By Claire West

Phil Smith, CEO of Cisco UK & Ireland, has been shortlisted for the Orange Leader Award at this year’s National Business Awards in partnership with Orange. Smith is a recognised champion of technology and innovation, with a 30-year track record in the ICT industry, advising leading global organisations in the private and public sector on how to drive transformation, productivity and sustainable growth.

He will go up against four other commendable leaders: Paul Grimwood, CEO of Nestlé UK; Dame Barbara Stocking, CEO of Oxfam; Paul Drechsler, CEO & Chairman of Wates Group; and Helena Morrissey, CEO of Newton Investment Management.

Phil Smith, CEO, Cisco UK & Ireland, said: “I am delighted to have been nominated for the Orange Leader Award. The National Business Awards provide an amazing platform to celebrate excellence in British business, from thriving entrepreneurs to global corporations, across a range of sectors. To be recognised for my achievements and experiences within the IT industry and at Cisco, with the likes of the other high-calibre candidates, is truly an honour.”

The ultimate winner of the award will be decided by a public vote, which opens today, as well as a judging panel of senior executives who will review video interviews of the candidates at a screening on 18th October where they will vote in a secret ballot. Judges include James Leigh-Pemberton, UK CEO of Credit Suisse; Sir William Sargent, CEO of Framestore; Kanya King, CEO of the MOBO Organisation; and Clare Parsons, Chairman of Lansons Communications. The winner will be revealed at the National Business Awards ceremony in London on 13th November 2012.

This award recognises the personal imprint of the UK’s most high-profile leaders on the culture and success of their organisations — with five high-profile CEOs invited to participate as champions of their respective industries. Besides their achievements as business leaders over the last 18 months, and what they have achieved in the course of their career, this year’s finalists are also respected thought-leaders. Previous winners of the award have included Ruby McGregor-Smith, CEO, MITIE Group (2011); Martin McCourt, former CEO, Dyson (2010); and Peter Marks, CEO of the Cooperative Group (2009).

The National Business Awards in partnership with Orange has revealed over 150 of Britain’s leading businesses and business leaders as finalists overall. Organisations shortlisted include a range of private, public and third-sector companies, including National Grid, Marks & Spencer and London Early Years Foundation.

Alex Evans, Programme Director of the National Business Awards, said: “Presenting five inspirational styles of leadership that have driven exceptional performance, each of the five CEOs shortlisted for Orange Leader of the Year has also demonstrated impact beyond their organisation — whether it’s as a champion of innovation, responsible business or diversity.”