Advocating productive, professional and personal relationships between successful young women is the mantra of The Women of the Future Awards. These factors are synonymous with fostering not only future business talent among young women, but also the ability to encourage important social change in society.
Since 2006 these awards have provided a platform to showcase young women who are making a difference in many fields, and celebrate their innovation, determination and talent. Founded by Pinky Lilani CBE DL, and conceived to provide a platform for the remarkable female talent in the UK, the awards recognise the inspirational stars of tomorrow across diverse sectors.
Patrons and ambassadors of the initiative include HRH, The Countess of Wessex and Cherie Blair CBE, both of whom consider the awards an important opportunity to showcase the UK’s rising female talent. Importantly, the awards also provide role models for future generations, as all entrants must be aged 35 and under. This year, the judges, Chaired by Baroness Gabrielle Bertin were set the difficult task of choosing the 15 winners from the remarkable achievements nominated. From media and science, to entrepreneurs and mentorship, the panel of judges were set the task of choosing those who had effectuated significant and ground-breaking achievements, had high future potential, had made a distinctive, unusual, innovative contribution in their field and had an ability and willingness to act as a role model to others.
The categories for nomination included: Arts and Culture – which acknowledges the creative forces of the future, rising stars among performing and visual artists and those behind the scenes; Business – which awards dedicated businesswomen, thriving in corporate Britain; Entrepreneur – this award identifies and celebrates those who have already started to build a business (or businesses), and who can show they have the ambition, energy, skill and vision to scale the heights; Community Spirit – this category recognises the extraordinary and varied contributions of traditional “public servants”, charity and volunteer workers; Media – which acknowledges the rising stars among media professionals; Professions – to recognise women who are making a significant contribution in the professions of legal, medicine, accounting, education and are destined for the top of their field; Real Estate, Infrastructure and Construction celebrates female professionals who shape the world we live in through their work in these sectors; Science rewards truly remarkable female scientists, forging new ground in research and scientific achievement; Sport – an award which recognises the rising female stars in sport and last, Technology & Digital – this category recognises talented, ground-breaking women from the worlds of digital and technology.
Winners included a scientist (Rachel Tanner) who has made a significant contribution to the field of tuberculosis vaccine development (the world’s most deadly infectious disease); the first female to captain the Welsh shooting team and gold medal winner (Georgina Roberts) and Alison Picton, Head of Office to the Mayor of London (Sadiq Khan), winner of the Professions Award, who played an instrumental role in his election which saw him win the largest mandate in British political history. Dr. Siobhan Gardiner won the Commonwealth Award for her contributions in actively pushing technology transfer and policy regarding food security, access to education and gender inequality. Elizabeth Mills, at only 23, was the winner of the Business Award. She is Managing Director of Bright Young Things, an education and training company and founded a charity, the William Mills Foundation, helping young people to unlock their potential. Ameya Kilara, who won the Community Spirits Award is the Founder and Director of the South Asian Leadership Initiative, a cutting-edge leadership programme dedicated to building peace in the region.
There are also four special awards: The Commonwealth award recognises the phenomenal achievements of Commonwealth citizens achieving developmental goals through the Commonwealth’s effective network of nations. The Young Star award acknowledges high achievers aged 16-21 who show exceptional promise within their industry, university or school. This year this award was given to Vanessa Medu, a high-achieving mathematics student at Imperial College London and passionate STEM ambassador. The Mentor of the Year award recognises active mentors behind the success of younger women in British life. This award pays tribute to some of the most influential and unsung heroes and heroines in British life. The Corporate award identifies the organisation that is doing the most to support and nurture young women within their business. The organisation is chosen for showing initiative in how they enable their younger women to fulfil their objectives and how committed they are to positive social change that will enable younger women to prosper. The ideal behind this award is that both the UK economy and society more broadly will benefit from a fuller realisation of the talents of younger women.
The fifteen individual winners of this year’s awards encapsulate, yet again, remarkable, innovative, determined and talented young women in the UK across a broad range of sectors. What is evident from each of the category winners, is an energy, dedication and flair for their cause and industry. The awards, each year, continue to unearth and recognise the inspirational stars of tomorrow across diverse sectors. They spotlight success, share stories and enable collaboration across professions and borders, creating a powerful network and support system that can drive positive global change. If you have someone in mind for the 2020 awards, further information can be found at