‘Be inspired’ and make great connections…

The Business Magazine’s 2019 Women in Business Awards launched on February 7, to a packed audience at the Thames Tower, Reading.

The annual awards recognise outstanding achievements by women in business from across the region. The theme for 2019 is Be Inspired.

Entry forms can be downloaded here. The closing date for nominations is Friday, June 7.

The gala awards evening will be on Thursday, October 3 at the Oakley Court, Bray, Windsor.

Barclays, Blake Morgan, Hitachi Capital and KPMG are again sponsoring the awards. The launch event was hosted by co-working group Fora, which is based at Thames Tower.

Vikki Hemming, relationship director at headline sponsor Barclays, said: “Barclays is delighted to continue sponsoring these awards to champion the success of women in the Thames Valley, Solent area and Dorset. We are passionate about recognising achievements, particularly among women.”

For the second year, Reading-based Smart Works is the nominated charity. It provides high-quality interview clothing, styling, advice and interview training to unemployed women in need. The charity has helped over 11,000 women in the last five years.

At the launch event, Tamsin Napier-Munn, campaigns manager at The Business Magazine, introduced six inspirational guest speakers – all former winners or finalists – who talked about significant moments that shaped their business successes.

Emma Illingworth, HR business partner, SSE Retail, explained how her dogged determination got the company’s Working Differently project for transforming traditional working practices off the ground. “I overcame the challenges by identifying who would support me and tuning in to what I had to do to convince them.”

For Claire Donoghue, a software specialist at 3M, one of the defining moments in her career was deciding on a new direction after completing a maths degree by following it up with a computer sciences degree and PhD. “I’m now using technology and artificial intelligence to help push society forward,” she said.

Amy Golding, CEO of Opus Talent Solutions, was inspired by a ‘quarter life crisis’ in her 20s that led to a major career change. “The world in which you are successful and the world in which you aren’t will look almost exactly the same. No matter who you are, the playing field will never be level. You can’t change the world, the only thing you have control over is your path through it,” she said.

Joy Foster, CEO of TechPixies, was inspired by the business mentor she turned to at a time when her company had hit “rock bottom”. The positive response she received renewed Foster’s commitment to TechPixies. “I found someone who believed in me, an expert who gave me advice. You’ve got to be open to criticism and critique,” she said.

Aduke Onafowokan, director of Thrive Consulting and founder of the Sister Sister Network, saw a promising legal career cut short for various personal reasons. She said her inspiring journey to success was based on being able to “get up and fix things” and being prepared to ask for help.

“Remember that you never run out of choices,” she said. “Start again if you doubt yourself. There are no instructions that come with life – just do it.”

Claire Edmunds, CEO of Clarify, was the 2014 Business Owner of the Year and described her inspirational journey. “Your decisions about who you are and what you stand for get tested. We found a niche to make our proposition resonate in our market and our business grew from there.”

She added: “The recognition of the Women in Business Awards was huge not just for me, but all my team. We were inspired by the fact that people recognised our achievements. The stories we have heard at the 2019 awards launch are from real women doing amazing things. For me, that’s inspirational.”

Enter now

The 2019 Women in Business Awards is on Thursday, October 3.

The eight award categories are Rising Star, Champion of Change, Enlightened Employer, Start-up of the Year, Woman Business Owner of the Year, Board Level & Senior Executive of the Year, Spotlight on Women in STEM and Role Model of the Year.

Entry forms can be downloaded here. The closing date for nominations is Friday, June 7.


Emma Illingworth – HR business partner, SSE Retail – winner, Champion of Change 2018

Emma has made a significant impact on not only gender equality but on wider inclusion as well, within the business she is working in. She took what could have been a normal business project and used it as an opportunity to move the organisation forward in their inclusion journey. Working tirelessly with key business stakeholders and taking them along on the journey, she has transformed the traditional working practices, which has resulted in a marked increase in employee retention and attraction. This is paving the way for more opportunities for women and other talent pools to participate.


Claire Donoghue – Software Specialist, 3M – winner, Spotlight on Women in STEM 2018

Claire was a standout candidate because of her already award-winning academic research on automatic diagnosis of arthritis and her achievements as a specialist software engineer developing the next generation of products in her company. She has demonstrated great leadership across her team and commitment to her field.

She has also exercised great influence as a founder member of the London Chapter of the Geekettes, in which she highlighted inspirational female role models in business and technology as part of an online community of 1000 women. Her passion for this field started at a young age when she loved puzzles as a child and learned to code as a teenager – truly an inspiring figure to bring girls into STEM industries.


Amy Golding – CEO Opus Talent Solutions – winner of Rising Star Award 2018

After graduating from Cambridge University with an MA in English Literature, Amy joined the Deloitte strategy team and received two promotions within four years. She was then headhunted by James Caan to be his personal business adviser. She joined her current company as group managing director in 2017 and was soon appointed CEO, making her the youngest UK appointed female CEO of a $100 million company.

She is highly regarded by her team, who appreciate her ‘open-door’ leadership style.


Aduke Onafowokan – director of Thrive consulting and founder of The Sister Sister Network – highly commended Rising Star 2018

Aduke’s impressive professional record is enough to make her stand out from the crowd. However, alongside a successful career as the director of a consulting firm, she has dedicated her time to helping women from all walks of life. In 2015, she founded The Sister Sister Network, a group that aims to provide women with the opportunity to gain the insight, education, empowerment and inspiration required to achieve their personal goals. She has made a widespread contribution to the development of women in business.


Joy Foster – CEO TechPixies – winner of Start-Up of the Year 2018

Within one year of a standing start, Joy has helped and supported well over 100 women to grow confidence in technology. This has enabled them to return to work and thrive within their new roles. This has been delivered through face-to-face and online courses to suit the need of the individual. She has also hired some of the women to join her own team.

The growth has come through a great deal of hard work, determination and resilience and notably, she has recently secured an investment round, supported by an all-female investment advisory team.


Claire Edmunds – CEO Clarify – winner of Woman Business Owner of the Year 2014

Founder and CEO at Clarify, Claire helps sales leaders in Tier 1 technology and professional services companies to accelerate their sales transformations, not by changing their people, but the way their people work. Through a combination of consulting and services, Claire and her team advise clients on how to align the appropriate sales approach to different types of propositions, how to align different resources to different parts of the sales process and how to create a sales climate in which everyone values investment in the next horizon of growth. Recipient of the Real Business/CBI ‘First Women of Business Services’ as well as her 2014 Women in Business award, Claire is leading voice on issues regarding sales transformation, sales culture and diversity.