As a chartered accountant, he was a founding partner of his practice Winburn Glass Norfolk (‘WGN’) in 1975, but he has spent many years nurturing fledgling businesses and has a particular passion for supporting the growth of small and medium sized enterprises, or SMEs.
Colin was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration for his significant contribution to industry and commerce.
Speaking before his ceremony, Colin said: “I’m very proud to be awarded this honorary doctorate, especially as it’s from my home town university with whom I have a very good relationship. I’m humbled to think after a fairly long career that I’ve been honoured in this way.”
He said that highlights of his career included starting his own business with two friends in 1975.
Giving advice to students and graduates wanting to start their own businesses, Colin added: “Always engage with people. Engage with your colleagues, engage with people in business – try to get a mentor, someone who’s been there and done it, who’s maybe built a business and got the tee shirt.”
Throughout his career, Colin has always felt passionately about assisting small businesses develop to their full potential. Always hands-on and with a 24-7 approach, he has been involved in a significant number of diverse businesses, mainly start-ups and SMEs, and in many cases he has been appointed as a non-executive director to the boards of the companies he assists, taking a small equity stake where he believes he can add value.
He was a non-executive director of Partnership Investment Finance (“PIF”), a £37m fund set up in 2004 with funding from Europe and Barclays Bank to support SMEs and social achievement in Yorkshire and The Humber. In 2014, through his deep involvement in SMEs, he was invited to become a non-executive director of the British Business Bank, an independent company, where the sole shareholder is the Government, through the Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS). He was also a non-executive director of Leeds-based Surgical Innovations Group plc, which specialises in the design and manufacture of surgeon-led technologies for minimally invasive surgery.
He is currently a non-executive director of a number of private companies which WGN are supporting and developing with a view to a future trade sale or flotation. He regularly passes on his knowledge and business expertise to the business leaders of the future, acting as a mentor to those running start-ups and early stage SMEs with high growth potential; these are often started by university graduates and undergraduates.
Colin is also Chairman of Shine, a local social enterprise based in Harehills, and UK Israel Business, North East (formerly the British Israel Chamber of Commerce).
Colin’s great commitment to the development of businesses and enterprise has been recognised formally and, in 2006, he was awarded the Star in Practice Award from the West Yorkshire Society of Chartered Accountants. He was also awarded Business Advisor of the Year in 2007 and Non-Executive Director of the year in 2008, both by the Institute of Directors Yorkshire and Humber.
In 2011 he was awarded Non-Executive Director of the Year in the Quoted Company Awards for his work with Alternative Investment Market-quoted SMEs. Earlier this year, he was included in the Maserati 100, which has been established to recognise those who we help to support the next generation of young entrepreneurs in the country.
Leeds Beckett University Chancellor, Sir Bob Murray CBE, said: “Small and medium-sized enterprises are the lifeblood of the economy and we have seen the success of many graduates – and even students – who have launched their own companies.
“Colin has been nurturing businesses like this throughout his whole career and I’m delighted that we can recognise him with this Honorary Doctorate for the important part he has played in helping to establish so many businesses in the region and for his to contribution to industry and commerce.”