Dana Denis-Smith

Dana Denis-Smith | Obelisk

Dana built Obelisk into a multi-million legal business, from a standing start in 2010 and at a time she was pregnant with her daughter. In both 2015 and 2016 Obelisk was named by The Times as one of UK’s Top 50 Employers for Women, an achievement all the more impressive given the age of the business. Obelisk’s unique value proposition to the legal market was market changing as it was focused on onshoring work through an innovative business model. Obelisk has over 800 lawyers, mainly women lawyers who wished to continue to work around their family commitments but had become economically inactive due to inflexible workplaces; Obelisk deploys this amazing talent on assignments to cover peaks in work for a stellar client list that includes Vodafone, BT, Siemens, ING, Barclays and many more blue chips. The innovative business model operated by Obelisk has led to Dana being recognised as a trailblazer in the legal sector – most recently, she received the 2015 Outstanding Innovator Award from the Legal Week for "constantly finding new ways to get alternate ways of working accepted and has helped provide a voice of reason in a hotly debated area". In 2010 she was featured in Management Today magazine’s "35 under 35" list of UK female high flyers. The yearly list features a roll call of the most inspirational businesswomen under the age of 35 in the UK. She is former magic circle lawyer and international journalist.

In 2014 Dana also founded the First 100 Years Project, the UK’s largest digital library charting the journey of women in law, which also includes the commissioning of 100 originals films, all freely available and to be donated to the nation upon the projects’ completion in 2019. Uniquely for the legal profession, in 2015 the project raised over £12,000 through crowdfunding to finance some of the films.

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Serena Makari | Vanguard

Serena is an Investment Data Analyst within Vanguard’s Investment Management Group. She is responsible for analysing and maintaining accurate investment data for the Equity and Fixed Income Groups. Serena joined Vanguard in 2013 and has worked in the Retail Investor Group and Financial Advisor Services, both in the U.K. and U.S., before joining the Investment Management Group. She is a committee member of Vanguard’s Women’s Initiative for Leadership Success (WILS) and Head of Events for WILS Europe. Serena holds a First Class Honors degree from the University of Leeds.

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Isabel Emo | Aviva Investors

Isabel is responsible foroverseeing fund research, selection and due diligence and more broadly, the integration of environmental, social and governance factors into the research process.

She has extensive experience of fund research and the development of appropriate systems and processes for multi-manager investing. She played a central role in the development of Standard Life Investment’s multi-manager proposition in 2010 and the establishment of Standard Life Wealth in 2008. Prior to this, she worked at ABN Amro Private Bank and an SRI consultancy.

Isabel has an MSc (Distinction) from the London School of Economics and a BSc (Hons) from Durham University. Isabel holds the IMC and is a CAIA charterholder.

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Alison Ure | Hermes Investment Management

In 2012 Alison was instrumental in setting up the first corporate volunteering programme at Hermes Investment Management, whilst continuing in her role as support to the European Equities team. She has worked tirelessly since to find a range of volunteering opportunities for Hermes staff within the local community and in September 2015 she fulfilled her ambition to become Hermes’ first dedicated Corporate Citizenship Programme Manager, overseeing all CSR activity within the organisation. As well as Community Volunteering, this includes Diversity and Inclusion, Environment, Staff Social Events and the Hermes Charity of the Year. Alongside her work within Corporate Citizenship, Alison is currently working with Blueprint for Better Business and BiTC to further expand Hermes’ ongoing commitment to Corporate Responsibility.

Alison’s passion to drive community engagement stems in part from the work of her late mother, who was a highly respected Race Equality Campaigner and a true inspiration to Alison.

Alison graduated in French from Newcastle University and lived and worked in Luxembourg for 5 years before moving to London.

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Sarah Millman | LV=

Sarah’s career began at LV= as an administration assistant, having graduated from Reading University with a degree in English Literature in 2008.

Swiftly gaining a reputation for energy, enthusiasm and a drive to succeed, Sarah naturally developed within analytical and risk management roles; building her expertise whilst becoming an accomplished people leader. Sarah is passionate about relationship building, problem solving and troubleshooting, and is dedicated to helping teams and individuals improve their processes and ways of working.

Recognised as a high potential, talented individual, Sarah was selected for a 2 year fast-track development programme with personal sponsorship from the Life Executive team in 2013. Having excelled on the programme, Sarah progressed into her current position in 2015 as Senior Risk Business Partner supporting the Protection management team.

During this time, Sarah also co-founded the first women’s network at LV= to help women achieve their full potential and drive postive cultural change as part of the D&I agenda.

Outside of work, Sarah is excited to be planning her wedding in December and lives with her fiancé and step-daughter in Poole.

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Roshni Assomull | Bella Kinesis

Roshni, 27, is the co-founder of the ethical women's sportswear brand, Bella Kinesis. For each item of sportswear sold, the brand funds one month's business education for a woman in rural India. Roshni and her business partner, Shaleena, started the business because they felt that most activewear available was designed by fit people, for fit people. As women who were never previously sporty, they felt a bit intimidated by brands that seemed to only target women with 'perfect' athletic figure. They wanted to create a friendlier, more inclusive brand with which women could identify more easily and one that would encourage women to give fitness another try. Both partners have very different body shapes, so specifically designed each piece to flatter different figures. All Bella Kinesis garments are made in Britain, using premium performance Italian fabric.

Bella Kinesis has recently been featured in Vogue India, Glamour and the Guardian. The company was also awarded a PEA Award for promoting conscious consumerism and were shortlisted for the Great British Entrepreneur Awards for Social Enterprise (International), Micro Business and Manufacturing. Bella Kinesis also won Theo Paphitis' #SBS Challenge in December 2015.

Charlotte Pearce

Charlotte Pearce | Inkpact

Charlotte at just 24 years of age has founded two companies, Inkpact and OR. She was described in Gadgette as, “ a motivational machine that we have no doubt will be the UK’s next Richard Branson.” She was named this year as one of the Maserati100 and listed as the top 19 young entrepreneurs to watch in 2016 by Startups.

Founded by Charlotte in 2015 Inkpact offers genuinely handwritten communication solutions that enables clients to more effectively attract, engage and retain customers. In the age of impersonal digital communication emails and online marketing are easily ignored but send someone a personalised, handwritten message and you will win their attention.  With Inkpact’s software large volumes of personalised messages are just a click away.

The best bit, each message written gives a mother, ex convict, a vulnerable young women or an elderly person a way to move their lives forward.

Charlotte is also a speaker, an advisor to social enterprises, a huge supporter of women in tech and director of a £50k fund to accelerate student start-ups

Kathryn Waddington

Kathryn Waddington | University of Westminster

I began my professional career in nursing and healthcare and am now Head of Psychology at the University of Westminster. I believe it is important for women to make the most of the educational and career opportunities that other women have pioneered since the suffragette movement began. Academia offers great opportunities for women, and universities are doing fantastic work under the Equality Challenge Unit's Athena SWAN Charter. The charter encourages and recognises commitment to advancing the careers of women in all roles - professional, support and academic - and includes students.  I am part of my university's Athena SWAN leadership team which has enabled me to work with others to create initiatives that promote the advancement of women - from their undergraduate studies through to becoming leading academics and researchers in psychology, or into careers working with people such as clinical, occupational and health psychology.

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Claire Nixon | RAF

I joined the Royal Air Force in 2008 after completing a degree in Social and Political Sciences at the University of Cambridge. Fascinated by psychology and social anthropology, I joined the RAF as a Training Officer – a specialisation dedicated to the development of personnel. Within this role, I have been privileged to provide training design and delivery support to a wide range of organisations. Whether leading a design team within the School of Physical Training, managing instructors at a multi-role Reservist Sqn or providing training policy advice to aircrew, I am constantly inspired by the depth of talent and passion driving training forwards in today’s military.

In addition to my day job, I am also passionate about military sport and am a member of the RAF Athletics and Combined Services Ski Race Teams. Whilst hugely privileged to compete at this level, I am most proud to be Captain of the RAF Ladies Ski Team. I love being able to promote the physical and psychological benefits of the sport, share an incredible opportunity and be part of an inspirational team.