‘I’VE NEVER BEEN REGARDED AS WEAK’ - 35 WOMEN UNDER 35 2015

BRIGHT, FEARLESS AND DETERMINED TO FOLLOW THEIR PASSIONS, THIS YEAR'S 35 WOMEN UNDER 35 ARE BREAKING NEW GROUND IN BUSINESS. BY KATE BASSETT.


From left: Georgie Bell, Annabel Kilner, Temi Marcella Olatunde, Joséphine Goube, Dr Nasrin Hafezparast. Portraits by Sam Peach and Tora Davidson

Dr Nasrin Hafezparast was set to become a radiologist. After studying medicine for five years and working as a junior doctor in London for two, she was offered a cushy contract in radiology. Five-year deal. Enviable salary. She turned it down to join a start-up.

'Everyone thought I was mad,' she says. 'They couldn't understand why I was throwing away seven years of hard work - and a decent wage - to launch a business. But I'd seen, first hand, the inefficiencies in healthcare and wanted to try and fix them. Life's short; I saw that working in A&E. You have to put money aside and do what makes you happy.'

Dr Nasrin Hafezparast, co-founder and clinical technology lead, Outcomes Based Healthcare

Hafezparast co-founded medtech company Outcomes Based Healthcare two years ago and recently bagged a £1m grant from Innovate UK, the government's innovation agency, to fund a big-data project on diabetes. 'I feel like I'm helping more people now than when I was a doctor,' says the entrepreneur.

This year's 35 Women Under 35 list, in association with Accenture, is packed with smart, ambitious women who are carving out their own careers and aren't afraid to buck trends. From finance and food to science and solar power, this group is all about passion, not pay cheques.

Take Joséphine Goube. One of 10 immigrants on our list, she grew up in the village of Hardelot in northern France. Its population back then: 300. Her school was an hour away and, as an only child with parents working full time, she'd spend most of her time alone, dreaming of escape. 'I wanted to go to Sciences Po (the French equivalent of Harvard) but no-one believed I'd make it,' she says. 'My teachers thought I was too ambitious. My father thought I was unrealistic. So I applied in secret.'

Joséphine Goube, director of partnerships, Migreat 

She got in. She went on to do an advertising internship in New York, a master's degree at the LSE, where she established the university's first business incubator, and is now director of partnerships at Migreat, which helps migrants, and co-managing director of non-profit organisation Girls in Tech. 'If I went back to France now, every door would be open,' says the 26-year-old. 'It would be easy to find a job and I'd have a lavish lifestyle. But I'm not interested in comfort. I'm interested in making a difference.'

Temi Marcella Olatunde shares that sentiment. The Nigerian private-equity star remembers the first time she visited Makoko, a slum neighbourhood in Lagos. She was five years old and her father, a civil engineer, had built a school there. 'He took me to see the impact of his work,' she says. 'He was never just focused on material wealth; he wanted to help people and leave a legacy. That made a big impression on me.'

Temi Marcella Olatunde, investor, Abraaj Group

She moved to the UK and, on graduating from Cambridge with a first-class master's in economics, joined the trading floor at Goldman Sachs. But it wasn't for her. 'The job was very competitive and well paid but I wanted to focus on building businesses and creating jobs - something that would have a sustainable impact.' She's currently an investor at private equity group Abraaj, working on deals in Sub-Saharan Africa. 'It's long hours and involves a lot of travel but the day I get depressed is the day I start seeing my job as just a "job". This is my passion.'

As a rare young female in private equity, Olatunde stands out. But she's used that to her advantage. 'People remember me,' she says. 'The struggle is more internal; the voice in your head - the self-saboteur - that asks "do I deserve to be here?". If you get over that, you realise that people take you as you are.'

Georgie Bell, luxury malts ambassador – Mortlach, Diageo

Fellow cover star Georgie Bell, luxury malts ambassador for Diageo's Mortlach scotch whisky brand, admits she gets some 'quizzical looks' during tastings. Petite, blonde and aged 27, she isn't your average whisky connoisseur. 'It doesn't bother me,' she says. 'That's the point where I pull out a golden bullet of information - a distilling fact or an interesting detail about the production process - that makes people sit up and think, "Oh wow, she really knows what she's talking about." I've chosen an unconventional career path and I want to shine.'

Annabel Kilner says she's never felt discrimination. She joined innovation consultancy FreshMinds (founded by 35 Women Under 35 alumnus Caroline Plumb) straight out of university and, by the age of 25, was pitching to marketing heads at the likes of Coca-Cola. Now, as country manager UK at online furniture retailer Made.com, she's in charge of one of the fastest-growing tech businesses in the country, working alongside chairman Brent Hoberman. 'He's constantly challenging me to think creatively and innovate without fear of failure,' she says.

Annabel Kilner, country manager UK, Made.com

Migreat's Goube adds that she, too, has been privileged to work with 'smart men who are used to working with powerful women'. 'I've never been regarded as weak,' says Goube. 'Chauvinistic men were an issue in the 1970s; we've come way beyond that. Women need to stop victimising themselves.'

This year's crop of talent doesn't see barriers, just opportunities. The attitude is resolutely: 'Glass ceiling? What glass ceiling?' Just think what their daughters will achieve.

THE LIST:

IRENE ARANGO, CO-FOUNDER, NAMA FOODS, 33

GEORGIE BELL, LUXURY MALTS AMBASSADOR – MORTLACH, DIAGEO, 27

BECKY BROCK, GROUP MARKETING DIRECTOR, SNOW + ROCK GROUP, 35 

SUZANNA BROER, GLOBAL DIRECTOR INSIGHTS & LOYALTY, MARKS AND SPENCER, 33 

CARLA BUZASI, GLOBAL CHIEF CONTENT OFFICER, WGSN, 35

NATALIE CAMPBELL, DIRECTOR, A VERY GOOD COMPANY, 31

SARAH CHAPMAN, CEO AND CO-FOUNDER, IWANA ENERGY, 30

NICOLA COMBE, PRODUCT MANAGER, BRITISH GAS CONNECTED HOMES, 29

BIJNA DASANI, VICE PRESIDENT, DEUTSCHE BANK, 30

ALEX DEPLEDGE, CEO AND CO-FOUNDER, HASSLE.COM, 34

GEMMA GODFREY, HEAD OF INVESTMENT STRATEGY, BROOKS MACDONALD, 31

JOSÉPHINE GOUBE, DIRECTOR OF PARTNERSHIPS, MIGREAT, 26

DR NASRIN HAFEZPARAST, CO-FOUNDER AND CLINICAL TECHNOLOGY LEAD, OUTCOMES BASED HEALTHCARE, 32

IRINA HAIVAS, PRINCIPAL/INVESTMENT EXECUTIVE, GHO CAPITAL, 34

VERITY HARDING, PUBLIC POLICY MANAGER, GOOGLE UK, 30

LISA HUMPHREYS, BOARD DIRECTOR - TRADING, MEDIACOM, 34

ANNE-MARIE IMAFIDON, FOUNDER AND CEO, STEMETTES, 26

ANUSHIKA INDRARATNA, SALES MANAGER, PLATINUM GROUP METALS, ANGLO AMERICAN, 34

JEMMA JONES, GENERAL MANAGER, MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS EUROPE, HONDA MOTOR EUROPE, 30

EMMA KENDREW, SENIOR MANAGER - FUELS RETAIL GO TO MARKET STRATEGY LEAD, ACCENTURE, 34

ANNABEL KILNER, COUNTRY MANAGER UK, MADE.COM, 34

JESSICA KRUGER, FOUNDER AND COO, ETHOS, 27

CAROLINE MACFARLAND, FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR, COVI (COMMON VISION), 29

RACHEL MONTAGUE-EBBS, SUPPLY CHAIN DIRECTOR & FINANCIAL CONTROLLER, CPM RETAIL LTD, 33

CATHERINE O'KELLY, CHIEF OF STAFF, CENTRICA, 31

TEMI MARCELLA OLATUNDE, INVESTOR, ABRAAJ GROUP, 28

JOANA REGO, ASSOCIATE PARTNER, GPW + CO LTD, 32

JANE REOCH, INVESTMENT DIRECTOR, PANORAMIC GROWTH EQUITY, 35

KIRSTY ROSS, MEMBERSHIP SERVICES DIRECTOR, AA, 31

TONI SKINNER, CO-FOUNDER, PIG'S EARS BEER LTD, 30

ALEXANDRA SMYTH, GENERAL COUNSEL - CORPORATE AND M&A, RELX GROUP (FORMERLY REED ELSEVIER), 33

SALLY SOUTHWELL, MANAGING ASSOCIATE, LINKLATERS, 32

JOANNE SUI, CIVIL ENGINEER, LONDON BRIDGE ASSOCIATES, 29

TESS SUNDELIN, MANAGING DIRECTOR, GREEN HEDGE GROUP, 32

DR LAURA TOOGOOD, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF PRIVATE CLIENTS, DIGITALIS REPUTATION, 30

ONES TO WATCH:

KELLY-ANNE BYRES, DIRECTOR, POPPY NURSING AND CARE SERVICES LIMITED, 27

DR VIVIAN CHAN, CEO & CO-FOUNDER, SPARRHO, 30

LEVI YOUNG, FOUNDING DIRECTOR, ENCLOTHED, 28

DANA ZINGHER, FOUNDING DIRECTOR, ENCLOTHED, 27

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