HR & Management

AWA 2014: The winners

7 min read

05 June 2014

Hosted by Real Business, and held in association with The Royal Bank of Scotland, the Asian Women of Achievement Awards' 15th anniversary unearthed some of the greatest Asian women to contribute to Britain’s economy and society.

Pinky Lilani OBE DL, co-founder of the AWA, said: “Being able to shine a light on the magnificent achievements made by these women is what the awards are really about. I am delighted to see that the calibre of women being nominated for, and winning, the Asian Women of Achievement Awards has remained so high for the 15th consecutive year.”

Indeed, after battling to overcome obstacles in business from within every sector imaginable, and looking fabulous on the night of the awards, 17 amazing women were recognised for their outstanding careers.

From a leading fertility expert and kickboxing champion to broadcaster and football agent, here are the 2014 winners of the Asian Women Awards.

RBS AWA Chairman’s Award

Professor Geeta Nargund, consultant, medical director and CEO of Create Health Foundation and Consultant at St George’s Hospita, was presented with the most prestigious accolade of the awards. Geeta was recognised for her work in the fertility field, and her potential to have such a huge impact not just domestically, but globally, as she works to make treatments more readily available to women.

Entrepreneurial Asian Woman of Achievement

Shazia Saleem is founder of ieat Foods, which creates a range of traditional British and Italian dishes prepared according to Islamic dietary law. She came up with the idea eight years ago while still attending Warwick University. She now has a range of 12 products on sale in Sainsbury’s and Tescos. Viewed as a “very commercially aware” businesswoman, Saleem started her first enterprise at the age of 16.

Young Asian Woman of Achievement 

Divya Reddy, production technologist in Shell UK, is one of the company’s youngest ever subsurface field leads. She believes in leading by example, motivating others and creating high-performance teams to deliver top results, and it’s obviously helped as she’s been recognised for being “a trailblazer in a male dominated industry”.

Nehal Bhogaita, community support worker and beauty therapist, was highly commended for having dedicated her life to inspiringpeople with disabilities.

Asian Woman of Achievement in Sport – Joint winners

Shehneela Ahmed made soccer history by becoming Britain’s first female Muslim football agent, not to mention signed some of Europe’s top football players, while also working as a duty solicitor criminal advocate. Definitely a role model, Shehneela is a great “enabler within the sports industry”. 

Not to be outdone, this kickboxer and stand-up comedian Samera Ashraf has battled against the stereotypes. For her contribution to the martial arts community and refusing to be pigeon holed, she is a true fighter!

Asian Woman of Achievement in the Media

Poorna Bell, lifestyle editor of The Huffington Post UK, is dedicated to nurturing young talent, especially fledgling Asian female journalists, giving them advice and anecdotal guidance. After her hard work in highlighting and campaigning on issues such as forced marriage and domestic violence amongst the Asian community, she won the award with flying colours.

Professional Asian Woman of Achievement

Yee Yee Low, senior concept engineer for Shell has continuously demonstrated self-motivation and drive, with a focus on helping people in the UK who haven’t got access to opportunities. Described as “an inspirational role model”, her work with aspiring engineers means that her impact goes far beyond the energy industry.

Social and Humanitarian Asian Woman of Achievement

Sharmila Nikapota has relentlessly sought to increase the profile of the skin condition and to raise money to fund medical research into treatments, providing hope to the thousands of children who suffer from recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa. She was acknowledged for her commitment to helping her daughter and others suffering from rare skin disorders. 

Highly commended in this category was Rewati Prabhu, co-founder and board member and Jagriti Yatra, who’s amazing work for Jagriti Yatra helps inspire young women from across India.

Asian Woman of Achievement in Arts and Culture 

Nisha Tandon is the executive director of ArtsEkta. Belfast Mela, Northern Ireland’s first multi-cultural, multi-disciplinary arts festival, launched by Nisha, still remains the only large-scale platform for world arts in the country. 

Arumina Kumar, artistic director of Arumina Kumar Dance Company was highly commended.

Asian Woman of Achievement in Public Service

Shemiza Rashid, constantly described as a mini media power house, has already won numerous awards for her contribution to society. And at the Asian Women Awards she picked up one more, highlighting her efforts in fighting for ethical, environmental and poverty-driven issues.

Asian Woman of Achievement in Business

Karina Govindji, described as a “strong, smart, bold female executive”, leads Gallup’s client service group across Europe. She has overcome many difficulties in her personal life to carve out a very successful career, whilst remaining passionate about giving back to her local community

Kamal Parmar, director of Saints of Tarporley Services, was highly commended for building a very successful business against all the odds.

Asian Woman of Achievement in Finance

Valerie Dias has achieved so much in her career at Visa Europe. She uses her position in finance to make a real difference in the wider world, using her organisation as a vessel through which she has been able to safeguard children and young people. The judges said “aside from her work at Visa, she is an incredibly generous person with her time and does a great deal of mentoring and voluntary work”.

Highly commended within the finance category was Laura Chow, head of charitable programmes, RBS, described as “very impressive” and someone who “is using banking for social justice.”

Recommended reading: The inspiring women who made the 2014 shortlist