East Midlands and Eastern News

Congratulations Denise, shortlisted for volunteer of the year award

26 February 2020

Denise Skinner
Denise Skinner



The Volunteer of the Year Award is an opportunity for CMI to formally recognise volunteers’ outstanding achievements and contributions.

The entries have now been judged, and the inaugural competition kicks off with a stellar shortlist of incredibly committed, inspiring and driven advocates of CMI.

We are extremely proud to have the Chair of our East Midlands Regional Board included in this shortlist of outstanding volunteers. Professor Denise Skinner CMgr CCMI has given her time and expertise to the benefit of CMI and its members across a whole range of initiatives and activities. Denise has regularly been an innovator who thrives on delivering a real and positive impact.


In response to the news that she had been nominated for the award, Denise said:

“I’m pleased and delighted to be shortlisted for CMI’s Volunteer of the Year. It’s a real honour to be considered for this prestigious award, and my congratulations go to others who also made the shortlist.”

Denise also spoke about her passion for volunteering with CMI and said:

“volunteering requires commitment but is extremely rewarding in so many ways. We currently have 4 vacancies on the soon to be formed East Midlands & Eastern Board and I would encourage every member who lives or works in the region to consider applying. It is a great opportunity to develop your Board skills and/or to share your experience and expertise to the benefit of the CMI community. More reasons to volunteer with CMI can be found here

Our whole Board is unanimous in congratulating Denise for this very well-deserved recognition of everything she has done for CMI, particularly in our region, over the last few years. The winner will be announced at the President’s Dinner 2020.

Click here to find out more about the shortlisted candidates.

CMI award of excellence student of the year shortlist

26 February 2020

We are delighted to announce that a student from the East Midlands Region has been shortlisted for the CMI Student of the Year Award. Oniba Khalid is studying on the MSc in International Management at the University of Leicester’s School of Business.

Oniba is shortlisted alongside Maryam Allhubaishi from Regents University (London & South East Region) and Stephen Stonach from West College Paisley Campus (Scotland). The winner will be announced at the CMI Partner Conference and Awards on Monday 18th March at the Vox in Birmingham.

More information can be found here

Best of luck to all of the shortlisted students!

Why product/market fit could be crucial to scaling up success

27 February 2020

The business development landscape has never looked more varied. While some businesses – both new and established – take the traditional, more measured approach to growth, others appear to move from start-up to scale-up with incredible speed, and in some cases with seemingly little proven revenue or returns.

Not all growing businesses are guaranteed to succeed; sometimes the pace of growth – whether too quick or too slow – can leave the business model vulnerable, open to market changes and fast-acting competitors, and ultimately falling by the wayside. But for those scale-up businesses that do succeed, the returns for owners, management teams and investors can be quick and substantial.

So as managers, what should we be looking for (both in our own companies and our competitors) that can identify a scale-up business with the potential to take a sector by storm?

One of the critical concepts among entrepreneurs and investors concerning a high-potential, fast-growing business is ‘product/market fit’. This concept is the relationship between a product or service developed by a business and the response from customers. A product which the market ‘gets’, and which it wants straight away – with no need for fine-tuning or altering of either the item or the market – is an excellent example of product/market fit.

That’s not to say the team behind the product isn’t still a crucial part of the business success, but it does mean that there is an added edge – the ‘sizzle factor’ – for a particular product in a specific market.

Product/market fit is often an essential component of a scale-up business – one that, regardless of size, is both ambitious and enthusiastic for fast growth. That’s because many companies looking to scale up will be looking to investors to fund their growth, and product/market fit can be a hallmark of the ability of a business to achieve growth successfully, and determine the profile of investor it can approach.

While healthy revenue in itself may be a compelling investment argument, many businesses will be looking to source funding on the back of either a very persuasive product idea or having an exceptional team in place (or both).

In order to prove either of these, businesses need three things – credible data, assumptions (based on the evidence of testing out what you think you know), and hope. For a pre-revenue business to try and prove product/market fit, it will need much more than just hope – the good idea on its own; it will require evidence and assumptions. Data and insight to demonstrate that any revenue assumptions are going to materialise will give you an added advantage.

So how can you demonstrate product/market fit?

Below are five key points:

  1. Use in-depth data and research to show there’s a big market – not only of potential customers but of accessible customers who need your product.
  2. Prove to stakeholders that your business model is the right one. It’s not just about how strong your idea is; it’s also about the strength of all those things that are needed to make the idea work – the execution plan, logistics, pricing, distribution channels etc.
  3. Understand the difference between data, assumptions and hope; turning hope and intuition into research-based assumptions can make a huge difference.
  4. Match the product/market fit with the investment thesis – understand the returns your target investor expects, and identifying what they will get out of their investment.
  5. Recognise those KPIs around unit economics that really matter. If you’ve done the previous four things well, you should know – and be able to show – the cycle of how money spent in the business turns into revenue and then profit.

These were some of the issue discussed by two corporate finance experts in a recent podcast on product/market fit, which you can listen to here.

Measuring product/market fit, and demonstrating it through research data and evidence, gives management teams in companies looking to scale up the tools and the clarity to make strategic decisions that will achieve growth and attract investment. But as always, people are still vital; they have to buy into the data and the evidence behind a strategy and will make the investment decisions.


East Midlands & Eastern volunteer vacancies

17 February 2020

The soon to be formed CMI East Midlands & Eastern Board is currently inviting applications for new Board members to help support, shape and influence the important management and leadership work in the region. Board members are all volunteers and act as the link between CMI, its members and partner organisations within the Region. Each Board member takes the lead in a particular area of Board responsibility. There are roughly 4 - 6 Board meetings per year, the majority of which are virtual. Timings of meetings are agreed by the Board and members are expected to participate. Board members may also be required to contribute to working groups and support volunteers/events.  This may involve some evening work. The CMI advise that volunteers should expect to commit at least 8 hours per month.

We are looking to appoint suitably qualified professional individuals with the motivation, drive, resilience, time and skills to contribute to the Board from April as we start to roll out more opportunities for our members to engage through local events and workshops. If you live or work in Derbyshire; Leicestershire; Northamptonshire; Lincolnshire; Cambridgeshire; Norfolk or Suffolk and have the interest, time and enthusiasm to be a member of the Board we would encourage you to apply. Whether you are in the early stages of your career or have significant experience we are keen to hear from you. This is a great opportunity to develop your Board skills and/ or to share your experience and expertise to the benefit of the CMI community.

The available roles are listed below. Further information on each role can be found in the links, and supported by further information on volunteering with CMI.

Board Secretary

Finance Lead 

Events Lead

Partner Engagement Lead 

Why Volunteer with CMI

How to apply: Please submit your current CV plus a covering statement in which you answer all of the following questions:

  • The Board meets approximately 4-6 times during the year, with additional telephone/virtual conferences as needed. In addition, Board members may be required to contribute to working groups and attend events as well as supporting members who volunteer to assist with particular activities. This is likely to involve some evening and weekend activities. Why are you happy to commit to this – and what would you hope to get out of it?
  • What are you good at that would be helpful if you were a Board member?
  • Which role are you interested in and why?
  • The East Midlands and Eastern region spans a large geographical area. What do you see as the main challenges for Board members that result from this?
  • The Board makes decisions about how best to further the aims of the Institute – mostly by rolling out initiatives generated at a national level – but also implementing our own local strategy. Much of our energy will be devoted to supporting members who get involved in making things happen providing direction, encouragement and making sure they are connected to the right resources. Some of these members will be very senior and experienced managers. What do you think will be the necessary skills and attributes to get the best from these members and how would you use your skills and experience to contribute to this?

While there is no limit to the number of words you can use in response to each question we think that 150 words should be more than adequate.

Please answer in plain language – we would prefer you to be yourself and speak from the heart.

There are no ‘trick questions’!

Please email your applications to: cmiregionalsupport@managers.org.uk no later than Thursday 12 March.

Following this initial tranche of recruitment from April onwards we will be looking to launch several Hubs within the new region.  Our Hubs will provide a local interface for members and will be a focus for local activity and engagement and will initially be located in member population hotspots.

Each Hub will have an organising committee of approximately three local members, one of whom will act as the Hub Lead. Hub Leads will also be members of the Regional Board. We are currently exploring the following locations for the initial Hubs:





We look forward to receiving your applications for the vacant Board roles and/or your expression of interest in being involved in the Hubs.

In the meantime if you have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact cmiregionalsupport@managers.org.uk