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Where are they now? Catching up with past EEPA winners

2016 marks the 10th anniversary of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA). In this new feature, we catch up with former EEPA honourees who’ve gone on to do great things since winning the award.

Paula Fitzsimmons, Going for Growth

This week, Paula Fitzsimons reflects on the impact of winning an EEPA one year on:

Name Paula Fitzsimons
Organisation Fitzsimons Consulting
Country Ireland
Website www.goingforgrowth.com [1]
Award won Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills
Year won 2015

paula [2]

What was it like to win the award?

It was wonderful to be called out as the winner of the award. I was completely emotional, as I had wanted Going for Growth to win so much for the terrific third party endorsement that it would mean and the spotlight that it would put on our mission to encourage more women to be more ambitious for their businesses and to support them to achieve their growth aspirations. Standing on the stage with the other national winners, who all had excellent initiatives, it became very clear how high the standard was.

How did winning the award immediately impact your work?

There was a journalist from Ireland in the audience and Going for Growth was featured online in a national newspaper within hours of receiving the award.  Subsequently, the initiative was featured on Euronews “Business Planet” and was broadcast for a week in thirteen languages across Europe. This was an excellent feature and really got our message across in a very professional manner at no cost to ourselves. We’ve been able to provide a link to this feature to others enquiring about the initiative.

What response did you receive from your colleagues and peers?

Two of the team were with me in Luxembourg and it was terrific for them to share in the occasion. I immediately let our sponsors and Lead Entrepreneurs know. The Leads are all volunteers. I dedicated the award to all those successful businesswomen who had given of their time to support others at an earlier stage of their entrepreneurial journey.  The achievement of the participants is their immediate validation, but this award further recognises their voluntary commitment.

paulawithprize [3]

What’s been the long-term impact?

Going for Growth is already very well known within Ireland. Winning this European award means that it’s now recognised across Europe. This is in line with our objective of having the initiative introduced in other European countries as a means of connecting ambitious female entrepreneurs so that they can network, learn from each other and do business together.

Why did you decide to enter the national competition?

I entered with my sights firmly set on winning the opportunity to showcase the initiative at a European level.  I wished (i) to influence policymakers across Europe to encourage women not just to create a job for themselves, but to develop businesses that were sustainable and could grow and (ii) to demonstrate that, with a tailored initiative such as Going for Growth,  female entrepreneurs could be encouraged to be ambitious and then supported to achieve their growth ambitions.

How did you go about preparing your application and making it award-winning?

I was also involved in the Senior Enterprise initiative, which won the same category in 2013. In both cases, we could show an initiative designed to tackle an identified challenge in an innovative manner, with measurable tangible outputs to demonstrate its impact. We accompanied the application with letters of support from well regarded third parties.

Finally, what advice would you give to others thinking of entering?

  1. Communicate the manner in which the initiative solves a real problem, which has European relevance as well as national importance.
  2. Ensure that the initiative has impact measurement incorporated into its design. (This is important not only for your sponsors and for entering competitions like the EEPA, but more importantly it allows you to refine the initiative as you implement it, so that it is continuously being improved.)
  3. Communicate  the impact of your initiative in terms of quantitative and qualitative outputs that are robust
  4. Be clear on the manner in which the initiative can be implemented in other countries across Europe.

To find out more about Paula and Going for Growth, visit the website at www.goingforgrowth.com [4].  

Watch the All for one, one for all [5] video about Paula.