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Double Queen’s Awards: One Year On

One Year On

This month marks one year since we received our double Queen’s Awards.

The awards are tangible recognition of our team’s hard work and commitment. We’re still just as proud today to be Queen’s Award holders as we were when we first received them.

This time last year, 4 members of the DriveWorks team had been to Buckingham Palace for the Queen’s Awards winners reception. Whilst there, they met and spoke with HRH Prince Charles.

We then hosted a Digital Technology and Automation open day, where we were presented with our Queen’s Awards for Innovation and International Trade.

We couldn’t have predicted the year that would unfold following receiving our Queen’s Awards but our commitments to innovation and international traderecognised by our Queen’s Awards, have helped us to remain strong and efficient throughout this pandemic.

Let’s take a look back at what’s happened in the past year.

Our Double Queen’s Award Presentation and Technology Open Day 

On Friday 6th September 2019, we held our Queen’s Award Presentation and Digital Technology & Automation Open Day at our corporate headquarters in Thelwall, Warrington.

Proudly flying the Queen’s Award flag, we welcomed 135 guests to join us.

We gathered in the courtyard in front of the Barley Store, as the Lord-Lieutenant of Cheshire, Mr David Briggs M.B.E. presented the two awards and Royal Grant of Appointments to our company founders, DriveWorks CEO Glen Smith and Vice President, Maria Sarkar, on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen.

The Queen’s Awards are the highest award available to UK businesses, recognising outstanding achievement.

More than 200 businesses, including 151 small and medium enterprises, were awarded Queen’s Awards for Enterprise in April.

In 2019, only 6 companies received a Double Queen’s Award, and we were extremely proud to be one of them! 

David Briggs M.B.E described the awards as “a truly great achievement and a testament to the hard work and commitment from the entire DriveWorks team”.

Amongst the guests joining us to celebrate our achievements were Cllr Wendy Johnson, Mayor of Warrington, Faisal Rashid, Local MP for Warrington South, members of the Warrington Business Exchange, DriveWorks customers, resellers, friends, family and many other members of the local community.

We set up technology demonstrations to showcase our award-winning software and give guests the opportunity to see the software in action.

There were live configurators, videos, 3D printers and virtual reality to explore.

Surviving a Pandemic

When the pandemic hit in early 2020, there was a lot of uncertainty for many businesses. Companies struggled to adjust and employees were furloughed or let go.

For us, we were very grateful for our previous investments in technology, and our ongoing commitment to digital transformation. Our team are well set up for working remotely and we were able to transition to completely working from home overnight.

We have remained open and operational throughout. All our teams have continued to work hard and support our channel as usual.

As we settled into a new way of working, it wasn’t just business as usual for our team. If anything, it was business with a boost!

Whilst it’s still been uncertain and difficult at times, our team have embraced this time as an opportunity to improve, create and innovate. With reduced travel, events and other external activities, we adapted some roles within the company, giving us more time to spend on creating great training content and learning materials for our customers and resellers.

We’ve also been hearing from our customers who have been embracing change. Some companies changed their manufacturing to provide much-needed supplies, some worked on new product ideas, and others used this time to improve and work on projects they don’t usually have time for.

Many of our customers are focusing on moving forward and working smarter.

Continuously Innovating

We are really proud to have been recognised with a Queen’s Award for Innovation. Innovation is at our core and we’re constantly investing, researching, developing and moving forward.

Following receiving the awards last year, we released two software service packs, DriveWorks 17 SP1 and DriveWorks 17 SP2.

We then went into lockdown at a critical stage of the release process for our next major software version, DriveWorks 18 – testing! Every release of DriveWorks is tested rigorously. As a team, we rely on our software and we know our customers do too, so it’s vital that every software version we release is robust, obvious and innovative.

We’re proud that we released a major software version, rigorously tested (and used by us!) during a global pandemic whilst our team were all working remotely.

As always we also released a full online help file for DriveWorks 18 and provided training resources and hands-on classes as part of DriveWorks World 2020.

DriveWorks World is our annual technical training event and an opportunity to bring our community together for learning, networking and sharing ideas. It’s such a valuable event for our customers, resellers and partners.

Whilst the global situation stopped us from hosting a face to face event, we still wanted to provide an opportunity for DriveWorks users to learn and connect. So this year we reimagined DriveWorks World into an online, digital event.

Digital DriveWorks World was a great success, with over 200 DriveWorks customers, resellers and partners from around the world joining us for a week of learning, networking and sharing ideas – all online.

Exporting to More Countries

The Queen’s Awards are highly respected in many countries. Being recognised with the awards strengthened our position in those countries. Since receiving the awards, we’ve added 8 new resellers from around the world, some of them in new countries and markets for us.

As a Queen’s Award for International Trade recipient, our CEO and VP were invited to the Institute of Export & International Trade Gala Dinner. This was a fantastic opportunity to meet Queen’s Awards winners and network with other UK business leaders. We have now joined the Institute of Export & International Trade to stay connected with other exporters.

Maria Sarkar, VP of DriveWorks has since been appointed Northern Powerhouse Export Champion. This programme focuses on raising awareness of the benefits of exporting, communicating where to go for support, and inspiring more companies to start trading internationally (or to expand their current reach).

We’re also continuing with our commitment to helping more companies to expand their reach with DriveWorks software. Creating an online product configurator with DriveWorks enables companies to use the power of digital to sell to anyone, anywhere, online 24/7.

Our strong international channel helped us to survive the pandemic. Whilst the UK was still in lockdown, with many companies pausing or changing production, other countries were coming back. Like most companies, sales slowed down for us but we are fortunate not to rely on one economy.

Manufacturers all over the world began to realise, more than ever, the importance of digital transformation and are looking to invest in technology like DriveWorks to improve their processes and work smarter.

Working as a Team

We’re a close-knit team and often get together to share knowledge and engage in fun activities.

Since our open day, we’ve celebrated Ruby’s birthday (Ruby is a very special member of our team – a black labrador!), enjoyed our Christmas Party and ate lots of pancakes on pancake day.

At our Christmas party last year, we even used our own software to automate Secret Santa!

We’ve continued to add to our knowledge in many ways, learning together and sharing knowledge. Many of our team have completed courses and received new certifications, including in SOLIDWORKS and the 3D Experience Platform.

Since receiving the Queen’s Awards our team has continued to grow. We’ve welcomed 4 placement students, 1 graduate, and 6 full-time employees, as well as welcoming back previous placement students in new graduate scheme roles.

Eight of those employees joined our team in the middle of the pandemic and whilst they’ve missed out on some usual team activities, they’ve settled into their new roles really well and have still been able to get to know each other and the rest of the team virtually.

We’ve hosted regular virtual team quizzes, continued with our weekly Show & Tell sessions over teams, and kept in touch with each other using technology.

Our entire team have adjusted really well to the change in the way we work over the last 6 months, and it’s a testament to our company attitude of adapting and embracing change.

Supporting Communities

We’re lucky to be involved in many great communities and we’re committed to supporting them in any way we can.

We’re proud sponsors of SOLIDWORKS User Groups (SWUG). We attend and support user group meetings. We host our own annual award for DriveWorks SWUG leader of the year and we’ve received awards from the community too – we were awarded SWUGN Partner of the Year Award two years running and in 2020, Heather from our team received the SWUGN Choice Award for SOLIDWORKS Community Champion of the Year. The SWUGN community have shown their appreciation for our support in many ways, with Chicago SWUG even presenting us with a plaque of appreciation this year.

One of the main reasons we support communities is to build a strong future for STEM.

FIRST® is a not-for-profit public charity designed to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology. First Robotics competition teams have had access to DriveWorksXpress for many years and we’ve supported them with free learning resources. However, this year, we added to our sponsorship and now offer free licenses of DriveWorks Solo, alongside online training and learning resources to help them take automation even further and focus on quality robot design.

We released a brand new DriveWorks Solo Certification, so SWUG members, FIRST Robotics teams, and any other SOLIDWORKS users and students can add an extra certification to their CV. It’s available online so SOLIDWORKS users can get certified from anywhere, at any time.

Closer to home, we’ve been heavily involved in our local Cheshire & Warrington Pledgesupporting education. Before lockdown we hosted two Digital Work Experience Days, inviting local students to spend a day with us and learn about future career opportunities. We’ve also been involved in virutal events throughout the pandemic, to keep students engaged and motivated, and helping them to make the most of their time.

We’ve also contributed towards our local community centre car park and a nearby care home looking to add new technology.

We’re pleased to have been able to continue supporting these communities virtually during the pandemic. We’ve created digital resources and joined in with virtual events.

Attending Events

Autumn last year was busy as usual for our team, as we attended many SOLIDWORKS Reseller Roll-Out Events. Every year we attend as many reseller events as we can. We often present, teach a session and have a booth so delegates can try one of our configurators and see our software in action. In 2019, we visited 14 countries, attending 48 events held by 22 different resellers.

In February, we then headed off to the states for 3D Experience World 2020. This was our team’s 20th year at the event. Our team showcased our software on our busy booth, presented about DriveWorks and taught sessions, helping SOLIDWORKS users gain a DriveWorksXpress Certification. We also heard from inspiring keynote speakers and joined in with community activities.

Many events are different at the moment but technology is bringing communities together, giving us all the chance to stay connected. We made our own annual event virtual this year, Digital DriveWorks World, and we’ve had the opportunity to get involved in many other virtual events, staying connected with the community and providing more opportunities to learn.