The Judging Process

All nominations submitted by the nomination deadline, 1st September 2015, will be placed before an independent panel of Judges. The Judges are all respected members of the Manchester business community with a passion for developing Manchester’s young talent.

The nominations will be scored by each Judge as per the system detailed in the guidance document. The Judges will then meet to discuss the nominations and together decide on the final shortlist and winners for each category. Should any of the Judges have a personal interest or connection with any of the nominees they will forfeit their vote in that particular category.

The shortlist will then be announced in advance of Awards Ceremony on 19th November 2015.

JCI Manchester are very pleased to confirm that this year’s Judges are:

2015 Judges

Phil Smith

Phil Smith

Director of Sales and Business Development – Living Ventures

After living and studying in New York post secondary education, Phil returned to the Uk, completed his degree on home soil and is an Alumni of Sheffield Hallam University. With 14 years experience in business/brand development and the last 8 working closely in the hospitality sector, Phil resides at Living Ventures working nationwide overseeing the implementation and continued development of the business development team.

Previous to this role Phil was senior client relations executive at Manchester United and also the founder of a brand management agency here in Manchester. As a resident of the city centre Phil is an advocate of all things Mancunian and can be found on weekends managing amateur football club Northern Quarter FC.

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Drew Charman

Drew is the 2015 National President of JCI UK – the UK arm of a leading global voluntary network of over 200,000 young active citizens, providing development opportunities that empower young people to create positive change in their local communities.  Heading up the national organisation and the 2015 National Board team, he represents JCI UK both nationally and internationally, supports the Local Presidents of JCI UK’s chambers across the country and develops and leads the implementation of the organisation’s national plan of action and strategies for the year.

Drew has been a member of the JCI UK team since early 2007, serving on the Local Board of his home chamber JCI Southampton for 7 years (including Local President in 2011 and 2012) and on the National Board since 2013.  He was awarded a Senatorship in 2014 – the highest accolade within the JCI organisation.

Outside of JCI, Drew works as a Change Manager at the Head Office of Virgin Media – one of the UK’s leading telecommunications companies.  He has previously worked at IBM, Ericsson and Richard Lewis Communications (an international management training organisation specialising in languages, communication skills and cross-culture).

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Fran Eccles-Bech

Fran has been at Manchester Law Society for 27 years where she started off as a Secretary.  Her role now as Chief Executive is to plan, resource and provide effective leadership to the organisation and to ensure that the business and strategic objectives are achieved.

Fran represents Manchester Law Society in its external relationships and is responsible for leading and managing the Manchester Law Society offices to deliver outstanding services to members and external stakeholders and to ensure that the Society’s brand and image is enhanced and maintained.

Fran says “My hobbies are my lovely Spanish husband, Peter, my hormonal adolescent 19 year old son, Jack (aka Kevin), walking the dog, gardening but only in the summer, shopping (NOT window), cooking for friends, reading when I get a minute, trying to ride my motorbike (but am a fair weather rider and only when I can fit into my leathers!) and very sadly, reality tv shows”.


Michael Di Paola

Michael is a co-founder of award-winning brand agency, Studio North, having started the business over 13 years ago in Manchester city centre.

Today, Michael is well-known right across the region’s business community for connecting people and ideas, having masterminded a multitude of branded networks and regular popular events, such as the entirely peerless TwitFaced and more recently Freshwalks. With his unmistakable charisma and commercial nous, Michael can always be found leading from the front with the purpose of bringing together like-minded souls, and having fun at the same time.

In addition to these ventures, this proud and distinctive Mancunian is an efficacious ambassador for the Forever Manchester charity, has been an integral member of the Creative Pro.Manchester committee and sits on the Employer Advisory Board at Manchester Creative Studio.

He was selected as a member of Insider’s prestigious 42 Under 42 list in 2012 and was recognised as the inaugural Man of the Year in 2013 by Downtown Manchester in Business. Peer Index ranked Michael as the most influential Manchester businessperson on Twitter in 2014.

Over the past year, Michael has used his own life and business experiences to successfully mentor other business owners, start-ups and younger candidates looking for their own industry breakthrough opportunity.

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Alan Townley

Alan Townley, is the Commercial Manager at The Business Desk. Born and bred in Manchester, he has been a recognised face in the professional community for the last 10 years. With a true passion for all things Mancunian Alan can’t wait to get stuck into selecting the finest talent for the MYTA awards.

By day Alan looks after projects with The Business Desk that will include digital advertising, seminars and round table discussions within a professional services client base with a focus on growth of the business and services on offer. By night (or just outside of work) Alan is a proud ambassador of Forever Manchester with a keen interest in golf and anything Manchester United.

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Kieran Lawton

Kieran is a corporate finance director at BDO LLP, the international accountancy and business advisory firm. For the last ten years, he has specialised in mergers & acquisitions, private equity transactions and refinancings, focusing on mid-market deals in the £10m-300m value range. Kieran has extensive expertise in the leisure and hospitality sector, particularly with restaurant and bars. He has completed numerous transactions in the sector (for example the buy-outs of Gusto and The Alchemist, both from Manchester-based Living Ventures), has had a number of sector articles published and has a leading role in BDO’s national initiatives.

Born on the Fylde Coast in the holiday capital of Europe, Kieran moved to Manchester in 2006 after studying at the University of Newcastle and spending almost five years in London. He is a staunch advocate of Manchester and what it has to offer, and will take any opportunity to promote the city and its people. He sits on the pro.Manchester committee by virtue of winning Young Corporate Financier of the Year and the Chairman’s Rising Star Award at the Made in Manchester Awards, so is thrilled to be involved with the MYTAs as he has seen first-hand how winning an award at a young age can positively impact your career. Kieran is also on the judging panel for the Northern Restaurants and Bars ‘Top 50’ Awards and in addition to this, he took part in ‘Can You Sing Manchester?’, where he wowed the crowds with his incredible rendition of Bobby Darren’s ‘Mack the Knife’ and, along with the other contestants, helped to raise over £26,000 for charity in the process. A true adopted Mancunian!