Jo_Hand_WIN_AwardREIGNING North East Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Jo Hand is ready to hand over her crown at this week’s glittering awards ceremony.

The recruitment boss received the top accolade at the Women Into the Network (WIN) Awards last November and is part of the judging panel for this year’s event.

And after seeing how thorough the judging process is, she is even more delighted to have picked up the award last year.

Jo said: “Being part of the panel this time was a real eye opener. The calibre of the judges was unbelievably high as was the calibre of candidates and the process is extremely meticulous.

“Looking at the entries this year has showed yet again what fantastic female entrepreneurs we have in this region and I’m really looking forward to going back to the awards this time around.”

The ceremony takes place on Saturday, November 15th at the Hilton Hotel in Gateshead. It follows the Women Into the Network (WIN) Annual Conference at Northumbria University, which takes place the previous day, and will feature Jo giving a talk on Inspiring Females in Business. Jo’s speech will be about how to stand out from the competition in business.

Jo had not even considered entering her business for the award until she met WIN chairwoman Nickie Gott who encouraged her to put forward an application.

Jo laughed: “I put it off and Nickie kept nudging me to do it and eventually I got round to filling in the application form. I must say I probably spent more time making excuses not to do it than it actually took to fill out the application form. It probably only took half-an-hour.

“I looked at the category and thought I would just apply for the Small Business of the Year Award. However Nickie read my application and said she thought it was outstanding and wanted me to change my category to the main award, which is the Susan Dobson Memorial Award for North East Female Entrepreneur of the Year.

“I genuinely thought I had no chance of winning. My Team came along with me for the evening and we had a thoroughly great night. When my name was read out in the final award of the night I was absolutely stunned. The calibre of businesses I was up against was unbelievable.”

Jo set up the business from home nine years ago, building up her client base and reputation and now has an established office in Albert Road with a team of 10 staff, many of whom have been with her for a number of years. Jo Hand Recruitment works with more than 500 companies across the North East and beyond.

She said: “We are in a heavily saturated market, there are more than 100 recruitment companies in the Tees Valley alone. However I have been told on many occasions that we have a really good name as being an excellent, fair and honest company to work with and that we have a real personalised approach which separates us from the competition. That’s what brings in the clients and the business, the personalised brand built on excellent communication, strong service, and quality.

“Winning the award was so powerful for us. It is validation to yourself, your staff and your clients that you’re a good company to do business with.”