Sue Tilley has received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the East Midlands Chamber’s Enterprising Women Awards.
The LLEP’s Head of Business, Innovation and Partnerships was presented with the prize in front of a packed audience at Winstanley House in Leicester.
Before announcing the recipient, sponsor Bhavin Ghandi, of Leicester-based Paradigm Wills and Legal Services, outlined Sue’s 45-year career, paying tribute to her time both in the private and public sectors.
Guests and sponsors heard how Sue’s career began in 1978 as an entrepreneur, establishing, growing and selling her own Leicester-based textiles company specialising in uniforms and corporate clothing.
After selling the business to a larger company, Sue worked for several years in corporate business development and sales, relocating to Bristol before returning to Leicestershire in 2007.
It was at this time that Sue switched her business leadership skills and experience to the public sector, spending three years as Head of Inward Investment for Prospect Leicestershire, which launched in 2009 as a new economic development company set up by the Leicester City Council and Leicestershire County Council.
In 2011, Sue took up the same role at the newly-founded LLEP, where she remains today as its Head of Business, Innovations and Partnerships.
Throughout her career, Sue has been a passionate advocate for women in leadership roles, using her own positions to provide opportunities to others.
She has also led a business growth and innovation agenda, engaging with senior figures from industry, business and public sector to get the best deal for Leicestershire.
Accepting the award, Sue paid tribute to the region’s SMEs as drivers of regional growth:
“I’m absolutely stunned and so very proud and appreciative of the acknowledgement.
“I care passionately about women in business and I know how hard it is.
“In 1978 I started my own business cutting out garments on the floor of my living room, ultimately the company outgrew my capabilities but I’ve been on that journey, having a startup and SME that went on to become a PLC and I now work in the public sector.
“I truly understand the challenges that entrepreneurs face.
“I’m so proud of you all – you fuel the economy, you are brilliant, and just keep going.”
Hundreds of people enjoyed the event, which was hosted by ITV Central’s Emma Jesson.
A number of Leicester and Leicestershire businesses were recognised on the evening.
Enterprising Women co-chair Eileen Perry MBE DL said:
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“Throughout her career, Sue has been a passionate advocate for women in leadership roles, using her own positions to provide opportunities to others.
“She has also led a business growth and innovation agenda, engaging with senior figures from industry, business and public sector to get the best deal for Leicestershire.”