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From nut butter to frozen baby food: First Women Awards unveils wide spread of female talent

Now in its 12th year, the First Women Awards, co-founded by Real Business and the CBI, were held on 22 June in a glittering ceremony hosted by Canadian comedian Katherine Ryan at the Lancaster Hotel – and what a night it was!
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Britain is filled to the brim with female talent, and the difficulty we had in picking our finalists only served to showcase how women across the nation are tearing down conventions and reshaping Britain.

Our endeavours have seen us award exceptional women, from Dame Mary Perkins, founder of Specsavers, Thea Green, founder of Nails Inc, and corporate leaders such as BP’s Angela Strank. And now we unveil the next crop of females to have won the awards.

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Taking home the entrepreneur award was The UP Group’s co-CEO and founder, Clare Johnston, who has helped other companies grow by finding senior appointments: chairmen, non-executive directors, chief executives and vice presidents. “We find the very best people in the market that are suited to what clients are looking for,” she said in a 2015 interview – and it’s certainly paid off.

Also, joining Johnston on the night was Sally Preston, MD and founder of Kiddylicious, who won the Retail and Consumer award, as well as Hazel Moore, chairman and co-founder of FirstCapital, who bagged the First Women in Finance Award.

The Young Achiever award went to Pip Murray, founder of Pip & Nut, who started the business on the knowledge that most brands would add palm oil or sugar into food – and decided to hop onto the wider trend of nut butters. She’s already bagged Selfridges as a stockist.

“I did a small event over the summer and one of the buyers stopped by and approached me,” she explained in The Guardian. “That opened the door. They tend to support small companies. Overall, we’re now in about 170 stores, with a mix of health food shops such as As Nature Intended, the supermarket Booths, and gyms.”

Meanwhile, Kate Newhouse, CEO of Doctor Care Anywhere, received the Disruptor of the Year award for aiming to provide video and phone GP consultations 365 days a year. 

As for Business of the Year, Dell came out on top due to its effort on women’s progression. 

Read our other four Business of the Year profiles:

Here is the 2016 First Women Awards winners list in full:

Engineering and Manufacturing: Katy Moss, managing director, Trent Refractories 

The Built Environment: Valerie Owen OBE, chair, Swan Housing Asscociation

Young Achiever: Pip Murray, founder, Pip & Nut

Business Services: Joanne Smith, CEO, The Consulting Consortium 

Entrepreneur: Clare Johnston, co-CEO and founder, The Up Group

Science and Technology: Claire Guest, CEO, Medical Detection Dogs

Finance: Hazel Moore, chairman and co-founder, FirstCapital

Public Service: Hilary Chipping, deputy chief executive, SEMLEP

Media: Shamim Sarif, novelist, screenwriter, film director, Enlightenment Productions

Mentor: Sarah Matthew, president, global health practice, Golin

Tourism and Leisure: Jude Kelly CBE, artistic director, Southbank Centre

Retail and Consumer: Sally Preston, managing director and founder, Kiddylicious 

Disruptor of the Year: Kate Newhouse, chief executive officer, Doctor Care Anywhere

Business of the Year: Ingrid Devon, EMEA diversity and inclusion, Dell

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As the champion of UK enterprise for 20 years, Real Business is the most-read SME website dedicated to high-growth businesses and entrepreneurs. Through daily news, unique insight and invaluable guides we are an essential resource for thriving businesses.

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