The Asian Women of Achievement Awards 2014: The full shortlist revealed


Nehal Bhogaita, community support worker and beauty therapist, Action Deafness & Femi Health and Beauty

Born deaf, 25-year-old Nehal has dedicated her life to inspiring people with disabilities and challenging the stigma towards disability in the Asian community. Although she cannot hear music, she has become a professional dancer by learning to feel the vibrations of music through her feet. She recently made history by becoming the first deaf woman to be crowned Miss India Worldwide in 2013.

Shivani Dawett, dancer, choreographer, FatBoyZ Dance

Aged just 15, Shivani is a world champion in street dance and runs her own dance school to pass on her skills to others. She is one of the “faces of Basingstoke” – meaning her image is used by Destination Basingstoke to market the area – and has appeared on Thames Valley TV News, Sky’s Pick TV, Channel 5’s Live with Gabby, CBBC and BBC.

Ling Ge, manager, EPSRC UK National Service for Computational Chemistry Software, Imperial College London

Following her doctorate in quantum computing and nanotechnology at Oxford University, Ling has conducted groundbreaking research in developing computer models for molecular interactions in exotic materials which have the potential to revolutionise battery and renewable energy industry. She writes for the Financial Times and Wired Magazine, promoting science, innovations, public health and policy across the globe. As a world-class technology expert and youngest senior manager at Imperial College London, Ling now oversees all aspects of the NSCCS with a vision to ensure that the UK stays at the forefront of computational research internationally.

Chetna Patel, private secretary to the director general, economic and consular affairs, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Over the past ten years, Chetna has built a strong academic and professional foundation in the public sector. In her role at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, she has made a positive contribution to civil service reform and broadened her impact into the international arena, notably helping to coordinate the aid response during Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines last year. She graduated in 2006 from the London School of Economics, and has previously worked at HM Treasury, and the Cabinet Office.

Divya Reddy, production technologist, Shell UK 

Divya is a production engineer in Shell UK, one of the company’s youngest ever subsurface field leads. A rare woman in the energy industry, she worked on field in Siberia in minus 40 degrees Celsius conditions, and successfully served as well and reservoir management coordinator for Shell Europe. She believes in leading by example, motivating others and creating high-performance teams to deliver top results.

Smruti Sriram, co-founder of The Wings of Hope Achievement Award and CEO of Supreme Creations

When she was 18, Smruti set up The Wings of Hope Achievement Award (WOHAA), a national social-enterprise scheme for secondary-school students. Nine years on and the scheme – supported by members of the House of Lords and luminaries from the BBC, Saatchi & Saatchi and Clifford Chance – has attracted more than 25,000 students from over 400 schools across the UK, raising awareness and funds for education projects for underprivileged children in India and Malawi. Smruti is currently CEO of sustainable packaging company Supreme Creations.


Nita Clarke OBE, director, Involvement & Participation Association (IPA)

Nita is the director of the Involvement and Participation Association (IPA),which champions and supports good employment and industrial relations. She also co-chairs the national Employee Engagement Taskforce, launched by Prime Minister David Cameron .Alongside this, she is vice-president, employee relations, at the CIPD; a visiting fellow at Kingston University BusinessSchool; and a member of the Mutuals Task Force established by the Cabinet Office Minister. Nita was the adviser on trade unions to then-Prime Minister Tony Blair, and was previously a senior official with public services union UNISON. Shewas awarded the OBE for services to employee engagement and businessin the Queen’sBirthday Honours List 2013.

Beryl De Souza, plastic surgeon, Chelsea & Westminster Hospital Foundation Trust, honorary clinical lecturer at Imperial College

Beryl De Souza has been actively involved in widening participation schemes at medical schools such as Queen Mary University, London, The Royal College of Surgeons of England and Imperial College. Not only has she carried out research and published widely in her field, Beryl has been a local Trustee at Enfield Racial and Equality Council for  five years, using her medical expertise to implement and promote health projects in the community. She has recently been awarded the Health Service Journal – Black Minority and Ethnic Pioneer Award for her inspiring role for women in Medicine and Surgery.

Faiza Khan, deputy CEO and director of policy and communications, National Council for Voluntary Youth Services (NCVYS)

Faiza is a skilled advocate for young people, with more than ten years’ experience in improving young lives through better public policy. As a trusted strategic partner to government, she has shaped national programmes and influenced service improvements to place children and young people at the centre of policy formation. She was recently awarded an MBE in the 2014 New Year’s Honours List for Services for Young People.

Shemiza Rashid, teacher/broadcaster, Luton sixth form

Described as a mini media power house, mother-of-six Shemiza is a multi -award winning interfaith art practitioner, part-time teacher at Luton sixth-form college, mentor and passionate community activists for ethical, environmental and maternal child welfare issues. She is also the director of the award winning “The Creative Muslim Network”, a trustee of the Milton Keynes Eid festival and founder of children’s performing poetry club Shining Ummah. A popular community radio presenter and producer, she was nominated for a MOMO (Music ofMuslim Origin) award in 2013 for most innovative radio show and presenter, not to mention producer and presenter of Podcast –JROOM. She blogs her tales of motherhood as #Diary of the Wimpy Mom. Presently, Shemiza is a regular contributor and cover presenter for BBC three counties radio –the Asian show.

Jots Sehmbi, Senior Project Manager, Information Services Division, University College London

Jots is an accomplished IT and Project Management professional holding a First Class BSc in Information Systems and Management, from London School of Economics. Throughout her career Jots has demonstrated that women can be as successful as their male counterparts in a male-dominated industry. In 2012, she was awarded the only female finalist for the prestigious Project Manager of the Year award, by the Association of Project Management (APM) for delivering a pioneering IT project. Jots is passionately committed to the mentoring and development of project managers and is a Committee member and Communications Lead for APM’s Women in Project Management Committee, and a registered Modern Muse mentor.

Anita Sharda Lay Chair/Assessor NHS London Deanery, University of London

Anita, an LSE graduate, is a fierce campaigner for social justice on issues ranging from education, immigration to domestic violence, setting up pressure groups such as Southall Black Sisters. Her career has spanned the NHS, pioneering policies in medical education, employment and service developments for staff and patients. She developed the first radical NHS Equalities Policy at King’s College Hospital, Medical and Dental school; at the Department of Health, working alongside MP Kenneth Clarke on the National Asian Mother and baby Campaign, improving services in maternity departments in England; and later the Home Office, working as independent policy adviser to MP Jack Straw on the Ministerial Stephen Lawrence Steering Group. She is currently an academic at St Mary’s University and laychair/assessor at NHS London Deanery, University of London where she continues to promote transparency and good practice in Medical Education.

Share this story

Send this to a friend