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East Midlands

In Conversation with Stephen Smith, Winner of Director of the Year SME - Medium Business 2019

28 Aug 2019


Stephen is Chief Executive and founder of EMB Group, a leading business services, risk management, cyber security and ISO certification company. His earlier career was in brand marketing with multinational corporations followed by general management roles in the greeting cards and logistics sectors, the latter as Managing Director of a high growth £134m pharmaceutical distribution business.

Stephen is also Chair and Pro Chancellor of the University of Derby, Vice Chair of RNN Group FE College and has significant current and past experience as a non-executive director, including Royal Crown Derby Museum Trust, British Chambers of Commerce, Princes Trust Regional Council, and North Northants Development Company.  He is a Fellow of the Institute of Directors (IOD) and twice IOD Director of the Year category winner, whilst EMB Group have been an Amazon Growing Business Awards finalist and recognised by the London Stock Exchange as one of the 1000 Companies to Inspire.

Q: Who inspires you the most in business?

One of my heroes is Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records, who started selling early Ska music to specialist London record stores from the back of his Mini.  He subsequently built Island into a major label which included landmark artists such as Bob Marley, Free, Cat Stevens and U2, combining commercial success with artist freedom. 

Q: What advice would you give to your younger self? 

Stay ambitious and resilient, look where you can add value and make a difference, always get the best possible team around you.

Q: How did it feel to win an IoD Director of the Year Award?

It felt great to be recognised by such a well-respected professional body for all the hard work and effort both myself and our terrific team have put into our success.

Q: What are your three key values in life?

Do what you say you’re going to do and do it well, enjoy life as you’re only here once,  a small act of kindness costs little or nothing and goes a long way.


You can read about all winners of the 2019 IoD East Midlands Director of the Year Awards in our Summer Magazine below.

Read here.

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