With preparations underway for the Wales STEM Awards 2021, we couldn’t help but reflect on the incredible achievements of our 2020 winners.

Following the inaugural award ceremony last year, we caught up with the class of 2020 to share their stories with you.

Next up we have Companies House who were named winner of the Innovation in Mathematics Award for their efforts over the last 3 years to introduce and embed data science and advanced analytics within the culture of the organisation, which is now an integral part of its operations. The team now applies advanced mathematical and statistical methods to produce high quality analysis and operational models.

What does your company do?

For the best part of 200 years, Companies House has acted as the formal register of all companies in the UK. But that only tells part of our story. Formed in 1844 with our headquarters in Cardiff, Companies House also makes the information contained on that register available to a wide range of users including companies, investors, researchers, credit reference agencies, law enforcement agencies and government arms, as well as the public in general. Those users can then make important decisions based on that information, ones that range from combating economic crime to fuelling economic growth.

Why did you enter the Wales STEM Awards?

Companies House is one of the largest employers of STEM candidates in Wales. We are a remarkably creative and innovative organisation, working to collaboratively solve problems, and innovation lies at the heart of what STEM is all about. We’re committed to the development of all our staff and proud to be a STEM sector employer. We promote STEM through schools. We run many apprentice and graduate programmes. We attend STEM-related events such as graduate fairs. Our digital, data and technology directorate encompasses 20% of the whole of the organisation. STEM isn’t something that Companies House has just discovered. It’s something we’ve been committed to for a long, long time.

What does winning a Wales STEM Award mean for your business?

To be recognised by the Wales STEM Awards as an organisation that creates and develops innovative mathematical products and processes in order to improve performance was both thrilling and humbling. Companies House keeps the register of all companies in the UK. We keep that information up to date. We play our part in making sure the economy keeps going. You don’t tend to think of the words ‘Companies House’ and ‘awards’ in the same sentence!

What did you think of the virtual awards ceremony?

Very 2020! And very 2021, come to think of it.

What’s been a challenge for your business during the last year and how did you overcome it?

Once again, the virtual aspect of everything. In more recent times Companies House has made a concerted effort to become more agile in terms of speeding up its workflow and being able to respond swiftly to events. The giant steps made in this department proved crucial over the course of a challenging 2020 as many organisations, including the government, turned to Companies House for up-to-date information to make key decisions during the Covid-19 national emergency. It’s about having the confidence, structure and culture all lined up so you can be really adaptive and offer solutions, something we’ve done throughout the Covid-19 pandemic despite having virtually our entire staff working from home.

What’s been a highlight for your business during the last year and why?

When Covid-19 struck, Companies House was presented with the challenge not only of moving almost all of its 1,000 employees to the relative safety of their homes, but also making sure that the companies on its register, all 4.63 million of them, were in a position where they could still file their statutory accounts. It was a mammoth task, one the UK economy – which relies on information provided by Companies House – was depending on us to get right. And we did get it right, winning plaudits from stakeholders, accountancy groups and customers for the way we responded so quickly and effectively in the face of adversity. Also, when we were asked to provide government Ministers with information to support key decisions, we were able to move swiftly, often providing fast, up-to-date data on a daily basis. That’s another highlight.

What are your goals for 2021?

To keep on doing what we managed to do throughout 2020, despite all the challenges.

What, in your opinion, can be done to inspire more young people to pursue careers in STEM?

Companies House has long been proud of its graduate recruitment process, one that’s open to everybody and embraces diversity and inclusion. We want to do all we can to inspire young people from all backgrounds into pursuing careers in STEM. Recent times have been challenging beyond our wildest dreams, but they have shown the power of collaborating and using creativity to solve problems, and for us that is where STEM careers can have so much impact.

What, or who, is exciting you in the STEM sector in Wales?

Probably the most exciting thing is seeing how communities and industries use technology to adapt to the current circumstances. Seeing how we are all using technology to adapt and find ways of communicating – and how this will potentially change the way that we work and even get to work – is really exciting.

What do you think could be done to help the STEM sector in Wales?

We have world class organisations and people in Wales in a range of sectors. We need to do more to communicate that Wales is a hub for STEM activities, be it learning or employment opportunities.