Making local connections

Sandie Schofield, CETA Insurance

Monday October 20th 2014

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CETA Insurance entered the Innovation and Large Business Award categories in the 2013 WOBAs. They won both, and went home with the West Oxfordshire Business of the Year Award – what a result! Last week, the WOBA Team caught up with Director Sandie Schofield to hear about all the benefits of entering.

Why did you decide to enter the WOBAs?

We wanted to make connections. We’re a big local employer, and we’ve been around for 21 years! Because we’re tucked away at our offices in Chippy, and we don’t have a high street presence, we didn’t have a huge local profile. Much of our business is conducted over the phone, and via websites targeted at specific areas of the market. We had entered the Innovation category in 2011, and came away empty handed. We felt that entering the WOBAs in 2013 would be a good way to say ‘we’re here!’ and to make connections with local people and businesses.

How did you handle the entry forms?

We took our time. A few key people read through the forms and discussed ideas for each section. We allocated one person to actually complete each form. They kept track of the material we needed, and this also made sure that it read well, with a sense of continuity. The process really made us look hard at what we had achieved. When you separate out and describe all your efforts, you realise how far you’ve come.

Entries are open now, do you have any entry form tips?

It’s definitely good to talk about the questions with your colleagues before you start to write your form. More heads are better than one. The forms are all you’ve got to tell the judges as much as you can about why your business is a potential winner, so use them as an opportunity.

How did you find the interviews?

We entered two awards, and we were visited by a judging panel for both categories. We shared the work and so that one person wasn’t answerable for both awards. This helped us to focus on the answers. The interviews are a great chance to explain your business and talk about where you’ve come from with people who really ‘get’ it. Talking to someone who hasn’t been through every step of the journey with you, you realise how much you’ve accomplished.

CETA WOBA Award winners 2013

How did it feel to be a winner 3 times over?

We were thrilled! Each time they announced us I had to run outside to get signal on my phone and let the rest of the team know. To win the West Oxfordshire Business of the Year Award was brilliant, we love the design the students at Abingdon and Witney College came up with, and it takes pride of place at the office!

What has taking part in the WOBAs done for CETA?

It has helped us to gain that rise in local profile we were looking for. The events we attended were buzzing and we took full advantage of the networking opportunities. The work that the WOBA Team does is fantastic: they really do care about supporting and promoting businesses in West Oxfordshire. We found that when you put a bit in to the WOBAs, you get a lot back. Whether you’re a micro business or a bigger organisation with a national presence, the WOBAs are for you.

CETA Insurance were winners the the Innovation, Large Business, and West Oxfordshire Business of the Year Awards in 2013, and sponsors of the Large Business Award 2014