Although not many organisations can claim to have done well over the past year, there are a few exceptions. Companies who against the odds have demonstrated growth despite a difficult market. I am delighted to say that over the past 12 months, Criticaleye has been one of a small number of organisations that have prospered and developed in a difficult economy. Through hard work and strategic partnerships we've increased the member base over the last year so that now, more than ever, the strength and influence of The Network of Leaders is clear to see.  
At a time when many companies are making reductions across the board, Criticaleye has increased its Associate panel by 50 per cent and its Advisory Board Members by almost a quarter (21 per cent). We have also been recruiting throughout the year to bring in the skills needed to drive Criticaleye's plans for future growth, growing the workforce by over 10 per cent. Our members recognise this expansion. Martin Balaam, former CEO, Redstone plc comments: "I have always been impressed with the ethos within Criticaleye for continuous improvement. Many organisations have this mantra but few actually deliver on it year on year. Over the last 12 months, I have been equally impressed at the improved website, the quality of new members and the increased opportunities to meet with like-minded individuals to discuss and debate current issues." Rob Woodward, CEO, Scottish Television Group plc adds to this by saying: "Criticaleye has continued to build its position of strength as the network of leaders across the business community."

Clearly, our investment in the website has played a large part in our success. Over the past year, we have seen over 100 per cent increase in visits to the site, the average time spent on it has almost doubled and clicks on the site have increased five-fold. Of course, member endorsements are what really count. Brendan Hynes, CEO, Nichols plc believes that, "the online developments, providing access to high quality thought leadership has been a key success for members unable to attend as many meetings as they would like." Ian McCubbin, SVP Strategy & Global Logistics, GlaxoSmithKline, expands on this: "Much has been done to try to expand the contact between members, for example by the website changes, but thankfully, the personal touch has been retained and continues to separate the Criticaleye network from all others."

Indeed, much of Criticaleye's success over the past year is rooted in our ability to provide a safe space for senior executives to ask questions and share concerns. This is the premise with which we founded Criticaleye and it continues as the driving force of the business. The challenges of the downturn have only exacerbated the need for a platform where executives can interact with their peers. Stephen Karle, Chairman, Colmore Row Capital Limited summarises this when he says: "Over the course of recent months it has become clear that Criticaleye has emerged from a carefully-planned metamorphosis and has taken wing with a new-found self confidence in its future role. Criticaleye were not to have known the economic context in which their plans were to be launched and it must be deeply satisfying to them to have continued unabated and experienced such early successes."

The relevance of Criticaleye for today's leader continues to be key to our growth. As Nicky Bicket, Director, Group Corporate Affairs and Group Strategy, Old Mutual plc says: "No matter what your business, there can only ever be one objective: identify your customer, give them what they want and look after them so that they keep coming back for more. Criticaleye understands this perfectly." Jeremy Small, Group Company Secretary, AXA UK plc also comments: "Criticaleye has become increasingly focused and well-positioned during a very uncertain period. It seems to me that a good balance has been struck over the last year between events that address the current economic situation head on and those that continue to reflect the myriad business needs of members, a difficult feat to achieve."

Members comment not only on the relevance of the events, but the quality of the research and articles that we provide. As Stephen Pain, Chairman, Advisory Board, The Group points out: "Increasingly, I think of Criticaleye as a kind of real-time business school offering continual access, either face to face or online, to an almost unparalleled depth and breadth of current and relevant, multi-disciplinary management skill and experience."

We are confident that Criticaleye will continue its development going forward. Why? Ian Harley, Non-executive Director, John Menzies plc encapsulates perfectly the reason for our success when he says: "Criticaleye is demonstrating an impressive ability to change quickly and appropriately as the needs and circumstances of its members and associates change. More importantly, this change has not resulted in any deterioration in the quality of the membership or the offering. In fact, it has become even better. A nice trick, if you can do it."

Going forward, we are committed to further investment in Criticaleye. The publication of issue 18 of the Review, our bi-annual business journal, is now imminent and Autumn will see a continued emphasis on the excellent service levels to Members.     

Matthew Blagg, CEO, Criticaleye