Sarah Smith (née Ryland) ǀ CGI

Photo©John Cassidy The Headshot Guy®

Sarah is a highly flexible and outcome focused Business Consultant at CGI (formally Logica), where she joined as a graduate five years ago. She is extremely dependable and organised, with the determination to deliver value as quickly as she can to her clients.

The majority of Sarah’s experience is from the Banking sector where she recently managed the design and delivery of a national communications campaign for the Current Account Switch Service. Facing off to all the major current account providers in the industry, this was a high profile role in a complex stakeholder environment, one which gave Sarah the opportunity to flourish.

Sarah is motivated by not only exceeding expectations, but also creating an enjoyable environment for the people around her. She is open, honest and supportive of colleagues; she enjoys giving her time to help others. Sarah is looking forward to mentoring the 2015 graduate intake.

Sarah was part of a small team who founded the CGI’s women’s network. She proactively took the lead in establishing a communications strategy and plan, and led a team of volunteers to deliver it. She believes her success in this role is attributable to providing clear direction, delineation of responsibilities, motivating the team when they were up against their day jobs and setting the mantra for quality outputs.
She has a structured approach to her development, actively seeking feedback, taking one competence at a time to focus on, learning, and seeking opportunities to practise outside her comfort zone. During her time at CGI she has achieved an Exceeds Expectations performance rating every year, been promoted twice, and this year she has been nominated for the CGI Emerging Talent and Leadership Programme.

Sarah is recently married and she likes nothing more than indulging her enthusiasm for travel, food and fitness.


Julia McColl ǀ Capco

Julia McCollJulia McColl is a Principal Consultant at Capco London, with a proven track record of defining and delivering transformation programmes in Retail and Wealth Management, excelling in customer experience and return on investment. She has a strong track record of defining and delivering digital portfolios of over £30m of annual investment and is passionate about developing propositions that meet customer need whilst delivering business results.

As a leader she is passionate about career development and invests time both in diversity and inclusion initiatives under the #BeYourselfAtWork banner within Capco and in coaching others to support their progression.


Dara Kirton ǀ PwC UK

Dara Kirton

I am a manager at PwC, having started on the Consulting graduate scheme in 2011 and worked my way up in the Operations consulting team. Since being at the firm, I have demonstrated passion for our people, our clients and our communities in the true ethos of PwC – “doing the right thing”.

Our People: I am a people manager, mentor and coach taking an active role in the development of others.

Our Clients: I have delivered large successful transformations for a range of FTSE 100 companies – including disaster turnarounds, relocations and operating model transformations.

Our communities: I have set up a mentoring scheme at the firm to support students from under represented backgrounds (women, ethnic minorities and socially/economically deprived) to get into professional services. We work with a range of universities, charities and social enterprises that help us to identify students that PwC wouldn’t typically target through recruitment. As a result of the mentoring scheme’s successes in the last two years in improving equal access opportunities, this year the team won two awards- PwC Consulting Award for “Doing the Right Thing” and the PwC (Firmwide) Award for Sustainability and Community.

I have a passion for diversity and have been a champion in the firm for gender equality, multiculturalism and social mobility as well as supporting and linking in with our other people networks. I am the chair of the newly relaunched Multicultural Business Network at PwC and am looking forward to developing my network externally around the topic.

Outside of work, I have an active social life, am a massive foodie, love travelling and try to keep up a dwindling skill in street dance.

Life motto: Live. Love. Laugh. (hardly original but pretty much encompasses everything I’m about!)

Jo Sweetland

Jo Sweetland ǀ Green Park Interim & Executive Resourcing

Jo SweetlandI can't tell you that I deserve to be shortlisted for this award and the outcome is not for me to decide, but what I can tell you is what I have learnt and how I try to pass on these lessons to the people I meet.

It's never sat comfortably with me being labelled, for example I've been called an entrepreneur, a strategist, a leader of people. My father was an entrepreneur and I saw the risks and tribulations he had to go through to grow his business and the difficult times he experienced. His journey in the business world taught me a lot and helped me build a really deep respect for business people as individuals as opposed to their title and the roles that they play.

I always try to be true to myself and live through my values and beliefs in all circumstances.

As a mother of two young children, having to juggle a highly pressurised, demanding career while maintaining a consistent and supportive home life for my family, I have developed a great respect for all working mothers. This by far has been my greatest challenge to date!

Through consulting with organisations in helping them acquire the kind of talent that will drive their businesses forward, I have learnt that agility and flexibility throughout the partnership is essential for achieving long term outcomes. As a female who aspires to lead in a male dominated industry, my core values of customer centricity, inclusion, good manners and hard graft are central to not just how I work, but how I motivate others around me to work. More than anything, I believe humility is one of the key factors to success within the industry. Through my experience, it is the more challenging of customers that I have had to consult with who have demonstrated consistency and loyalty, and in some cases even becoming friends, as a result of using my softer skills of influencing and helping them come to decisions which are beneficial for their business.

As a Managing Partner and one of the original members of Green Park Interim & Executive Search, I head up the HR Practice consulting with a range of businesses across the Private sector helping them solve some of their most challenging people problems. Being seen as a trusted advisor to my clients is paramount to mine and Green Park's HR brand.

emily-Thorpe-Rising Star 2015

Emily Thorpe ǀ Happy Working Mum

© Pete Jones

Emily, is an author, coach and inspirational speaker, who is passionate about transforming the lives of career or business mums, helping them go from tired, stressed, overwhelmed and feeling guilty to relaxed, calm, balanced and in control.

Author of the book “The Working Mums 5-step Solution To Having It All”, Emily also offers talks, transformational workshops and programmes, which all help women to unlock the secrets to successfully combining professional success with being the mum they truly want to be. Ditching the plate spinning, juggling and guilt and instead enjoying quality time with their children and becoming a 'memory maker'.

As a devoted Mother to two boys, and a highly successful air-traffic controller working in a high-pressure environment, whilst also running her own successful coaching business, Emily knows exactly what it takes to “have it all”, helping women to enjoy the journey and those precious family years with a sense of balance, ease, serenity and fun!