Get to know our new chair: Daniel Nikolla

Posted by: JasmineThompson
Posted on: 13/12/2022

It was announced today that Daniel Nikolla has taken over the reins as Generation Next chair from Emma Baumback. The marketing manager at Burton-based Hardy Signs has spent the past year supporting the board of champions at the young professionals network as vice chair. Daniel tells us a bit more about his plans for his term as chair.

What has your career journey been to date and what does your current role involve?

My career has taken me to work in the finance, creative and manufacturing sectors. I have been part of Hardy Signs since April 2018, when I joined as a marketing executive and eventually progressed to the current role.

Before moving to Hardy Signs in the Midlands, I studied and worked in London, a city with which I hold a very close link to. My current role is primarily marketing and a fair amount of business development, but it constantly evolves. At Hardy Signs, I’m grateful to have been given the freedom to develop my role and team, and it allowed me to get out and network.

What have been your biggest achievements to date and how did they come about?

I’m proud and honoured to have been trusted with the role as chair of Generation Next. I have been lucky to have several peaks when it comes to achievements.

My top two are the work I have led at Hardy Signs in terms of digital integrations, inbound campaigns through SEO and other digital and traditional marketing techniques, which have boosted the turnover by several hundreds of thousands of pounds. While they continue to grow every year, I feel proud to have introduced them and thankful to the team for helping to achieve them.

My other significant achievement would be keeping in touch with all my old connections. Making new connections is great, but keeping in touch with the past has proven very efficient. Some of the best opportunities for me individually and for my role within Hardy Signs have come from people with whom I have kept in touch with.

These have helped me win the Young Professional of the Year at the Derbyshire Business Awards, and Birmingham Future Face of Sales, Marketing and Communications in 2020. This year, I was delighted to be a finalist for the Recent Graduate Award at the University of West London Alumni Awards.

Alongside Generation Next, I also help The British-Kosovar Chambers of Commerce and recently founded the Albanian Young Professionals Midlands network. I hope some of the members will eventually join Generation Next, too.

A fantastic campaign that deserves mention is the annual running campaign I started in 2021. In 2022, 250 runners ran for a Down’s Syndrome charity, and we raised €25,000.

When were you first introduced to Generation Next?

I was first introduced to Generation Next in 2020 at Love Business Expo. Kate Nemeth and Jasmine Thompson approached our Hardy Signs stand, and told us about Generation Next. I remember we took plenty of pictures, too, and I joined eventually.

I was drawn to Generation Next’s vision and values straightaway because when I first moved to the Midlands, I struggled to find networks where I could meet other young people. There are some exceptional young professionals in the region, and I have been delighted to call some of them friends.

What has been your involvement in the network and how has it supported your career so far?

Before joining Generation Next, I was a member of Future Faces, Birmingham Chamber’s young professionals network – but I decided to put my efforts and experience into a new network that would develop opportunities in the East Midlands.

This network is so much fun!

I joined the board at the beginning of 2021 and have supported the work of the ‘board of champions’ and our chair for the past two years, Emma Baumback. She has been a rising star and has led us with a lot of courage, determination and kindness. In January 2022, I was appointed as the vice chair of the board and led the content and learning committee.

Being involved with Generation Next has helped me connect with hundreds of young professionals, as well as other more experienced ones. Our network has helped me with continuous professional development, and given me a boost of soft skills and knowledge around various subjects.

In simple terms, you get as much as you put in. It has supported me through personal and company profile building, forming partnerships and new business, finding a mentor or a mentee, running for awards, having access to a vast pool of talent and learning material, and so much more!

What are your ambitions for your time as Generation Next chair?

Our network has got a bright future! To unlock that potential, we need to raise our profile even further to support more business leaders in the region.

My ambitions for my year in the chair are:

  1. Offer more advice and guidance to employers about attracting young talent in the East Midlands

We want to find out how young people in different sectors prefer to work nowadays. Following this, we would like to create a toolkit which would serve as advice for employers, employees and key stakeholders in the region.

  1. Run more video campaigns across the year with topics such as wellbeing, entrepreneurship, equality, diversity and inclusion and skills

  2. Reach out to potential members in the East Midlands and position the organisation as a leading young professionals’ network through an increased media presence

I would love to see our board and members talking to the media about all things related to young people in business and youth in general.

  1. Grow our membership base to 400 members during my term

  2. Help four more partners get on board with Generation Next

  3. Take a stance on key developments that impact the region’s young people.

I look forward to working with our board of champions, all our members and the Chamber team to achieve my objectives.


The Generation Next board of champions are a group of forward-thinking and talented young professionals from across the East Midlands that take an active role in the development of our activity and profile. Find out more about our board here

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