HR & Management

First Women Awards 2016: The challenge to decide this year's winners begins

7 min read

27 April 2016

Deputy Editor, Real Business

From the company founder looking to take on the taboo period and incontinence market to a British novelist, the 2016 First Women Awards reveals 74 remarkable finalists tearing down conventions and reshaping British business.

Since 2005, when it was founded by Real Business and the CBI, the First Women Awards has recognised trailblazing women from numerous sectors who are laying the foundations for the next generation of female talent – the 2016 winners of which will be unveiled on 22 June in a glittering ceremony hosted by Canadian comedian Katherine Ryan.

But before that the final decision on the winners will come down to an illustrious judging panel populated by business leaders – who will indeed have a hard time coming to a decision this year.

This year’s finalists includes The Cambridge Satchel Company founder Julie Deane, who was inspired by the Harry Potter books to create a £13m school bag company – she is in the running for the Entrepreneur award. Also in consideration for a First Women Award are: Sally Bucknell, director of diversity and inclusiveness Ernest and Young, with the role of holding the firm’s leaders to account for achieving an equal workforce; and National Grid’s Faye Banks, who rose through the ranks of the engineering community since she discovered engineering at the age of 16.

But they are far from the only gems we discovered in our journey to uncover Britain’s leading females. Category by category, here are 74 extraordinary stories of trailblazing talent:

First Women – Business of the Year

  • Sky
  • AT Kearney
  • Dell
  • Unilever
  • Sodexo
  • Santander

First Women of Engineering and Manufacturing

  • Faye Banks, head of operations North East, National Grid
  • Katy Moss, managing director, Trent Refractories
  • Alison Orrells, managing director, The Safety Letterbox Company
  • Tanuja Randery, president UK and Ireland, Schneider Electric 
  • Jacky Sidebottom-Every, sales director and co-owner, Glossop Cartons
  • Jenny Young, head of diversity, Royal Academy of Engineering 

First Women of the Built Environment

  • Kerry Mashford, chief executive, National Energy Foundation 
  • Valerie Owen, chair, Swan Housing Association
  • Jacqueline O’Donovan, managing director, O’Donovan Waste Disposal
  • Katrina Kostic Samen, managing partner, KKS Strategy 

First Women – Young Achiever

  • Megan Aspinall, senior due diligence engineer, renewable energy services, DNV GL
  • Eloise Bloniarz, programme director, Future Workshops
  • Christine Cordon, general counsel, Osper
  • Marieke Flament, MD Europe, Circle Internet Financial 
  • Jessica Kruger, managing director, Ethos Foods
  • Pip Murray, founder, Pip & Nut
  • Dr Clare Eluka, founder, Premae Skincare 

First Women of Business Services

  • Rachel Barton, managing director/partner, Accenture
  • Emily Kettle, managing director, Facts International 
  • Lisa Humphreys, board director, trading, MediaCom
  • Amanda Sizer Barrett, director general, Federation of Garden & Leisure Manufacturers
  • Joanne Smith, CEO, The Consulting Consortium & RecordSure 
  • Marsha Ward, founder and director, The Number Hub

First Women – Entrepreneur

  • Julie Deane, founder and CEO, The Cambridge Satchel Company 
  • Becky Downing, CEO and founder, Buzzmove
  • Clare Johnston, co-CEO, The Up Group
  • Kirsty Loveday, managing director and founder, Love Drinks
  • Debbie Wosskow, CEO, Love Home Swap

From finance and media to science and tourism, the rest will be revealed on the next page.

First Women of Finance

  • Sharon Bishop, CEO, Close Brother’s Premuim Finance 
  • Emma Codd, managing partner for talent, Deloitte
  • Sandy Lucas, chief operating officer, GE Capital UK
  • Hazel Moore, chairman, FirstCapital 
  • Kath Myers, managing director, West region, Barclays community banking, Barclays
  • Jackie Waring, founder and CEO, Investing Women

First Women of Science and Technology

  • Helen Gammons, CFO, Rotolight.com
  • Claire Guest, CEO, Medical Detection Dogs
  • Sharon Hanly, general manager (Ely) ALS life sciences division, pharmaceutical, ALS Food and Pharmaceutical 
  • Lenor Stjepic, chief executive, RAFT (the Restoration Apperance and Function Trust)
  • Alison Vincent, chief technology officer, Cisco 
  • Selina Wray, senior research associate, UCL Institute of Neurology 

First Women of Public Service

  • Hilary Chipping, deputy CEO and director of infrastructure, South East Midlands Local Entreprise
  • Sharon Curtis, centre co-ordinator, Ellesmere Childrens Centre
  • Susan Jowett, chief executive officer, The Spencer Academies Trust
  • Ren Kapur, CEO, X-Forces 
  • Sarah Maskell, head of RAF diversity and equality, RAF

First Women of Media

  • Jo Davies, CEO, ZAK
  • Annemarie Hordern, executive TV producer, Bloomberg
  • Shamim Sarif, novelist, screenwriter, film director, Enlightenment Productions
  • Sarah Tierney, founder and CEO, We are Colony 
  • Sara Tye, founder and managing director, redheadPR 

First Women – Mentor

  • Sally Bucknell, director, diversity and inclusiveness UK and I, EY
  • Jason Lane, executive vice president, Europe business development, MasterCard Incorporated 
  • Sarah Matthew, president, global health practice, Golin
  • Gary Reader, partner, global head of insurance sector, KPMG 
  • Carol Rosati, global head of inspire & director, Harvey Nash
  • Jo Haigh, MD, Fds Group UK
  • Deborah Frances-White, writer, comedian and diversity and inclusion champion, Deborah Frances-White

First Women of Tourism and Leisure

  • Monica Ferguson, CEO, The Stables
  • Jude Kelly, artistic director, Southbank Centre
  • Liz Wenman, director, Rally Round
  • Caroline White, chief executive, Youth Hostel Association 
  • Cheryl Williams, director and founder, Yorkshire Wildlife Park

First Women of Retail and Consumer

  • Stephanie Betts, founder and creative director, Josephine Home
  • Vicky Brock, CEO and founder, Clear Returns
  • Kate Hardcastle, founder, IWP
  • Grianne Kelly, CEO & inventor, BubbleBum UK
  • Julianne Ponan, owner, CEO, Creative Nature 
  • Sally Preston, managing director, Kiddylicious 

First Women – Disruptor of the Year Award

  • Tessa Cook, co-founder & CEO, OLIO
  • Kate Newhouse, chief executive officer, Doctor Care Anywhere 
  • Jude Ower, CEO and co-founder, Playmob
  • Charlotte Pearce, CEO and co-founder, Inkpact 
  • Donna Sewell, CEO, Legal Edge
  • Carol Smillie, managing director and co-founder, DiaryDoll

Table bookings are open for the awards ceremony that takes place at the Lancaster Hotel, London on Wednsday 22 June, 2016.