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Head of Connect Derby wins Regional Leadership Award

Head of Connect Derby wins Regional Leadership Award

Ann Bhatti, head of Derby City Council’s Connect Derby managed workspace scheme, has been recognised for her work supporting local businesses during the pandemic at the East Midlands Leadership Awards 2022.

Ann, who joined Derby City Council in 2003 and has been managing the Connect Derby scheme since 2014, won the Public & Third Sector Award at this year’s awards, which took place at the Crowne Plaza in Nottingham.

The East Midlands Leadership Awards, which are organised by Business Desk, celebrate the leaders throughout the region that set a shining example for people within their organisations. Winners of the awards have had a positive impact on both their employees and the wider community.

The Public & Third sector award honours those leaders who have been innovative and adapted successfully when faced with immense pressure over the last few years.

Ann is the driving force behind the Connect Derby scheme which has kick-started the office market in Derby and has been the blueprint for modern serviced offices. She leads an 18 strong all-female team to manage seven successful managed workspaces whilst also supporting tenants whose businesses and livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic.

Over the past two years Ann and her team have been at the forefront of the city’s economic recovery, helping to rebuild confidence and providing businesses with the support, guidance, and flexible accommodation they need to get back on their feet again.

During the pandemic, Ann also took over the management of the historic Derby Market Hall, putting in place procedures to support traders during a period of transition caused by the effects of the pandemic and the multimillion-pound transformation of the Market Hall.

Connect Derby’s recent annual business community survey underlines the results of Ann and her team’s hard work, with a massive 97% of respondents agreeing that Connect Derby meets or exceeds their expectations for the support it provides.

Connect Derby also maintained its ISO 9001 certification for another year, which reinforces its commitment to putting its customers first and highlights its dedication to continuous improvement.

Despite the current trading conditions, occupancy levels at Connect Derby remain at more than 79%, with 5% currently under offer.

Commenting on the award win, Ann said:

“It is such a privilege to be awarded the Public & Third Sector Award at this year’s East Midlands Leadership Awards.

“This award is given to leaders who have driven a cultural change in their organisation, which has been a key focus of mine given the shift in the managed workspace sector as a result of the pandemic.

“We have created a range of new packages for tenants, from fully furnished offices to hybrid working to make sure that all tenants are satisfied with our services.

“A huge thanks to the Connect Derby team for all their hard work. I look forward to continuing and developing my leadership skills at Connect Derby.”

Sam Metcalf, editor of The Business Desk, added:

“Firstly, congratulations to all our winners and shortlisted companies. The standard of this entries to the Leadership Awards this year was stronger than ever, and the judges had the toughest time picking a shortlist – never mind a winner.

“I’d like to extend my thanks to them – and everyone else who had a hand in making the East Midlands Leadership Awards such a success.”

Councillor Jonathan Smale, Cabinet Member for Finance, Assets and Digital Services, said:

“I am delighted that Ann has been recognised for her strong and innovative leadership skills, which have helped to establish Connect Derby as Derby’s leading managed workspace provider and brought huge economic benefits to the city.

“Over the past two years, Ann has been a trusted source of support for tenants whose businesses and livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic. Ann is an inspirational figure to her staff, those she mentors, and to the wider business community. She continues to go above and beyond to support SMEs and start-ups which are vital to Derby’s continued economic recovery.”

The multi-million Connect Derby project includes seven managed workspaces and provides SMEs, micro businesses and entrepreneurs with the high specification working environment, IT infrastructure and business support they need to act as a catalyst for expansion and growth.

For further information about the Connect Derby portfolio of buildings, contact Sonia Kang on 01332 742800, email

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