CEO celebrates 25 years at BFA

Pip Wilkins joined the association in 1999 as a business services assistant

CEO celebrates 25 years at BFA

Pip Wilkins, Chief Executive of the BFA (British Franchise Association), is celebrating her 25th anniversary working for the largest and most established franchise association in the UK today.

Wilkins joined the BFA in 1999 at the age of 19 as a business services assistant, working behind the scenes with member data and event administration. For the next 25 years she worked her way up through every role in the association from events to client services, business development to operations – finally securing the role as chief executive in 2016 at the age of 37.

Twenty five years on Wilkins says she is most proud of making the association a more modern, inclusive and diverse place for staff, members, advisors and suppliers. 

“Since taking on the role as CEO the association has reported year on year increased engagement across its portfolio of services, pointing to a more connected community that is keen to continue evolving, learning and growing together,” she said, adding: “It has taken a lot of hard work to bring about a culture change at the BFA, to shake the ‘elitist club’ status and to make us a more inclusive place for all.”

Wilkins also noted: “It’s funny to look back on what the association was 25 years ago. When I first started, we had a post room, and a key part of my role was making and posting out vast prospect and member packs. Everything was fax machines and snail mail.”

A key indicator of her success has been the annual EWIB (Encouraging Women In Business) event.  As a passionate advocate for women in business, Wilkins led the way in creating a space for women to come together, to connect and ultimately, to feel safe to be their authentic selves. 

Her intention was always for EWIB to be an event like no other. One which doesn’t just enhance professional lives but goes one step further by impacting the various aspects of being a businesswoman in today’s world. Last year, the BFA celebrated a decade of EWIB, with 198 women coming together for the event.

Looking ahead, Wilkins says her direction for the future of the BFA is simple: “More education and promotion.” 

She added: “Franchising still needs to be recognised on a wider scale, both at an educational and business level. We are working hard to spread the word through increased PR and marketing activities. 

“The education of the next generation is also high on our agenda, and I am delighted to confirm we are in final stage talks with a leading University, to bring franchising into the academic world. 

Wilkins further noted: “Finally, as ever, we are listening to our members and acting on their wants and needs. Our recent member survey has provided some key areas of development and if the last 25 years have taught me anything, it is that with a strong team and engaged membership behind us, we can accomplish anything.  

The BFA holds a full list of all of its members and the code of ethics to which these members adhere to on its website: 

Martin Morris
Martin Morris