SA expat business leaders shine at awards evening

Sable Group’s Saskia Johnston talks about her experience at the 2013 SA Chamber of Commerce Business Awards. The awards recognise excellence within the South African business community in the UK and are always a highlight of the year.

If you happened to be out and about in central London last Thursday evening, you may have noticed an unusual amount of South Africans wondering around Tower Hill looking extremely lost – myself being one of them. We were all making our way to the annual South African Chamber of Commerce Business Awards, and the exits of Tower Hill tube station had proved to be rather confusing.

We all managed to eventually find the magnificent venue, Dexter House, situated inside the iconic Royal Mint Court. We were welcomed with an abundance of South African smiles and had a seemingly never-ending supply of biltong and droewors, much to our delight.

The evening kicked off with some time for open networking and, with 150 South Africans together, the room soon came alive. About half an hour after our arrival, we were shepherded to a hall, overlooking a beautifully lit garden, for the ceremony.

Mary-Anne Anderson, Chairperson of the SA Chamber of Commerce, began the proceedings and welcomed everybody. She showed off her South African roots with a beautiful traditional Zulu hat. The MC for the evening, CEO of Saracens Edward Griffiths, was introduced and took over to present the much anticipated awards.

Sable Group’s own CEO, Reg Bamford, was the first to speak to announce the prestigious Business Leader of the Year. The nominees were Linford Andrews and Mark Jankovich, both big names in the London business community with long lists of accomplishments. The room was silent as Reg opened an envelope to reveal Mark as the Business Leader of the Year.

Mark received his prize to applause and then the awards continued. Karine Torr won Entrepreneur for the Year, Mark Warren took home Innovator of the Year, Rising Star of the year went to Kurt Won, and Shannon Constancon deservedly received the award for Woman in Business of the Year.

Once all the awards had been handed out, we made our way back to the function room to enjoy some more biltong, wine and canapés.

The after party took place at Revolution, a club just down the road from Dexter House. The bravest of the attendees let Thursday evening turn into Friday morning …. some of us did not. All in all, it was a fabulous night with the South African Chamber of Commerce and Sable was proud to be able to sponsor such an auspicious occasion.