Chief executive and co-founder, 52 North Health
Following a successful career as a banking lawyer (including at Citibank), Ahmad pivoted into healthcare at 29 while on maternity leave with twins. She completed a master’s programme in bioscience enterprise, then took on a role at AstraZeneca – where she worked on two of the industry’s biggest M&A deals worth more than £6bn each and negotiated contracts with the government for the Covid vaccine – before co-founding 52 North Health. Disrupting the typical med-tech model, the company is currently 88% female, its first product helps cancer patients at risk of sepsis (working with The Sepsis Trust and Macmillan Cancer Support) and it raised more than £2.5m in funding.
Growth and innovation strategy manager, Accenture
In addition to her responsibility to grow teams and launch innovative ventures, Akin works alongside Accenture’s chief executive to shape and drive its racial equality strategy in the UK and Ireland. At just 28, she is the most junior person to be asked to lead the tech company’s Accenture African Caribbean Network of 60 people across three regional offices. She has also produced innovative work for clients, including creating “MOBOLISE” for the MOBO Group. The platform, which drives systemic change for racial equality across the creative and tech sector, is now live, connecting black talent to opportunities with global brands.
Business director, Campfire
Just as the pandemic hit in March 2020, Angell joined Campfire’s small team of four. She ensured that the team grew (now to 30 people) and that the company’s financial targets (£1m turnover in 2020 and £3m in 2021) were hit. She has also had a huge impact on her clients: The Inkey List became the most followed skincare brand on TikTok in 2021 and St Tropez products sold out following the body positive campaign with Ashely Graham that she spearheaded.
Marketing director, Zumo
The self-titled “fintech Frenchy” Arras was the first woman to travel the world (or rather 2,300 miles) using only Bitcoin, is regularly named as one of the most high-profile women in crypto and is currently raising awareness of – and access to – the digital currency in her role at Zumo, the financial inclusion firm. The campaigns she has led, like “Smart Money for Everyone”, have resulted in a 482% increase in social media mentions for Zumo; meanwhile, its user base has been growing 25% month on month since she joined.
Acting chief executive, The Webinar Vet
Bell joined The Webinar Vet in its infancy more than a decade ago and stepped up as CEO in 2021. She has taken the team from three to 30 people, serving a community of more than 60,000 vets across 130 countries. She also led the acquisition of WikiVet and hosts Vetchat, a podcast that racks up more than 25,000 listens. Sadly, suicide rates are high in the veterinary sector, so during the pandemic Bell rolled out free wellness content to support those struggling.
Chief executive and co-founder, AirRated
AirRated certifies buildings with an AirScore – a benchmark for indoor air quality based on scientific research and developed by Brady. Since launching the business in 2020, Brady has secured investment from Legal and General Investment Management and got AirScore recognised by GRESB as a building certification. Under her guidance, the company is rapidly growing. Today, more than 10 million square feet of space is registered to receive an AirScore, up from 2.4 million square feet last year. Her ambitious plans for the year ahead include increasing turnover by 100% and launching in the US.
Global product lead, MIQ
“When I started my career in adtech, I was often the only woman at the table,” Brahimi says. So she uses her position of power to fix this. She launched the MIQ Product Inclusion and Diversity committee and has helped the organisation’s product division increase its female representation from 28% to 43%. In her free time, the Kosovan-born former refugee volunteers for Grenfell United and mentors youths in the Mayor of London’s Digital Talent Programme. She was also the recipient of Santander and LSE’s Future Female Leaders Scholarship 2021 award.
Chief executive and success mastery coach, Guilt Free Health & School of Healing Mastery
Growing up, Bray experienced a traumatic childhood of bullying and abuse. “Her now or never moment came” later in life, as a single mum with post-natal depression. She launched her business and developed her own unique therapeutic methods – which she is teaching to other therapists, psychologists and social workers – to help other women heal and have more fulfilling lives. With no background in business and zero marketing spend, her company has grown organically from a £40,000 turnover in 2017 to £1.35m in 2021 – and is projected to turnover £2m this year.
Chief executive, The HLF Group
After realising that working as a solicitor was not sustainable with a young family, Conroy packed it in to launch The HLF Group – which supplies furniture to holiday lettings – while on maternity leave. “In just over four years, I have solely grown the business to be the market leader,” Conroy says. The company has organically grown and is set to reach £2.7m sales this year. In a short period of time, it won contracts with some of the biggest holiday operators in Britain, including Park Dean Resorts, Seasons and Skyes.
Director, investigations and compliance, StoneTurn
Having qualified as a chartered accountant in her home country of Australia, Drozda is now a rising star in the corporate compliance and investigations sector. She oversaw the preparation of a compliance expert witness report for one of the top cases in the British High Court last year, led a Covid-19 fraud investigation in Poland and has been part of an investigation into high-profile allegations of bribery of US government officials. On the side, she is completing the prestigious Oxford Saïd Business School Women’s Leadership Development Programme.
Head of employer brand, EY
Ekeroth calls herself a “citizen of the world” having been born in Canada, raised in the Philippines and educated in Sweden, before settling in Britain. She is a passionate D&I advocate and is co-chair of the EY Women’s Network. Last year, she oversaw the delivery of 38 network events, covering topics like the gender pensions gap and male allyship, and launched EY’s EMEIA Women in Technology programme. This is on top of her day-to-day responsibilities, which include leading a team and overseeing a multimillion-pound marketing budget.
Acting chief executive and chief operating officer, Police Now
Ferns started her career in management consulting at PwC and various technology and boutique firms before joining Police Now in 2019 as COO. She became one of the youngest C-suite leaders of a multimillion-pound social enterprise. She has since doubled the business in size and revenue. As well as being accountable for the firm’s 120-strong workforce and £17m+ budget, Ferns is studying for an MBA at London Business School and has taken up a board position at Kite International, a youth-led charity.
Beer and Baileys sustainability lead, Diageo
After a lab apprenticeship in applied chemistry, Fisher became the first Diageo-supported biotechnology graduate, completing an undergraduate degree at the same time as managing the laboratory, demonstrating multitasking and time-management skills. Now an ambassador in the STEM industry, she is helping other young people get their foot in the door as an apprenticeship ambassador. In her role as the sustainability lead for beer and Baileys, Fisher is responsible for realising Diageo’s “Grain to Glass” sustainability commitments.
Founder and managing director, Mrs Buckét
When she failed her Business Studies A-Level, Flanagan’s teacher told her that she would never make it in business. Still, at 18 years old and equipped with £20, a bucket and mop, she founded the corporate cleaning company Mrs Buckét. Today the business is worth £4.5m. She has created more than 330 jobs in Wales and the South West and, over the next 12 months, plans to create a further 100 jobs. She pays staff the real living wage and also runs a training academy to ensure high standards. As a result of her entrepreneurial success, she was invited to 10 Downing Street to represent small businesses with David Cameron and to a Nato summit.
EMEA chief of staff for global operations, Credit Suisse
Gorecha worked at Goldman Sachs before joining Credit Suisse in 2020 during a period of extreme volatility. In that time, Gorecha conceptualised contingency plans for the US elections and Brexit, and delivered successful crisis responses to Covid-19 and a monsoon in India, which impacted more than 1,000 workers. Her role has a focus on psychological safety and employee wellbeing, which were key during the various lockdowns. On top of this, she supports South Asian mothers fleeing domestic abuse as a trustee for Maa Shanti.
Social and influencer lead, Accenture Song
As social and influencer lead at Accenture Song, Hunter’s quick-turnaround content is driving revenue: Karmarama’s billings rose by £7m in 2022 to £129m. She is responsible for delivering social media content for clients like the British Army, as well as growing the influencer campaigns capability team (which she created) from scratch. To make adland more accessible, Hunter also leads the agency’s Kadets paid internship programme and masterminded its Working Experience initiative in partnership with the Ideas Foundation.
Associate director, EY
As an “undesired daughter from a low economic background”, Chinese-born Jia is paving the way for representation of Asian women in leadership. Prior to her current role – where she advises executives and oversees multimillion-dollar mergers and acquisitions – she has held several leadership positions where she has led teams of employees mostly older than her. She has also co-authored a guide for inclusion, “Leaders as Change Agents”. The framework has been brought into discussion with FTSE 100 CEOs. The Minister for Equalities and Levelling Up Communities, Kemi Badenoch, wrote her a thank you note acknowledging the high-impact work.
Chief executive and founder, Placed App
At just 14 years old, Johansson became a breakfast hostess at a hotel. She worked her way up to a luxury concierge service and quickly realised that the hospitality industry has a “recruitment problem”. Despite being the largest employer of those under 25, people are often snobby about the sector. As a result, it struggles to attract and retain talent. So in 2017, Johansson launched Tinder for the hospitality industry: Placed App. Businesses that use the platform have a three times higher conversion-to-hire rate and despite the challenges presented during the global pandemic, revenue increased 25% month on month in 2021.
Chief executive, Careful Feet Digital
In 2019, American Jones turned a small lifestyle digital freelance consultancy, in which she was the sole freelancer, into an agency that is now valued at around £3m. In March 2020, when all Careful Feet Digital’s customers seemingly disappeared overnight, she took a risk and hired “like crazy”. By increasing the company’s capabilities, its client base grew from around five projects per month to more than 30 and, in one year, its revenue doubled. Now Jones is highlighting the issues facing female founders and founders of colour, such as funding.
Founder and chief executive, Nirvana Brewery
Two years after launching Britain’s first low ABV beer brewery with her family and a business partner, Kean unexpectedly became the sole founder and CEO of the company in 2018. With no previous experience in the industry, let alone in managing a company, the stakes were high. Still, under her watch Nirvana Brewery has experienced record growth, including a five-fold increase in exports in 2021, and is now fundraising to expand. Today, she has become a low and no-alcohol brewing expert, and has appeared on the BBC’s One Show.
Chief executive, SalesWorks
Lakhani began her sales career at the fintech Finastra. She spent seven years there, became their youngest manager and was accountable for 60% of the global team. During that time, she saw that absence of training caused sales teams to underperform. So in 2018, Lakhani founded SalesWorks. The sales training provider gained 60 clients in its first two years, was acquired by Blarney Ventures and expanded into the US, Australia and Singapore. As a result, its year-on-year revenue doubled in 2021 to £6.38m – and it’s on track to do the same this year.
Engagement manager, McKinsey
MacBeath has been a driving force in building McKinsey’s cybersecurity practice in Europe, and has co-developed a successful cybersecurity benchmarking tool. Women make up less than a quarter of the global workforce in the cybersecurity sector. So, MacBeath is not only a role model but a strong advocate for industry equality. Her published paper, “Giving Credit Where it is Due”, spurred the launch of a £480m credit facility, managed by the World Bank, for female entrepreneurs in developing countries. She is also undertaking a master’s in Software and Systems Security at Oxford University.
Chief revenue officer, MPB
Mitchell joined MPB in 2011 as part of its founding team and has been critical to its growth in headcount, revenue and funding. In around 10 years, she has overseen an annual revenue increase from £5m to more than £100m, the team grow to more than 350 employees and a £49.8m Series D funding round – the biggest-ever round raised by a start-up out of Brighton. As the only female member on the board of directors, Mitchell has championed diversity at recruitment stage. Her advocacy has been fundamental to the organisation achieving its current 50% female executive team and 45% female senior team.
Cleannest was born while Mixon was studying her MBA. After realising the “lack of innovation and negative environmental impact” of nappies, she formed a team within a week and entered her concept – higher quality and reduced environmental footprint without compromising on convenience – into Imperial’s flagship Venture Catalyst Challenge. Cleannest’s pre-seed fundraising round (which fell on Mixon’s 32nd birthday) was oversubscribed by £100,000 to reach £250,000. Investors include a unicorn founder who sold her business to American Express and a former strategist for Huggies.
While managing the digital presence of HSBC and Fidelity International, O’Donnell would struggle to find healthy desk breakfasts. So she’d prepare overnight oats. To help other time-poor, health-conscious people, she left her corporate job and founded Oatsu. Since launching the online store in 2020, it has served more than 7,500 breakfasts, achieved an average customer return rate of 40% (twice the industry average) and is on track to turnover £100,000 by December 2022. During the pandemic, O’Donnell also co-founded a free community for food and drink business founders to connect and support each other.
Chief operating officer and co-founder, Wealthify
After leaving medical school to pursue her passion for investing, Pearce-Burke gained chartered status and worked as a wealth manager. Frustrated with the lack of opportunities for “young people like her” with average sums to invest, she left the firm to shake up the industry and founded Wealthify. The company went public in April 2016, was acquired by Aviva and now has more than 71,000 active customers. More importantly, Pearce-Burke is travelling across Britain to encourage people to plan their financial future and debunk investing myths.
Head of business development and culture, Radioactive
When Planells joined PR agency Radioactive in 2016, she was one of three workers. Through its growth to a team of 16, she has been a “constant source of calm”. As a returning mother, Planells’ lived experience has shaped (and improved) the company’s culture, like matching maternity leave packages for fathers. As a result, Radioactive is an award-winning best place to work. Outside of work, she mentors budding PRs, volunteers at various charities and is a frequent guest lecturer at the University of Gloucester.
Senior manager digital activation content, Adidas
Romanian-born Popescu is climbing the ladder at a “blink and you’ll miss it” rate. She moved to Britain to study at Coventry University, where she supported herself and graduated with first-class honours. She started her career at Maserati and worked her way up to product specialist. In 2016, she started her own consultancy firm – Maserati was her first client. She re-entered permanent employment in 2018, when she became the youngest senior manager at Honda Europe. Now, she has left the automotive industry to join Adidas. “My mission has always been to strive for more,” she says.
Chief executive, Digital Voices
Quigley-Jones launched Digital Voices with just a £500 personal investment in 2017. Impressively, she has grown the influencer marketing agency to an international team of more than 35 people with over £8m in revenue. The list of clients is equally impressive with Rolls-Royce, Unilever and Meta, to name a few. Wanting to have a positive impact on the industry, Quigley-Jones shuns gambling and tobacco-affiliated campaigns and has launched Creator Voices, a free place to ask questions around the creator economy. Next up, she’s expanding to the States.
Director, global solutions and innovation, Xaxis
Born in the Netherlands, Rast joined the WPP media company Xaxis three years ago. She is particularly passionate about the gaming industry. Rast has written about the need for better female representation in gaming in industry press, addressed violence in gaming at Advertising Week 2021 and has advised the International Advertising Bureau’s gaming taskforce on standardising measurement metrics for ad campaigns. She was also appointed as a member of WPP’s D&I team and set up the D&I body at Group M.
Founder and chief executive, Insane Grain
Shah left her corporate career in brand management, at the likes of Procter & Gamble and Reckitt Benckiser, to launch Insane Grain in 2017. Today, the healthy snack is listed in thousands of stores, including Selfridges and Holland & Barrett, and the business is valued at £3m. She successfully relaunched during the pandemic, closed a £500,000 funding round and got investors with a combined exit value of £50m behind the brand. Shah is also a Virgin Start-Up mentor and works with the government and Smart Food to support African female farmers and businesses.
“We live in a world where society expects us to follow a certain path,” Australian-born Sordell says. Which is why she’s proud that she didn’t listen, ditching her “unfulfilling” marriage and “cushy job” to choose herself. It’s only fitting that after rebranding her own life, she launched Klowt, a branding agency. With no capital input and through purely organic growth, it turned over £382,000 in its first year. Now in its second year, it has 10 members of staff and is on track to turnover £1.16m.
Managing director EMEA, Byte/ Dept
Despite having no degree or connection to the marketing world, Trippett became Byte/Dept's fifth employee in 2014. She was promoted to MD five years later, now oversees operations across London and Berlin – including 120 staff – and has led the team to win and retain important clients like Twitch, ASOS and TikTok. She shepherded the organisation through the coronavirus pandemic and helped the company come out on top, with 30% year-on-year revenue growth in 2021.
Associate director, Naismiths
With more than 15 years’ experience in the construction industry under her belt, Vincent-Gill has climbed the ladder to become the highest-performing female national project monitoring associate director in a business with an annual turnover over £6m. She is currently managing a portfolio of more than 120 live construction sites worth over £1bn and has just spearheaded the company’s East Anglia office launch. Notably, she was the project co-ordinator for the Tate Modern Project (£260m) and led the housing remediation programme for Housing New Zealand. Vincent-Gill is an ambassador for women in construction associates in the UK and New Zealand.
Founder and chief executive, Good-Loop
After stints in adland and an Argentinian soup kitchen, Williams turned her hand to making advertising a force for good and came up with Good-Loop. The certified B Corp company, which rewards consumers who watch an entire ad with a free donation to charity, has raised more than £4m for causes around the world. Plus, doing good has been good for business: the philanthropic spots deliver up to 75% more engagement than the industry standard helping Good-Loop to grow its revenue to £5.4m in 2021.