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grahic figure crossing the race line

Creating Competitive Advantage

07 Feb 2017
Institute of Directors, London

Strategies for success in changing markets

There has never been a more important time for business leaders to be agile. But how do you stay ahead of the pack when the economic environment is global, ultra-competitive and in a state of flux?

At this conference you will hear from the innovators and experts who can help to turn you into a trend expert and equip both you and your business with the right tools to gain a competitive advantage.

What is ‘creating competitive advantage’ and why does it matter?

Until recently, having a competitive advantage over your rivals meant running an enticing customer loyalty scheme. But today, when a small San Francisco car service can radically transform the global taxi industry in just five years, offering unique value is more important than ever. Success is no longer down to talent, luck or a charismatic CEO.

Instead brave business decisions, tapping into the zeitgeist, having an innovative outlook and being able to anticipate trends through environmental scanning and data analysis are more effective business tools.

This conference will not only present compelling examples of companies that created a competitive advantage, but will also provide plenty of take-home advice for business leaders of established and fledgling companies.

Why you must attend

  • Develop a forward-thinking strategy - Why have the likes of Gillette, easyJet and Dyson all prospered but Motorola and Kodak failed? Learn how to think four steps ahead and respond with greater agility to trends.

  • Cutting-edge insight from the experts - Hear from the thought leaders and innovators who can help you to redefine the way you think and get more value from the data at your disposal.

  • Become a trend expert - Anticipate trends and set new goals to put your business one step ahead of the competition.

  • Plus… Collect a free copy of Creating Competitive Advantage - by Kevin Uphill, founder and chairman of Avondale.

Read more about the Creating Competitive Advantage book here

Key details

Date & time: 07 Feb 2017 09:00 - 17:00
Location: Institute of Directors, London
CPD Hours:

Prices from

288.75 GBP + VAT - Chartered directors
288.75 GBP + VAT - Fellows
385.00 GBP + VAT - Member rate
485.00 GBP + VAT - Non-member rate

Event manager:
Laura Jumnoodoo
Contact phone:
0207 766 8919
Contact email:

Who should attend

Business owners, leaders, directors and entrepreneurs interested in leadership trends, developing a forward-looking strategy and building the right business for the market.


9.30am- 9.35am

Chair opening - scene setting

9.35am- 10.05am


Some people ‘intuitively’ see better what is coming, accessing and combining experience, research and knowledge to anticipate future demand. Today, your customers want faster and better products, support and services, and they want them delivered on their terms.

  • Rapid changing global markets
  • The acceleration singularity
  • Boundless opportunity requires more focus
  • How and why you can be better


Leadership in dynamic markets is not gravitas. Its vision, grit and determination. How do you and your organisation build a business around a vision ahead of others to create transformational success? 

  • The difference between leaders and management
  • Why leadership is about being ahead
  • Only those who learn continuously will experience better opportunities tomorrow
  • Creating permission, time and space to think
  • Making meaning/purposefulness for money 


Being able to compete in a data driven world has never been more complicated. Realising the benefits of technology need no longer be a challenge for your IT department. In the world of Cloud and Machine Learning, an organisation has the ability to innovate and work at a velocity that creates competitive advantage.

  • Digital Disruption - is it over yet?
  • How information and data can help your decision making
  • Why a corporate culture trumps strategy - a peek into Google
  • How you could/should be working today - a world without IT



Paper based exercise to be completed at tables with Avondale business strategists dropping in & out to discuss.  10 minute discussion at the end.



Thinking four moves ahead. How can today’s leaders create simplicity from complexity in order to set and navigate organisations in the right direction?  Also, the role of mergers and acquisitions in strategy.

  • What is business strategy and why is it different to planning
  • The place for strategy despite the need for agility
  • Shareholder value
  • Mergers and acquisitions


Advantage is usually found in businesses where the attitude of ‘we will do what is right’, as opposed to ‘what we like or are used to doing’. This is very difficult to achieve and requires leaders to constantly identify, reward and encourage entrepreneurs - the innovators within the businesses - and promote managers who create adaptable teams.

  • Why evolution is essential
  • The vested interest of the status quo
  • Giving permission to fail to enable success
  • Creating an agile team driven culture
  • Team driven evolution
  • Google case study or similar

The concept of business design is essentially for the leaders to audit every component of the business and ask whether it is right for where you or where the market is going.

  • Business Models
  • Infrastructure
  • Distribution
  • Brand
  • Creating a mantra- communicating authenticity


Paper based exercise to be completed at tables with Avondale business strategists dropping in & out to discuss.  10 minute discussion at the end.




There are far too many businesses that are doing the same thing in the same way and not particularly well; why is this and how can we stand ahead. How business winners are made not born.

  • Define yourself by the benefit you give not the product
  • Change is a constant
  • Game changing
  • Decisive action 
  • The future is owned by the brave
  • Focus




Host: James Sproule, Chief Economist and Director of Policy, IoD

James Sproule has been Chief Economist and Director of Policy for the Institute of Directors since January 2014. Prior to joining the IoD James lead Accenture’s UK Research and global Capital Markets Research where he focused on Thought Leadership. He started his financial career as a merchant bank economist working with both Bankers Trust, Deutsche Bank and Dresdner Kleinwort, and eventually helped to found the boutique bank Augusta and Company. Before embarking on a career in economics, James was a signals officer in the Royal Navy.

Mark Baldwin, Business Strategist, Avondale

Mark graduated with an MBA and became the preferred strategy consultant for the Government’s Business Link developing the UK’s most promising SME. When business link was cut Mark moved into a Japanese Multi-national corporation where he led the UK Sales Division, advised on the Global CRM strategy and designed the European marketing strategy across vertical and horizontal propositions. In addition, he structured a new division which led the way in developing a strategy to sell innovative technologies incorporating the internet of things and beacon technology.

He joined Avondale to head up the strategy practice where he advises an eclectic mix of companies on strategic M&A’s, management practices and business development. He has a proven track record of creating and implementing business strategies resulting in significantly increased shareholder value.

Andrew Lund, Strategic Customers Lead, Google CloudAndrew Lund Google

Andrew Lund works within Google UK operation. Google Cloud aims to enhance Google's services to make them truly useful within an organisation. Andrew’s passion lies in working with organisations to help them succeed at cultural change, process simplification and digital transformation through cutting-edge cloud based technology. Andrew is responsible for business development within large business services organisations at Google Cloud. Prior to joining Google in 2012, Andrew worked for 20 years in business development and operational management roles for technology companies including Xerox, BT Global Services and Microsoft. Andrew has worked and lived in many different international locations including Moscow, Istanbul and Munich.

Graham Wilson, Leadership Expert and Author

Graham Wilson is quite literally leading his way to the top; he is the “go to” person for Leadership Development. Described as the UK’s version of Brendon Burchard he is working with global brands, British institutions and some of the most successful CEO’s in the UK and Internationally. He has started a leadership revolution and he wants the world to join him!

Through his award-winning business, Successfactory™, Graham Wilson has been at the forefront of leadership development, imparting his wisdom for over 25 years. Through a realistic and pragmatic approach, he makes the complex simple with his content, teaching methods and proven knowledge constantly evolving to adapt to our ever-changing world. 

Kevin Uphill, Avondale

Kevin enables business owners to enhance equity value, maximise business sales and acquisitions via mentoring. Working with his team he is also a successful lead dealmaker through his professional practice Avondale and has facilitated the sale and purchase of over 400 companies.  As well as being an accomplished business strategist he runs a series of thought provoking, content rich and inspirational keynote speeches, seminars and master classes regularly endorsed internationally for creating business growth and transaction success.

He combines experience, vision and the ability to simplify business complexities with infectious energy to inspire audiences and make him the most regarded and sought out business value growth, business sales, mergers and acquisitions expert.   In 2015 and 2016 Kevin was awarded “UK Game Changer of the Year” by ACQ Magazine for his outstanding work in business transformation. 

Chris Barlow, Business Strategist, Avondale

Chris’s multi-sector experience has equipped him well for his role as a board and MD mentor. After university he started life as an engineer in North Sea exploration for BP and following the oil-price collapse of 1986 went into large enterprise sales for IBM. From here he led the management buy-in of IGS - an IBM agent/software house specialising in the hospitality industry - and as joint owner-MD grew it by acquisition of two competitors. After accepting an unsolicited offer for the company Chris went into the hotel and leisure business. Starting with one hotel in 1995, he grew this by acquisition into a group of three hotels with a golf course, health spas and restaurants which he sold in 2007. Since then Chris has worked as an NED/mentor in a range of different businesses combined with voluntary work in the education sector.

Mike Symes, Chief Executive, Financial Marketing Limited

Mike Symes is Chief Executive of Financial Marketing Limited, the multi-award winning, specialist marketing and branding agency. Mike is a renowned branding strategist and marketing author, with an intimate knowledge of bringing the fight to the competition. A classically educated marketer, Mike’s move into financial services saw him rise quickly to become head of communications for Woodchester Cre´dit Lyonnais, where he set up their in-house agency, then ultimately to become Marketing Director of Bank of New York Financial, before starting his own group of agencies. Mike has a passion for branding and communications, drawing on over 25 years’ top-level experience in transforming organisations and building iconic brands. 


Avondale Logo

Whatever your next strategic move – business growth, acquisition or exit – careful preparation and expertise is critical to success. By employing a specialist, you can significantly increase value on exit and return on investment when acquiring.

For nearly 25 years, Avondale has created and maximised business sales, acquisitions and shareholder value – exceeding projected values for hundreds of businesses.

The IoD Business Sales, Acquisitions and Strategy Service, provided by Avondale, offers members:

  • 10% discount on all fees
  • Free strategy meeting
  • Value BuilderTM (as appropriate for business sales only)
  • Free initial business valuation (for business sales only)
  • Confidential advice line


Prices from

288.75 GBP + VAT - Chartered directors
288.75 GBP + VAT - Fellows
385.00 GBP + VAT - Member rate
485.00 GBP + VAT - Non-member rate


  • Institute of Directors
  • Institute of Directors
  • 116 Pall Mall
  • London
  • SW1Y 5ED

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