The FL Leadership Summit & Awards 2021 Final – Winners Announced!

Some of the country’s most successful and influential businesswomen have been recognised at a leading awards event. 

The Forward Ladies Leadership Summit & Awards 2021 celebrated the achievements of business leaders from across the UK. 

The Awards programme were delighted to welcome back sponsors Boeing Defence UK, BASF, tastecard, Grant Thornton UK and Cohorted.   

The 9 winners demonstrated excellence in their industries and were judged to have made an outstanding contribution, showing leadership and mentorship skills. 

Organised by global organisation Forward Ladies, the 11th annual awards are the largest celebration of their kind.  

The winners were announced at the Forward Ladies Leadership Summit & Awards 2021 virtual event, hosted by Maila Reeves, an angel investor in disruptive technology businesses and one of Tech City Insider’s top 100 Tech People in the UK. 


 Forward Ladies CEO Griselda Togobo said: “We were overwhelmed, not only by the number of entries we received for the awards but by the sheer quality of those entries. 

“The judges had an extremely difficult job to select their finalists and winners. In the end, each of the winners was chosen because she demonstrated exceptional achievements that made her stand out in that category. 

“We would like to thank everyone who entered and congratulate all the shortlisted finalists and winners.” 

The Awards & Summit was a full day of events, including panel discussions and workshops.  

Attendees were able to learn from leaders including Scarlett Allen-Horton, an international executive search recruiter and finalist in BBC TV’s The Apprentice and Anna Keeling, MD of Boeing Defence UK. 

The event was also an opportunity to learn and network, something which Griselda said was an important part of the Forward Ladies mission. 

“At Forward Ladies we believe it’s vital that successful women inspire and assist other women to reach their potential in business or the corporate world. Our Leadership Summit & Awards is an important date in our calendar and has given many women a boost in their careers.” 

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 judges were drawn from a diverse range of industries and were invited to take part based on their strong track record in business. The esteemed panel of independent judges included Sahar Hashemi OBE, founder of coffee Republic and Rachel Hannan Angel Investor. 



The Forward Ladies Awards Winners 2021 

Charity/Social Enterprise 

Alessandra Alonso, Founder of Women in Travel CIC, was chosen for her phenomenal story and strong leadership. 

Women in Travel is a social enterprise, founded with the aim of providing women with the opportunity to fulfil their economic and individual potential through employability and entrepreneurship.  


The Corporate and Inspiring Leader Award 

The judges said that Sharon Blyfield, from Coca-Cola Europacific Partners Limited, had showed motivation and determination to support women to achieve careers often regarded as unobtainable. She was recognised for her inspirational approach. 


Emerging Leader and Rising Star 

Farrah Ekeroth, Head of Employer Brand at EY, was deemed a worthy winner for demonstrating inspiring career progression and delivering an exceptionally positive message across her teams, accelerating gender parity within her organisation and others.  

Female Entrepreneur 

Described by judges as an exceptional woman, the MD of Local Care Force, Leanne Silverwood, showed that she is a strong ambassador for women in business and is passionate about growing and developing her people.  

Mentor of the Year    

Louise Hardy, non-executive director for Polypipe Group Ltd, has made an impressive impact. Named in the FT’s Top 100 influential Women in Engineering list in 2019, as well as undertaking STEM activities at national level, Louise has addressed thousands of school children and university students to encourage STEM based careers.   


Public and Third Sector Leader 

Dr Chinwe Osuchukwu, Deputy Director of Medical Education at the Central North West London NHS Trust, is a prominent mentor within her workplace and shows passion and commitment in developing others. She is also doing great work outside her NHS role.   

Start Up Entrepreneur 

Catherine Gazzoli, founder of Piccolo, the UK’s fastest growing premium baby and toddler food company, showed clear evidence of diversifying her business and pivoting online during Covid.   

Catherine has a strong vision and has been making a community impact by donating meals and mentoring others. 

Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Leader  

This award is for women in a senior position within the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics sector.  

Sarah-Jane Mintey, CEO of Developing Experts, demonstrated a passion for education. The judges were impressed with her decision to re-skill into IT and her great commercial skills, which she has used to secure investment in her business, since achieving global reach. 

Young Entrepreneur 

Greta McDonald has shown personal resilience through difficult issues. The judges are looking forward to seeing how her business, Sweet Lounge, grows in the future. 

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.  

The winner, Louise Hardy, non-executive director for Polypipe Group Ltd, was also named Mentor of the Year for her impressive impact within engineering. Polypipe Group Ltd is one of Europe’s largest manufacturers of products for the construction industry.  

2019 Overall business woman of the year, technology entrepreneur Alex Depledge said “This boost in confidence from FL has helped me be bolder in our vision for the company, to have more faith in my instincts. In the past, I would find the goals we’re facing as a company daunting but since the awards, I believe in myself more to handle the challenges. The most beneficial part has been the confidence awards provided and the renewed appreciation I now have for my team – as well as for myself! It’s helped me see that the things I do day to day for my business are anything but mundane. I’m creating something special, not alone, but as part of a community of inspirational women all across the UK.” 

Anna Keeling, managing director of Boeing Defence UK, a speaker and sponsor at the event  said: “The awards are a reminder of the importance of celebrating personal and team successes and recognising talent. Being part of the awards gave me a renewed commitment to making real progress on diversity and inclusion in my teams. It was a reminder to honour my personal and professional commitments to influence tangible change.” 


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Our mission is to create a global digital platform that connects women to opportunities, 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