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Culture

One Team Spirit

We all work together to maintain a friendly, positive atmosphere where everyone feels valued and cared for. Every day, we encourage, motivate and support each other. We're passionate about our unique team spirit. As one team, we own and nurture our vision, culture and values. 
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About Chess

Passionate About Technology

Every one of us at Chess is passionate about technology.  It's what we do best. Over the years we have built lasting relationships with all the UK's leading network providers, to make sure our customers have access to the full range of products and services that suit their individual needs. Today, we are delighted to offer the full spectrum of Voice & Connect, ICT, CyberSecurity and Digital services.

Not only do we pride ourselves on our award-winning service and solutions, we are extremely proud that our people voted us 1st in 'The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work for list 2018 after 9 consecutive years in the top 100. 

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Culture

Our Blueprint for Success

Our Blueprint sets out the reasons why we want to grow, our vision for the future, the areas we want to focus on and the importance we attach to our culture and values. All our people use it every day and at every opportunity; with suppliers, customers and in recruitment. It helps us explain who we are, and we use it to make sure we remain true to our values. Every Chess person uses the Blueprint to challenge the business and our leaders, if they feel we are not living up to our beliefs.

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winner of 52 awards

2018 1st in The Sunday Times '100 Best Companies To Work For' 2018

2017 O2 Digital & Customer Excellence Awards

2017 Won North West Regional Final of Million Makers Challenge

2017 Top Five of National Final of Million Makers Challenge

2017 Best Leader The Sunday Times '100 Best Companies To Work For'

2017 2nd in The Sunday Times '100 Best Companies To Work For' 2017

2017 Best Digital Marketing Innovation at CRN Sales & Marketing Awards

2017 BSI - ISO 14001 Environmental Management (EMS)

2017 BSI - ISO 9001 Quality Management

2016 National Champion Certificate in the Employer of the Year category at the 2016/17 European Business Awards

2016 2nd in The Sunday Times '100 Best Companies To Work For' 2016

2016 Shortlisted in UK Customer Experience Award Finals 2016

2016 BSI Environmental Standard

2016 BSI 9001 Quality Management

2015 3rd in The Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For

2015 Investor in People - Leader of the Year

2015 Northern Tech Awards - Top 15 Fastest Growing Technology Companies

2015 Northern Tech Awards - Top 50 Fastest Growing Companies

2015 Sunday Times Innovation in Engagement Practice

2015 MegaBuyte - UK Top 50 best performing privately-owned technology companies

2015 HR Excellence Awards - Most people focused CEO

2015 Customer First

2015 Investors in People

2015 BSI Environmental Standard

2015 BSI 9001 Quality Management

2015 Microsoft Partner - Gold Customer Relationship Management

2014 The Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For

2014 Comms National Award - Outstanding Industry Contribution Award (CEO David Pollock)

2014 North East Cheshire Business Awards - Excellence in Customer Service

2014 North East Cheshire Business Awards - Best Companies to Work For

2014 European Business Awards - UK Champion - Customer Focus

2014 Microsoft Gold Partner

2014 Microsoft Gold Customer Relationship Management

2013 The Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For

2012 The Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For

2012 Mobile Industry Awards

2011 Profit Track 100

2011 The Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For

2011 Institute of Customer Service

2010 BSI Environmental Standard

2010 The Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For

2009 Customer First

2009 Institute of Directors Cheshire Director of the Year — CEO David Pollock

2009 Sunday Times Tech Track 100

2008 BSI Environmental Standard

2008 National Training Award

2008 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year — CEO David Pollock

2008 Telecoms Industry Entrepreneur of the Year — CEO David Pollock

2007 Sunday Times Tech Track 100

2006 Sunday Times Fast Track 100

2000 Investors in People

1995 BSI 9001 Quality Management

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Leadership

Our People

We are all focused on making sure Chess is a great place to work, a great place to be a customer. Every day we strive to inspire, motivate and guide our people and to be role models for everyone.

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David Pollock
Chief Executive

David established Chess in 1993, named after his two eldest children — Charlie and Jessie.

Chess is Officially the best! It's #1 in The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For list 2018, and has been in the top 100 for the last nine years; 3rd in 2015, 2nd in 2016 and 2017.

David's also been awarded 'Best Leader' by The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2017 and 2018 and won the 'Innovation in Business' for his unique happiness training in 2016.

He won EY's UK Technology Entrepreneur of the Year in 2007 and 2008, Telecoms Industry Entrepreneur of the Year 2008, the Institute of Directors 'Cheshire Director of the Year' in 2009 and was made a Deputy Lieutenant of Cheshire in 2012.

His business career began at school, promoting bands to his friends. He quickly upscaled this, moving on to promoting music videos in Los Angeles! Over his career, he's founded many successful businesses, across a range of sectors; from utilities, property, energy, organic food to online marketing.

Today, David’s Chess employs over 550 people throughout the UK, serving over 40,000 business customers in the Information Communications Technology sector and has completed over 100 acquisitions.

In his charitable work David is an active supporter of the Prince's Trust and has been Chairman of the North West Development Committee since 2010. He's a Vice President of East Cheshire Hospice and was a Trustee of Active Cheshire a charity that encourages health and wellbeing from 2012 to 2017.

David also enjoys taking on physical challenges. In 2008 he led a team that won the Prince's Trust Costa Rica Challenge, and in 2009 his team came 2nd out of 42 teams in the Prince's Trust Wild UK Challenge. In 2011 and 2012 his team won The Prince's Trust Mersey to Tyne Challenge. In 2012 he summited Mont Blanc and Kilimanjaro in 2013.

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Stephen Dracup
Managing Director

Stephen is an experienced telecoms and IT professional with over 25 years industry experience. After graduating from the University of Manchester with a degree in English, Stephen started his career with Lister and Co PLC working for them for 12 years, rising to the position of Head of IT.

Stephen then set up Hoodpoint Communications, specialising in providing business phone systems and ran the business for 8 years until it was sold to Chess in 2005. Stephen stayed on at Chess as Head of Business Development and was made Managing Director in 2012, steering the company to its best ever financial results. Stephen is a father of 2 and lives in Cheshire.

I am proud to work with a great team of people who strive every day to make chess a great place to work and a great place to be a customer. The thing I enjoy the most is watching my team maximise their potential by working hard, having the right attitude and energy, continually embracing change, and most of all having fun while they do it.

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Warren Pryer
Sales Director

Warren spent his early career in the motor industry, working in sales and sales management positions for BMW. He then entered the telecoms industry in 1995 and joined Chess via an acquisition in 2004, becoming the businesses Group Sales Director. Warren is responsible for all sales divisions within Chess that includes Web-Sales, Account Development, Corporate and Wholesale.

An avid cyclist, Warren has completed many endurance events for the thrill of the challenge and to raise money for charities. At weekends he can be found cycling in the Peak District however has just taken on the renovation of a 250 year old cottage which he fears will restrict his time on the bike!

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Mark Lightfoot
Chief Financial Officer

Mark graduated from the University of Aston Business School with a 1st Class Degree in Business Studies and received the Vauxhall Prize for Academic Excellence. After university Mark joined an accountancy practice in Chester and qualified as a chartered accountant in 1999 and received the North Wales and Chester 1st prize Order of Merit.

Mark swapped practice for industry in 2000 and joined Edmundson Electrical Limited as a Project Accountant, progressing to Financial Controller. In 2006 Mark joined Chartered Loss Adjusters as Financial Controller. 2008 saw Mark join Chess as Financial Controller and was swiftly promoted to Financial Director and is now responsible for Finance, Credit Control, Billing, Commercial and Legal functions.

Mark was voted as one of the Hot 20 Financial Directors in 2012 and was shortlisted for the North West Director of the Year in 2013. His hobbies outside of work include keeping fit, listening to music, watching movies and most importantly spending time with his family.

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David Mason
Non-Executive Director

David is a company chairman, entrepreneur and chartered electronics engineer with experience of both private and listed companies. He has outstanding business expertise and in-depth experience of the Telecommunications industry, combined with a solid financial and engineering background.

As non-exec chairman and later exec chairman of this AIM listed business, David was instrumental in building Synchronica from an embryonic software company into one of the world’s leading mobile messaging businesses with 92 carrier clients and 11 handset OEMs. Raised over £20m of growth funding, made five acquisitions and sold to Myriad AG for £37 million in April 2012.

In March 2011, David has become a non-executive Director of Chess Telecom.

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Richard Btesh
Director

Richard is a prolific dealmaker with a record of more than 200 transactions (M&A, IPOs, JVs including cross border) as “corporate advisor” within the industry as Chairman and Director of private and listed companies. With a highly entrepreneurial approach, Richard has been instrumental in formulating Chess’ strategy for growth in turnover from £4m to £75m over the past 10 years as a result of bank-supported acquisition activity.

In 2013 Richard raced 1026 miles from Newbury to Budapest as part of the Gamma Ball Rally – under the condition that the racing vehicle was worth less than £500- playing his part in the wider community supporting The East Cheshire Hospice.

When not busy delivering strategic growth for Chess , Richard spends time enjoying his passion for Modern British Art, skiing and tennis.

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John Pett
Managing Director

John has over 25 years of management experience within the telecommunication and office equipment industry. Spending his first 10 years with Pitney Bowes, he ran regional as well as national sales and service teams until he joined his first telecommunications company, MCI WorldCom where he ran the national sme sales teams for 3 years. He then spent the next 7 years running very successfully both partner and direct sales channels for Cable & Wireless, Caudwell group & Carphone Warehouse before joining Avenir Telecom in 2008.

Since 2008 John has been the Sales Director who has been instrumental in building the strategic relationship with O2 & EE which set the foundations for growth over the next 6 years to the point in June 2014 where Chess Telecom acquired the business. Since the acquisition John has helped to integrate the business within the Chess Telecom group and is a key member of the senior management team within the Chess Partner Services division.

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Kate Wood
Culture Director

Kate's job is incredibly varied and she loves working at Chess. Our vision at Chess is “Great Place to Work, Great Place to be a Customer”.

Kate's team looks after the Great place to work bit. We know happy people make happy customers and it is their job to keep people happy while helping them develop and grow. Her team runs the office experience, the monthly week long induction for all new starters, integration of all people from acquisitions, launch new products, organise all training across the whole group including The Chess Leadership Academy and the award winning Personal Performance Programme. In 2017 on International Women's day she launched Chess' Empowering Women programme. 

Alongside this Kate manages the Cultural Architects and the internal cultural engagement, organising the fundraising and well-being events while ensuring we protect Chess’ unique culture.

In 2017 Chess raised over £80,000 for different charities and after being 2nd Best Company to Work for in the Sunday Times Top 100 list for 2 years running in 2018 I am so proud to say we are officially Sunday Times No 1 Company to Work for.

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Anne Binnie
HR Director

Anne has been with Chess since May 1994 and has worked in various functions across the business before moving into Human Resources, initially as HR Manager before becoming HR Director in 2005 having studied for her CIPD qualification at Stockport College. Anne has been responsible for the implementation and ongoing management of all of the general HR functions at Chess including Recruitment and Selection, Performance Management, Learning and Development, Benefits and Culture. In addition Anne and her team are responsible for office and facilities management both at Head Office in Cheshire and more recently our southern offices in Sandy, Bedfordshire and Borehamwood, North London.

Anne has one grown up daughter and her interests include youth work and walking her three dogs.

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David Bargh
Group Financial Controller

David joined Chess in January 2015, having previously been a senior audit manager at Ernst & Young (EY) – where Chess was one of his former clients. Having graduated from Lancaster University in 2004 with a BBA in Management, he joined EY and qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 2006. David has managed the audit of a portfolio of clients across the North West, primarily in the technology sector, including FTSE 100, FTSE 350, AIM, Private Equity backed and privately-owned companies.

Through this experience he has gained strong technical knowledge, including Listing Rules, Corporate Governance as well as advising on Financial Reporting issues and their implications to stakeholders – including IFRS, UK GAAP and US GAAP. In his time at Chess, David (a self-confessed perfectionist!) has set about improving the Quality of all aspects of our Financial Control across the Group. This has included planning and executing a major group reorganisation to align our external structure with how we report internally, a full system upgrade, implementation of an online expenses system and improving our reporting of the performance of acquisitions.

He is passionate about ensuring that his team maximise the opportunities available to them at Chess, such as gaining external qualifications, in order to realise their full potential. Outside of life at Chess, David loves spending time with his wife Kate, and two children - Jessie & Jack. He recently took his FA Level 1 Coaching qualification so that he could become a coach at Jack’s junior football team.

In addition to his ‘day job’ he also spent 3 years as Chairman of the Greater Manchester Board of Young Enterprise - ensuring that as many young people as possible, from a diverse range of backgrounds - can benefit from real-life entrepreneurial experience from a young age. His work with Young Enterprise has led him to be recognised with the Special Contribution Award at the North West Business Insider Young Professional of the Year Awards.

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Emma Stott
Customer Services Director

Emma joined the Chess Family in 2006 as part of the Customer Service Team. Her passion for delivering quality service and putting customers at the heart of everything she did saw her progress on her Chess journey from Customer Service Advisor to Head of Customer Service.

Emma is passionate about making Chess ‘a great place to be a customer’ and is continually looking at ways to make the customer experience even better. As Head of Customer Service, she guides her people to deliver exceptional service and support and immerses herself wholeheartedly into raising standards and improving processes to get it right first time for our customers.

Outside of the Chess Family, Emma loves to spend time with her friends and family, especially her little boy Eddie, listening to live music, going to festivals and getting out on her bike. Emma is adventurous at heart, including taking part in a skydive to raise money for charity, and if it wasn’t for the windy weather would have bungeed in the Grand Canyon on her last trip!

Her Chess Family would say that Emma is caring, compassionate and always has a smile on her face. Emma simply loves being around happy people and luckily her role gives her the opportunity to make her customers and colleagues smile.

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Keith Judson
Head of Network Sales

With 20 years of experience in the telecommunications industry, Keith has held leadership positions in various sectors. Now leading the Corporate Solution sales team, he has overall leadership responsibility and accountability for the sales growth of Chess’ unified products, focusing primarily in delivering tailored solutions to bigger sized companies. Keith specialises in technical programming of phone systems, customer account management, and internal and external operational management.

Keith is a big fan of Manchester United football club and he also enjoys playing poker. According to the legend he was the world poker champion and he is also famous for his poker face, just like Lady Gaga.

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Arvind Meghani
Billing Director

Arvind has over 20 years’ experience in the telecoms and IT technology industry. He started his career in the motor trade as an IT administrator and rapidly progressed to become an IT manager.

In the mid-1990s, Arvind joined ebillz as a developer and rapidly made progression up the ranks to become senior developer and in 2002 the head of software development. In 2004 Arvind was promoted to Operations Manager and in 2011 he was appointed Managing Director of ebillz. Outside of work, Arvind is an avid badminton player and plays semi-professionally. Arvind also likes spending time with his two sons, travelling and reading.

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James Pearce
Head of Transformation

James has a wealth of experience in business analysis, project management and leading business change programmes across retail, service, public sector and IT domains. Prior to joining Chess in 2014, James worked as part of a multi-million pound transformation programme for Manchester City Council, responsible for CRM development and customer journey initiatives.

Since joining Chess, James has held a number of roles, including customer facing consultancy and managing the project delivery portfolio for Chess acquisition, The CRM Business. More recently James has taken up post as Head of Transformation as part of the senior leadership team, responsible for the internal business and system change programme for Chess Group.

In his spare time, James enjoys golf, cooking, travel, and DJing.

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Timeline
Business Milestones
1993
Chess Born

Born in 1993, Chess is the invention of CEO, David Pollock. He’s so passionate about Chess that he christened the business after his first two children, Charlie and Jess. 

Originally a utilities reseller, Chess started out in water, then moved into gas, then electricity. In the late nineties, with deregulation in the industry, we started focusing on telecoms, purchasing fixed-line, mobile and broadband telecoms products from operators such as BT and Cable & Wireless, reselling to 10,000 small and medium-sized businesses, including Sale Sharks rugby club and Bargain Booze.

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1995
Investors in People

Investing in People for over 20 years. Culture, opportunity and leadership — these standards epitomise Chess and in 1995 the foundation was laid when we received the Investors in People accreditation.

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2005
100 People and the First Blueprint
Safeguarding Our Culture

After 12 years of growing and acquiring companies that buy into our ethos, we decided that if we carried on expanding, we wanted to make sure we protected all that we wanted to be as a business. We needed a plan.

For six months, we worked with a business growth consultant. During that period, we took the business on a journey to establish who we were and who we wanted to be. We talked to everyone, ran workshops, did surveys and took absolutely everything on board. What came out of that was our first Our Blueprint for Success.

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2006
The Sunday Times Fast Track 100

Reflecting our outstanding growth, Chess is featured in The Sunday Times Fast Track list for the first time. The Sunday Times Fast Track 100 league table ranks Britain’s 100 private companies with the fastest-growing sales over their latest three years.

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2010
BSI Environmental Standard

“To play our part in the wider community by minimising our impact on the environment.” – Our Blueprint for Success

In 2010 we decided to take our commitment to supporting our community and the environment to the next level by acquiring a BSI Environmental Standard. This accreditation is given to companies that want to manage their environmental responsibilities and make their day-to-day operations more sustainable.

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2010
ebillz — 50th Acquisition

In 2010 we acquired Shaftesbury Systems, giving our existing Wholesale customers the ebillz billing solution and allowing us a strategic growth opportunity by offering our award-winning telecoms services to their customers.

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2014
Avenir Telecom

With the formation of Chess Partner Services, we purchased the UK airtime division of Avenir Telecom Group. With their excellent reputation across the industry, this offered a real opportunity for partner and mobile growth, adding knowledge and expertise to our business.

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2015
IRW Acquisition
The Future is Digital

Continuing our buy-and-build growth strategy, we acquired leading Scottish Microsoft Partner and specialists in bespoke software design, development and support, IRW Systems. This resulted in the formation of Chess Digital and allowed us to be uniquely positioned to deliver a range of consulting and software services to our existing and new customers and partners. This foundation is essential for enabling the next wave of technological change for customers focusing on the transition to cloud-based technologies and applications.

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2015
3rd in The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For

"Over the last 22 years our people have focused on our vision of building a business to be proud of, a great place to work and a great place to be a customer. To have been listed as 3rd in the UK’s Best Companies to Work For and win the Innovation in Engagement Award is something everyone at Chess can feel truly proud of. We really are a great place to work and we strive every day to be a great place to be a customer."

David Pollock
CEO and Chess founder  
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2016
2nd in The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For

Chess marked its seventh consecutive year in the list by rising from 3rd place in 2015 to 2nd place in 2016.

“Everyone at Chess is committed to building an energetic, hard-working, fun and exciting place to work that attracts, retains and inspires people to give their best. It is this total commitment by our people to Chess Culture that makes us one of the Best Companies to Work for in the UK and “a great place to be a customer” As it says in our blueprint for success, as proud as we are of our past achievements we’re excited by the future…. A great start to 2016.”

DAVID POLLOCK
CEO AND CHESS FOUNDER  
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2016
Lanway Acquisition

In a move to strengthen our ICT proposition Chess acquired Lanway. Lanway provided a full range of hosted and cloud solutions, ICT product supply and installation, storage, managed services, networking infrastructure, data security, professional services, business continuity, unified communications and systems management. This acquisition took Chess people to over 550, maximizing the talent, knowledge, experience and skill set within the business and strengthening our ICT, network and mobile capabilities.

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2017
Foursys Acquisition
Expanding our business into the cybersecurity market we welcomed multi-award-winning cybersecurity provider Foursys.

Named a Top UK Education Partner for Sophos, the Foursys’ team of experts service customers across the UK and have 20 years’ experience delivering cybersecurity consultancy to public sector, SMB, corporate, and enterprise organisations.

“Cybersecurity is of upmost importance for any modern business. Foursys share our passion for delivering technological advantage and, importantly, this acquisition enhances our security offering to our customers. Together with their expertise, we have the talent and technology needed to deliver truly integrated solutions across enterprise, mobile and cloud environments.”

DAVID POLLOCK
CEO AND CHESS FOUNDER 
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2017
2nd in The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For & Best Leader for David Pollock

Following eight consecutive years in the highly-coveted 100 Best Companies list, not only were we placed 2nd in the 2017 mid-size category, but founder and Chief Executive of Chess, David Pollock, was also named the UKs Best Business Leader.

For David, this most recent accolade follows a career-long record of personal successes including previously being named the Ernst and Young UK Technology Entrepreneur of the Year 2007, Telecoms Industry Entrepreneur of the Year 2008 Institute of Directors – Cheshire Director of the Year 2009 and receiving the ‘Outstanding Industry Contribution’Award at the Comms National Awards 2014.

 “The Best Leader accolade is an award for all Chess leaders who work tirelessly to make Chess a great place to work. As a business, we’ve been voted 2nd, an amazing achievement after being listed for eight years in the top 100! I’m proud to work at Chess, I’m proud to work with all our great people and I’m proud of how hard we drive the business to not only be a great place to work but to be a great place to be a customer… Today is a day to celebrate our success, what a great way to start 2017.”

 

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2018
Officially #1
Chess is Officially the Best Company to Work for in the UK!

Chess wins the coveted accolade of being named #1 in ‘The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For in the UK’, following nine consecutive years in the list, having come 3rd in 2015 and 2nd in 2016 and 2017. Chess’ Founder and CEO, David Pollock, also wins the award of being named ‘Best Leader’ for the Second Year Running. 

“I'm so proud that we've finally made it to first place. I was also thrilled to be named 'Best Leader' for the second year in a row, an award for all our great leaders at Chess. We couldn't achieve half of what we do without the support of our people, our loyal customers, our partners and our suppliers. We are passionate about making Chess not only a great place to work but also a great place to be a customer.

“It is this total commitment by our people that makes us the Best Company to Work for in the UK and I couldn’t be more proud. A great start to 2018 and a great way to celebrate our 25th year in business.”

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1993

1995

2005

2006

2010

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

1993
Chess Born
1993
BSI ISO 9001 Quality Management
1995
Investors in People
2001
1st Acquisition
2002
£1M per Year Turnover
2005
100 People and the First Blueprint
2006
£1M per Month Turnover
2006
The Sunday Times Fast Track 100
2007
The Sunday Times Tech Track 100
2008
The Sunday Times Tech Track 100
2010
First Time in the The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For
2010
BSI Environmental Standard
2010
ebillz — 50th Acquisition
2011
Institute of Customer Service Award Winner
2011
The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For
2011
The Sunday Times Profit Track 100
2012
The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For
2012
Our Blueprint for Success Refresh
2013
75th Acquisition
2013
200 People
2013
The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For
2013
Acquired The CRM Business
2014
£1M per Month EBITDA
2014
The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For
2014
Parachute IT Acquisition
2014
Avenir Telecom
2015
IRW Acquisition
2015
3rd in The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For
2015
400 Chess People
2015
Our Blueprint for Success Refresh
2016
2nd in The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For
2016
Lanway Acquisition
2016
Pinnacle Acquisition
2016
Cyber Essentials Accreditation
2017
Foursys Acquisition
2017
2nd in The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For & Best Leader for David Pollock
2018
Officially #1