The First Women Awards is the UK’s leading awards programme for senior-level business women and professionals.

Since conception in 2005, the awards have grown in influence and impact and enjoy the support of many of the UK’s leading firms, industry bodies and inspirational business leaders.

Hosted by Clare Balding in 2015, the First Women Awards produced another stellar crop of leading ladies, including those heading up transformational change at companies such as EY, Quintessentially Events, Unilever and Pai Skincare. Read more on Real Business >


“An award like this tells me that I’m doing something right… so it’s really something to have this acknowledgment. It means a lot.”
Vidhyalakshmi Karthikeyan, BT

“…there are so many incredible stories to be shared and another stunning collection of role models to inspire the female business leaders and entrepreneurs of the future.”
Dawn Elson, Gatwick Airport


Keynote on the night from Henrietta Jowitt, Deputy Director-General, Commercial at the CBI

“We’re delighted once again to support the First Women Awards – celebrating the real positive difference female business leaders have on the UK economy, our productivity and our place in the world.

Telling the stories of these sleeves-rolled-up leaders in our society is critical as we urge chief executives to do even more to help capable women progress from entry-level to senior management positions.

Lord Davies’s review has given us a strong start – we must now build on this progress by looking “beyond boards” to executive roles and increase the overall number of female leaders.”

Henrietta Jowitt

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View photos from the 2016 awards

First Women Awards

This year's winners




  • Sky

  • AT Kearney

  • Unilever

  • Sodexo

Sponsored by PJ-Care-edited


Joanne Smith
CEO, The Consulting Consortium Ltd and RecordSure Ltd


  • 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

  • Marsha Ward
    founder and director, The Number Hub

Sponsored by BMW_Roundel_HR


Katy Moss
managing director, Trent Refractories


  • Faye Banks
    head of operations North East, National Grid

  • Alison Orrells
    managing director, The Safety Letterbox Company

  • Tanuja Randery
    president UK & Ireland, Schneider Electric

  • Jacky Sidebottom-Every
    sales director and co-owner, Glossop Cartons

  • Jenny Young
    head of diversity, Royal Academy of Engineering


Hazel Moore
chairman, FirstCapital


  • Sharon Bishop
    CEO, Close Brother's Premium Finance

  • Emma Codd
    managing partner for talent, Deloitte

  • Sandy Lucas
    chief operating officer, GE Capital UK

  • Kath Myers
    managing director, West Region, Barclays community banking, Barclays

  • Jackie Waring
    founder & CEO, Investing Women


Shamim Sarif
novelist, screenwriter, film director, Enlightenment Productions


  • Jo Davies
    CEO, ZAK

  • Annemarie Hordern
    executive TV producer, Bloomberg

  • Sarah Tierney
    founder & CEO, We Are Colony

  • Sara Tye
    founder and managing director, redheadPR


Hilary Chipping
deputy CEO & director of infrastructure, South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership


  • Sharon Curtis
    centre co-ordinator, Ellesmere Childrens Centre

  • Susan Jowett
    chief executive officer, The Spencer Acadmies Trust

  • Ren Kapur
    CEO, X-Forces

  • Sarah Maskell
    head of RAF diversity & equality, RAF


Sally Preston
managing director & founder, Kiddylicious


  • Stephanie Betts
    founder & creative director, Josephine Home

  • Vicky Brock
    CEO and founder, Clear Returns

  • Kate Hardcastle
    founder, IWP

  • Julianne Ponan
    CEO & owner, Creative Nature

  • Grainne Kelly
    CEO and inventor, BubbleBum UK


Claire Guest
CEO, Medical Detection Dogs


  • Helen Gammons

  • Sharon Hanly
    general manager (Ely) ALS life sciences division, pharmaceutical, ALS Food and Pharmaceutical

  • Leonor Stjepic
    chief executive, RAFT (the Restoration of Appearance and Function Trust)

  • Alison Vincent
    chief technology officer, Cisco

  • Selina Wray
    senior research associate, UCL Institue of Neurology


Valerie Owen
chair, Swan Housing Asscociation


  • Kerry Mashford
    chief executive, National Energy Foundation

  • Jacqueline O'Donovan
    managing director, O'Donovan Waste Disposal

  • Katrina Kostic Samen
    managing partner, KKS Strategy


Jude Kelly
artistic director, Southbank Centre


  • Monica Ferguson
    CEO, The Stables

  • Liz Wenman
    director, Rally Round Ltd

  • Caroline White
    chief executive, Youth Hostel Association

  • Cheryl Williams
    director (founder), Yorkshire Wildlife Park


Kate Newhouse
chief executive officer, Doctor Care Anywhere


  • Tessa Cook
    co-founder & CEO, OLIO

  • Jude Ower
    CEO and founder, Playmob

  • Charlotte Pearce
    CEO & co-founder, Inkpact

  • Donna Sewell
    CEO, Legal Edge

  • Carol Smillie
    managing director (co-founder), DiaryDoll


Clare Johnston
co-CEO, The Up Group


  • Julie Deane
    founder & CEO, The Cambridge Satchel Company

  • Becky Downing
    CEO & founder, Buzzmove

  • Kirsty Loveday
    managing director & founder, Love Drinks

  • Debbie Wosskow
    CEO, Love Home Swap


Sarah Matthew
president. global health practice, Golin


  • Sally Bucknell
    director, diversity & inclusiveness UK&I, EY

  • Jason Lane
    executive vice president, Europe business development, MasterCard Incorporated

  • Gary Reader
    partner, global head of insurance sector, KPMG

  • Carol Rosati
    global head of inspire & director, Harvey Nash

  • Jo Haigh
    senior partner, Fds

  • Deborah Frances-White
    writer, comedian and diversity and inclusion champion, Deborah Frances-White


Pip Murray
founder, Pip & Nut


  • 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

  • Dr Clare Eluka
    founder, Premae Skincare

Key Dates

Nominations close: 15 April
Shortlists announced: Late April
Judging day: 5 May
Awards night: 22 June


Programme for the evening

6:45pm Champagne reception
7:40pm Welcome speeches
8:00pm Dinner
9:30pm First Women Awards hosted by Katherine Ryan
11:00pm Cash bar
1:00am Carriages


Become a sponsor

2016 Judges

ybaker 2

Yvonne Baker

chief executive, MyScience

Naeema Choudry

Naeema Choudry

partner, Eversheds


Claire Edmunds

founder & CEO, Clarify

Jan Flawn

Jan Flawn CBE

chair, PJ Care

Hilde Hukkelberg copy

Hilde Hukkelberg

director, Innovation Norway UK & Ireland

Dawn OHLSON Thales

Dawn Ohlson

UK director of systems, Thales UK


Mandeep Rai

CEO, Creative Visions Global

Nicola Green

Nicola Green

head of direct sales acquisition & retention, Bupa UK

Dr Helen Meese

Dr Helen Meese

head of healthcare, Institution of Mechanical Engineers


Michelle Sephton

managing director, Elegant Resorts


Emma Watkins

director, CBI Wales

Emma Sinclair

Emma Sinclair

co-lead, Enterprise Jungle

rowena ironside

Rowena Ironside

founder & chair, Women on Boards

Sally McCombie

Sally McCombie

senior director corporate affairs, PepsiCo UK


Jennifer Dunstan

partner heading the fund investor relations team, 3i


Heather Melville

director of strategic partnerships and head of business inclusion initiatives, RBS

Faye Speedie 2

Faye Speedie

chief sales officer/sales director, Tangle Teezer

Adele Blakebrough

Adele Blakebrough

CEO, Social Business Trust

Susan Attard

Susan Attard

deputy town clerk, City of London


Anne Minors

design principal, Sound Space Vision

Lesley Batchelor

Lesley Batchelor OBE

director general, Institute of Export

Sue Mackenzie

Sue Mackenzie

operations director, P&O Ferries

Amanda Riddle

Amanda Riddle

director of communications, Girls' Day School Trust


Kate Lester

founder & CEO, Diamond Logistics

Nicola Grant

Nicola Grant

head of marketing, UK & Ireland, MasterCard Worldwide


Andrea Holland

corporate marketing manager, BMW


Sadie Morgan

director & founding partner, dRMM Architects

Jason Myers

Jason Myers

CEO, Busaba Eathai


Damian Grimshaw

professor of employment studies, Manchester Business School

Gareth Williams

Gareth Williams

partner, KPMG

Woman in Red

Monday 25th January 2016


Vodafone House
West Berkshire
RG14 2FN

Angela Evans

Previous years' winners

  • Amanda White, head of rail, Transport for Greater Manchester
  • Anabel Fielding, CEO, Quintessentially Events
  • Claire Edmunds, founder & CEO, Clarify
  • Dawn Ohlson, UK director of systems, Thales UK
  • Helen Milner OBE, chief executive, Tinder Foundation
  • Kate Lester, founder & CEO, Diamond Logistics
  • Leena Nair, SVP leadership and organisation development and global head of diversity and inclusion, Unilever
  • Lynn Rattigan, chief operating officer, EY
  • Mandeep Rai, CEO, Creative Visions Global
  • Sadie Morgan, director & founding partner, dRMM Architects
  • Sarah Brown, founder & director, Pai Skincare
  • Yvonne Baker, chief executive, MyScience
  • Anne Minors, design principal, Sound Space Vision
  • Annemiek Hoogenboom, People's Postcode Lottery
  • Annika Small, CEO, Nominet Trust
  • Jo Haigh, senior partner, Fds
  • Melanie Leach, managing director, Twofour
  • Poppy Mardall, founder, Poppy's Funerals
  • Sam Smith, CEO, finnCap
  • Susie Hewson, international sales and marketing director, Bodywise Ltd - Natracare
  • Tanni Grey-Thompson, crossbench peer, House of Lords
  • Vidhyalakshmi Karthikeyan, senior researcher, BT
  • Dawn Elson, head of engineering, Gatwick Airport
  • Heather Jenkins, director of buying & agriculture strategy, Waitrose
  • Jan Flawn CBE, chair, PJ Care
  • Jean Sharp, chief taxation officer, Aviva
  • Joanna Kennedy, director, global leader of programme & project management, Arup
  • Judith Hackitt, chair, Health & Safety Executive
  • Lucy Dimes, CEO UK & Ireland Alcatel-Lucent and Head of Vodafone Global Account
  • Morella Kayman MBE, co-founder and vice president, Alzheimer's Society
  • Nora Senior, executive chair, UK regions & Ireland, Weber Shandwick
  • Diane Johnson, skills ambassador, The Electrical Contractors Association
  • Hilary Thomas, partner, KPMG
  • Holly Tucker, founder,
  • Jann Brown, MD & CFO, Cann Energy
  • Julia Hobsbawm, CEO & chair, Editorial Intelligence
  • Julie Kenny, chair & CFO, Pyronix
  • Pam Maynard, general manager, Avanade
  • Ruth Shaw, chief executive, Sports Grounds Safety Authority

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