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The 2024 East Midlands Finance Awards: Our official recap

At Distinct, we believe the East Midlands is one of the best places in the UK to build a career. Given our Nottingham origins and extensive experience in finance recruitment, we may be a little biased, but we wanted to create an event to celebrate our vibrant finance community.

The East Midlands Finance Awards were created to recognise the many local legends working in finance each day. Despite being fundamental to any successful business, finance functions can sometimes fly under the radar, going without the applause they deserve. From exceptional leaders and accomplished teams to unsung heroes with bright futures, our goal has always been to give them their moment in the spotlight.

This year, on July 27th, Nottingham Contemporary hosted our awards ceremony. Guests enjoyed welcome drinks and street-style food before Alex Alcock, UK Strategy & Growth Director at Distinct and creator of the East Midlands Finance Awards, took to the stage. He introduced our inspiring guest speaker, Daniel James, owner of The Prime Life Project. James, a mindset and high-performance coach delivered a captivating talk titled “Thriving Through Adversity.”

After a short break, Alex was joined on stage by Henry Clarkson, Talent Acquisition Partner at Distinct. Together, they crowned the runners-up and winners of the 2024 East Midlands Finance Awards and then everyone danced the evening away to live music.

We’d like to extend a special thank you to our panel of judges

  • Anshu Mehan: Director, HSKSG Accountants, part of Dains Group
  • Cerys Moore: Senior Finance Officer, East Midlands Housing Group
  • Kirstine Archer: East Midlands Ambassador, NOVA Community 
  • Mark Gilbert: CFO & COO, Mondottica 
  • Robin Kiziak: Finance Controller, VF Corporation
  • Sarah Greaves: Senior Finance Business Partner, Lithia UK (formerly Pendragon) 
  • Wincent Kordula: CFO, St Matthews Healthcare

Congratulations to EMFA 2024’s runners-up and winners

Finance team of the year (less than 10 staff)

With entries from SME start-ups to functional teams in PLCs, our judges were particularly looking for those who demonstrated an exceptional impact on their business.

Winners: Rotherwood Group Ltd

Runners-up: P3 Charity (People Potential Possibilities)

P3’s team impressed the judges with their immense pride and dedication, going above and beyond by prioritising the needs of the organisation and its end users; even giving up their weekends to support during an emergency. 

Ultimately, Rotherwood’s team claimed the winning title, thanks to their extraordinary feedback. They supported a business in increasing profits by over 500% over 6 years and contributed significant ideas to areas beyond core finance, benefitting the wider business and its end users. 

“We are ecstatic to receive this award. It is a testament to our finance team’s hard work, dedication, and expertise. Their commitment to excellence and ability to provide robust financial support have been crucial to our success. This recognition motivates us to continue striving for excellence in everything we do.” – Tom Hutton, Chief Finance Officer, Rotherwood Healthcare.

Finance team of the year (more than 10 staff)

The judges noted that nominations for this award were of a significantly high calibre – demonstrating the positive impact finance teams can have when united toward a common business goal.

Winners: Nottinghamshire Police

Runners-up: Xylem Water Solutions

Our judges felt that both teams had undergone a transformational journey in recent years. Xylem demonstrated real unity, working as a close-knit group during a period of change. However, Nottinghamshire Police nudged ahead, particularly due to their team culture of ‘going home proud’, taking pride in their daily achievements whilst managing a very complex public budget.

“Nottinghamshire Police were honoured to be named the finance team of year (+10 staff) and for me, it was so great for the team to be acknowledged and recognised for the amazing work they do, a very proud moment indeed.” – Danny Baker, Head of Finance, Nottinghamshire Police.

Rising star

Open to individuals at any level, this category highlights those who have gone above and beyond, showing exceptional promise for their future finance careers. The judges were extremely complimentary about the nominees, noting their natural problem solving abilities and examples of fantastic initiative.

Winner: Natalie Yates, Experian

Runner-up: Casey Lawrence, Nottingham City Care Partnership

Both nominees were praised in our judges’ feedback for their steady career growth into senior positions. Casey’s passion for her work, her performance during a turbulent year and her ability to support her team were deemed “outstanding”. However, Natalie’s innovative “Power Hour” initiative, where her team delivers soft skills training to aid future development, was a key factor in her winning position. This proactive approach not only benefited their growing team but also the company as a whole. 

Unsung hero

This award recognises the person your team relies on to ensure everything runs well and who truly deserves a moment in the spotlight. The judges focused on individuals who went above and beyond their job descriptions to support and add value to their teams, colleagues and businesses as a whole.

Winner: Helen Evans, Molson Coors

Runner-up: Ketan Patel, Molson Coors

The judges were inspired by both nominees’ humility, kindness and determination to make their colleagues’ lives better – both professionally and personally. Ketan was noted as an integral part of Molson Coors’ finance culture, embodying the company’s value of “always there for you.” Helen clinched the winning title for her initiative in organising well-being events, with one final comment resonating with the judges – “we all need a Helen at work.”

“Receiving the ‘Unsung hero’ award at the East Midlands Finance Awards 2024 was a lovely surprise. Molson Coors Beverage Company is a place where everyone is valued for who they are and I believe this plays an important role in how I deliver great results #Betterwithyou. Thank you to my finance leadership team for the nomination, and to Distinct for creating the opportunity for recognition for the unsung heroes!” – Helen Evans, Senior Finance Business Partner, Molson Coors.

Finance leader of the year

Our judges were impressed by the diverse range of leaders from organisations facing various challenges. From driving transformation and growth to managing extremely tough financial circumstances and budgets, it was inspiring to hear how these leaders are making a positive impact on the East Midlands finance community.

Winner: Neil Musgrove, Experian

Runner-up: Bruce Burton, John Pye

Both nominees impressed our judges immensely. Bruce implemented a new Business Partnering model that significantly enhanced decision-making and successfully established finance as the “go-to place” for non-finance managers and directors; all while fostering an excellent workplace environment. 

Ultimately, Neil stood out to the judges for his people-centric approach, “supercharging” his team to achieve personal growth and exceptional results. His initiatives, such as identifying and capitalising on commercial opportunities, have consistently driven significant revenue and profit for the business.

“We were thrilled that our brilliant finance team was recognised for the contribution we make to the success of our business, and in helping to ensure that Experian is a great place for local finance talent to work.” – Neil Musgrove, Finance Director, Experian.

What attendees said about the 2024 East Midlands Finance Awards

This was our first time attending the EMFA, having been short-listed for the Finance team of the year >10 staff. We had a fantastic evening, the event was well organised and the venue was a great choice! We hope to be back again in the future!” – Emelie Fagrell-Elliott, Manager, Credit & Collections, Xylem Water Solutions.

“It was an absolutely brilliant evening and so well organised by Distinct. We had lots of fun and were able to celebrate all of the exceptional talent that the East Midlands region has to offer.“ – Danny Baker, Head of Finance, Nottinghamshire Police.

“It was fantastic to spend the evening with the East Midlands finance community, to celebrate and to hear about so many success stories across so many varied businesses and organisations.”  – Neil Musgrove, Finance Director, Experian.

During his final wrap-up, Alex Alcock commented: “It is a privilege to organise and host an event that, every year, never fails to deliver such a rich array of quality contributions from a fantastic range of individuals and organisations.”

Thank you to all who joined us for the 2024 East Midlands Finance Awards – we’re already looking forward to next year’s event! 


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