Forward Ladies has announced the winners of the National Awards and Summit for 2018, sponsored by HSBC UK. The Awards took place on Friday 12th October at a celebration lunch at The Lowry Hotel, Manchester before an inspirational audience of senior and influential business leaders.
The esteemed National Awards were introduced nine years ago to acknowledge and promote the fact that women are an integral and invaluable part of every business. This year, Forward Ladies continues to recognise and honour the most respected businesswomen, across a wide range of business categories.
Forward Ladies Managing Director Griselda Togobo said: “It is 100 years since women first got the right to vote in the UK, but gender equality remains elusive. Whilst we have clearly made progress over the years, our mission to achieve equality and bring diversity to leadership roles is not yet complete.
“That said, this has been another fantastic year for women and that should be celebrated, and through our National Awards we are once again delighted to be working in partnership with HSBC UK to showcase the very best women in business here in the UK.
“The calibre of entries has been increasing year on year, and our regional shortlists are the everyday heroines, trailblazers and role models who have succeeded despite enormous challenges. They deserve recognition.”
Jennifer Crawley, Head of Performance for Small Business Banking at HSBC UK and chief judge for Forward Ladies, said: “We’re proud to be working with Forward Ladies as part of our ongoing commitment to support women in business across the UK.
“Each year we are inspired by the number of high-calibre entries, and this year has highlighted the exceptionally talented businesswomen we have in the UK. These entrants are the future entrepreneurs of our country and play a critical role in our economy.”
For the first time, Forward Ladies is recognising men who are championing and leading the drive for diversity and inclusivity in their businesses and the wider community, and this year the Male Agent of Change award was presented to Chris Earle, CEO of Verastar.
Chris has created a culture for a truly diverse workforce with equal opportunities for all in the company. He believes that if you make a positive contribution within an organisation, you will succeed, irrespective of your background, race or gender.
The twelve category winners will now take part in a judging day in Manchester in November, before a distinguished panel of business leaders, where they will join finalists from regional events in the Midlands, Yorkshire and the North East, and London and the South. The overall national winner will be announced at the Grand Final to be held in Leeds on the 7th December.
The keynote speaker was Helen Walbey, Managing Director of Recycle Scooters in Aberdare. She also heads-up the National Federation of Self Employed and Small Businesses committee, and is responsible for their diversity policy.
Helen’s passion for diversity is borne from her own experiences of being a female business owner in a male-dominated sector and she outlined her beliefs that no-one should be prevented from succeeding in businesses as a result of their gender, race, sexuality or disability.
The Awards were delighted to welcome back HSBC UK as key sponsor, and are supported by many sector leading businesses including tastecard, Miles Smith, and London North Eastern Railway.
Trophies were presented to the winners in each category:
Emerging Leader Category
Winner: Holly Steele-Nicholson
Team Leader at Convergys, leading a project to improve customer experience.
Corporate Leader Category
Winner: Elia Montorio
Regarded as one of the pre-eminent corporate lawyers at DLA Piper.
STEM Rising Star Category
Winner: Jaclyn Bell
Manages national STEM programmes at the UK Association for Science and Discovery Centres.
STEM Leader Category
Winner: Najwa Jawahar
An award-winning chartered senior structural engineer at WSP.
International Entrepreneur Category
Winner: Amanda Peffer
Founder of Blade & Rose, a leading British children’s clothing brand.
Social Entrepreneur Category
Winner: Jacqueline Williamson
CEO of the award winning charity Kinship Care NI.
Start Up Category
Winner: Lucy Dunleavy
Managing Director of LearnBox, changing the world through creating engaging education.
Young Entrepreneur Category
Winner: Kerry Ferguson
Director of Gwe Cambrian Web Cyf, with an obsession of social media and design.
Female Entrepreneur Category
Winner: Judith Wren
Managing director of Trolle Trading Limited which creates Kin Toffee Vodka.
Public Sector / Academia / Not For Profit Category
Winner: Cathy Connolly
Manages first social prescribing organisation Care Merseyside.
Diversity Champion Category
Winner: Gail Godson
Director of Home Instead West Lancashire and Chorley.
Male Agent of Change Recognition
Winner: Chris Earle
CEO of Verastar.