Women under 35: Welcome Generation Y

Confident, passionate and in control, MT's '35 Women Under 35' for 2008 are blowing a fresh breeze through British business. Although active in all areas of life, from fashion to computer gaming, they want to do it their own way. Many of them take time out to test their skills in challenging sports - and to indulge the Carrie Bradshaw within. Emma de Vita reports.

Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

This year's list of female high-flyers belongs to the young. The average age of the 35 women featured on these pages is just 31. This includes inventor Tanya Budd, who at 20 is the youngest woman to be included in MT's '35 Women Under 35' list since its inception in 2001. Then there's cover star Emma Reynolds, co-founder of e3unlimited, who is 24; and Lamorna Trahair, another entrepreneur, a mere 23.

Generation Y has come of age, and its impact on the world of work cannot be underestimated. These women bring with them a confidence, a passion and an unconventional approach to their career that is blowing a fresh wind through boardrooms. It's no coincidence that Reynolds has 'carpe diem' tattooed across her foot. This generation grabs each day and wrings the most out of it. It's all about enjoying the moment.

It's about loving what you do, too. If there's one thing that binds all the women on MT's 2008 list, it's the compelling passion they have for their work. 'I absolutely fell in love with retailing,' says Alex Holt, category manager for beauty at Tesco, who also features on our cover. 'I've always wanted to do something that I really enjoy and that I have a passion for, and as long as I'm doing that, I love it.' It's a feeling echoed by MT's other cover stars.

Fashion designer Sara Berman (whose clothes adorn some of our stars), has the rag trade in her blood and enjoys the manufacturing side and number-crunching as much as the creativity. 'One of the favourite places I like to be is at my desk,' she says. 'I love being at work and I love what I do.'

It's an attitude that can verge on the obsessive: indeed, most of our cover stars admit to being part control-freak. But when what you do plays such a large part in your life and your identity, how can you let go?

Yet this doesn't mean that these bright young things are scared to take a risk. It's impossible not to be impressed by their sense of derring-do and competitiveness, both inside and outside the office. Our list bulges with risk-takers who like to unwind by engaging in such activities as running marathons, playing rugby, flying helicopters, kite-surfing, skiing, swimming the Channel, racing sailboats or playing pool for England.

But don't fret ... not all of the women we've chosen are bionic. It's refreshing to know that at least some of them admit to embracing their inner Carrie Bradshaw, admitting to less fearsome hobbies such as shopping and champagne. And what's the point in being young and loaded if you can't sometimes indulge your desire to kick off your heels, forget about work and have a good time?

The Generation Y flavour to MT's 2008 list shows itself not only in the attitude of the women but also in the types of businesses they have chosen to start up. This new kind of pioneering entrepreneur has chosen to make her mark in the areas of life that most impact on today's younger generation: mobile technology, web 2.0, the environment and travel: their businesses are very much of the moment.

Christina Domecq, a scion of the sherry family and serial entrepreneur, is co-founder and CEO of SpinVox, a voice-to-text messaging service. She founded the business in 2004 and now employs 300 people around the world. She has just raised an additional $100m for the business - no mean feat in this gloomy economic climate.

Or take Sanchita Saha, who founded social networking website CitySocialising last year. The maths graduate quit a promising career at the BBC (where she helped to launch digital radio station 1Xtra) to found this business, which helps city-dwellers to make friends. It is already profitable. Launched in London, it has spread through the UK and is now on the verge of expanding into Europe.

And what about Lamorna Trahair, the 23-year-old adventurer who co-founded the League of Adventurists International, a travel company that specialises in extreme holidays and is committed to donating £500,000 a year to charity? Trahair, who says her career has so far 'been typified by working on several concurrent projects', worked in yacht racing (including the Volvo Ocean Race 2005-06) before leaving to help found the League of Adventurists in 2006. She also works for leadership-development consultancy TalentSmoothie, advising companies on today's millennial employees. Her motto? 'Go for it! How hard can it be?'

For mere mortals, it can be difficult, but the women on this list aren't your average person. All have worked hard to get where they are, and, in some cases, in professions or industries that are difficult for women to advance in.

Paulina Bozek, another of our cover stars, is an executive producer at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, and the woman behind the successful SingStar music game series. She is responsible for a multi-million pound budget and a team of 50, and is one of few senior women in the industry. 'When I came into Sony five years ago,' Bozek says, 'it was pretty unique to be a woman producer. But Sony was welcoming and wanted to get more women involved, because the industry is trying to attract a new audience. Games have grown beyond boys' toys.'

This kind of positivity is what keeps these women striving to get to the top. It's about passion, ambition and - above all - enjoying what you do.


In 2007, Australian-born marketer Reynolds co-founded e3unlimited, working with the likes of Virgin, Yell.com, Corus and American Express on their talent and recruitment. She also runs research business, Ask Gen Y. In 2005, Reynolds was a finalist in the Queensland Young Business Woman of the Year awards.


IBM's youngest-ever senior certified IT architect and on its senior management team, Bailey is CTO for the industrial and communications sectors for the UK, Ireland and South Africa. She teaches at seven universities and is on the engineering and technical strategic panel of the British Computer Society.


Having worked at Deutsche Bank and Arthur Andersen, Oxford graduate Bates is now MD of home accessories range Bombay Duck, founded by her sister in 1993. Bates took over in '05, launching it in the US, Japan and Oz and expanding the stock to 2,000-plus items, sold through 1,000 stores.


As youngest corporate finance partner at Deloitte, Birkett has advised on more than 25 high-profile M&As in two years (final value £2.5bn-plus), including the refinancing of Man U FC and the £800m public-to-private Matalan deal. Birkett has run the New York marathon and is a keen rugby player.


Head of legal at executive search firm GRS Group, Brown was part of the MBO team that bought it in an £18m deal earlier this year. The division she founded three years ago now brings £3m to annual group turnover. Brown, a wine buff, has launched a group office in Paris.


The youngest person ever on our list, Budd was just 17 when she invented HypoHoist, a person-overboard recovery device for sailors (now sold via SeaSafe Systems). Awards include Young Engineer for Britain and the US Coast Guard Award for Maritime Safety. She graduates from Brunel University next year.


A civil engineer and construction agent with Costain since 2003, Carr was a senior project manager on the £600m revamp of St Pancras Station, where she managed 34 engineers, 37 subcontractors and 480 operatives. She now leads a £250m bid to revamp selected rail and Tube stations.


Former Times journalist and sometime owner of London boutique, Powder, Curran started fashion retailer my-wardrobe.com in 2006. Selling collections from labels such as See by Chloe, and D&G, she heads a team of 30, and last year launched The Design Incubator for new talent.


A scion of the sherry dynasty, Domecq is co-founder and CEO of SpinVox, a voice-to-text messaging service that employs 300 globally. She has set up three businesses since the age of 20, and in 2006 was Ernst & Young's UK Entrepreneur of the Year. She likes to sail and flies helicopters.


A graduate of the LSE, Bozek is executive producer at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, working on the highly successful PlayStation music games series, SingStar. Shortly after joining in 2003 from Ubisoft in Canada, Bozek was awarded the first ever Bafta Interactive New Talent Award, and in 2005, SingStar was awarded a Bafta for originality.


MD of her own fashion label, Berman runs the business with her sister Amiee. The St Martin's graduate was an unprecedented three-times winner of the M&S New Generation Award, and the brand has been a best-seller in both Harrods and Liberty. Berman also designs lines for Urban Outfitters and asos.com, and launched her own diffusion collection last year.


Educated at Glasgow, Oxford and Harvard, Fatima is a barrister specialising in public law, human rights and commercial law. She has been called a future Star of the Bar by Times Online, and in 2007 she was named Liberty/Justice Human Rights Lawyer of the Year.


Anglo-French Gillan joined PwC in 2001, and in 2005, aged 28, she became the firm's youngest director, in its strategy consulting team. She is now a partner, leading the strategy group's specialist retail team, and has worked on M&A deals that include Kurt Geiger, Radley and Agent Provocateur.


Since being on our 2007 list, Goodall has left New Philanthropy Capital to join Venturesome, the Charities Aid Foundation's social investment arm, as investment manager. Her work with schools charity The Place2Be won praise from the International Women's Forum for the Economy and Society.


Grimond founded Orkney Rose in 2006, selling Orcadian produce direct to chic London restaurants and to the public at London's Borough Market. Grimond, the grand-daughter of Liberal Party grandee Jo, initially followed second cousin Helena Bonham-Carter into acting before setting up her own business.


The senior family business adviser at Coutts & Co, Johnson joined from BDO Stoy Hayward earlier this year, where she was director of its Centre for Family Business. She specialises in succession planning, corporate governance and conflict resolution, and works to raise the profile of family firms.


An investment banker at JP Morgan and Citi, Keeling left in 2003 to set up a property maintenance company offering plumbing, carpentry and tiling. A Woman's Touch now turns over £1.2m and employs 14 staff and 60 sub-contractors. She won the NatWest Everywoman Business Woman of the Year award in 2006.


After managing her first $2m budget at 27, Lassalle was made youngest-ever VP of strategic development at top headhunter Heidrick & Struggles. She reports to the CEO on a portfolio of joint ventures and alliances. Cambridge graduate Lassalle now splits her time between London and New York.


Lax was made partner at Ernst & Young this summer. She heads its customs and international trade business in the UK, having launched a global export control services business. A specialist in the prevention of WMD proliferation, Lax advises governments and industries on security policy.


A partner at London law firm Mishcon de Reya, Lesson is a barrister in its family practice. Educated in Paris and London, Lesson was nominated for Spears Wealth Management's Future Lawyer of the Year award and shortlisted for a Women of the Future award in 2007.


Joining RWE npower in June as corporate development and strategy manager, Mack has worked in the public and private sectors, including time at the OFT and the Treasury, where she helped deal with the collapse of Rover. Her current brief includes the potential purchase of a large UK nuclear energy provider.


Accenture's youngest appointed director in outsourcing, Millett also leads the human performance team. Involved in billion-pound deals, she has been voted one of the top 5% of leaders in the UK practice for two years in a row. She recently swam the Channel for spinal injury charity Aspire.


A former music publishing executive and director of the classical composition competition Masterprize, Milne joined eMusic in 2006. She launched its digital music retail operation in Europe, where she has developed it into the second-biggest business after iTunes.


Harvard graduate Montgomery joined brand consultancy FutureBrand in 2003 as head of strategy from DBS Bank in Singapore, having worked at Interbrand and Fitch. She was made MD of London operations earlier this year, responsible for an annual turnover of £9.4m.


As founder and CEO of CitySocialising, Saha is a dot.commer to watch. She launched her social networking site for London professionals in 2007, and has since gone national, with plans to launch it into Europe. Saha's career began at BBC Radio 1, where she helped set up digital black music station 1Xtra.


As MD of Monarch Airlines' scheduled business, Savage runs an operation with a £250m turnover. She joined in 2007 from easyJet, where she had worked on the acquisition of Go Fly from BA. She joined easyJet's board in 2003 at just 29. She is the British Travel Industry's Young Manager of the Year.


Born in Zimbabwe and educated in Canada, the US and UK, Chandauka is an associate in law firm Baker & McKenzie's corporate department, where she is a key member of the public-company team. She has worked with Nike, and advised The Body Shop on its £652m acquisition by L'Oreal in 2006.


Tesco's category manager for beauty, Holt is responsible for delivering an annual sales budget of £557m and sets the vision and strategic direction for the buying and marketing teams, which select and source 6,000 products. Already laden with industry accolades, she cites the launch of three new beauty brands in 2007 (now worth more than £10m) as her proudest achievement.


German-born Schemmann ran Deutsche Bank's second-largest equity fund before joining Schroders in 2005 as fund manager for global and European equity mandates. That year, she was named as one of six young Germans to watch by Deutschland magazine.


Joining Microsoft UK in 2000, Snare is group director of the Windows Live commercial business. She had built a £5m dot.com business in classified ads at Scoot before joining Yell to manage business development. Snare, an early graduate in web technology, is an MBA - and skydives.


A chancery/commercial barrister, White was elected to the Bar Council in 2007, and has campaigned to retain the wig and gown for barristers. An Oxford graduate, she is also on the England Ladies' Pool team and has won world, European and national championships.


After stints at PwC and European Acquisition Capital, Williams joined PE house Electra Partners in 2007 as investment manager, working on deals worth up to £250m. An Oxford graduate, she recently managed the £80m acquisitions of Nuaire and the $354m refinancing of Allflex.


A founder of travel company League of Adventurists International, yachtswoman Trahair helps organise the Mongol Rally and Indian Rickshaw Run, raising $1m a year for charity. She and her co-founders won the Shell LiveWire Young Entrepreneur of the Year, 2007.


Last year, Canadian-born Wesling launched EaKo, which transforms industrial waste into lifestyle accessories. She had already launched packaging firm Bio-Supplies and Babaloo (ethical products for parents and babies). In 2007, she was Shell's Entrepreneurial Woman of the Future.


Now chief adviser to the BBC's COO Caroline Thompson, Pryde - who holds a PhD in theoretical physics from Cambridge - had worked as head of strategy for BBC radio and news. The former McKinseyite, who was head of strategy at the Wireless Group and its youngest board member, is also director of the BBC's environmental sustainability strategy.

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