Allyson Stewart-Allen headshot

A conversation with Allyson Stewart-Allen, lead judge of the Department for International Trade Exporter of the Year Award

Our expert judges are a crucial component of our Awards, and each make The Lloyd’s Bank British Business Excellence Awards stand out as different from the rest. Each of our judges are handpicked based on their experience and wealth of knowledge in their respective sectors; Allyson Stewart-Allen, the lead judge of the Department for International Trade Exporter of the Year Award, really embodies this.

The category Allyson judged is in partnership with the Department for International Trade and sought to target great ambassadors for British business abroad, as well as companies that have achieved the highest and most sustainable levels of international growth through exporting. With Allyson’s extensive knowledge of overseas markets, she was a winning fit for the judging process for this category.

To really gain an insight into our lead judge’s perspective of the business world and the awards process itself, we spoke to Allyson to tell us her expert views of business and her experience of being involved in The Lloyds Bank British Business Excellence Awards. Here’s everything she had to say!

Q. Who are you and what do you do?

“I am an expert in international business, and I do three things. One of the things I do is advise companies on how to crack an overseas market by way of expanding in it, entering it, and leaving it. My specialist subject for mastermind is working with Americans and I am an author of a book of that name. A lot of the work I do is about helping to interpret the US for companies trying to expand there.

“The second thing I do is create better business leaders and I do that through creating leadership education programs for senior people, who know whatever they are doing now could be better. I work with a range of companies in a range of industries; everything from luxury goods, to pharmaceuticals, to banking and law firms, engineering, business, food and drinks companies – all sorts!

“The third thing I do is TV, radio, print and speaking. I’m a broadcaster for a number of TV and radio outlets as a commentator on international business stories.”

Q. What was your role in BBEA?

“My role was to be the lead judge in the Exporter of the Year category and what I did was join the other judges to review and meet the shortlisted finalists and then agree on the winner!”

Q. What is special about BBEA that makes you want to be a part of it?

“There are a lot of reasons! One reason it’s special is because there really isn’t another award in the UK, to my knowledge, that recognises British industry on the range of categories that exist. BBEA is unique because of, well, a couple of reasons. For one, it’s the Lloyd’s Bank sponsorship as well as other sponsor who believe in the future of British industry, but also the number of applications across the number of categories that exist.

“I think BBEA is important because British companies don’t celebrate their successes enough. I am amazed at the incredible innovation and creativity in the UK, in business. Whether it’s in start-ups, exporters, ESG, corporate purpose or community programs, it’s an incredible richness and more companies should take the time to pat themselves on the back.”

Q. Is there anything you want to add about your experience with BBEA this year?

“I think what stood out from my category was the quality of applications – it’s incredible. I was involved in last year, which was the first year of the awards, and while the quality of the applications was still high, there seems to be a significant step change from last year in terms of the calibre of companies this year.”

Q. Do you think businesses need to do more? Is there more to running a business now?

“Yeah, I think it’s harder now. Covid has meant that companies have to be a little more thoughtful and inclusive in how they lead people. They can’t mandate Monday-Friday 9-6, you have to be in the office, because it’s not working and people are quitting, because you can’t lead that way, it doesn’t work anymore. Covid has changed the way leaders and companies need to keep the people they’ve got and get more people.”

Q. How do you think BBEA can help businesses grow?

“The British Business Excellence Awards can indirectly help companies to grow because they’re being recognised. It gives them a point of difference and a platform to celebrate internally but also to tell their customers, clients, investors and all the other players that effect their success. It’s giving them something to say that’s positive and we could really do with a lot more positive news these days.”

Allyson has been a crucial cog in the workings of BBEA, having been a part of the journey from its first awards ceremony in 2021, after being chosen as a key figure in the business world. Allyson continues to work wonders in generating better leaders in business, being essential to the future of the industry – it’s been a pleasure to have her on board the BBEA journey.

We’re extremely excited to watch the awards grow and we will continue to propel year on year, to champion British business through our unique awards programme. It’s an honour to host and work with so many leaders in the business, who have so much knowledge to offer.