Enterprise Vision AwardsHelen Baker
It’s official! We’ve got the vision!
Hydraulics Online Co-founder, Helen Tonks has been shortlisted in the 2018 Enterprise Vision Awards and recognised for her role in leading a company that excels globally in an online marketplace.
Enterprise Vision Awards recognise women in business in the North West of England. Our Co-founder and Operations Director, Helen Tonks, has been shortlisted in this year’s awards in the ‘Online Business’ category.
Helen was surprised when she heard back in May that her name had been put forward for the awards by an anonymous nomination. What followed was then an intense submission process in which Helen described the Hydraulics Online back story and achievements to date before sharing her future vision for the business.
Now, Helen has received the wonderful news that the judging panel have recognised her contribution to our growth to date and her future vision for Hydraulics Online.
Helen says, “I’m absolutely delighted to have been nominated for this award and selected as a finalist – it’s not something I would ever have put myself forward for but, having been given the push, I am really excited about the platform this award gives me and all the other nominees and the further recognition it might bring.”
Following the awards that Hydraulics Online picked up at the end of 2017 and earlier in 2018, our Operations Director has already been enjoying some exciting new opportunities.
It began after winning the South Cheshire Chamber of Commerce International Trader of the Year award, judged by a team from Manchester Metropolitan University’s Business School. The judges later asked Helen to speak to their students to share with them details of our global marketing strategy and experience trading in the UK and internationally as a business development case study.
“I’m a huge believer in paying it forward,” says Helen, “and speaking to the students at MMU was a great opportunity to inspire the business women and men of the future – and for them to inspire me and keep me on my toes too!” Since then, Hydraulics Online has opened its door to students to undertake their workplace learning placements with us, with one student – Artur – returning for an extended paid work placement after his studies were finished.
Jane Jones, from MMU’s Centre for Enterprise, met Helen in the first quarter of 2018 when Helen accepted an invitation to take part in MMU’s SMART Cheshire Innovation Programme.
Helen’s participation on the programme didn’t just benefit Hydraulics Online, as Jane was keen to point out, “We work with thousands of SMEs. As such, we have the benefit of experiencing business leads from all shapes sizes of firms. Occasionally we work with someone who really excites us with their vision, energy and strategic clarity. Helen is one of those rare individuals and we have learned so much about what we do from seeing how she applies the techniques we are teaching.”
Winning the title of North West Business Exporter of the Year at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in March has opened more doors for Hydraulics Online. Helen already had a close working relationship with the Department for International Trade (DIT) locally, but in April she was invited to participate in a ministerial roundtable lunch with Baroness Fairhead – Minister of State for Trade and Export Promotion at the DIT – ahead of the Heads of Commonwealth Summit; promoting small business engagement with the Government’s Industrial Strategy and discussion on trading in the Commonwealth., as part of the International Business Festival 2018 in Liverpool in June, Helen was asked to deliver a keynote speech on day one of the main festival programme. Helen’s presentation, within the FSB’s “Destination Export – Small Businesses as Strategic Exporters” event, was very warmly received.
In attendance was Russell Towlson from the DIT in Poland, who reached out after the event to say, “Helen, you made a very inspirational presentation to the assembled FSB members and guests. The passion with which you told your story was infectious! Truly great to hear how you challenged the status quo to create a global specialist e-commerce solution provider to a diverse customer base from nowhere. Your mantra of putting the customer first is often heard but clearly you succeeded. Good luck with the bright future you have created for your clients and your company!”
Helen was then back at the International Business Festival in its second week to participate in the “How to do Business with the Commonwealth” panel discussion as part of the Diversity and Inclusion Conference.
She has even found time to inspire the pupils at her local Primary School – taking part in a challenging interview alongside Mark by Seabridge student radio reporters.
Helen says, “It is so exciting to be asked to share the Hydraulics Online story to inspire this and the next generation of business leaders. Our journey from a start-up operating from a spare desk at home to a globally trading business seems to really strike a chord with people, and sharing the lessons that Mark and I have learnt along the way is a great way to put our knowledge to good use. What’s so exciting about the Enterprise Vision Awards is the new platform it will give to share our knowledge and vision and pay it forward even further.”
Find out more about the awards: https://www.enterprisevisionawards.co.uk
Find out more about Helen here