Tag Archive for: innovation

[Meet the Team] Antoinette Berns: Supporting a Company Culture that Encourages Innovation and Positivity

By Mandy Reed, Marketing Manager (Global)

Creative Virtual is one of only four companies in London to be recognised by The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise in the category of Innovation in 2017. The company was selected for this honour not only for our innovative technology, but also because of the hard work and dedication of our global team. Creative Virtual’s experienced, expert team is what sets the organisation apart from others in the industry. As part of the five-year celebration of our Queen’s Awards for Enterprise, we’re talking with some members of the Creative Virtual team about the technology, their involvement in the industry and what winning this award means to them.

Today we introduce Antoinette Berns, Billing Coordinator and Executive Assistant to Group COO with Creative Virtual USA. She joined the company in August 2015 and quickly became an integral part of the Stamford-based team. Antoinette’s primary role as Billing Coordinator consists of Spend Analysis Reports, projections and allocation tracking. As the company’s grown and her many talents have been revealed, her role has evolved to include Executive Assistant to Group COO which in turn led to aspects of everything from office manager to human resources administrator to event and travel coordinator. She wears so many different hats on any given day, that it would be impossible to find a stand big enough to hold all of them – and she does it all with a smile and a contagious positive attitude. She shared with me why taking her job with Creative Virtual is one of the best decisions she ever made and how being a part of the company’s Queen’s Awards win has her overjoyed.

What are a few highlights from your time working with Creative Virtual? What do you enjoy most about being a part of the team?

I remember coming for my interview, going through the usual interview questions and by the end of it we were laughing and telling jokes. I was there for two hours and by the time I got home, I already had an email asking me to come in to meet the CEO, it was so exciting. Taking this job is one of the best decisions I ever made. It’s a wonderful environment to work in where people are given a chance to rise up to the challenge and grow with the company. We are encouraged to be unique and use all our individual strengths to bring something new to the table. We foster a welcoming environment of treating everyone with respect and we have a wonderful system of communication so every voice can feel heard. I remember Chris Ezekiel [Founder & CEO] visiting the US office a few months ago and talking about the wonderfully brilliant, quirky people in the company and how everyone brings their own interesting ideas and personalities to the team. I think that sums it up perfectly.

Creative Virtual USAI appreciate how we’re encouraged to keep a healthy work/ life balance, where if we so choose, we have a variety of activities we can join. I personally am a member of the volleyball and kickball teams! What’s wonderful is that there is no pressure to be athletically inclined at all, it’s all about having fun and team building which I love. If sports are not your thing, we also host a monthly game night as a way of bonding and comradery. We’ll spend a couple of hours hanging out and playing different games. This was sparked by our participation in ExtraLife in 2015 and 2016, a 24-hour gaming marathon to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. We’ve also participated in other charitable activities, such as donating to veterans on Veterans Day.

There are so many other things I enjoy about being a part of the team! I love that in my role I have the unique opportunity to work with everyone in some way. Even if it’s just to a small degree, I get to talk to everyone and get to know all the different personalities and ways of working. The team is like pieces of a puzzle, and we all come together to create a wonderful portrait of Creative Virtual – it’s a beautiful thing! I also love the positive reinforcement and the praise that makes everyone feel valued. It feels like a bubble of positivity where everyone is encouraged and can blossom.

When you’re reviewing applications and conducting interviews, what experiences and qualities do you look for in potential new team members?

To start, I look for consistency on a resume and the types of experiences the person has had. I’m looking for someone showing commitment who will want to grow with the company. The cover letter gives the first clue. It would surprise you the number of people who don’t send a cover letter at all, when our job postings list it as a requirement to applying! The irony in most cases is then they list in their resume a major skill they possess is “attention to detail.”

I have a minor in Psychology and have always had an interest in how people think. When I do interviews I always encourage a good flow of conversation so it will feel more like talking to a friend rather than an interview. This helps the applicants reveal a more authentic version of themselves. I start with asking what they know about the company, what attracted them to apply and why the position is a good fit. I ask about the biggest lesson they learned from their last job and how they approach tasks. I find out about their greatest personal achievements and what types of decisions they find the hardest to make. Along with a variety of questions I typically ask that will give me an idea of how the person deals with mistakes. All of this shows me who they are as a person in a professional realm and whether they would work well in our company.

Of course I find out about their skills, which skills depends on the position they are apply for, and have the typical interview questions about strengths and weaknesses. Just as important as their skills is how they work. At Creative Virtual, we all work as a team but it is built on trust and autonomy, so I need to ensure that will be a good fit for everyone. We’re looking for people who will stick around and grow with us.

What are your secrets to keeping the Creative Virtual USA office running smoothly?

This is a hard question – I just do the things that need to be done! When I really stop to think about it, communication is key. Communication, taking notes and being organized. It’s important to have someone to talk to, someone to turn to when things get stressful. Paulo [Barrett], the Group COO, does weekly check-ins with me and so I never feel like I’m swimming without a life jacket. It is truly a privilege to work with someone of Paulo’s caliber, it’s motivating to see him bring out the best in everyone. It’s a pleasure working with him, and it’s great to hear him say, “you’re a star!”.

Creative Virtual USAKey components would be to organize the chaos, identify what’s high priority, medium priority and low priority. The way I conduct my tasks is with the mentality that even when something is deemed low priority, it never means it’s not important. I always let people know that I have their requests and tasks in hand, and keep them updated. It’s important to me to let everyone know they are being heard.

Something I find valuable in all walks of life is: patience. Everyone is so talented and amazing at what they do, but we are all human after all. We all take our turn dealing with frustrating and stressful situations. The key to navigating them is staying calm and taking it one step at a time. Remember you are never alone and help is always at hand, you just need to reach for it.

What does Creative Virtual winning The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise: Innovation 2017 mean to you?

Winning the Queen’s Award means a lot – it’s hard to put it into words! It is always a wonderful moment to see years of dedication and hard work publicly celebrated and acknowledged. Especially with one of the highest official UK awards for British businesses. I’m so proud to be a part of a company that cultivates knowledge, promotes innovation and really cares about every individual in its organization.

Parliament TourChris [Ezekiel] is such an inspiring person. To have someone heading the company who exemplifies those qualities tells you a lot about the type of company Creative Virtual is and what a welcoming, encouraging place it is to work.

Being able to attend the award ceremony in London was AMAZING! I felt elated, overjoyed and honored to be chosen to go. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming, and it was wonderful to get to meet so many people on the team in person. And going on a tour of Parliament and getting insights from an actual member of Parliament was such an adventure! It was truly a great opportunity.

A Look Back: 2017 in Review

By Mandy Reed, Marketing Manager (Global)

The end of 2017 is quickly approaching and so, as has become our tradition, it’s time to take a look back at Creative Virtual’s year. To say this has been an exciting and busy year for us, our customers and our partners would be an understatement! 2017 will go down as one of the most important years in Creative Virtual’s history, so let’s take a look at some of the year’s highlights.

Queens Awards for EnterpriseBy far our biggest company announcement came in April when we were officially recognised as the winner of The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise: Innovation 2017! The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise is the UK’s most prestigious business award for British companies, and we were recognised for innovation for our V-Person™ and V-Portal™ technology. Over the summer, our Founder & CEO, Chris Ezekiel, and CTO, Peter Behrend, attended a Royal Reception at Buckingham Palace for the winners and got to meet Her Majesty the Queen and several other members of the royal family. In September, the company hosted our official award ceremony and celebration, bringing together Creative Virtual team members from around the world, customers, partners and a variety of other guests in London. Mr Leslie Morgan OBE DL, Deputy Lieutenant of Greater London, presented our award on behalf of the Queen, and Jim Fitzpatrick, our local Member of Parliament (MP) for Poplar and Limehouse, also said a few words.

Creative Virtual was recognised by a variety of other awards programmes this year as well, being named ‘Best Customer Service Solutions Provider 2017’, ‘Most Innovative Customer Support Tool: V-Person Live Chat’, and ‘Best Virtual Assistant Solutions Provider 2017’ among others. We were also a proud part of the APPEX Omnichannel Catalyst which took home the Outstanding Performance in the Catalyst Program award at TM Forum Live! 2017.

Two individual members of our UK team were recognised by independent awards programmes this year for their contributions to Creative Virtual. Rachel F Freeman, Operations Director, was a finalist in the Women in IT Excellence Awards in the category of ‘Hero of the Year (SME)’ for demonstrating excellence in her support of others and going beyond the call of duty to achieve a business goal. And I was honoured to be named ‘Best CX Solutions Business Marketer – UK’ in the 2017 Business Woman of the Year Awards for my success in driving brand recognition, thought leadership and lead generation activities. It was certainly a big year for award wins for us as a company and individually!

While we enjoyed celebrating – and walking the red carpet! – this year, we were also busy sponsoring and hosting industry events and delivering thought leadership presentations in 11 different countries – India, the United States, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, Malaysia, France, Luxembourg, Singapore, Germany, Australia and Hungary. Our fifth annual Technology Innovation Showcase webinar (Chatbots, Virtual Agents and Your Contact Centre) with CRMXchange had a record-breaking number of registrations, highlighting the huge surge in interest in chatbots, virtual agents and artificial intelligence (AI). You can still watch that webinar on-demand, as well as our most recent webinar AI, Chatbots & Live Chat: Separating Truth from Myth.

While there has been a marked increase in interest in chatbots and virtual agents this year, there’s also a lot of confusion, unrealistic expectations and false promises being perpetuated in the marketplace. We drew on our expertise to share a realistic view of AI and chatbots in the customer space in our whitepaper AI, Chatbots and Virtual Agents: The Threat to Mankind and the Contact Centre. Founder & CEO Chris similarly tackled this topic in a column for CMRXchange, Are Chatbots, Virtual Agents and Artificial Intelligence Threats to Your Contact Centre?. Chris also shared his expertise in interviews with ReadITQuik and The Wharf Newspaper, and Mike Murphy, CEO of Creative Virtual USA, shared his thoughts on the industry in a CRMXchange Executive Interview. Following on the heels of our launch of V-Person Live Chat last year, early in 2017 we created a new video showing how you can combine self-service virtual agents and human-assisted channels to deliver a fully integrated support experience.

This year we welcomed a number of great organisations to our expanding Global Partner Network. Our V-Person Family continued to grow throughout 2017 with new virtual agent and chatbot deployments across the globe in a variety of languages, and our collaborations with current customers resulted in new features and functionality being added to existing installs. This year Motability Operations’ award-winning ‘Ask Mo’ and National Rail Enquiries popular ‘Ask Lisa’ virtual agents both celebrated their 10th birthdays. REST Industry Super’s virtual agent Roger played a part in two award wins for them this year: ‘Best Innovation Super Feature’ in Money Magazine’s Best of the Best Awards and ‘Best Fund: Innovation 2017’ in the Chant West 2017 Super Fund Awards.

As he does every year, Founder & CEO Chris took the award for most travelling as he once again flew around the world visiting with the Creative Virtual team, partners and customers and taking part in a number of different events. In November, he also added a new job title to his CV, taking on the role of monthly technology columnist with The Wharf Newspaper.

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to check out our 2017 in Review photo album on the Creative Virtual Facebook page. We’ve compiled shots from our official presentations and events as well as our fun group activities and award celebrations – everything from Founder & CEO Chris meeting to Queen to him taking a pie in the face during our fundraising efforts for the RSPCA. There will still be more photos to come, so be sure to like our Facebook page so you don’t miss any.

Improving Engagement and Empowering Your Team

By Liam Ryan, Sales Director

Every day I speak with organisations going through digital transformations, particularly in regards to their customer service initiatives. Selecting the right software and working with a knowledgeable provider can make or break these efforts. Organisations need technology solutions that are cutting-edge but that also complement existing systems and infrastructure.

This is exactly what we do at Creative Virtual, and I am proud to share that it has earned us a spot as a finalist in the category of ‘Software Innovation of the Year’ in the 2017 Digital Entrepreneur Awards (DEAs)! To be shortlisted, we needed to demonstrate that our software improves engagement and output, and empowers individuals and teams, which fits perfectly with our company vision. We offer organisations the technology to enable seamless, fully-integrated, end-to-end customer engagement backed by the experience of an expert, knowledgeable team. This not only improves the customer experience but also empowers employees.

Digital Entrepreneur AwardsA perfect example of this is the integration of our V-Person™ virtual agents with live chat. Our virtual agents and chatbots give customers an easy and convenient way to self-serve and are playing an important role in helping organisations meet the engagement demands of digital customers. However, we know that sometimes customers will have complex issues that are best served by live agents, or they simply prefer to talk to a real person. Based on a set of customisable rules and triggers, the virtual agent can seamlessly escalate users from virtual to real agent, with a complete history of their conversation being passed to the live chat agent.

Creative Virtual’s V-Person Live Chat™ solution is integrated with the same knowledgebase being used to power the self-service virtual agent. As customers ask questions, the platform automatically presents live chat agents with the response found in that knowledgebase. Agents then have options to reply with the answer as it appears, send an edited version of the text or type in their own response. The customisable console also gives options for agents to provide real-time feedback and suggestions on content. Live agents are empowered to become knowledge experts and share the responsibility of keeping self-service channels up-to-date.

Our thanks to the award judges for recognising our digital innovation, and the proven business results are customers are achieving with our solutions, by shortlisting Creative Virtual for Software Innovation of the Year. We look forward to the winners from the South region being announced during an awards dinner on 8th November in London.

Celebrating Innovation, the Queen and the Dedication of a Global Team

By Chris Ezekiel, Founder & CEO

Oh what a night! Last week Creative Virtual hosted a celebration of our Queen’s Awards for Enterprise: Innovation 2017 with an amazing group of people representing 14 different nationalities coming together in London for the festivities. It was another proud moment for the company and me personally, and an evening that will long live as one of the best in Creative Virtual’s history.

As a lifelong West Ham supporter, I knew the evening was destined to be a success when we turned up at the venue to setup and saw Trevor Sinclair and Joe Hart there filming for Football Focus! Unfortunately, they couldn’t stay for our celebration, but it was a sign of more good things to come. And it made for a great story to share at the event with so many of my fellow West Ham supporters in attendance. COYI!

West Ham      Trevor Sinclair

It was an honour to have Mr Leslie Morgan OBE DL, Deputy Lieutenant of Greater London attend to officially present our award on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen. As he spoke about how difficult it is to win this award, I was reminded again of what an incredible and humbling experience this truly is for our organisation. Creative Virtual is one of only four companies in London recognised for innovation by the Queen in 2017, and this is a testament to the innovation we deliver to our customers every day. I was proud to accept the Grant of Appointment on behalf of our dedicated team around the world and know our CTO Peter felt the same as he accepted the crystal bowl.

The Queen's Awards for Enterprise     The Queen's Awards for Enterprise

We were also thrilled to have Jim Fitzpatrick, our local Member of Parliament (MP) for Poplar and Limehouse, in attendance. This was his first Queen’s Awards for Enterprise presentation in his 20 years of representing East London, and he spoke about the ‘singular success’ of Creative Virtual, recruiting local people and making our mark internationally. It made me proud once again to be an East End success story!

Jim Fitzpatrick     Jim Fitzpatrick

Of course, I also took a turn to speak – it’s no secret I love talking! – and used the opportunity to share some stories from Creative Virtual’s history and express my thanks to all those who contributed over the years to the success we are achieving today. I couldn’t be more proud to be leading this company, a brilliant mix of quirky people, and I echoed Peter’s words that this award is about the whole team. We raised our glasses to all those who weren’t present to celebrate with us that night. It was a thrill for me to look out over the crowd and see such a mix of people sharing in the excitement of the celebration – Creative Virtual team members from around the world, my family and friends, some of our customers and partners, and a variety of others who played a part in my company’s story.

The amount of goodwill we’ve received since winning this award has been amazing. There were so many wonderful messages when our win was first announced on Her Majesty’s birthday, and even more after our award ceremony and celebration last week. I’d like to share just a few of them here:

Thanks very much for inviting me, it was a great night out which I really, really enjoyed.  I was really impressed with the culture and spirit that you guys have managed to create within your company.”

“It was a real pleasure to be in attendance. What an incredible journey you have been on and have in front of you. The team is great and was nice to put faces to names I have seen over the last year.”

“Thanks for the invite Chris. Fantastic to see a partner being awarded and recognised for success. Great to meet some fellow Hammers fans as well.”

“I know you have worked very hard to create and build what Creative Virtual is today. No big effort goes unrewarded. This award is a true recognition to your effort, and the effort of everyone in the Creative Virtual team.”

“Thank you so much again for a lovely evening. I’m very grateful to have been a part of such a special occasion for Creative Virtual. I have to say that as work dos go, that was one of the nicest I’ve ever been to. Really lovely people, it’s clear from everyone I spoke to and the speeches given that you have a great company full of talented, proud people.”

My thanks to everyone who helped us celebrate our award that night, both in person and virtually. From walking the red carpet to officially receiving the award to dancing into the wee hours of the morning, it was a fantastic celebration! Special thanks to Leslie and Jim for taking the time out of their busy schedules to help make our evening so special. Thanks also to the staff at 28 West for keeping things running smoothly and to Quantum Class for the great live music.

Check out more photos from our awards ceremony and celebration on the Creative Virtual Facebook page.

28 West     Quantum Class

An Invitation for Two to Buckingham Palace

By Peter Behrend, CTO

In the highly-charged, fast-moving blur of life in bustling Canary Wharf, some blips on life’s radar may reasonably be expected to escape immediate attention. So I offer no apology for my immediate reaction when told that we have been awarded the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise: Innovation 2017; Meah – another well-merited award pulled wearily from a thickly pregnant envelope; another trophy for the sagging shelves of the new Technology Suite, jostling for primacy against the Stevies, the TIAs, the IBAs, and the dazzling crystal of The Wharf Innovation in Business Award.

This treasonable apathy lasted for a couple of days until the truth began to dawn and the reality of an award from Her Majesty came into focus. This was not just recognition; this was Royal Recognition, postage stamp recognition, coin of the realm recognition, twenty pound note recognition. More importantly (in that moment), it was an invitation for two to Buckingham Palace.

After a brief shared frisson of pleasure, bolstered by collegiate congratulation and back-slapping, internecine warfare rapidly erupted. Proudly bearing the standard of employee enrolment number 3 (after Founder & CEO Chris Ezekiel and someone else) history was on my side, and as the Head of Innovations (that ‘someone else’) sits on the other side of the world (and below me on the Org Chart), victory was finally mine. I humbly accepted the invitation to represent the Creative Virtual team alongside Chris and set about preparing myself as best as one can to be received at the Palace by the Queen.

Chris Ezekiel & the QueenOn the evening itself, after weeks of hot, dry anger, the skies at last cried out their envy. It fairly threw it down. No clouds or rain could dampen the atmosphere of that night, however. Our barometers ran high, and with good reason. A party comprising 300 people all got up regardless, enjoying the time of their lives, and fully immersed in one common and incoherently ebullient mood is hardly likely to fail.

Throw in a few professional mixers in the form of improbably knowledgeable crown estate employees, and the brew quickly becomes heady.

Liberally diluted with Champagne, the atmosphere maintained a steady level of intoxication until finally, stiffened with a heavily fortified syrup of royalty, the company distilled into an evening of unalloyed conviviality, hushed awe, relaxed conversation, and catching of breath.

In short, this was a glorious night which will live long in the memory, not least for offering the sight of our very own East End boy enjoying the rich rewards of having nurtured a fledgling company into a soar away success. And I had the honour of being there.
Peter Behrend at Buckingham PalaceThe Queen's Awards for Enterprise: Innovation








The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise: Innovation 2017


By Chris Ezekiel, Founder & CEO

Today, on the Queen’s birthday, I’m thrilled to share the news with the world that Creative Virtual is the winner of The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise: Innovation 2017! Receiving the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise is an incredible and humbling honour for the entire Creative Virtual team as well as a wonderful recognition of the innovation we deliver to our customers every day.

The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise is the UK’s most prestigious business award for British companies. It recognises UK businesses for outstanding commercial success in four categories, including Innovation. The Innovation Award has been made to Creative Virtual for V-Person™, our virtual agent technology, and V-Portal™, our knowledge management platform. We will be presented with a crystal bowl and Grant of Appointment by a Royal representative during an upcoming award ceremony, and have been invited to send two representatives from the company to a reception hosted by Her Majesty The Queen at Buckingham Palace later in the year.

When I first founded Creative Virtual in London’s East End over 13 years ago, we were very much a pioneer in our field, and I could only dream of one day leading a successful, innovative and global company being recognised in such a prestigious way. I am very proud and humbled to be leading an organisation that is receiving the most important award for a UK company.

Growing a company is a journey full of highs and lows, a path with points of celebrations (new customers, company accolades, signing partnerships) and points of difficult challenges, set-backs and hard decisions. You have your head down, busy bringing the right people into your team, building positive partnerships and striving to provide the very best product and service. It can be hard to take a step back and appreciate how far you’ve come and what you have accomplished.

Winning the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise is one of those incredible points on our path when the entire company stops to say ‘WOW’ and reflect on what we have achieved together. This is an amazing accomplishment and what it’s all about – our innovative technology is defining the industry and the Queen is recognising us for it!

This is a win not only for Creative Virtual but for all our customers and partners as well. Our collaborations with them have helped shape our technology and given us the opportunities to implement solutions in new, innovative and ground-breaking ways. My thanks to them for being on this path with us.

On a personal note, I have to admit that not even in my wildest dreams did I ever expect my company to be in a position to be honoured in this way – and I certainly never imagined that I’d be off to the Palace to meet the Queen! I am grateful to the Queen for acknowledging Creative Virtual’s innovation and the amazing work she does to inspire British entrepreneurs like myself to take our companies global. Her Majesty has always been, and continues to be, a great ambassador and strong advocate for British companies.

I feel incredibly humbled and have been reflecting on Creative Virtual’s path over the years since we first received news of our win. My reminiscing took me back to those very early days of starting the company with very little financial resources and then being fortunate enough to land one of the UK’s largest banks as our very first customer – and they are still a customer today! After distributing another virtual agent product for the first several years the company traded, we made the bold decision to begin development of our own natural language virtual agent technology, V-Person, in 2007. Even during the early phases of development, we knew we wanted to do more than build our own version of the product we had been distributing. Through the combination of the experiences of our own team, input and feedback from our customers and partners, and our predictions for the future of the industry, we outlined the specifications for a truly unique and innovative tool. We officially introduced V-Portal to the market in October 2012. During this time we also embarked on the beginning of our global expansion, and we’re still adding new offices and partners around the world today. We have grown the company organically without any external funding and have also self-funded all of the development work as well as built up our own R&D team over time. This has helped create a company culture based on innovation, teamwork and ownership of which we are very proud. This has given us the control to plan for the long term – and deliver our vision – without the short-term financial pressures external funding inevitably brings.

The Queen's Awards for EnterpriseIt’s a real honour to lead a company that is truly defining a new technology space; and this is made possible through the quirky, fun and dedicated people that make up the Creative Virtual team. Congratulations to every member of our team and thank you for the role each of you have played in getting Creative Virtual to where we are today! This award is an important milestone that is going to help shape the company’s future, and certainly calls for a global celebration! I look forward to celebrating with you throughout the British Summertime and over the coming years. Drinks on me! (Well, maybe just for the three days of summer we get here in the UK. . .!). My celebrations will have to be a bit limited over the next couple of days as I’m running in the London Marathon on Sunday!

I’m also taking the liberty of getting a bit sentimental and saying a big thank you to my family and friends: without their support over the years none of this would have been possible. Thank you so much! 

Check out our official press release to learn more about the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise and why Creative Virtual was selected to receive this humbling honour.

The Wharf Innovation in Business Awards: Local Boy Makes it Big!

By Chris Ezekiel, Founder & CEO

Back in July we received the exciting news that Creative Virtual had been shortlisted for The Wharf Innovation in Business Awards, a new awards programme celebrating the hard work and ingenuity of companies in Canary Wharf, in the category of Medium-to-Large Business. On my walk back to our offices after my interview with the judges, I was reminiscing about the Wharf, growing up on the Isle of Dogs and starting the company here nearly thirteen years ago. It all made me feel like my own ‘hometown kid does good’ story!

Last week Liam, our Head of Sales in the UK, donned his tux (a little reluctantly!) and joined me for the glittering black tie dinner and awards ceremony at the Radisson Blu Edwardian New Providence Wharf. We were hopeful as we sipped our champagne and snapped a selfie, but not truly expecting to win. I was on the edge of my seat as Levi Roots (of Reggae Raggae Sauce fame) began to announce the winner of our category by first reading the glowing words from the judges and then revealing the company name – We Won!!

“Creative Virtual may be the most successful Canary Wharf company you’ve never heard of. This giant was in the tech business almost before the sector existed but its years of research and development mean it is now superbly placed to take advantage of cutting edge customer expectations and experiences.”

The timing of this awards ceremony and our win is especially meaningful to me. I had just arrived back that morning from a couple of days in New York meeting with some of our US team, and I fly out of London to Australia, which is a hot market for us right now, next week for meetings and a visit with the team there. Growing Creative Virtual into a global company is exciting and a great accomplishment for the all the people who work at Creative Virtual, and there’s no better feeling than coming home to win a local award. I’m extremely proud of keeping the company headquartered here and growing it from our base in Canary Wharf.

The Wharf Innovation in Business AwardsThe market for our smart customer engagement solutions has been exploding as of late, and it’s nice to have this emerging area and technology honoured in this way. It’s important for organisations who are working hard to make their mark while helping to define a new sector to be recognised by with this type of award. I thank the judges for taking the time to understand what it is that we do at Creative Virtual and for being brave enough to recognise our industry-changing technology and its growth potential in the future, despite it being a new area.

But the true hero in this story isn’t the technology, it’s the people. I don’t want to sound too soppy, but Creative Virtual is where it is today because of the hard work and dedication of our team. They are the ones that have put in the years of research and development, built great relationships with our customers and brought innovative ideas to our solutions. While I hope I have provided the guidance to make it all happen, an award like this really underlines the importance of having great people working for your company.

Winning The Wharf Innovation in Business Awards is an amazing achievement for Creative Virtual as well as for me personally. After accepting the award, Liam and I celebrated until the wee hours of the morning – my jetlag and his missed bedtime long forgotten! Liam even commented that he had never seen me that happy before. I was so thrilled with our win that I slept with our award that night and had to pinch myself in the morning to make sure it hadn’t been a dream. It was exciting to share the award with the team in the Canary Wharf office and send photos to those working remotely and in our other offices. I’ve been spending the weekend and this week showing it off to my family and friends! They all know The Wharf newspaper, so I’m sure they are picturing the same headline as me as they admire the award: Local Boy Makes it Big!

My thanks to The Wharf, the judges and all of the award sponsors for honouring us as your Medium-to-Large Business and for putting on a fabulous dinner and ceremony. But more importantly, this East End boy thanks all of Creative Virtual’s employees, customers and partners around the globe. Without you, this win wouldn’t have been possible.

I hope you’ll take a look at our photo album and read our official announcement about Creative Virtual’s big win.

Medium-to-Large Business winner