I’m here, I’m female & I’m Fabulous!

“I’m here, I’m female, and I’m fabulous!”

This quote from Tamma Care, director of Imvelo Ltd, a finalist in the “Start Up” category, perfectly summed up the mood at the Forward Ladies’ 2017 National Awards Yorkshire, North East & Scotland Regional Final last Friday.


Words: Rachel Forcella; Photography: Nabila Burija; 

Women (and a sprinkling of men!) from throughout the UK came together to celebrate the achievements of the truly remarkable and inspiring ladies who had been shortlisted in our 8th annual awards.

Hosted by Rebecca Barr, journalist and presenter at BBC North West Tonight, the HSBC sponsored event was held at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Newcastle. Delegates enjoyed a networking drinks reception followed by a delicious three course meal.

The awards ceremony was launched by Alison Parker, Managing Director of Client Network Banking at HSBC. Alison shared her own story of a career that has taken her from an engineer in the almost exclusively male steel industry to a top executive at a global bank.

Alison Parker

Not only did Alison stress the importance of having a mentor for anyone looking to get ahead in their profession, she also revealed her five key rules for success:

  1. “Shy bairns get nowt”, a uniquely north-eastern phrase meaning “If you don’t ask, you don’t get”.
  2. Take yourself out of your comfort zone – great things do not happen there.
  3. Develop a thick skin. Alison was told by a lecturer at university that as a woman she had no place as an engineer – and promptly set out to prove him wrong!
  4. Keep your end goal in mind at all times. Consider the speech you’d like to give at your 80th birthday party.
  5. Don’t take everything – or yourself – too seriously. And be nice!

Following the announcement of the category winners (see below for full details), it was time for the event’s keynote speech, delivered by Pamela Petty, entrepreneur and board member at the Entrepreneur’s Forum.

A former managing director of Ebac Ltd, Pamela is passionate about Great British manufacturing, and explained the background of how she had recently added the UK’s only British manufactured washing machines to the company’s portfolio.

Pamela told us how often it was that she was assumed to be the PA in the male-dominated world of manufacturing (sadly an all too common tale), however, she used this to her advantage as it put her in a great position to negotiate when she revealed her true position!

Forward Ladies’ mission is to empower women – whether they are an entrepreneur, in the corporate arena, joining or re-joining the workforce, or the aspiring to be part of the next generation of female leaders – which is why we partner with charities that help to give women from all walks of life the opportunities they need to live their best lives.

Our National Awards charity partner are Mosaic and Smart Works.

Mosaic, a Prince’s Trust initiative, provides mentoring programmes in the UK’s most deprived communities which seek to boost the confidence and long-term employability of young people.

Smart Works offers a high quality outfit and interview training for unemployed women – and 60% of the ladies they work with are successful in getting the job!

A charity raffle was held at the event and we’re delighted to have raised £685 to go towards the amazing work that Smart Works does across the UK.

“It’s an amazing day to be a woman” – that was how Forward Ladies’ Managing Director, Griselda Togobo began her closing remarks to conclude the event. And it really was – when 200 women come together in one room, special things happen.

When asked how did it make her feel to have been the catalyst for creating this event; to be responsible for bringing so many amazing women together in one place? Griselda replied, “It’s an honour and privilege for me to do what I do. The best reward is hearing the fantastic connections people make at these events and the impact it has on their careers and businesses. You felt the energy in the room, it’s like no other working day.”

As everyone left for the day, Griselda shared a quote from the Dalai Lama, “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”

We each and every one of us have it in us to make a difference – and events like these are where we can both celebrate achievements and begin the process for new things to happen.

If you’d like to join Forward Ladies at our remaining regional finals in Birmingham on Friday 29th September or in Manchester on Friday 13th October, or at our 2017 National Awards Grand Final in Leeds on Friday 1st December, you can book your tickets here: https://www.forwardladies.com/networking-events/

If you’d like to be considered for an award, or would like to nominate someone else, nominations for our 2018 Awards are now open – for more details see here: https://www.forwardladies.com/awards2018/ 

National awards

Yorkshire, North East & Scotland Regional Award Winners

Corporate Leader Category

Winner: Deborah Steane – Johnson & Johnson

Deborah Steane is Director of Customer Supply Chain Innovation, within Medical Devices at Johnson & Johnson. She’s focused on creating value for Healthcare customers to improve efficiency, reduce costs and improve patient outcomes. Prior to J&J Deborah spent 10 years in the NHS.

Highly Commended: Sarah Tulip – aql

Digital Business of the Year Category

Winner: Emma Black – Cascade

Dr Emma Black joined Cascade Cash Management at its inception in March 2012. Her role principally lies in managing the firm’s strategic sales and technology relationships while also working closely with the client support team for the day-to-day running of the business. Emma holds a PhD in Behavioural Finance from Durham University.

Inspiring Leader Category

Winner: Leanne Silverwood – Local Care Force

Leanne Silverwood is the Managing Director of Local Care Force and founded the business 13 years ago. Leanne originally worked in mental health care and could see that she could improve the industry by creating a caring agency that providing quality, trained and well-supported nurses, carers and support workers.

International Category

Winner: Zillah Doyle – Mechanical Engineering Ventures

Zillah Doyle is an Expert Senior Executive and has a proven record of delivering strategic growth in global organisations and is CEO of Mechanical Engineering Ventures. Zillah is able to manage multicultural, multidisciplinary teams to achieve competitive targets, aimed to consistently meet and exceed customer expectations.

Highly Commended:  Anne Wilson – Numill Tooling Solutions

Not for Profit / Social Enterprise Category

Winner: Helen Mills – Age UK Northumberland

Helen Mills has over 27 years’ experience of working in the Health and Social Care Sector, and was recently appointed CEO at Age UK Northumberland. She has held 3 other CEO roles in mental health services, palliative and end of life care services.

Highly Commended:

Lara Bundock – The Snowdrop Project

Michelle Cohen – Art on Scotland

Rising Star Category

Winner: Nikki Dixon – ASDA

Nikki Dixon’s career started at a marketing agency working with clients such as Asda. 13 years ago she joined the Local Marketing team at Asda and then moved to the Own Brand team, where her current role is Senior Manager, Own Brand Strategy.

SME Emerging Category

Winner: Andrea Eli – Venture Office Supplies

Andrea Eli is director at Ventura Office Supplies Ltd – an office products reseller for the commercial and education markets. Andrea has a strong work ethic and a will to succeed and hopes to champion successful women in business in 2017.

Highly Commended:

Sophie Milliken – Smart Resourcing Solutions

Louisa Harrison-Walker – Benchmark Recruit

SME Growth Category

Winner: Jules Quinn – Popaball

Jules Quinn is MD of Popaball Ltd, a drinks company, manufacturing and packing their own products, which are then sold online and to businesses. She’s expecting significant growth this year and planning to increase their current work force of 24 to 60 by the end of this year.

Highly Commended:

Rachel Hill – Hillside Childcare

Lisa Pogson – Airmaster

Start Up Category

Winner: Kate Mallinson – Scriba PR

Self-confessed ‘word nerd’ and technical PR specialist, Katie Mallinson founded Scriba PR in 2013.  Since then, her niche public relations agency, which now boasts five employees, has focused on providing comms support to technical B2B companies, who often think their story is too complex to tell!

Highly Commended: Razan Alsous – Yorkshire Dama Cheese

STEM Leader Category

Winner: Natasha Sayce-Zelem – SKY

Natasha Sayce-Zelem is the Head of Technology for Digital Trading at Sky, working out of Sky’s new Leeds Dock campus. She is an award-winning digital geek and passionate about improving diversity in the creative/tech industries. Natasha is the curator of the Technology strand at the Leeds International Festival.

Highly Commended: Jeanette Forbes – PCL Group

STEM Rising Star Category

Winner: Tara McCully – Carrillion

Tara McCully joined Carillion Plc in 2014 as a graduate Civil Engineer progressing to site engineer. She’s worked in various locations on a variety of construction projects with professional employees, contractors and apprentices. She also writes articles supporting females within the industry and mentors young people thinking about careers in engineering/construction.

Young Entrepreneur Category

Winner: Rachel Hanretty – Mademoiselle Macaron

Rachel Hanretty studied English and French at St Andrews as a gateway to a year in Paris. She wrote a novel, overcame epilepsy and graduate ‘under-employment’, and took a bet to start making and selling macarons from scratch all on her own. Mademoiselle Macaron creates French macarons in the belief that every Mademoiselle deserves a moment of luxury.