MT's 35 Women Under 35 2011: A Vision of Enterprise

This year, MT's list of female high-fliers belongs to the entrepreneur. The most striking thing about our line-up is half have been recognised for their start-ups - whether making Lady Gaga's knickers, or a new hedge fund.

by Hannah Prevett
Last Updated: 25 Nov 2015

David Cameron would be proud; after all, he's spent his first year as prime minister urging 'more people to make a job rather than take a job' and that, in an age of austerity, the 'only strategy' for growth is to get behind the nation's entrepreneurs. If he's looking for role models, our cover stars are a great place to start: four of the six run their own businesses, and between them employ nearly 70 people. Not bad for self-funded start-ups with only a few miles on the clock. 'Backing new enterprises to start up, and small businesses to grow, will deliver new jobs and economic growth,' business secretary Vince Cable told MT. 'I want people all over the country to see that working for yourself is a real alternative to unemployment or getting a job.'

If entrepreneurs are going to save the UK economy, one quality they must have is confidence - which is something this lot have in abundance. Julie Diem Le, who founded kids online glasses retailer Zoobug (which is producing the official London 2012 children's sunglasses, no less), says having the confidence to take the plunge is vital: 'You need to have dogged determination and be able to think outside the box - if somebody's not already doing it, you have to be brave enough to just go for it.'

Confidence is also about not being afraid to play to your strengths - whatever your line of business. Alex Pumfrey, programme director of Digital UK, which is managing the switch from analogue to digital TV, says that feeling comfortable in her own skin has been crucial to her success. 'The biggest thing I've learned over the past 10 years of my career is how to relax and be myself,' she says. 'I think for a long time I was living up to an image of a shoulder-padded, fierce businesswoman. But you have more fun and you get on much better if you learn how to be yourself.'

This is a trap many women have fallen into: thinking they must demonstrate 'male' personality traits to get ahead. 'I've learnt to try not to emulate men,' says Diem Le. 'As women we have our own strengths.'

Of course, female sensibilities can be a business asset too. We have no fewer than four designers on the list this year - from S&M-inspired lingerie designer Alexandra Popa (whose outfits are sported by the gusset-baring queen herself, Lady Gaga) to Kate Bentley and Hayley Marsden, who got together to create bespoke vintage-inspired headgear.

We also have several women from more traditional corporate disciplines. There are fewer bankers this year, as one might expect. But we have three lawyers, including cover star Misha Patel. Previously on the M&A team at Clifford Chance, she is now assistant general counsel at KPMG - where she's working on its ambitious growth plans, particularly in the Middle East. And in a year when there's been much talk of how to get more women into the upper echelons of UK plc, another corporate high-flier to star in this year's list is Nicola Roberts, a director in Deloitte's tax practice, who has just become one of its youngest ever partners. This year, Roberts will generate more than £2m in revenues for the firm.

Although this year's 35 Under 35 list are drawn from all walks of business life, they share the kind of drive, creativity and chutzpah that UK plc desperately needs if we're ever going to make it back to the sunlit uplands.


Behari started her property maintenance company, Home Jane, which employs only female tradespeople, in 2006. More recently, she co-founded the Goodlife Centre, teaching the lost art of DIY. Behari has also co-presented Channel 4 show Make, Do and Mend. She won business of the year at the Thames Gateway Awards 2009.



The market for stretchy, body-shaping underwear may be tightly packed, but Awan knew she could do it better. Since launching her Peachy Pink range in 2009. turnover has rocketed, sometimes doubling or tripling month on month. She now sells to 20 countries. In 2010 she received the female Asian entrepreneur of the year award from Theresa May.



Every girl knows the problem of finding the perfect frock. But with her business, Girl Meets Dress, Bance, formerly a PR manager at fashion house Temperley who once dressed Kate Winslet and Natalie Imbruglia, has found the solution. Instead of spending hard-earned cash on designer gear, rent it for a fraction of the price. Since the company was launched in 2009, it has gained legions of fans - not least style bible Vogue, which called it 'the answer to all your prayers'.









Bentley and Marsden collaborated on their first fashion project together - Vintage Hatics, a head-to-toe vintage clothing and stylist service - while holding down full-time day jobs. Multitasker Bentley is a criminal defence lawyer, runs a vintage frock shop with her husband, and is also a consultant for premium skincare and cosmetic range Arbonne. Meanwhile, Marsden is an art textiles teacher, as well as a milliner.

Her headwear is sold in two upmarket boutiques in Liverpool, she has had her hats featured in Vogue and was involved in this year's Comic Relief campaign, alongside Vivienne Westwood. Fans include doyenne designer Zandra Rhodes.



Cambridge graduate Birshan is director of strategy at Mothercare. Formerly an engagement manager at McKinsey and a policy analyst at No. 10 under Tony Blair, she joined the retailer, which turns over £790m a year, early in 2010. She also runs customer relationship teams for its Early Learning Centre and Gurgle brands.



Burston's wizard wheeze, Carbon Retirement, is an attempt to make the knotty challenge of carbon offsetting more effective, by buying up carbon credits to remove them from the EU trading scheme. Fans include Richard Ellis, head of CSR at Boots, and Joseph Romm, environmental adviser to Bill Clinton when he was president.


After training as a commercial lawyer, Campion decided she'd prefer to work in the civil service. She is now head of the newly established Office of the Sentencing Council. She lists a spell at SOCA and a stint in Syria as a human rights lawyer on her CV. In her current role she'll be leading the drive for more consistent sentencing in the UK.



With degrees from Cambridge University and Guy's, King's and St Thomas' School of Medicine, Di Marco is a specialist registrar in general surgery at Imperial College and is on the leading edge of robotic surgery. Di Marco received the best clinical care award at St Mary's & Imperial College in 2009. She is also medical officer for All Stars Boxing Gym.




Le was an eye surgeon before she began her business, Zoobug, producing safe sunglasses for children in 2006. The idea came to her when she couldn't find a pair of shades for her niece which were both safe and (crucially) cool. The company has come a long way since then: Le's glasses are now distributed in more than 21 countries and she is busy working on a line of Olympics-themed eyewear in time for 2012.








As senior advertising manager for Sainsbury's, Dunn controls a significant chunk of a marketing budget which runs into tens of millions, and is responsible for managing the relationship with Jamie Oliver. The Lancaster University graduate has worked her way up through the ranks at Sainsbury's - she started on the check-outs, aged 16.



A former investment banker at JP Morgan, where she spent seven years in the corporate finance team, FitzGerald began working for media conglomerate DMGT in 2007 and was promoted to group director of strategy development in 2009. A competitor through and through, she also takes part in triathlons, windsurfing and horse-riding.



Aerobics enthusiast Gait-Golding is an evangelist for healthy living. Thus, her company, Bear, makes wholesome snacks with 'no added nonsense'. Bear, launched in 2009, now has a turnover of £3.5m and its products are stocked in Waitrose, Holland & Barrett and the Co-op. She runs Bear with her husband, a former professional cricketer.



German-speaking Gilmartin joined eBay UK in 2003 and has since worked her way up to become vice-president of marketplaces, Europe. Gilmartin is responsible for a team of 250, which supports eBay Europe's 50 million European buyers and 500,000 registered businesses. In her spare time, the mother of two is also a keen marathon runner.



After quitting Goldman Sachs during the financial crisis, Gonzalez-Bunster set up the Walkabout Foundation. Inspired by her paralysed brother, the charity donates wheelchairs to the disabled in developing countries. She has supporters in high places: her 35 Under 35 entry included a recommendation from Bill Clinton.



Australian-born Harris was a founder of Nude skincare. Despite offering fewer than 20 products, Nude generates $2m to $4m in revenues annually, retails in 200 locations in the UK, US and Australia and was sold to LVMH early this year. She is now working on a men's skincare line, due to launch in New York next year.



As the first female (and youngest) CEO at the Town and Country Planning Association, Henderson plays a leading role in shaping British planning policy around social justice and environmental demands. She has a masters in environmental technology from Imperial and a first class degree in geology from UCL.



New Zealand-born paediatrician Hersov founded Medikidz with Dr Kim Chilman-Blair in 2009. Their aim? To educate children about a wide range of medical conditions, from ADHD to scoliosis. Since its launch, presided over by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Medikidz has published 40 themed comic book titles, distributed one million copies worldwide, grown to a staff of 25 and counts corporate giants including Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and GE Healthcare among its partners.








The jewellery designer is based in London but her inspiration comes from growing up in Suffolk. Hutchings honed her skills at the prestigious Erickson Beamon studio, before creating her own high-end jewellery range, which is now endorsed by Swarovski and stocked in Liberty, Harvey Nichols and Harrods. Fans include Kylie Minogue, Lady Gaga and Cheryl Cole.



With a degree in statistics from UCL, Lemos made short work of the career ladder, becoming director of financial trading at Dresdner Kleinwort aged 27. Now executive director, financials trading desk at Nomura, Lemos provides market commentary and valuation and credit quality advice to institutions and hedge funds around the world.



Lam joined engineering and consultancy firm Arup in 2007 and specialises in climate change, sustainability and low-carbon issues. Fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese, she is advising the Vietnamese government on managing its carbon footprint. Lam contributed to a report for the World Economic Forum presented at Davos this year.



A winning combination of third sector vision and private sector savvy, Livingstone made her name running financial sector children's charity the Private Equity Foundation. She is now CEO of City Year London, a full-time volunteering programme for 18-25 year olds communities across London, and joined President Obama's entourage during his recent London visit.



McCaughey has been at the forefront of climate change law and low-carbon energy investment for the past 10 years. As well as being the commercial lead on the project financing for one of the largest windfarms in Europe, she also is the commercial head in a £2.3bn low-carbon power joint-venture with EDF, with eight existing nuclear power plants and plans to build four new reactors. Her first child was born last year.



In 2008, McCarthy co-founded Audacity, a communications agency which counts BT, Malibu and Unilever as clients. It now has billings of over £25m. McCarthy has worked in the industry for 12 years, and spent five years running a nightclub in Brixton. She lives in Clapham with her Mulberry handbag collection and husband Enda.



After Oxford and Harvard Business School, McGowan is customer strategy director for BSkyB, which reaches more than 10 million homes. She also runs partnership businesses that deliver tens of millions in annual revenues to the broadcaster. A mother of two, her third is on the way this summer.


When Moger became MD of the family printing business Richard Edward in 2002, it was at crisis point, with £2.2m of debt and client attrition rates at an all-time high. After a strategy overhaul led by Moger, the company has paid off most of its debts and now turns over £5.3m a year. She has two daughters and also runs her own consultancy business.



After taking a double first in history at Oxford in 2005, Niven joined Goldman Sachs, becoming an investment analyst. Four years later she left to help set up Majedie Investments-backed Javelin Capital, a hedge fund with assets of £157m, where she's the portfolio manager in charge of almost half of returns. Last year, she completed an Ironman triathlon.



Previously an M&A lawyer at Clifford Chance, Patel recently rose to the heights of assistant general counsel at KPMG. She has advised blue-chip companies including ABN, Merrill Lynch, Barclays Capital and Accenture and will continue to work on multimillion pound M&As at KPMG. The UCL graduate has been recognised by Financial News and the Sunday Times as a rising star.








Popa launched Bordelle in 2007, an underwear range inspired by S&M. Her big break came when a substantial order was placed for Britney Spears' Circus Tour. Selfridges followed and within a day of her couture girdles hitting the shop floor they sold out. Popa and her creative partner now sell to over 30 countries and Lady Gaga and Rihanna are fans.



With a £22m budget and a team of 66, Pumfrey is the programme director of Digital UK, the organisation set up by broadcasters to make the potentially controversial switch from analogue to digital TV as pain-free as possible. Pumfrey is also a keen athlete, competing in half-marathons and triathlons.










Rafalat founded Zuneta, described by Vogue as the 'net-a-porter of beauty', in 2008. The online beauty retailer already has 30,000 customers, 50% of whom are outside the UK, with huge demand in the US, Germany, Australia and China.

Pre-Zuneta, Rafalat was an international brand development director for L'Oreal. She speaks French, Polish and Russian.









Roberts is proof that you don't need a degree to be a successful professional. Starting as a trainee accountant after A-Levels, 12 years later she's a director at Deloitte, giving tax advice to the world's super rich. Roberts has helped her branch of the firm grow by 15% in the past year. When not burying her head in tax returns she enjoys sailing and scuba diving.



Having graduated with a first class degree in engineering from Cambridge, Taylor is the second Arup star on this year's list. She is an expert adviser on low-energy building alternatives. Notable projects include finding low-carbon solutions for the Maltese parliament building and for museums in Boston and Texas.


As head of market strategy at Citi Global Transaction Services, EMEA, Wandhofer is highly influential in the arcane but important business of regulating the payment systems of European banks. She sits on a number of boards giving advice and recently published a book on payments integration in the EU. She speaks five languages.



A media lawyer at Mishcon de Reya, privacy is Woollcott's speciality - so it's no surprise that she's acting for some of the claimants in the phone hacking saga. The Cambridge graduate also advises on reputation management and complaints to the PCC. She is in charge of the firm's sponsorship of the Pink Law advice service for the LBGT community.



After Trinity College Dublin, Irish-born Zarraga became one of the legal world's rising stars: she's just been made a partner at Magic Circle law firm Linklaters. High-profile clients include Lehman Brothers' administrators, for which she acted on a proposal to distribute $35bn of assets to creditors. She also handled Dixons' £310m rights issue in 2009.


- Additional research by Emma Haslett.

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