Helen King, non-executive director of Vanarama, on stage collecting The Sunday Times NED award
Helen King, non-executive director (NED) of Vanarama, on stage collecting The Sunday Times NED award
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In a closely-fought category, made up of exemplary nominees, Helen’s hands-on approach and strong focus on risk processes, recruitment and business innovation made her the standout winner among the judges this year

HELEN King, non-executive director of Vanarama, the UK’s largest independent van leasing broker, has won The Sunday Times Non-Executive Director (NED) Award for the Unquoted/Private Equity Backed category.

The trophy, which was presented to Helen during a ceremony at Claridge’s, London, is awarded for an individual’s influence across media, politics, company boardrooms and all aspects of corporate governance and recognises the achievements of non-executive directors within business.

Helen, who acts as adviser and confidante to Vanarama, while also being responsible for recruitment strategy and HR processes, fought off 1,219 other applicants across the five categories to be the only female winner of the night.

This award marks the continued success of Vanarama after the company was crowned UK SME Business of the Year at the Lloyds National Business Awards and came 27th in The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For 2016.

The annual awards, which are celebrating their 10th anniversary this year, aim to recognise the achievements of non-executive directors who contribute daily to the success and growth of businesses and Not-for-Profit organisations across the UK.

To be eligible for the award, Helen had to demonstrate excellence in a number of areas through a rigorous and competitive application process involving in-depth forms and an interview by the sponsor of the category.

Helen won over the non-executive directors of Visa Europe, Dot Net Solutions, The Rigby Group and Blue Forest.

The NED Awards say: “In a closely fought category, made up of exemplary nominees, Helen’s hands on approach and strong focus on risk processes, recruitment and business innovation made her the standout winner among the judges this year.

“As NED of Vanarama for the past eight years, Helen brought invaluable PLC knowledge to the Board, which she garnered from her rapid rise through the ranks at both Thomson Newspapers and Johnston Press.

“A deserved winner, Helen was described by the Judges as “deeply involved” and “passionate” about the business and its staff, “making a huge difference both internally and externally, helping to increase profitability in the business from £250,000 in 2012 to over £2.5m in the last financial year.”

Helen said: “I am thrilled to have won The Sunday Times NED award and proud to be representing women in business. However, this award isn’t about me but as a mark of the success of Vanarama and the great service the business provides to its customers and the way they help to truly empower their employees.”

Andy Alderson, founder and CEO of Vanarama, says: “Helen has and will continue to play a huge part in the success of the business but also, in the personal development of many of our people. I am so delighted that Helen has been recognised for her achievements.

“Up until now our main business has been commercial vehicle leasing, which only represents 11% of new vehicle registrations. In late 2014 the board decided on a strategy to grow the business by expanding into the passenger car leasing market.

“In contrasting views to my own, Helen was of the opinion, having been involved in a (subsequently failed) due diligence process, that we were more than capable of breaking into this sector under our own steam, without the need for acquisition.

“Under her deep strategic analysis of the car leasing market, we launched Vanarama Cars last August and are confident that our budget projection for 2016 of 2,500 car leasing units is wholly achievable.”

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