HR & Management

The inspirational journeys of 2013 Asian Women Awards finalists

7 min read

20 February 2014

In 2013 we uncovered some of Britain's most influential female figures including Dr Spira Deb, winner of the Entrepreneur Award. Real Business took a look into some of their inspirational journeys to success and where they are now...

Chairman’s award

Born with Spina Bifida, Sue Kukadia spent most of her childhood in and out of hospital, undergoing more than 80 operations. Not only does her ability to overcome all the obstacles thrown in front of her inspire, but she has also been described as “a role model not just for other women, or Asian women, but also for people with disabilities.”

She is director of global immigration at Ernst & Young and was presented with the RBS AWA Chairman’s Award, the awards’ most prestigious accolade. Sue was recognised for her inspirational professional achievements in building E&Y’s immigration offering to a world-class, 30-employee practice, growing at 40 per cent a year.

Sue now regularly speaks at seminars, has lectured at Queen Mary’s University and is a member of ILPA, AILA and a member of the Home Office UKBA employers business visitor taskforces.

Professional award

Born in Pakistan, Ishrat Bano was initially discouraged from gaining an education. She overcame this barrier Ishrat has created a foundation to help other girls from her home town gain access to university. Becoming an example for the women of her country that they can pursue a career in science. Her ambition is to make a difference in the society.

Ishrat took the Professional Asian Woman of Achievement Award for her contributions to science as a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Cambridge. 

Having finished her PhD at the University of Cambridge, Ishrat’s portfolio now includes working on the board of directors’ events committee for the Association for Women in Science Massachusetts Chapter and enrolled as a post doctoral research fellow at Harvard Medical School.

The Young Asian Woman of Achievement

Sanju Pal is the founder of Rural India School Enterprise (RISE), a charity she set up at the age of 26 which has raised the aspirations of hundreds of underprivileged children in India and the UK. 

Inspiring individuals in both countries to volunteer for the charity, she runs RISE on top of a demanding role at Accenture where she specialises in Process Transformation and is recognised as a top performer. She previously qualified as a teacher through Teach First and her passion for teaching Maths motivated her students to achieve record GCSE results.

Sanju is now IT Project Manager at UK Bank.

The Asian Woman of Achievement in Media

Born in Kenya and raised in London, former beauty writer Ravinder Bhogal was propelled into the culinary limelight when crowned Britain’s New Fanny Cradock by Gordon Ramsay on Channel 4’s ‘The F Word’. 

Ravinder has travelled the globe as roving reporter for Channel 4’s magazine show Food: What Goes in your Basket? She has also presented a special two-part documentary The Great British Curry Trail for BBC2, and has appeared on Market Kitchen, Inside Out, This Morning and Perfect. Her debut cookery book Cook in Boots (HarperCollins 2009) was published to rave reviews both in the UK and US. 

Since then, Ravinder has launched her own global cooking show on TLC called ‘Ravinder’s Kitchen’.

The Asian Woman of Achievement in Business

Grace Wang held various senior finance and leadership roles at JP Morgan Chase since 2004, including EMEA CFO and Head of International Strategy and Business Development of the Treasury and Securities Services division.

A Harvard MBA graduate, Grace developed a global sales platform for the investment bank’s investor services business, while mentoring on the side. She has founded and is actively leading an effort to empower the women MDs at her firm and is a strong senior sponsor for JP Morgan’s women’s network.

Grace has now been named Chief Financial Officer of Green Dot Corporation.

The Asian Woman of Achievement in Arts & Culture – Joint winners

Lolita Chakrabati is an award-winning English actress and writer, who represents a unique and insightful voice on the theatre scene in London. Her most recent triumph, Red Velvet, has earned her critical acclaim including winning the 2012 Evening Standard award for Most Promising Playwright.

She has been working on developing a three part TV series with a production company based on a script that has been in her drawers for many years. Lolita has also been guest starring in Sky 1’s fire fighting drama ‘The Smoke’.

Her award-winning play is at the Tricycle Theatre until March 15.

Joint-winner Shalini Bhalla’s first dance class was at the age of three. When she was twelve, Shalini enrolled into a Bharata Natyam class run by a teacher who had studied dance in Bombay. But it was only after coming to the UK in her early twenties that Vhalla became involved with teaching Indian dance in schools. 

Just Jhoom! is the premier Bollywood dance fitness instructor training scheme in the UK. Shalini set up the company in 2010 after recognising that there was a gap in the market and has since trained more than 200 instructors, who run classes across the UK, for all ages.

In October 2013, she was appointed Project 500 Ambassador, which would address the imbalance in the number of male to female coaches, driving the growth of female participation in sport.

Nominations are now open for the Asian Women of Achievement awards, held in association with The Royal Bank of Scotland. Make a difference this year and share your wonderful stories of Asian women who are shaping a new Britain. Put forward your nomination here and change a candidates life. 

  • Choose out of 11 categories;
  • Nomination deadline: 17 March, 2014;
  • Email for more details; or
  • Follow us on: @RB_Events #AWA.