Richard Flint, former CEO of Sky Bet, is keynote speaker at Ward Hadaway Yorkshire Fastest 50 awards

THE business leader who turned Sky Bet into a globally respected brand will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Yorkshire Fastest 50 awards.

Richard Flint Picture by Simon Hulme

Richard Flint, the former CEO and executive chairman at Sky Betting and Gaming (SBG), will talk about the challenges and opportunities facing the regional economy when he speaks in front of hundreds of leading business figures.

The Ward Hadaway Yorkshire Fastest 50, which is backed by The Yorkshire Post, recognises the region’s fastest growing, privately owned companies where turnover has continued to increase year after year. Companies are commended for their growth, aspiration, talent and potential.

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Mr Flint said: “I am delighted to speak at the Yorkshire Fastest 50 awards. It’s great to celebrate and highlight successes in the region, especially those companies that have such fantastic energy, talent and potential to grow.

The Ward Hadaway Yorkshire Fastest 50 is a celebration of enterprise.

“As well as celebrating this success, I am looking forward to talking about what the future holds for Yorkshire companies - what challenges they’ll face, how to manage a growing and ever-changing workforce and how can they future proof their businesses over the next 10 years.

“We’ve had a turbulent decade but, it’s clear from the 2020 Fastest 50 list, Yorkshire businesses have adapted to this, highlighting their agility, resilience and hunger to succeed despite, at times, very difficult trading conditions.

Mr Flint added: “The regional economy in Yorkshire is robust. Cities like Leeds and Sheffield are thriving, job creation is strong and sectors such as technology, engineering and health are particularly flourishing.

“The character of businesses in Yorkshire impresses me and this is what largely attracted me to SBG initially. Yorkshire firms are humble, determined and unpretentious. All great, and rare, qualities to succeed in business.”

Mr Flint said that a lot of work still needs to be done to make the Northern Powerhouse a reality.

He added: “In Yorkshire especially we need to bring business and local communities closer together, investing particularly in transport links as, historically, a lack of investment in transport infrastructure has seen lots of talent nurtured in Yorkshire leave to better, more integrated business communities in Manchester, Birmingham and London.

“We need clarity on HS2 and foster closer dialogue between our region’s universities and start up enterprises too. That’s how we will retain talent within the region.

“One thing every Yorkshire business should do is be open with what they’re trying to do. Many are afraid of copycat businesses but it’s vital to get investor buy in for an innovative idea and get more and more people engaged and involved in your plan. The risks of not doing so are much greater than those that result from someone else copying your idea.”

Mr Flint warned that the region’s business leaders must not expect investment to come to them.

He added: “Business leaders in the region need to proactively seek it whether that means travelling to London, Paris or even Sydney.

“Investment might be sourced internationally but it’s vital businesses always seek to hire from within the region and not just hire someone who can do the job now but someone who has the potential to adapt to an ever-changing role as the business grows.”

The invitation only awards ceremony takes place on Friday 20 March at Aspire in Leeds.