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South: Women in Business Awards salute outstanding achievers

By Dan Teuton
4 October 2019

The 2019 Women in Business Awards recognised talented finalists and winners during a dinner and celebration held at The Oakley Court Hotel, Windsor.

Women in Business manager and awards organiser Tamsin Napier-Munn urged finalists and their guests to have the confidence to “inspire, influence and impact change.”

The awards are sponsored by Barclays, Blake Morgan, KPMG, Hitachi Capital, Volume ai and In Cloud Solutions.

Over £1,400 was raised on the night for the charity Smart Works, which provides high-quality interview clothing, styling, advice and interview training to women in need. Over the last four years, the charity’s Reading branch has supported more than 1,500 women.

Guest speaker Joy Foster, founder and managing director of Tech Pixies, talked about how she had overcome challenges and doubts to build her business, and described what inspired her. Foster won the Start-Up of the Year in the 2018 Women in Business Awards.

“When opportunity meets preparation you have to take the leap so your vision becomes a reality. You can’t give up when the going gets tough, and need to find the confidence to take actions that make things happen,” she said.


Rising Star

Winner: Sapna Pieroux, InnerVisions ID

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Judges’ comments

A blogger and voluntary brand mentor, our winner helps ambitious entrepreneurs gain brand clarity. Her efforts have resulted in renewed confidence, energy and drive for business owners. Mummy of two, her business has achieved 20%+ increases in turnover year-on-year and she has found time to co-author two Amazon bestselling books. Her journey hasn’t been easy, her personal challenges have only made her stronger. Oozing passion and determination, she certainly deserves to be recognised as a Rising Star.

Winners’ comments

“Winning was a complete shock. It was amazing to be nominated and I came here feeling we are all winners to get this far. This is the first award I’d entered with my company, so it’s a huge deal for me. I haven’t achieved everything I want yet but I’ve taken a step in the right direction. I love making people’s hopes and dreams come alive. When you have an idea for a business it’s a bit like being pregnant. No-one can see what the business inside you will be like. Having branding is like the business being born: people can see what it can become. I work with start-ups and established businesses and enjoy helping them to transform.”


  • Alice Scott – Austin Fraser
  • Cassandra Rix – Cello Health Consulting
  • Fiona Minett – Boss Your PR
  • Ula Howlett – UlaSuperConnector

Enlightened Employer

Winner: RSSL

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Judges’ comments

Our winner has made significant investment embedding a culture of diversity and inclusion within the organisation. They have a number of initiatives to attract, retain and develop female talent, an infrastructure in place to allow women to successfully balance family and working life, mentoring, diversity training and programmes in place to actively encourage the next generation of female talent into the world of science. They are a truly worthy winner.

Winners’ comments

“We’re absolutely over the moon to win. We have a lot of female scientists and 65% of our 300 staff are women. We’ve entered awards for technology but this is the one we really wanted to win. Work is very complex these days for women who have to manage their homes, families and other priorities. It’s important to be flexible so employees can manage their priorities. To be recognised for this is really great.”

Jacinta George, managing director, RSSL


  • Guides for Brides
  • Shoosmiths LLP
  • Tribal Impact

Champion of Change

Winner: Ana Perez – Oracle Corporation

Judges’ comments

This person has been instrumental in her support in her internal growth and development of current and emerging women leaders in Oracle, through the Oracle Women in Leadership initiative and the cross-company Mentoring Scheme. We were impressed by her role in being a founding trustee and company secretary for Smart Works Reading a charity we think is a great one to get women back to work and build their confidence.

Winners’ comments

“I was very surprised – it’s a real honour and pleasure to win. I took over running Oracle Women’s Leadership (OWL) programme in the UK four years ago. The initiative is funded and supported by Oracle. I had to learn quickly on my feet about what I wanted to do with a programme that supports women becoming leaders. The programme has multiple strands and I’m proud we have built up its membership.”

Ana Perez

Other finalist:

  • Karen J. Hewitt – Leaderlike

Woman Business Owner of the Year

Winner: Lisa Lavis – Glow


Judges’ comments

It takes an enormous amount of courage, determination and sheer bloody-mindedness to get an organisation off the ground and to do it yourself. Choosing a winner was incredibly difficult. Our winner trusted her instincts, allowed herself to be challenged and believed in her business when the going got tough. Regardless of her complex situation, she has created a culture of openness throughout her business.

Winners’ comments

“This so exciting for me, my mum and everyone. I’m so pleased that you’ve chosen me as the winner. The thing that makes a good leader is having a great team. My team’s dedication, tenaciousness and their sense of humour, like the way they take the mickey out of me, is what gives me this award. Thanks to my team.”

Lisa Lavis


  • Sarah Jordan – Y.O.U underwear
  • Jayne Norris – Edgars

Board Level & Senior Executive of the Year

Winner: Ana Perez – Oracle Corporation

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Judges’ comments

We were hugely impressed by this year’s winner. Besides setting up a highly successful graduate scheme, as chair of OWL (Oracle Women in Leadership), she has created a programme of events, a peer network for senior female leaders, a mentoring scheme and a programme to assist women in working towards external board positions. Beyond Oracle, she is a founding trustee for Smart Works Reading.

Winner’s comments

“It’s important to me that I support other initiatives beyond my work as chair of the OWL programme that helps senior women leaders. At Oracle, we are encouraged to take on roles outside the business. I was a trustee of Smart Works when it started in London and continued the relationship when the charity opened in Reading. We support them with fundraising, collecting clothes and making donations. Oracle benefits from its involvement with Smart Works.”

Ana Perez


  • Alison Lee – Biscoes Solicitors
  • Michal Freeman-Shor – Shoosmiths LLP
  • Pam Williams – Gamma

Start-up of the Year

Winners: Asisters – Rachael Alpha/Karen Budden

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Judges’ comments

This is a very impressive start-up, with the ability to scale quickly and profitably. Most importantly, it is addressing a complex national issue by using intelligent technology to bring the human touch to social care. Through their platform, they can link the needs of individuals directly to someone who can help – bringing relief and independence to thousands of people while also improving the working conditions of hard-working carer.


  • Blue-Peak Consulting – Catherine Bond
  • Global CTS Recruitment – Helen Fallon
  • Snoooze – Ann Sanger
  • Tribal Impact – Sarah Goodall

Spotlight on women in STEM

Winner: Sarah Chapman – 3M

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Judges’ comments

The nominations for this year’s STEM award were exceptionally high but one nominee stood out. Upon meeting this Sarah, it is immediately obvious how talented she is. She has achieved a lot technically as a specialist and has moved on to have great contributions through technical managing and inspiring her people and colleagues. On top of all that, the work she does contributing to STEM is mind-blowing.

Winners’ comments

“This category had four other amazing finalists so I was really surprised to win. For me, the key to encouraging women to pursue STEM careers is collaboration. I can’t do it on my own. I help make networks and use them to help us. Being confident in your own career also gives you confidence to help others.”

Sarah Chapman


  • Angela Bos – Microsoft
  • Cynthia Bostock, Cassie Sissons and Sophie Meaney – Amberjack
  • Ellen Norman – RSSL
  • Karen Gaynor – Siemens

Role Model of the Year

Joint winner: Sarah Jordan – Y.O.U underwear

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Judges’ comments:

We were so impressed that not only has Sarah been involved in so many important social causes around the world for supporting women, but she is also involved in the local community while building a successful ethical business that is enjoying a 217% increase in sales year on year. She has shown enormous resilience, driven by the need to help women that was inspired by a trip to Uganda in 2016. Y.O.U underwear is now shipping products to 15 countries. She has also set up BOLD, the positive change agency that supports women in making changes across all areas of their lives.

Sarah said: “I don’t really know what it takes to be a good role model. I love what I do and want to make a difference, but I don’t really see myself as a role model. I want to support other women in all the different businesses that I run. If that gives people confidence, inspires them and genuinely changes their lives, then I guess that’s what it is about.”

Joint winner: Alice Scott – Austin Fraser

Judges’ comments:

Alice has achieved so much, from building a people culture team to improving diversity in the workplace to enabling the company to achieve Best Places to Work For status. She went on a two-week boot camp in South Africa to help under-privileged 18-24 year-olds enter the world of work. She is always looking to make a difference and add value outside her current role. A trained Mental Health First Aider, she believes in being honest about personal and professional challenges. This has allowed her to connect with women and men at all levels across different industries.

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