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We feel deeply proud of our winners and those remarkable women shortlisted for the awards over the past years.  This year we reinvigorate our mentoring programme to provide additional value to our alumni and candidates for the 2020 awards. We are delighted to offer a one-to-one session with our mentors for all nominees.  In addition, all shortlisted candidates are invited to participate in a 12 month programme where they will be mentored and included in networking, learning and social media activities.

Nominate yourself or a woman whose leadership inspires you to join our programme.

Alongside our Trustees, we are delighted have passionate, local leaders use their experience and support to help mentees achieve their goals, direct their careers and build their networks.  Meet our mentors here and follow our work on social media.

What Mentoring Means To Us

Meet our mentors

Dr Julie Mills OBE

CEO & Group Principal of MK College
Dr Julie Mills is a highly respected thinker and doer in the areas of education, skills, social justice and diversity.  Julie's contributions have been featured by the BBC, ITV, The Huffington Post, The Times Educational Supplement, FE News, and many more.

A passionate advocate for diversity and inclusion, Julie was recently named Principal of the Year by the National Centre for Diversity (NCF). She is the driving force behind plans for an Institute of Technology at Bletchley Park, chair of the Helena Kennedy Foundation and Chair of Women Leaders UK.

Julie was recognized with an OBE in the Queen’s 2019 Birthday Honours List for services to business and education.

Nikki Ross

CEO Thames Valley Partnership
Nikki feels it has been profoundly rewarding to share her experience by coaching and mentoring others. Her varied career has included change management, problem solving and a need for demonstrable emotional intelligence and authenticity.

Nikki has always felt that looking back and helping others up the ladder behind her is so important and wants to continue to invest her time to help others as much as she can.

Ruby Parmar

Chair and Non-Exec director at TOTM
Ruby’s personal approach to mentoring leans towards being informal and more personal, both when being mentored and when mentoring others.

She believes that our personal circumstances, the way we feel, and a corresponding drain on energy will all have an impact on our professional development. We need to address both to reach our full potential.

Pam Gosal

entrepreneur & Volunteer
Pam has experience gained over 30 years within the public, private and voluntary sector.  From which she has built a wide network of contacts locally and nationally.

She is a great advocate of helping others and has been mentoring for over 10 years.  She believes not one size fits all therefore she tailors her approach to what the mentee needs, this could be anything from giving some simple advice, providing direction, just listening, reaching goals or coaching.

Pam was the proud Women Leaders award winner twice, in 2015 she was recognised for the work and support she has provided the Business Sector and in 2018 she was recognised for her work in and Public Service. 

Sarah Thorne

Managing Partner queensbury consulting
As the managing partner in her own business Sarah brings to bear her experience as a leader, with over 15 years in the consultancy industry.

Sarah’s own experience of being mentored had a profound effect on her career and personal development, and she gives back by mentoring other women, including school age girls at risk of underachieving.  She uses the challenges she has faced ‘on the way up’ to inspire others to reach higher and to challenge gender inequality in the workplace.

Kelly Haynes

Pro Fighter
Kelly is passionate about empowering women to feel strong and capable. Most of her work impacts directly on individuals by building those supportive relationships one to one.

Kelly is an ambassador who helps teach fitness in a number of charities such as MK ACT (which is a local women’s refuge), Sportraider, fit4life and a non-profit project - Boxing Clever.

Boxing Clever is achieving amazing results with students in secondary schools and won a ‘Kids Count’ award in 2019. The project which was started by Thames Valley Police & Milton Keynes Council, aims to foster positivity and discipline through martial arts.

Elizabeth Sheldon

Executive Director Evidence Talks
Elizabeth has always considered it her duty to pass on experiences and wisdom to others who may just be starting out. Lessons learned, both good and bad can make a huge difference to someone embarking on the journey towards becoming a leader.

She looks forward to creating those relationships and doing what she can to ease the path towards leadership and success.

Maureen Sumner Smith

As EMEA Chief Operating Officer Maureen has full responsibility for the business performance and operations for all the countries within BSI’s EMEA region, which employs around 1,200 people. As such, she leads operational delivery, technical review and sales and marketing activities as well as being responsible for delivering and tracking against the EMEA region’s strategic plan.

She is directly accountable for the operation of all BSI’s business streams including assurance services incorporating the Kitemark™ plus training and certification.

Zoe Mills

(MCIPD) Senior HR Manager – Strategy & Projects, NHBC
Zoe’s 25 years as a Human Resources Specialist has made her passionate about diversity and inclusion in the workplace. She finds gender disparity to be such an important aspect of the equality agenda and it has been her focus for the last few years.

  Zoe firmly believes that mentoring is a great way for individuals to collaborate and progress. She would be happy to mentor an individual who needs help in her professional field of Human Resources or navigating their way through organisations.  

Jane Horridge

Consulting Director, Responsa
Jane has over 25 years of experience in the corporate, public and third sectors, having worked in and with organisations of all sizes.

Having been fortunate to have the support of strong mentors throughout her corporate career, Jane is an advocate for mentoring, and has supported many individuals at various stages of their career to expand their thinking, develop and progress.

Jane is currently running three of her own businesses following six years in the education sector, bringing commercial and marketing expertise from her corporate career to MK College.

Zoe Raven

CEO, Acorn Early Years Foundation
Zoe is the founder and CEO of Acorn Early Years Foundation, a social enterprise and charity which began as a small private nursery over 30 years ago. Her business gradually grew and today comprises 12 day nurseries with over 300 employees.

Zoe is an advocate of lifelong learning, with an MBA from the OU and currently a part-time doctoral student at Royal Holloway, University of London, researching ethical issues in early years provision in the UK.

Mentoring and training within Acorn has shown her that supporting talent and celebrating women’s achievements is a great way to inspire the next generation of women.  

Gamiel Yafai

MD Diversity Marketplace
“You don't realise how much power you have until you start to give it away".

Mentoring is Gamiel’s way of giving away the knowledge, skills and experience he has accumulated over the years and getting that feel-good factor as a result. Gamiel was the proud recipient of the Global Diversity Leadership Award presented by the Global HRD Congress 2017 and the author of ‘Demystifying Diversity’ and ‘Yemen Proud’.

He is also an Ambassador for the Global poverty charity The Hunger Project and is on the Board of Trustees for The Parks Trust and Women Leaders UK.

Precious Lwanga

Partner Queensbury Consulting
Precious is a committed mentor who shares her expertise and energy with those who need guidance.  Advocating for equality and diversity in the workplace means that she is continuously challenging injustice and forging new paths for the women she works with.

Precious is a strategic thinker with sharp business acumen; she admires and encourages other women in business who have a passion for their industry. Precious also has a keen interest in raising the profile of STEM careers.  

Kate Aspinall

Project Manager Queensbury Consulting
Kate mentors other women because she has benefitted from mentoring herself. Helping another person acknowledge their value and grow in aspiration and confidence gives her great joy.

Research tells us that women who cannot see relatable females in positions of leadership often don’t stretch upwards – strong women leaders show their mentees the way. Kate feels it is her responsibility to play her part by giving away what has been so freely given to her.

Yvonne Owuor, Msc BA (Hons)

Women Leaders Award Winner 2019
Yvonne is a dedicated young professional, working mother, a humanitarian and a trained political scientist who is passionate about making a difference in society.

Growing up in the UK, Yvonne always thought that her mentor was going to be an older version of herself and looked for someone who looked like her for years, never finding that person. There are very few women in leadership positions and so very rare to see women of color in leadership roles. By being a mentor, Yvonne can empower women and lead them to upward mobility in employment, education and personal development and as future women leaders.

Helen Sachdev

As a relational coach, Helen uses a variety of theories to inform her coaching, including the Gestalt principles and transactional theory. She employs a broad set of techniques and has extensive knowledge of ‘alpha male’ organizations, Board room politics, and complex change. The objectives underlying Helen's work, are to raise individuals’ awareness, to face into issues and to explore together what choices exist.

Helen particularly enjoys working with those who are in, or have had challenging careers.

Richard Naylor

Managing Partner Queensbury Consulting
Richard is an experienced Chief Executive, Chief Operating, Finance Director and business owner, with over 28 years’ experience running businesses in both the UK and overseas.

His main focus is bringing entrepreneurs and businesses together, as well as helping grow new and existing commercial opportunities, through mentoring start-ups, entrepreneurs and business executives.

John Cove

Chairman of MK Dons FC Sport and Education Trust
As Chairman of Milton Keynes Dons FC Sport and Education Trust and as one of the Directors of the Club John knows how important it is to have a well rooted, supportive community for a city to flourish. Having worked at the heart of local government for over 20 years he has had a range of responsibilities including Sport, Leisure, Libraries, Arts, Youth Service, and Economic Development.

He is particularly proud of his work with StadiumMK and is delighted to be a Trustee of Women Leaders.

Claire Farmer

Claire is an ACCA qualified accountant working as a Finance Business Partner for The National House Building Council (NHBC). 

She has delivered key projects around budgeting and forecasting and debt management and these projects lead her to be recognised as an NHBC star for 2019.  

She joins Women Leaders as Treasurer this year, on the board of Trustees and looks forward to using her passion for finance and experience to help other women reach their goals.

Professor Lynette Ryals OBE

Lynette believes passionately in equality of opportunity and in encouraging women to seize the opportunity to take on leadership roles. As a Trustee for Women Leaders she feels that the charity can make a real difference by identifying and celebrating local role models and the achievements of these remarkable women.  

She was awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours 2019 for services to higher education and intends to continue using her profile and platform to encourage women to step into leadership pathways, especially in STEM fields.

Dr Chinwe Osuchukwu

Consultant Paediatrician
Dr Chinwe Osuchukwu Chinwe, a graduate of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is a specialist children’s doctor at Central and North West London NHS Trust, based in Milton Keynes. She also works as Consultant Paediatrician in the community specialising in the care of children with complex, neuro developmental needs.

She is passionate about diversity and inclusion and has served as an international chair, co-ordinating international activities for a local Rotary Club and is an executive member of British Academy of Childhood Disability (BACD) and Oxford BACD regional Coordinator. Chinwe became a trustee of CBM, the Overseas Disability Charity UK in 2015.

Emma Bowman-Smith

Emma has worked for some of the largest service companies in the world at Senior Management level. Understanding what makes a successful company tick was key to her roles. 10 years ago, Emma started a Facilities Management company from scratch and built it up into a successful company that continues to trade and grow organically.  

Emma is passionate about helping start up and step up businesses and has helped to launch a number of successful new companies by providing the business owners with clear plans for structure, admin and strategy.