From Growth to Supergrowth

On Thursday 22 September 2016, we are hosting Cranfield VentureDay, our annual one-day conference and networking event for entrepreneurs, now in its ninth year.

The aim of the day is to bring together networks of CEOs, senior managers, alumni, supporters and advocates in order to:

  • Share thought leadership in the areas of business growth and entrepreneurship
  • Provide practical insights from experience and from experts in dealing with growth and entrepreneurship
  • Inspire new ways of thinking and working in business
  • Create new conversations between researchers, practitioners, CEOs and experts.

The Big theme for 2016 - 2017

The idea for the next two years is to develop a bold thematic line for Venture Day. We intend to start this with the theme of 'From Growth to Supergrowth'. This fits with our aspirations and the desire to build on the successful UK agenda around startup to scale up. We wish to build on the excellent reputation of the Business Growth & Development Programme (BGP) and hence the idea of taking from that and looking at how businesses can reset their aspirations and learn from firms, people and ideas for their own ventures.

The headline theme this year of From Growth to Supergrowth will be under pinned by keynote addresses by leading entrepreneurs and panel sessions to explore the specifics of how to turn your growth into supergrowth. There will also be some young businesses pitching for your investment and a networking zone.

Exciting keynote addresses are now confirmed 

2016 Entrepreneur Alumni of the Year, Jon Thornes MBE and József Váradi, Founder & CEO of Wizz Air

Jon Thornes MBE : The Cranfield Entrepreneur Alumus of the Year 2016

Jon Thornes MBE was brought up on a dairy farm in West Yorkshire, and has dedicated his working life to agriculture. He started working on the farm where he grew up, went on to study at agricultural college, before being marketing manager for a national dairy company, and later establishing the UKs largest school milk supplier serving milk to over one million children every day.

Jon has a thirst for investing in start-up companies and mentoring entrepreneurs, not just in agriculture, but also across the business spectrum and has several interests and projects in the field of IT.

In 2010, Jon was awarded an MBE for services to the voluntary sector. He also enjoys being a member of the Farmers Club, has been a director of Lincolnshire Enterprise, worked with the East Midlands Development Agency, as well as supporting other local committees and good causes.

Jon is committed to maintaining traditions and communities whilst embracing the best that technology and modern life has to offer. This includes having lovingly repurposed what was a dilapidated traditional watermill in Hungary into contemporary offices that now support the local economy, and building one of the “greenest” office buildings in the heart of Lincolnshire.

With vast experience in agriculture and a passion for digital technologies, Jon wants to facilitate more entrepreneurial thinking by working with enterprising people and supporting Cranfield business start-ups.

József Váradi : Founder & CEO, Wizz Air

József Váradi is the founder and CEO of Wizz Air, the largest low-cost airline in Central and Eastern Europe. The company’s low-cost leader strategy has transformed the airline from being one of the many start-ups in 2004 to one of the major European players today. Wizz Air has carried over 19 million passengers in the last 12 months and is well on track to continue its ambitious double-digit growth in the coming years. Currently the airline offers flights from 24 bases connecting 119 destinations across and beyond Europe. Wizz Air’s current fleet consists of 66 Airbus A320 and Airbus 321 aircraft, while it has 145 aircraft on order from the manufacturer, including the recently announced A321 NEO purchase, to be delivered over the course of the next decade. In early 2015 Wizz Air Holdings Plc carried out a successful IPO and was admitted to the London Stock Exchange. The Company's current market capitalization is around 3 billion euros.

Before conceiving the idea of Wizz Air, Mr Váradi led Malev Hungarian National Airline between 2001 and 2003. During his time as CEO, the company underwent a major turnaround program including organizational restructuring and a complete fleet renewal. The change resulted in a significant improvement of results, cutting losses by 80%. Prior to joining the airline industry, Mr. Váradi worked in the FMCG sector. He started his career at Procter & Gamble in 1991 as sales manager and moved up fast to become one of the company’s youngest executives by 1999. He left P&G as Sales Director for Global Customers, responsible for major clients throughout 11 European countries.

Mr. Váradi currently serves on the Board of Directors of Wizz Air Holdings Plc. In the last 10 years, he also held numerous board memberships with companies such as Lufthansa Technik Budapest (Supervisory Board, 2001-2003), Wizz Air Bulgaria (Chairman, Board of Directors, 2005-2009), Wizz Air Ukraine (Chairman, Board of Directors, 2008-2009), Mandala Airlines (Board of Commissioners, 2007-2011) and Wizz Tours (Chairman, 2015- ). Mr. Váradi graduated from the Budapest University of Economic Sciences and holds a Master’s Degree in Economics. He also obtained a Master of Laws from the University of London. He is married and has three sons.

Andrew Angus: Senior Lecturer in Economics, Cranfield University School of Management

Andrew has worked for the UK Government investigating potential mechanisms for lowering the economic burden of environmental regulation. His other research has focused on investment trends in clean technologies and the economic impacts of commodity price cycles. Andrew is also an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Exeter, where he is contributing to work on the spillover effects of small-scale energy generation projects.

Paul Bailey : Founding Partner & Managing Director, Bailey Fisher Executive Search

Paul Bailey is Founding Partner & Managing Director of Bailey Fisher Executive Search, an independent executive search firm specialising in building boards and management teams for high-growth companies in technology and life sciences.  In 2016, Paul was selected as one of the Maserati Top 100 UK entrepreneurs, in recognition of his work as a mentor and advisor to the next generation of entrepreneurs.  Paul has been a mentor and speaker at the Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning - Judge Business School University of Cambridge, and is a member of the steering committee of IdeaSpace, a co-working space for entrepreneurs in Cambridge.  Paul advises NESTA on impact investment, for life changing innovation run by outstanding UK entrepreneurs; and he co-founded, sponsored and supports the Perse Enterprise Conference, an initiative to encourage entrepreneurship amongst secondary school pupils in the Eastern region. Paul has been a mentor to many start-ups and early stage businesses in the Cambridge entrepreneurial ecosystem. He is also on the board of Cambridge Ahead, a business and academic member group dedicated to the long term growth of Cambridge and the region.

Debra Charles : CEO & Founder, Novacroft

After beginning her career in robotics and computing, where she saw the potential of technology to simplify complexity, Debra Charles founded Novacroft in 1998, with a vision to bring talented individuals together to embrace technology and innovation and change the way things are done for the better. Today, Novacroft is an award-winning smartcard programme and software development company helping clients such as Transport for London and the Royal British Legion get more for less and making life easier for all.   

Debra was a finalist in the 2012 NatWest Everywoman awards, before being named entrepreneur alumnus of the year by Cranfield University in 2013. She was a finalist for the Smith & Williamson Entrepreneur of the Year in the National Business Awards 2015.

Glenn Collinson : Director, Collinson

In 1998 Glenn co-founded Cambridge Silicon Radio Ltd (subsequently CSR Plc) as a start-up project and was a member of its board of directors from the outset that managed the growth of CSR through its listing as a public company in 2004 up until 2007, serving first as marketing director and then as sales director. During this period he led all of the sales and marketing activities. Glenn helped grow the company from an idea between the three founders in May 1998 to one that created the world’s first single radio silicon chip in 2000 and which dominated, with a 50% share, the Bluetooth chip market by 2004, reaching a market capitalisation of just over $3bn in the summer of 2006 and annual sales of $849m in 2007.

Glenn is a member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, and was part of the four person team at CSR that was awarded Royal Academy of Engineering MacRobert Award in 2005. He holds a BSc in Physics and an MSc in Electronics from Durham University (1984 and 1985), as well as an MBA from Cranfield University (1994).

Since 2005, Glenn has been a board member and advisor at technology companies in the UK and France and has served on 4 public company boards and 5 private company boards as a non-executive director. He is currently a non-executive director and remuneration committee chairman of Inside Secure SA (secure and contactless technology, in the south of France, listed on the Euronext main market), a non-executive director and remuneration committee chairman at SDL Plc (language translation and customer experience management services and software, listed on the LSE main market) and a non-executive director of privately held Blu Wireless Technology Ltd (60GHz wireless chip technology).

Stella Donoghue : Managing Director, Phlexglobal Group

Stella’s early career was in the Hotel industry.  She was the World Book “Young Entrepreneur of the Year” in 1984, awarded for setting up a restaurant at the age of 17.  Later, she qualified as a Chartered Accountant and held senior roles in several London hotels, including Finance Director at Claridge’s.

Following her MBA at Cranfield (2000), she established a business providing Finance Director services to SMEs.  In 2011, she led a private equity backed MBO to buy out one of her client companies, Phlexglobal Ltd (pharmaceutical services sector), and took on the role of Managing Director.  Having expanded the business into the US and Europe, she led a secondary PE backed buyout in 2014.  Stella will remain with the business until the next exit, at which stage she will return to a portfolio career.

Andy Harter - Chair : Cambridge Network and Founder & CEO, RealVNC

Dr Andy Harter is an innovator and entrepreneur, responsible amongst other things for VNC software which allows remote control of one computer screen from another.  The technology is on over two billion devices, is on more different kinds of computer than any other application and is an official part of the internet.

In 2002, together with Lily Bacon he invented crowdfunding and established RealVNC using it.  The company has received three Queen’s Awards for Enterprise and won the Royal Academy of Engineering’s MacRobert Award.  VNC continues to be disruptive, most recently in the automotive and semiconductor domains.

Before that, Andy was director of research and engineering at the influential AT&T Cambridge Laboratory and responsible for several ground-breaking technologies.  He has a PhD from the University of Cambridge where he is a Fellow of the Computer Laboratory and St Edmund’s College.  He is a Trustee of both the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Institution of Engineering and Technology and is Chair of Cambridge Network.

He was almost an organ scholar at Cambridge choosing instead to read maths and has been to some far flung parts of the world in a light aircraft.

Tim Jones : Chairman, Treatt

Chief Executive of the Allia Charitable Group and Chairman of Treatt Plc (LSE:TET), Tim also serves on the boards of Retail Charity Bonds Plc, SkillsBridge and Good Business Alliance.

Tim has worked on various boards and initiatives across the US, Middle East and Europe. Prior to joining Allia in 2002 he had established, built and sold two start-ups – Fraser-Milne in the UK and Strategic Trade & Distribution in Central Europe.

Tim is a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of International Bankers, an Associate of the Chartered Insurance Institute, an Entrepreneur in Residence and Mentor at Cambridge Judge Business School and a member of the Business School Advisory Board at Anglia Ruskin University.

Guy Rigby : Partner & Head of Entrepreneurs, Smith & Williamson

Guy is a highly regarded and well known personality in the entrepreneurial community, and currently leads the entrepreneurial services group at Smith & Williamson. His diverse career has taken him from chartered accountant to entrepreneur to author and now mentor and advisor to dynamic owner-managed businesses. He regularly contributes content and commentary for national and business press and sits on various judging panels for high profile business awards and growth programmes. Under Guy’s leadership, Smith & Williamson is fast becoming the ‘go-to accountancy firm’ for entrepreneurs. He has been listed as one of the top 50 movers and shakers in the financial world by Economia magazine (published January 2016), which is reflected in his involvement with the ‘Scale-Up Institute’ (member of the Finance & Risk Capital Committee), Founders4Schools (Trustee) and the Centre for Entrepreneurs (member of the Advisory Board).

Karim Sekkat : Chairman, Oxford Engineering

Karim was educated in Morocco, Germany and France and has continued to develop his thinking with financial and management courses like BGP at Cranfield. He started his first venture while at business school, followed a path in investment banking and held various board positions of private and public companies in the UK, France and Switzerland before going at it alone. Since 2003, Karim has pursued a European buy & build high investment strategy refocused into deleveraging prior to 2008 and has successfully managed growth, recession and portfolio diversification without losing sleep. He and his group received numerous awards including finalist at the National Business Awards for Entrepreneur of the Year and Business of the Year. He is a keen sportsman, race driver in the Ginetta G40 car series, licenced specialised skydiver, kite-surfer and ranked tennis player.

KAS Technologies Group

The KAS Technology Group holds over 40 years of engineering experience and achieves annualised sales of over £20 million with its 150+ employees. New standards were introduced for the protection of the environment and the expectations of a world-class business creating one of the top 10 UK contract manufacturers, specializing in lean manufacturing, supply chain management and precision engineering. The KAS Group has excellent long-term relationships with global, blue chip companies including the medical, oil and gas, aerospace, semi-conductor, Formula 1, nuclear, cryogenic, communications and pharmaceutical industries. The outstanding success of Oxford Engineering was recognised by Secretary of State for Trade & Industry who called it “a jewel in the crown of British Engineering” and is a MAS reference site for LEAN manufacturing.

Pierre Socha : Investment Manager, Amadeus Capital Partners

Pierre is Investment Manager of the early stage funds at Amadeus. He has a current investment focus on Digital Health, Medical Technologies, Internet of Things, Big Data, Cloud Computing and Cybersecurity. He is a non-executive director or observer on the boards of TrialReach, Qinec, Congenica and PhoreMost.

Pierre brings operational experience to the portfolios, having grown and turned around several life science businesses in Asia and Europe. Over a decade with biotech Avesthagen, he guided the group’s strategy and European activities, contributing to acquisitions, joint-ventures and exits. Pierre started his career as an auditor with KPMG in France. He subsequently worked as a financial engineer at Natixis and as a research fellow in health and urban microeconomics.

Pierre is French and holds an MSc in Environmental Economics (Hons. – SciencesEco) from Université de Provence, France and a BSc in Finance & Econometrics (Math Spe. – SciencesEco) from Université Louis Pasteur, France. He attended executive programs at Harvard, MIT and Stanford. Pierre speaks French and English and wants to believe he still understands German.

Amanda Tincknell : Chief Executive, The Cranfield Trust

The Cranfield Trust ( is the leading provider of free management advice and consultancy to charities in the social welfare field.  The Trust was set up in response to a challenge to Cranfield’s staff, students and alumni from HRH The Princess Royal, and now supports 300 charities a year with strategic consultancy projects, thanks to its 900 volunteers, many of them Cranfield alumni.  The Trust also supports charities with employment information and advice through its online service HRNet, and runs a series of masterclasses for charities around the country. 

Amanda joined the Trust as a volunteer shortly after her Cranfield MBA in 1989 and, as Chief Executive since 2000, has been responsible for its development into a national organisation.  She was awarded a CBE for services to the charitable sector in the New Year’s Honours List 2015 and was nominated by Cranfield as one of 100 Influential Leaders from AACSB Business Schools worldwide in 2015.

Robert Whittle : General Manager, Pidy UK Ltd

Robert runs the Pidy UK's office, part of a worldwide food manufacturing group servicing 52 countries around the world. He manages a team delivering pastry related goods to all sectors of the food industry and ensures that financial, administrational and marketing aspects of the business run in line with the business plans and group expectations.

He is able to instigate and manage change effectively to ensure sales and profit growth targets are exceeded and he strives to exceed customer expectations in terms of quality and delivery of first class professional customer service.

Robert has an outstanding track record of instigating, developing and implementing strategies for double digit growth and the development of brands in the foodservice, manufacturing, retail and lately the online sectors.

Robert has been actively involved with the food industry for 28 years, 5 years with United biscuits, a further 3 years with a small but fast growing food manufacturer known at the time as Concept Foods, 12 years setting up his own manufacturing site Foodafayre which he sold in 2009.  Robert then joined Pidy to run their UK business and act as advisor for group business.

Pidy manufacture ambient, long life, ready to fill pastry to the food industry in 52 countries. In the UK we are the pastry brand behind most of the own label goods pastry lines on the grocery/home baking section for most of the major multiples in the UK, operating in all sectors of the food industry, industrial, catering and in the past 5 years with the online sector.

Event Programme

08:30: Registration
15:45: Event closes with a drinks reception

Location and travel details

Please visit our Location page for travel details.

How to register

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