The FL National Awards are judged by an independent judging panel, comprising professional men and women, successful entrepreneurs and business people.
SUSANNA LAWSON – ONEFILE
Susanna Lawson worked in the health and social care sector and witnessed huge inefficiencies in the training delivery models which drove her to develop OneFile, the leading e-portfolio software in the education sector. Susanna is also the overall winner of The Forward Ladies National Awards 2017.
BILL HENRY – INDEPENDENT EXECUTIVE COACH
In 2015 Bill retired as a partner of PwC where he led the Risk Assurance practice for the North of England. Having also been a partner coach in the firm he now operates as a qualified independent executive coach. In addition he is a non-executive director and a trustee of a large multi academy trust whose intake are among the most deprived areas of the UK.
Recently retired Customer Experience Director, Small Business Banking, HSBC UK Debra White has been a Retail and Commercial Banker with HSBC Group for the last 40 years and in September 2016 took on the national role of Customer Experience Director for Business Banking Small Business. Previously Debra was the Regional Director for Small Business in the North region.
Debra spent three years as a Retail Area Manager developing a team of twenty Branch Managers in West Yorkshire and leading the Premier and Wealth proposition. Following this Debra was a Retail Branch Manager at key flagship branches in Huddersfield, York and then became a Branch Director in Leeds City delivering strategy and leading a customer service ethos. In her retirement Debra is now the secretary and volunteer at a local foodbank and NHS Responder.
ALI GAYWARD – UK COUNTRY MANAGER, EASYJET
Ali has over thirty years’ experience in the travel industry working with British Airways, American Express Travel, Sabre, American Airlines, ASM, AG Consultancy and now easyJet.
Ali is easyJet’s UK Country Manager, responsible for enabling easyJet to create the winning environment in the UK and overseas. Responsibilities include being the ‘face and voice’ of easyJet, building and maintaining active external relationships with local government, regulatory bodies, media/press, airports and tourism bodies. Ali is responsible for the revenue, profit contribution and route performance of flights operating both from the UK and also in some overseas markets.
Ali has direct responsibility for 58 aircraft, contributing to easyJet’s £1.01 billion worth of revenues each year in the UK.
Group General Counsel, Company Secretary, and C-Suite Executive at WorldRemit, a digital payments service that provides international money transfer and remittance services in more than 130 countries and over 70 currencies.
An experienced solicitor with a demonstrated history of working in Fintech, the financial services sector that is skilled in regulatory, payments, enterprise risk management, consumer protection, small medium enterprise, offshore, and commercial banking. Co-opted Member, Committee on Benefactions External and Legal Affairs (CBELA), University of Cambridge. A Non-Executive Director, Plan International UK, Shaw Trust, and PensionBee Group plc. A Contributing Editor, LexisNexis Encyclopaedia of Banking Law and a Member of the Consulting Editorial Board, LexisPSL©.
A Fellow of The RSA and ‘Business Woman of the Year’ & ‘Corporate Leader’, 2018 FL National Awards. Ranked in The Lawyer Hot 100 2021. 2022 ‘Woman in Legal’ winner of the Women4Africa Award. Formerly, General Counsel and Chief Risk Officer, Contis, legal director at Klarna, senior legal counsel at Barclays and BAE Systems, a divisional counsel at RAC, a legal director at HBOS (Lloyds Banking Group), and Group Head of Legal at Lex (Lex Autolease).
Also a barrister of the Supreme Court of Nigeria and a law graduate (LL.B Hons) of the University of Lagos with an LL.M in Comparative Company Law.
Lisa assumed the role of Head of BTC UK & Ireland in January 2016. She is also a member of the BASF Plc Leadership team. Having a strong passion for diversity & inclusion, Lisa represents BASF with WISE (Women in Science and Engineering). She also currently Chairs the Executive Committee for BACS (British Association for Chemical Specialities)
Her working career started as a Laboratory Technician at Magnesium Elektron (part of British Alcan) and then as a Sales Correspondent at Degussa Ltd.
Having joined the Fine Chemical Sales business at BASF plc in 1989, Lisa was delegated to Switzerland between 2001-2004 where she was North Europe Aroma Chemicals Manager. On her return to the UK she became Head of Sales Detergents & Formulators for BTC UK, BASF’s in-house chemical distribution company.
Richelle’s career in business transformation and innovation has focused on tackling the toughest commercial challenges for businesses at all stages – start-ups, scale-ups and the reinvention of established businesses. She has designed and delivered national business programmes, led a growth consultancy practice for a professional services firm and now as Head of Innovation at Leeds City Council, advises the region on investment priorities to support innovative entrepreneurs.
Richelle is driven by challenge, breaking down barriers and creating impact-led strategies which can deliver both economic and societal gain - a central and motivating purpose that continues to shape her career.
SAHAR HASHEMI – FOUNDER OF COFFEE REPUBLIC
In 1995 Sahar Hashemi founded Coffee Republic, and built it into one of the UK’s most recognised high street brands with a turnover of £30m. Giving up a job as a lawyer in London, she staked everything on a dream – and made Coffee Republic one of the main players in the ‘coffee revolution’ that transformed a nation of tea drinkers into one obsessed with ‘triple half-caf lattes’.
AJAZ AHMED – FOUNDER OF FREESERVE
Ajaz Ahmed is best known for being the founder of Freeserve, which was once the UK’s largest ISP and is now known as Orange broadband. He came up with the idea when he bought a computer and nobody in the store could tell him how to get into the internet, the rest, as they say, is history. He persuaded Dixons to launch Freeserve and it was eventually sold by Dixons to France Telecom for ￡1.6bn.
PROFESSOR GEORGE LODORFOS – LEEDS BECKETT UNIVERSITY
Professor George Lodorfos is Dean of Leeds Business School at Leeds Beckett University.
He is an electrical and electronic engineer by first degree, he holds Masters degrees in Automation and Control as well as in Innovation and Technology Management, and a PhD in Strategic Management of Research and Development. In addition, he has supervised to completion and he has examined many PhDs both in the UK and Europe and is an external examiner for two UK universities.
He has extensive practical and academic experience in the field of Strategic Management, R&D and Adoption of New Technologies and Innovation. In addition, he has done extensive research and enterprise work in the areas of buyer behaviour with particular interest in online purchasing and the use of technology to enable the sustainable growth of businesses.
Furthermore, he has done extensive research and enterprise work in the areas of Small Businesses Development and Growth.
Emma is a partner at Grant Thornton, one of the UK’s largest professional services firms. She is Practice Leader of the Sheffield office and a partner in their national Financial Accounting Advisory Services (FAAS) team. Emma’s passion is helping finance directors and their teams navigate change and periods of intense activity, by providing practical and pragmatic solutions based on her prior experience of working in senior finance roles in a variety of companies.
FAAS supports clients who need to strengthen their finance teams with our high-quality interim solution or need additional financial reporting expertise. She works with a wide range of businesses, from international listed groups to privately-owned, fast-growing dynamic companies. She is passionate about her role, takes pride in developing people and building long term relationships with clients and the wider business community. She believes in a strong network and that collaboration and working together is the key to success. She is involved in the D&I agenda and has a particular interest in coaching and mentoring other women who want to progress in their careers.
Outside of work, Emma’s family keep her very busy, and she loves cooking, her garden and the great outdoors.
Julianne is a nuclear energy specialist with over 20 years experience of working in the sector in strategic, commercial and operational roles. She describes herself as “a passionate leader who works with an exceptional team and delivers success by building high performing teams and creating an environment of empowerment, inclusivity, respect, trust and most importantly fun”.
She encourages the next generation through being an active Mentor on the 30% Club Mentoring Programme, Partner sponsor of PA Women’s Network and Senior Advisor to Women in Nuclear Executive. She is a passionate and award winning STEM ambassador who proactively seeks out opportunities to give as many young people access to a career in STEM.
In 2019, Julianne won the Forward Ladies STEM Leader of the Year award, and is now sitting on the other side of the table as a judge.
Hannah Duraid is a Multi-Award-Winning young entrepreneur behind the escape room attraction, The Great Escape Game. A fully immersive experience where customers enter into a themed, Crystal-maze style adventure and must solve a series of puzzles to escape before their time runs out.
Launched in 2015, today the business has developed across three sites, boasting bars and kitchens, 17 escape room experiences, as well as being proud to be home to Yorkshire’s only 18+ escape game, that was featured on channel 4’s “Don’t Tell the Bride”.
As well as this Hannah consults for a femtech company, Hyivy Health.