A successful entrepreneur who recently featured on a popular reality TV show has been crowned Businesswoman of the Year 2008.
Hilary Devey, founder, CEO and chairman of Pall-Ex Group, who was recently shown on Channel 4’s Secret Millionaire handing out money to good causes in Rochdale, beat five other candidates from the region to pick up the title at the Birmingham Metropole on Friday.
The event was hosted by ITV presenter Arti Halai and included keynote speeches from last year’s winner, Karren Brady, the managing director at Birmingham City FC, and Silla Maizey, head of corporate social responsibility at British Airways.
Born and raised in Bolton, Hilary founded Pall-Ex, a palletised freight distribution company based in Ellistown, Leicestershire, in 1996. Since then she has worked tirelessly in the male-orientated world to transform a small operation into a multi-million pound organisation with a purpose built hub and logistics centre and employing more than 200 people.
Hilary’s television appearance last month saw swap her luxurious house for a run-down council-flat in in the Lancashire town where she discovered a number of worthwhile projects in the area including Syke, a local community centre, to which she gave financial donations and enabled these projects to survive and flourish.
The Vitalise Businesswoman of the Year award aims to recognise the contribution women make to the economy, celebrating female talent, ability and achievement – all traits that the panel of judges felt were abundant in Hilary thanks to the nomination that was originally submitted by one of her directors.
Judy Groves, group marketing director at sponsor SCC and chair of the judging panel, said: “The success that Hilary has achieved and the sacrifices that she has made in order to ‘make-it’ are truly inspiring. She spotted an opportunity and had the vision and tenacity to develop her company in a relatively short time-span. Hilary reflects everything that this award stands for and she is a deserved winner.”
Sponsors Barclays, Jaguar, KPMG, SCC, Secantor, and Selfridges & Co all took part in the judging. The five others up for the award included Lesley Cowley, CEO at Nominet; Suzie Norton, CEO at Screen West Midlands; Karen Tirebuck, managing director at Tirebuck Career Solutions; Maxine Woolley, director at Casepak/Oceala Ltd and Sally Davis, managing director of group catering at NEC Group.