Jo Haigh

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Jo Haigh is the CEO and founder of fds, which has bases in London, Birmingham and Yorkshire. An experienced dealmaker, Jo specialises in putting together the right deal at the right time and in the right format for growing businesses throughout the country. Since 1989 Jo has bought and sold approximately 400 companies specialising in owner managed companies. She is a regular presenter for the Institute of Directors and Vistage on corporate governance and mergers and acquisitions. In the 90s Jo created a specialist director training division, which has been highly successful since inception. She has held circa 40+ non-executive roles over that period in companies across the country. Jo has sold three of her own companies and undertaken two personal MBOs. Jo is currently NED Chair for the following companies: Ampersand Commerce Ltd, DRB Group Ltd, Fisher Productions Ltd, Fresh Start Waste Services Ltd, Martyn Fiddler Aviation, The Energy Checking Company Limited plus she is a NED at TQUK Ltd.

Awards Titles and Achievements:

  •  Winner of Non-Exec Director of the Year, IoD Yorkshire & North East Awards (2018)
  •  Nominated for Business Woman of the Year, The Yorkshire Choice Awards (2018)
  •  Finalist in Business Services category, First Women Awards (2017)
  •  Announced as one of Academy for Chief Executives top 22 speakers of 2016, landing Jo on the “Cloud Nine League Table” (2016)
  • Winner of Most Innovative UK Deal Negotiator 2016 and The AI One to Watch in Corporate Finance, Acquisition International M&A Awards (2016)
  • Shortlisted for Mentor of the Year, First Women Awards (2016)
  • Finalist in Inspiring Leader of the Year category, Women in Business Awards (2015)
  • Winners of Super Staff Award BIY Inspired Awards (2015)
  • Winner of the Business Service Award on behalf of the CBI, First Women Awards (2014)
  • Fifth book published: The Keys to the Boardroom; how to get there and how to stay there (2014)
  • Finalist in the Yorkshire Women of Achievement in Business, Sue Ryder Award (2013)
  • Finalist in the SME Business of the Year, Wakefield Business District Awards (2013)
  • Winner of The Sunday Times NED of the Year, in association with Peel Hunt
  • Winner of the Outperformance Award from Vistage, awarded for going above and beyond as a speaker (2012)
  • Special presenter on the Business Class TV special, filmed with James Caan  of Dragons Den (aired 24th October 2012)
  • Finalist in the Business Advisor Category, IoD Awards (2011) 2
  • Finalist in the Sue Ryder Women of Achievement Awards (2011)
  • Published a book for the Financial Times called Finance for Non-Financial Managers (2011)   Part of the judging panel for the Growing Business Awards (2010)
  • Finalist in the Corporate Leader Category, Forward Ladies Women in Business Awards (2010)
  • Named in the Yorkshire Post Top 100 Entrepreneurs (2010)

Testimonials from past clients:

“Wow what a lady! Until we met Jo we were a successful business but didn’t know how to break through our own glass ceiling. Jo helped make the unknown known. Bringing together the resources and people we had in place and helping us realise our true potential. With Jo’s guidance, patience and good humour we were able to build a solid management team and a clear strategy which helped us grow as a business and as individuals. We created real value for our customers and shareholders. Within twelve months we had doubled turnover and expanded our team, winning numerous business awards and accolades along the way including Best Business awards and Great Place to Work. I firmly believe we would never have achieved the growth and success we have without the support of Jo Haigh.”David Howarth, Chief Executive, Imperative Training
“Since joining our board Jo has transformed the way we think about the business and the way we operate both strategically and tactically. We are a different company now.”George Hall, Director, Jermyn Consulting
“Jo is a pleasure to work with. She really cares for her clients and works hard to achieve the best results for them. Her energy and enthusiasm are infectious and drive a deal through. She delivers!”Edward Persse, Partner, Irwin Mitchell
“I’ve seen both sides of Jo in action; the authoritative yet motivational speaker, and also the Corporate Financier. In either role she is superb. Her knowledge, coupled with her ability to impart it to others in terms that are easily understood and her practical and pragmatic approach places her in a unique position – an advisor who walks the talk!”Grant Ellis, Executive Chairman, Broker Network Group
“Jo is a real ‘hot-shot’ corporate financier and what she doesn’t know about deal making…is very little! She’s negotiates strongly to get the best deal for her clients, whilst ensuring a ‘win-win’ position for all parties. As a Vistage and IoD speaker, she’s recognised as a leading light in her field and is always engaging to hear and see. She’s a polished presenter and she’s also great fun to spend time with.”Paul Luen, Managing Director, Martek Marine Ltd
“Jo is providing some independent thinking and challenging our Executive Board along with bringing valuable networking contacts.”Peter Holmes, Anchor Magnets
“I really want to thank you for the major part you played in helping us sell our company. As our corporate financier, also known as “deal maker” you really made the deal. We gained 30% more in sales value once we were under your wing. Throughout the process you were there for us with your very capable assistants. The sales process was so important to us and it felt like we were the only ones you were working with as you gave us so much attention. It was so important for us to keep the company growing throughout the sales process and you enabled us to do this. We were told it would be a stressful experience and it was! There were tensions, stresses and cliff hangers in the process but how many times did we hear from you “Leave it with me” and we knew that we could. Despite running a successful company for 10 years we were amazed at the ruthlessness of the buyers and their team. It was clear that without such a positive team around us the sale would not have been so successful. I would highly recommend you to any person considering selling their company who wants a really successful outcome.”Karen Salewski, Capital Children’s Services
“As a business coach, I often have need to find someone in corporate finance to advise my clients whom I can trust implicitly to do a good job. Jo is just such a person for whom I have the highest regard and whose name is always top of the list when it comes to recommendations.”David Adams, Group Chairman, Vistage International
“Jo is working with me as a non-executive director and has been supportive and highly focussed on a number of key business planning decisions that we have needed to make as the company moves forward. Jo is great fun to work with and her experience is invaluable.” Alan Davidson, Managing Director, Vistage International
“Jo and her team have provided us with excellent care – she has been available to us with immediate response at any time – including evenings and weekends. Any time you send Jo an email, she responds straight away, whatever the time of day or night! Jo has made us feel very well looked after throughout this process, and we strongly recommend her.”Becky Hall, Business Development Director, Time for Children 4
“Over the years Jo has proved an invaluable service. Immensely knowledgeable her advice is spot on and attention to our needs has always been impeccable.100% excellent service.” – Alan Burgees, Masterframe
“From our very first meeting with Jo it was clear that she has immense experience in the selling of owner managed businesses. Jo gained a thorough understanding of our business, the market sector and the acquirer which ensured a professional and competent approach through to completion. The negotiation process had several areas of contention which required a firm but common sense approach to ensure we were adequately protected from excessive risk and that any unreasonable terms within the sale and purchase agreement were removed. This was achieved to the satisfaction of all parties. It was a pleasure working with Jo, who fully understood our personal and business requirements and ultimately delivered fully on what we set out to achieve.” – Sean Ashton, Hallmark Fire Ltd
“A most impressive presentation – probably the best we have ever seen for this size and sector. We would like to get to know the situation better.” – John May, Director, Thompson and Morgan Group Holdings Ltd

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