Meet The ”Barrier Breakers” Unveiled At The FL Leadership Summit And Awards 2023  

For immediate release

24 November 2023

Meet the ”Barrier Breakers” Unveiled at the FL Leadership Summit And Awards 2023

The 2023 Forward Ladies Leadership Summit and Awards has brought some of the country’s most successful and influential businesswomen to the limelight, a celebration of remarkable leadership and impact across the UK and the globe. This year, the event has proven to be bigger and better than ever before and we are proud to appreciate the unflinching support of our friends; The Open University, Ello Group, Cohorted, PA Consulting, BASF, and GKN Aerospace.

The 2023 edition recognized 13 distinguished winners who demonstrated resilience, exceptional prowess in their respective fields, earning recognition for their outstanding contributions, exemplary leadership, and mentorship skills. Brought to you by the global organization Forward Ladies, the 13th annual awards stand as the premier celebration of women in excellence.

This year’s event unfolded at the prestigious 5* Londoner Hotel, where the winners emerged as the ultimate trailblazers, who are breaking barriers and impacting their communities with their skills and leadership. Unlike the virtual setting of the past, this edition was a dynamic in-person gathering, effortlessly hosted by the accomplished Genelle Aldred, Author, Broadcaster, Consultant for all things communication, Deputy Chair of Women in Journalism and Journalist, who provides social and political commentary for Sky News, BBC Radio London and Canadian News.

At the heart of innovation and forward thinking, the speakers sparked dynamic discussions, delving into the future’s potential. From diverse perspectives on technology, sustainability, artificial intelligence, diversity and inclusion, and societal shifts, the panel’s insights fostered an environment where the audience eagerly embraced the unfolding narrative of women in leadership and the next generation’s role in shaping our collective tomorrow. The keynote, Bonita Norris, a remarkable trailblazer, shared the awe-inspiring account of being the youngest person to conquer Everest. Her gripping narrative transcended mere mountain climbing, illustrating the power of determination, resilience, and the pursuit of extraordinary goals.

After a meticulous evaluation process, the esteemed judging panel, featuring accomplished trailblazers like Emma Davies of Grant Thornton, Matt Turner of Ello Group, and Lara Oyesanya of World Remit, made their decisions from an exceptional shortlist of candidates.The winners of the 2023 Forward Ladies Leadership Summit & Awards were unveiled on Friday, 24th November.

The highlight of the night was the ‘Business Woman of the Year’ award, awarded to Emma Wright, a market-leading partner in the technology sector, specializing in complex technology transactions for both suppliers and customers, particularly within the technology and telecoms space. Emma’s accomplishments surpassed all criteria, making her the well-deserved winner!

Forward Ladies is a 20,000-strong global community of women working in partnership with leaders and progressive organisations to close the gender gap in business. Its mission is to connect women to opportunities and expertise that will empower them to reach the top in their professional lives. 

The Leadership Summit & Awards 2023 Winners Announced!

Disruptor/Innovator of the Year

Claire Paxman, Brand Ambassador & Director of Global Training, Paxman Scalp Cooling

Having cut her late Mum’s hair off, aged 14, Claire Paxman set out to stop others from having to deal with chemotherapy hair loss. Claire leads the way in education, training, and awareness raising about scalp cooling and the differences it can make to a patient’s experience of cancer treatment.

Education/Academic Leader of the Year

Yoselin Benitez-Alfonso, Associate Professor, University of Leeds/ Black in Plant Sciences

Yoselin is an Associate Professor and UKRI Future Leaders Fellow at The University of Leeds, UK. She leads a team researching plant cells’ communication and response to stress. She co-founded the Black in Plant Science Network to connect, celebrate, and cultivate the Black plant scientists in the UK community.

Emerging Leader of the Year

Yulia Manyutina, Climate & ESG Associate Director, RBS International

Yulia is Climate & ESG Associate Director at RBS International, having previously built a successful career as a regulated Private Banker at Coutts. She is a keen advocate for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, a mentor, and a life coach. Yulia speaks four languages and has lived in three countries.

Female Entrepreneur of the Year

Emma Black, CEO & Co-Founder, Cascade Cash Management

Dr. Emma Black is an expert in the savings market. She was named Cash Management Woman of the Year in 2020 and Start Up Entrepreneur of the Year at the 2020 Great British Entrepreneur Awards. She is the co-founder of Cascade Cash Management, GB Bank, and a published academic.

Inspiring Mentor of the Year

Jenny Garrett OBE, Managing Director, Reflexion Associates Limited t/a Jenny Garrett Global

A renowned TEDx speaker, award-winning coach, leadership trainer, and two-time author, Jenny’s work has reached an astounding 122 million people worldwide. Jenny was awarded an OBE for her tireless services to Entrepreneurship and Women in Business, and for supporting over 2,500 disadvantaged teenagers through her social enterprise, Rocking Ur Teens.

Public/Third Sector Leader of the Year

Usha Kong, Careers & Social Mobility Manager, Tower Hamlets Council

Usha Kong, the Careers & Social Mobility Manager at Tower Hamlets with responsibility for careers education/guidance and improving social/cultural capital for young residents. A career spanning corporate, public, and third sector organizations together with her life experiences led her passion for empowering others to overcome hurdles and drive meaningful change.

Rising Star of the Year

Samrudhi Inamdar, Project Engineer, Company/Organisation Name: ALTEN LTD, UK

Samrudhi is an award-winning Avionics Verification and Validation (V&V) Engineer, working at ALTEN, UK on a Rolls-Royce Aero Engine project. Alongside her main job, she is the European Young Engineers’ Vice President for Internal Relations and the Chapter Director of Global STEM Initiative’s (GSI) UK chapter.

Social Impact of the Year

Jane Kenyon, CEO, Girls Out Loud

Having changed her own life countless times, Jane Kenyon is dedicated to making change happen for those desperately in need. She’s driven by the need to inspire and empower women to be role models for the younger generation and has been working exclusively with women and teenage girls for 25 years.


Start-Up of the Year

Emma Armstrong, Managing Director, Empro Business Group Ltd

Empro is a specialist Facilities Management and Corporate Real Estate Consultancy firm with extensive experience in all aspects of FM delivery from client-side outsourcing strategies to award-winning mobilization projects. Whether you’re embarking on a workplace change, reconsidering your office space, or require consultative advice, they can help.

STEM Leader of the Year

Carol Marsh, Head of Digital Systems, Celestia UK

Dr. Carol Marsh OBE is Head of Digital Systems at Celestia UK and previously held an executive role as Interim Head of Electronics Engineering at Leonardo. Carol is a Trustee and Vice President of the IET and Past President of WES. Carol’s OBE is for services to diversity and inclusion.

Transformational Leader of the Year

Emma Wright, Partner, Harbottle & Lewis

Emma is a market-leading partner in the technology sector. She specializes in complex technology transactions for both suppliers and customers, particularly for technology and telecoms clients, and has a strong reputation for handling telecom, cyber, and internet regulatory matters, particularly those involving OFCOM or the ICO.

Women on Boards

Louise Hardy, Non-Executive Director, Severfield Plc

Louise Hardy is a chartered civil engineer who has delivered nationally significant infrastructure projects, including the London 2012 Olympic Park. She now has a portfolio career and sits on FTSE250 and public sector boards of engineering and construction companies/projects as a Chair and Non-Executive Director.

Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Megan Scaddan, Director, The Nottingham Doughnut Co LTD (Doughnotts)

In 2015, Megan Scaddan and business partner Wade Smith made some doughnuts at home, with just £10 for ingredients and a wok. Within eight years, they now have 10 stores, 80+ staff, offer nationwide delivery, and attend food festivals all over the UK.

Overall Business Woman Of The Year

For the overall business woman of the year, the judges were asked to consider leadership, business awareness and impact, personal insight and influence and community impact.  

Emma Wright is a market-leading partner in the technology sector, specializing in complex technology transactions for both suppliers and customers, particularly within the technology and telecoms space. She has garnered a strong reputation for handling regulatory matters in telecom, cyber, and internet, particularly those involving OFCOM or the ICO.

“You have created something so special with Forward Ladies. A community that inspires, supports and encourages and learns from each other. I was nominated by the most fabulous Dr. Leigh Hoath in 2019 AND I won. It gave me the confidence to make some bold moves in my career, and I have not looked back. Thank you!” – Julianne Antrobus – Global Head of Nuclear, PA Consulting Group, STEM Leader – FL Awards Winner 

About Forward Ladies

We are a 100% female-owned and run business!

Our work is supported by our members who subscribe to our membership platform, enabling them to access resources to transform their career and businesses. Our mission is to create a global digital platform that connects women to opportunities and expertise that will empower them. Every year, we celebrate and recognise inspirational female leaders and male agents of change through our awards, the FL Leadership Summit & Awards Programme. 

Find out more here here