready, some of us were in PJs (we won’t name names!) but all of us enjoyed the interactive online ceremony, embracing change (as we pride ourselves in doing) and networking in private online spaces (well, not the one wearing pjs!), enjoying the engaging hosts (and virtual pub background!) and taking notes to make our own online events even better.

But the moment of the evening without a doubt was the announcement of:

“And the 2020 winner for the North East in the category of Pivot Entrepreneur of the Year is… Cathi Harrison of The Verve Group”.

Cue lots of screams – and pets being scared/kids being woken! Seriously though, we couldn’t be prouder of Cathi for winning this prestigious award, with the ceremony being described as ‘the biggest celebration of entrepreneurship the UK has ever seen’. We certainly felt the celebration, despite the lack of glitzy surrounding and giddy company this year. This is actually the third time we’ve been shortlisted for an GBEA award and as disappointing as it’s been to miss out in other categories the last couple of years, now we can’t help but feel it was all just preparation to make this win taste that much sweeter!

The founder of the GBEA, Francesca James, said: “Cathi has a wonderful entrepreneurial story and has shown exactly what it means to pivot your business.” Anne Boden, CEO of Starling bank who sponsor the awards, added “Entrepreneurs have spirit, we fight back and we’re very good at dealing with adversity. Cathi is an example to us all, of entrepreneurs that are creative, innovative and changing the world.

So, here’s to changing the world. We’re certainly not waiting for the weekend to celebrate this one. In fact, I think we have the perfect excuse to celebrate until the trophy arrives.

Want to see our award-winning live launches in action?! Sign up to virtually attend our ‘We are live’ event on 1st October at 5pm. And, you can find out who Cathi’s in the company of by viewing the full list of winners here. 135 awards were handed out to 135 founders of 110 businesses across 15 categories and eight regions.

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