Chair of GDB – What it means to me

GDB Gatwick Diamond Business Anya Ledwith Eshcon environmental consultantAfter completing my two terms, I recently stepped down as Chair of GDB. It’s been a rollercoaster ride, with ups & downs, some challenges and a lot of enjoyable experiences.

I’ve been a member of GDB Gatwick Diamond Business since I first set up my business Eshcon. I knew that networking would be an important part of my business and marketing strategy. I get nearly all of my work through referrals, so having an active network of contacts is really important. People need to know me, like me, trust me. And I use my GDB network for just that.

In addition to the paid staff, GDB has an Executive Council made up of members, lead by the Chair and Directors. I first joined the Executive in 2013 and became Chair in 2016.

My GDB objectives

My objectives when I became Chair were to show strong leadership, of both the Executive and the whole organisation. GDB was already excellent with a thriving membership and I knew it could be further improved.

I wanted to build a more strategic organisation, raising the profile of the Gatwick Diamond region and attracting a range of members (size, sector, location) to show the true value of GDB membership.

I also had objectives for myself – personal development, being part of a team, learning new skills and raising the profile of my own business.

Strategic direction & getting the best from people

Speaking at GDBI wanted to get the best from the Executive. We had a range of knowledgeable business people around the table – we needed to make better use of them. I revamped the Executive, agreeing their roles and responsibilities, making best use of their range of skills and experience.

We strengthened the business plan with stronger objectives and targets, developing partnerships with other businesses and organisations. We developed more dynamic membership options, to get better involvement from all businesses, and diversified services, e.g. with conferences and training programmes.

We, of course, saw some disruption – one major change was when the Chief Executive of 14 years decided to move on, setting up his own business. I was part of the committee appointing his replacement. Indeed, I took on the role of Interim Chief Exec, until the new one was able to start.

My final year 2020 was of course dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic, which affected both GDB as an organisation and our members. Our face-to-face networking events had to cease, so we pivoted to virtual networking and learning. The first in-person event took place recently, with people very pleased to get out and about again, even if the lunches are lighter and there are no handshakes. It’s been a tough year, but our network is stronger by supporting each other.

Chair’s reports

As well as leadership of the Executive, I wanted to motivate all members, showing the great value of gdb membership. I gave the Chairman’s Report at the monthly Members’ Meetings, usually to packed rooms with over 100 delegates.Chair at GDB Awards

As well as updates from the Executive, my talks included: Networking at the i360; Gamification; As Simon Sinek says Know your Why; Risks & Opportunities; How weddings are a bit like networking; and when we won the local business quiz night, with a team called Gatwick Diamond Quizness!

I’ve spoken at so many GDB events but I suppose the most memorable was the last GDB Awards in 2019. After a fabulous awards ceremony, with much joviality and celebration, I drew the short straw to be the closing speaker, bringing the evening to conclusion, thanking the sponsors etc. Let me tell you, it’s quite a challenge to keep 600 slightly inebriated business people focused, but, hey, I like a challenge!


I am very pleased that GDB is now adopting the UN Sustainable Development Goals and I see this as my final legacy. The over-arching goal most relevant to us is ‘Goal 8 – Decent Work & Economic Growth’, developing opportunities for our members & partners, to boost the economy of the Gatwick Diamond region. This is supported by other goals, including Skills, Well-Being, Climate Change & Equalities.

We are not campaigning, rather showing how our work, strategies & partnerships already do & can help support the SDGs.

This will be particularly important with Covid-19 & its impacts on our businesses & our families. With individuals & companies (large & small) reflecting social & environmental issues in their purchasing decisions, GDB & its members can use this opportunity to thrive again.

So, I leave GDB with hope for the future.


Obviously I didn’t do this alone. I’d like to say a big thank you to the fabulous GDB team – Jeff Alexander, Sally Brown, Mandi Lloyd, Durain Hussain, Gabriella Tricarico and Katie Lines – who are always on hand. Plus of course the members of the Executive Council and particularly the Steering Group – made up of David Montgomery (Kingston Smith), Andrew Hookway (Extech Cloud) and Matt Tyson (Richard Place Dobson). We all worked as a team for the better!

Lessons learnt

Being Chair has been an enjoyable experience, with many lessons… such as:

– Collaboration is key – strong partnerships, using people’s skills, knowledge and experience.
– Inspire and show strong leadership – people have got to believe in you, the organisation and your plans.
– Use the network well – there are so many people to do business with and, of course, learn from.
– Go into it as a giver rather than a taker – starting from a positive standpoint of ‘how can I help’ means the rewards are greater.

Chair of GDB Leaving presentMy last day was a very busy one, with the Executive council meeting, the AGM and the monthly Members’ Meeting – one after the other. I was exhausted.

So I was very pleased to receive a thoughtful gift – a lovely bouquet of flowers and a bottle of champagne. (The bubbly didn’t last the weekend!)

Best of luck to my successor! I won’t be far away as I’ve been invited to become an Ambassador for GDB. I hope I get a sash!



Find out more about GDB & how your business can benefit.



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