Forward Ladies Celebrates the Success of Business Women in the Midlands

Forward Ladies has announced the winners of the National Awards and Summit for 2018, sponsored by HSBC UK. The Awards took place on Friday 26th October at a celebration lunch at The Hyatt Regency, Birmingham before an inspirational audience of senior and influential business leaders.

The esteemed National Awards were introduced nine years ago to acknowledge and promote the fact that women are an integral and invaluable part of every business. This year, Forward Ladies continues to recognise and honour the most respected businesswomen, across a wide range of business categories.

Forward Ladies Managing Director Griselda Togobo said: “It is 100 years since women first got the right to vote in the UK, but gender equality remains elusive. Whilst we have clearly made progress over the years, our mission to achieve equality and bring diversity to leadership roles is not yet complete.

“That said, this has been another fantastic year for women and that should be celebrated, and through our National Awards we are once again delighted to be working in partnership with HSBC UK to showcase the very best women in business here in the UK.

“The calibre of entries has been increasing year on year, and our regional shortlists are the everyday heroines, trailblazers and role models who have succeeded despite enormous challenges. They deserve recognition.”


Jennifer Crawley, Head of Performance for Small Business Banking at HSBC UK and chief judge for Forward Ladies, said: “We’re proud to be working with Forward Ladies as part of our ongoing commitment to support women in business across the UK.

“Each year we are inspired by the number of high-calibre entries, and this year has highlighted the exceptionally talented businesswomen we have in the UK. These entrants are the future entrepreneurs of our country and play a critical role in our economy.”

For the first time, Forward Ladies is recognising men who are championing and leading the drive for diversity and inclusivity in their businesses and the wider community, and this year the Male Agent of Change award was presented to Kamal Hanif OBE, Executive Principal of Waverley Education Foundation.

Kamal promotes diversity as an ASCL council member and by working with the DFE equalities group. As Executive Principal, his school achieved the Stonewall Gold Award.

Working with the Chamber of Commerce and Institute of Asian Business, he encouraged school engagement to promote aspirations of the BAME community and to provide positive role models for female students.

The twelve category winners will now take part in a judging day in Manchester in November, before a distinguished panel of business leaders, where they will join finalists from regional events in the North West, Wales and Ireland, Yorkshire and the North East, and London and the South. The overall national winner will be announced at the Grand Final to be held in Leeds on the 7th December.

The keynote speaker was Kavita Oberoi, OBE; one of the UK’s most highly regarded and successful female entrepreneurs and social philanthropists.

In 2001 she established her first business, Oberoi Consulting, after spotting a gap in the market for clinical audit services. Clients include the NHS and Pharmaceutical Industry.

Some years later, Kavita went on to establish Oberoi Business Hub, based in Derby’s Pride Park. She has appeared on a variety of TV programmes, including The Secret Millionaire and The Apprentice: You’re Fired.

The Awards were delighted to welcome back HSBC UK as key sponsor, and are supported by many sector leading businesses including tastecard and London North Eastern Railway.

Trophies were presented to the winners in each category:

Emerging Leader Category

Winner: Charlotte Horobin

Joined EEF The Manufacturers’ Organisation five years ago, and is now Regional Director.

Corporate Leader Category

Winner: Rebecca Bryant

Chief Fire Officer with Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service – the first woman CFO to have progressed through the UK ranks.

STEM Rising Star Category

Winner:  Faye Pressly

Chief Operating Officer at Vanti, one of the UK’s most forward-thinking Master Systems Integrators.

STEM Leader Category

Winner: Suzanne Oliver

Senior Director of the Patents & Trademarks departments for Arm Ltd, a British technology company.

International Entrepreneur Category

Winner: Helen Routledge

Author, international speaker and CEO of Totem Learning.

Social Entrepreneur Category

Winner: Sarah Crawley

CEO of iSE, a social enterprise development organisation working in Birmingham and nationally.

Start Up Category     

Winner: Fran Glover and Carrie Weekes

Founded their Funeral Directors, A Natural Undertaking, to help put the human touch back in to funeral ceremonies.

Young Entrepreneur Category

Winner: Jordana Chin

A nutritionist-chef, director and founder of health food company Nutri2Go.

Female Entrepreneur Category

Winner: Joanne Bass

Delivers exhibition and marketing solutions for the world’s biggest brands as Director of her business, XL Displays Ltd.

Public Sector / Academia / Not For Profit Category

Winner: Fiona Shelton

Head of the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching at the University of Derby.

Diversity Champion Category

Winner: Isabella Moore

COMTEC Translations Director and Chair; servicing the manufacturing, engineering and computer software industries.

Male Agent of Change Recognition

Winner: Kamal Hanif OBE

Executive Principal of Waverley Education Foundation

The mother of all awards #FLNationalAwards & Summit 2018 is coming to Leeds! It’s an inspirational programme showcasing diversity in business, recognising the doers, trailblazers & inclusive leaders across the UK. Join the conversation and don’t miss out – HERE