Women in Business Awards 2015

The most prestigious awards event for women in the southern UK business calendar

“Tonight we celebrate successful and inspiring business women across the south – the very best achievers in their fields,“ stated David Murray, founder and publisher of The Business Magazine in welcoming 200 eager participants to this annual gala dinner awards event.

The Women in Business Awards in just its third year, has quickly become a significant diary date, recognising the talent and achievements of women involved in thriving businesses throughout the Thames Valley and Solent regions.

“Not only were there a record number of Women in Business (WiB), entries this year of an exemplary quality, but it‘s fair to say that this awards scheme – while friendly – is rightly becoming very competitive.

“But WiB is more than that. Through events and discussions, the WiB organisers and sponsors – Barclays, Deloitte, Blake Morgan, and Clarify, whom we gratefully thank – will be providing some great networking and mentoring opportunities in the months ahead. We will keep you updated on these initiatives, and hope to see you there,“ he added.

Oakley Hall, near Basingstoke, was once again the stunning setting for the awards, and Murray introduced the host presenter for the evening – also a successful businesswoman – The Business Magazine‘s very own “champion of the awards“, projects manager Tamsin Napier-Munn.

She reminded the audience that WiB “is not a celebration about the exclusion of men, but the inclusion of women; a campaign acknowledging the real value that diversity can add to our businesses through productivity and profitability.

“It‘s about realising and valuing the real differences between us as men and women, and being proactive in how this is managed to achieve greater results for everyone.

“Ambition and success can mean very different things to different people,“ she noted, “whether it‘s getting to the top of your tree, or searching for another tree to climb, or helping others to enjoy climbing.“

One personal example of that ambition and success was later provided by inspirational guest speaker para-rower Naomi Riches MBE (pictured top right), winner of six World

Championship titles, bronze at the Beijing Olympic Games and a gold medal at London 2012.

The visually-impaired rower highlighted resilience as key to “making a difference every day towards your goal. A successful woman can build firm foundations from the bricks that people throw at her.“

Thanking Riches, Napier-Munn said. “I am sure you have been struck, as I was, by Naomi‘s optimism, commitment, drive for excellence … (all things we strive for in business) … and most of all her tenacity to take action when the opportunity arose. She is a role model for us all,“

Fittingly, the WiB Awards would this year be including Role Model citations for the first time within the four Award categories, she announced.

As everyone settled to enjoy their starter, Napier-Munn mentioned one already known winner from the evening, the WiB Awards‘ chosen charity – Hope for Justice – and urged guests to make table donations. The result was a welcome financial boost of £1,485.45 to the charity.

Hope for Justice exists to end modern-day human trafficking and slavery – people trapped in situations of forced labour, sexual exploitation or domestic servitude. The charity‘s team of specialists identify and rescue victims and train frontline professionals. It advocates for and supports survivors to help them overcome their experience and develop a renewed sense of hope and purpose for their future.

Thanks to the 2015 Women in Business Awards judges

Sara Appleton, Barclays; Jagdeep Rai, Barclays; Fiona Larsen-Pass, Blake Morgan; Kath Shimmin, Blake Morgan; Kate Reynolds, Deloitte; Fiona Symington, Deloitte; Claire Edmunds, Clarify.

Judges were excluded from voting or discussion on any categories in which they had an interest.

Rising Star

Open to women, aged 30 and under, who have made their mark as ‘women in business to watch‘ – potential leaders, those just starting in business, or quickly rising through the corporate ranks

Judging was led by Clarify and its CEO, Claire Edmunds, last year‘s Women in Business ‘Woman of the Year‘ for SMEs.

She revealed later how her 2014 win had helped her business grow.

“Within a month our company LinkedIn followers had increased by 400%. I found myself being profiled in the press, invited to attend and speak at various events. …. because the business community cares, it wants and needs female role models.“

The award also highlighted Clarify‘s achievements as a team. “That was evident in a confidence boost that can only come with external recognition. We all found that customers, prospects and prospective employees noticed and mentioned the award.“

Edwards urged all the WiB finalists to “.. enjoy the celebrations and wave of support from the business community you have around you. Don‘t ever play down your success, you have not been lucky, you have been amazing.“

In presenting the award to Maria Llorens of Bowman Power Group, Edmunds said Llorens “wowed the judges not only with her business achievements but the manner in which she has addressed the challenges she has encountered.

She is passionate about her engineering profession and is an inspiration to any young girls considering it as a career.“

A self-driven and passionate engineer with an MSc/BSc in mechanical/industrial engineering and an MSc in thermal power, Llorens excelled at a young age in a number of senior technical roles and is now the principal mechanical design engineer at Southampton-based Bowmans Power Group.

Among her many business highlights, her analysis recommendations for jet engine components saved Rolls Royce approximately £10 million in its first year of implementation alone.

Alongside her technical knowledge, she displays a strong business acumen and solid entrepreneurial attributes. Llorens is also a keen mentor, supporting many younger people in their professional development.

But, she is proudest of how she has employed her ‘softer skills‘ in a male dominated working environment to shift behaviours and make the business more productive.

Interviewed after receiving her award . . . Llorens spoke emotionally about her win. “This means lots of things to me. But, the first thing is recognition, because I am from Spain and I have spent seven years of my life studying and working here, and this is like a big recognition of that time spent in this amazing country.“

And, will the award help her and other women to overcome challenges, asked Napier-Munn. “I think what makes me a winner, or someone else a winner, is an overwhelming determination, passion and enthusiasm in whatever you do. It doesn‘t matter who you are, whatever you do, or wherever you come from. You just need to carry on.“


Claire Edmunds (left) and Noami Riches (right) with winner Maria Llorens

Role Models

Claire Edmunds (left) and Noami Riches (right) with ‘Role Models‘ from left Catherine Turness and Julianne Ponan

Chosen by the judges as Rising Star ‘Role Models‘ were:

Catherine Turness of Winchester BID who impressed with her strong vision for a digital business community, and her business acumen when invited to sit on a number of advisory boards within the business community.

Julianne Ponan of Creative Nature whose tenacious attitude and strong entrepreneurial drive has helped her embrace opportunities and build up a network of contacts that has assisted her business skills development.

The other category finalists were:

Gabrielle Stewart, EY, Jennifer Surtees, Thomas International

All awards finalists received commemorative Women in Business Award certificates from Naomi Riches MBE. Their career profiles can be viewed by downloading the Women in Business 2015 event programme pdf at: www.businessmag.co.uk

Woman of the Year (SME)

Open to women running or working in organisations with under £15 million turnover who have achieved excellence in their field

Judging was led by Barclays, so Ian Workman, corporate head of the south region for the bank, presented the award to Victoria Peterkin of Daisy Nursery.

“What stood out is her passion and determination, evident from an early age, to pursue the setting up of a business centred around her love for children,“ explained Workman.

Having founded Daisy Nursery in 2009, Peterkin has gone on to open three Ofsted ‘Outstanding‘ nurseries and pre-schools In North Hampshire.

While not a familiar industry for her, she has grown the company steadily, sustainably and organically never veering away from her core company values centred on quality of service with a real family feel, in a highly caring and nurturing environment.

She has worked hard to establish a reputation of being one of the best premium nursery brands locally. In the past 12 months the company has moved to ‘group‘ status and she is in the process of identifying a fourth flagship site. Group turnover is on track to hit £1m this year.

Peterkin has provided a major benefit to the local communities, not just through her nursery services but also by contributing to local employment – the company employs 45 people, including flexible options for parents with young families.

As well as running this successful business, Peterkin is championing improvement of the early years industry, spends time mentoring and coaching, and has helped fund further education for her team members to help them grow and develop.

Interviewed after receiving her award, Victoria Peterkin spoke about her key challenge of starting a business while being a mother of two young children.

“It has been about sustaining high standards. On day one everything was new and shiny and my business vision was clear, but six years later, three sites and 50 staff later, I have still got to make sure it is exactly the same every single day otherwise I am not true to myself.“

So, what‘s it taken to do that? “I‘m 31 and I might have a few grey hairs and I‘ve had sleepless nights. Financially I have moved house four times to keep investing and growing because I want to do that. And, I want to keep spreading awareness of the fact that my nurseries are changing the nursery industry and I really want to be a lobbyist to the Government, and so I need to open more nurseries in order to do that …“


Ian Workman (left) and Noami Riches (right) with winner Victoria Peterkin

Role Models

Ian Workman (left) and Noami Riches (right) with ‘Role Models‘ from left Sharon Richey and Beverley Sunderland

Chosen by the judges as ‘Woman of the Year‘ Role Models were:

Lisa Forrester of GCS Recruitment Specialists – “An advocate of the value of women in the workplace, we were impressed with the way in which Lisa mentors her female colleagues, helping them to achieve their potential.“

Cheryl Adams of Santander Corporate & Commercial Banking – “Cheryl works hard to develop talent and establish partnerships for the future, and we applaud her efforts in creating opportunities to transform both individuals and her organisation.“

The other category finalists were:

Christine Clacey, Microsoft, Charlotte Male, Clive Barford, Kathleen Smith, Serocor Solutions (Serocor Group), Nicola Hartland, Xcel Sales, Ally Stevenson, Clean Heels, Karen Ovenden, Hireserve

Woman of the Year (Large Business)

Open to women in organisations with over £15 million turnover – this year entry nominations were received for board directors and senior managers in the private, public and third sectors

Blake Morgan led the judging panel and partner Kath Shimmin revealed it was impressed with the time and effort the winner had given to support people internally as well as out in the community. “She actively mentors her female colleagues to improve confidence and attain higher levels of achievement. Outside work, she has been appointed to the Board of Bournemouth University and mentors girls within her involvement with the Prince‘s Trust.“

Shimmin presented the award to: Annette D‘Abreo of Ceuta Healthcare

D‘Abreo is the UK managing director of Ceuta Healthcare – the leading international outsource partner for sales, marketing and logistics management within health and beauty.

As co-founder of Ceuta in 1994, she started the business from scratch with personal funding, and the company has shown consistent growth since conception, now enjoying a £60m turnover and an 80%-plus market share.

A smart, dynamic and creative team has been nurtured to delight Ceuta‘s clients with results, solutions and ideas. D‘Abreo leads from the front, her entrepreneurial spirit is contagious and continues to drive business success.

In 2013, D‘Abreo won the Asian Businesswoman of the Year Award and under her leadership Ceuta Healthcare has gained IIP Gold status and Sunday Times ‘Best 500 UK Companies to Work For‘ inclusion on three occasions, among many other company awards.

Interviewed after receiving her award . . . Annette D‘Abreo was quick to acknowledge the help of others in her success.

“This is just fantastic. I am genuinely overwhelmed because the other five women in my category were just fabulous, all brilliant in what they have done and continue to achieve, which is inspirational to all of us.

“It‘s also great for my fantastic partner Edwin Bessant, who is inspirational to me, and for the women in our business, of whom I have two here with me tonight. They are fantastic managers, but across the business for us it is not so much about being male or female, but how great you are within the team. A lot of the women in our company are fabulous, but this award is for everyone at Ceuta really.“

So what drives D‘Abreo? “Just to keep winning, succeeding and not letting any obstacle to get in the way. We have some very demanding clients who pitch a lot at us all the time. We just sit down and think how we are going to get over things, never take ‘No‘ for an answer, and get through by coming up with brilliant solutions, which we keep doing day-in day-out.“


Kath Shimmin (left) and Noami Riches (right) with winner Annette D‘Abreo

Role Models

Kath Shimmin (left) and Noami Riches (right) with ‘Role Models‘ Lisa Forrester (second from left) and Diane Fairbairn from Santander on behalf of Cheryl Adams

Chosen by the judges as ‘Woman of the Year‘ Role Models were:

Sharon Richey of BEcause Brand Experience – “We were impressed by Sharon‘s vision of improving futures long-term, not just with the company‘s charity work, but also through her staff development and training, explaining that things experienced and learnt with her would be taken onto other companies and shared.“

Beverley Sunderland of Crossland Solicitors – “What is noticeable about Beverley is her commerciality and very strong people skills along with her natural warmth and kindness in ostensibly a male dominated profession that can be ruthless and ‘sharp elbowed‘ at times.“

The other category finalists were:

Nicola Hartland, Xcel Sales, Ally Stevenson, Clean Heels, Karen Ovenden, Hireserve

Enlightened Employer

Newly introduced to seek nominations from businesses that have shown a proactive, forward-thinking and creative approach to enabling women to realise their full potential in the workplace

The judging panel was led by Deloitte and its director Kate Reynolds commented: “Our 2015 winner has set the benchmark for change with an innovative programme that we believe has the potential to have a positive impact on some of the challenges faced by women working in the construction industry.“

Reynolds presented the award to: Fourfront Group

Operating since 2000, Fourfront Group is the leading UK commercial interior specialist consisting of four businesses specialising in design and fit-out interior solutions, commercial furniture and workplace design.

Recognising that the Group didn‘t have enough women in their business and wanting to support those already there, Fourfront launched a programme specifically for their female employees.

The programme focused on improving women‘s confidence, communication, contribution, credibility and career success in the workplace – ‘helping women to be the best they can be‘. The age of the women participating ranged from late 20s to early 50s. A number of them have since gained promotion and alumni are now acting as mentors in their own right.

Fourfront has expanded rapidly and is set to post a record £120-million plus turnover for 2014-15. It employs 250 people and operates from its Egham campus as well as offices in central London and Heathrow.

Interviewed after receiving her award . . . Pippa Savory, head of HR for the Fourfront Group, spoke about the importance of having committed top-down support for the ‘Women in Fourfront‘ programme.

While the Fourfront Group had seen unprecedented growth, tripling its workforce in the past four years, it had remained true to its values, one of which is embracing a diverse workforce, she explained.

“I feel very privileged to work for Fourfront. The founding Fourfront members have been very supportive, have helped drive the ideas of women, and have encouraged a fresh perspective to women within the business, which is fantastic. It genuinely is a company that believes that women can bring something different to the workplace.“

“At Fourfront, we are professional but have fun; we are like a family, and to have different groups of people within our business only plays to our strengths.

More women now hold senior roles in the company and performance has improved says Savory (she is a Fourfront board member). “There are successes coming through.“

The WiB award (pleasantly ‘adding the icing to her cake‘ on her actual birthday) would raise awareness of the Fourfront programme, she noted. “I‘d be delighted to talk to people about it.“


Kate Reynolds (left) and Noami Riches (right) with winner Fourfront Group represented by Pippa Savory

Role Models

Kate Reynolds (left) and Noami Riches (right) with ‘Role Model‘ FISCAL Technologies represented by Lesley Reeve

Chosen by the judges as ‘Enlightened Employer‘ Role Models were:

FISCAL Technologies – “With its commitment to being a great place to work, we commend this company for their efforts.“ While most technology companies have between 17-20% female employees, FISCAL Technologies has achieved an industry high of 40% through focused recruitment, training and coaching.

The Malins Group – “A shining example of what can be achieved by a family business. Not only do they offer flexible working, fund external qualifications and training for their team, but MD Lauren Atkins personally coaches all members of her staff.

The other category finalists were:

Reality HR, Blandy & Blandy, Eric Robinson Solicitors