Mel Aston

Mel Aston | Merlin Entertainments Plc

Mel AstonI currently work as Group Talent & Development co-ordinator, the role began 3 ½ years ago with me supporting the Group Talent & Development Director and the rest of the team on admin and the logistics of the global programmes, with no previous HR experience.

I have grown and developed the role enormously. Working within a small team, that delivers Leadership and Management programmes to a global business with over 100 attractions in 23 countries, liaising with HR Director’s and L&D Manager’s around the globe and external suppliers. I have also been instrumental in the creation of several new programmes and initiatives as well as leading on Merlin’s Diversity Agenda. Working closely with the Group HR Director, and Executive Diversity Champions, I ensure that improving our Diversity is a priority across our business.

Previously I started my career in Hotel Management, working within operations and guest relations departments, with companies such as Marriott / De Vere / Crown Plaza and Le Meriden. My next move took me into the Conference & Events industry working at the Royal College of Physicians in Regents Park, London for 6 years.

I am extremely passionate about Merlin, they’re a great company with so many opportunities that gives you the chance to put your own personal touch to the role and the support you are able to offer to the wider global team.

Mitra Janes - DLA Piper

Mitra Janes | DLA Piper

Last year, Mitra moved to the City from Ford Motor Company to take up a newly-established Diversity and Inclusion position at DLA Piper, one of the world's largest corporate law firms. Mitra's background is in generalist HR, having undertaken a variety of roles in employee relations, learning and development and as a business partner. Her focus and specialism in Diversity and Inclusion stems from her passion for ensuring that everyone feels valued and included and has an opportunity to contribute.

She has a clear strategic vision of improved diversity within the legal sector and in society more broadly and has developed and implemented a number of initiatives focussed on developing the talent pipeline. Outside of work, Mitra is a school governor at a girls' secondary school and is committed to inspiring future generations of women to achieve their full potential. She is a huge Prince fan and has travelled across the UK and abroad to see him in concert.


Rosa Goncalves ǀ Kidbrooke Community Enterprises

Rosa GoncalvesRosa Goncalves is an entrepreneur in community development and regeneration. Whilst raising her 3 children she qualified and worked as a child minder.

In 2003 to 2006 she organised community engagement in the then known as Ferrier Estate in Greenwich London Some of her volunteering work includes:

  • 2000– 2004 – She was vice Chair of Ferrier Residents Action Group (FRAG).
  • 2001 – 2005 – A volunteer Liaison community development officer
  • 2002 –Volunteer with Greenwich Community Law Centre and trained as Legal Adviser
  • 2003 – 2011 -director of Paraiso Samba School, Security Coordinator, Participation officer
  • 2003 – Member of the Greenwich Diversity Board
  • 2006 - Healthier Greenwich Executive Group Community Representative
  • 2003 – 2005 - community representative with Greenwich Community Network and LSP Board member
  • 2005 – Vice - chair of the Greenwich Community Network 2005 - 2009 Borough wide housing panel Member
  • 2005 – Vice chair of the Ferrier/Blackheath Housing Panel 2007 – 2008 –School for Social Entrepreneur Graduate
  • 2008 – 2015 – Founded/Developing Kidbrooke Community Enterprises
  • 2007 – 2015 – Managing/Developing Guarida Community Cafe

Her current project is focused on developing her signature brand, Kidbrooke Community Enterprises (KCE), with little to no funding.

KCE, a Cooperative Social Enterprise Company Limited by Guarantee, founded in 2008 by Rosa Goncalves, with the support of community minded residents. Back then its work focused on ensuring the Kidbrooke community benefited from the regeneration of the area. Today, KCE is going through many changes. With a new board of directors working with Rosa to further develop KCE to brand to other areas of Greenwich and London.

Having moved KCE from the now regenerated Kidbrooke area, to the Woolwich Common Estate in Royal Greenwich, with some support from the local authority, Rosa aims to facilitate and maximise the potential to secure local residents position by giving them a voice in the local area development plans.


Angela Cooke - PwC

Angela Cooke | PwC

Angela Cooke is an experienced HR professional with specialist expertise in diversity, inclusion and employee wellbeing at PwC. She is a qualified business psychologist having gained a Master’s degree in Occupational Psychology and CIPD qualifications.

As part of her role as a diversity specialist, she is a trusted business advisor who works collaboratively with senior business leaders to help them create inclusive and diverse working environments. She has done this through a number of key initiatives:

She leads PwC’s long term behaviour change campaign, ‘Open Mind’, which focuses on unconscious bias. This campaign has transformed the attitudes and behaviours of partners and staff in PwC. It has also positioned PwC as thought leaders externally in the diversity space and Angela has developed a commercial proposition to sell aspects of the campaign to clients and works with them on their diversity issues. This has represented a significant and unexpected return on investment of £150k for the firm.

See here for details on the campaign

Angela leads the firm’s approach to diverse recruitment, ensuring that it is attracting from as wide a talent pool as possible. For example, she has introduced the innovative new initiative, ‘Back to Business’, a practical and positive way to help senior women return to their careers after a long break. The programme is helping the firm redress its gender balance and achieve its diversity targets.

She presents to students and potential applicants on the importance of diversity. Her presentations have helped attract more women to the firm - feedback received from one participant who attended a recruitment event at which she spoke: ‘I enjoyed the diversity and open minded presentation the most’.

As a result of the leading work she has been involved in Angela is frequently called upon by other organisations to share best practice.

Becky Rogers Rising Stars 2015

Becky Rogers | C & C Search

Growing up as one of three girls it is fair to say that I am the classic middle child! Overly Loud and regularly saying the wrong thing at the wrong time I would happily say I am the child that has always caused my parents the most problems. However my outgoing nature has always led me to want to be the best and to never settle for anything less and I have been incredibly lucky to work for some hugely influential and empowering woman.

Despite not being an overachiever on the academic front and struggling with dyslexia I have always felt that a competitive and committed attitude was all I needed to succeed in the world of business.

Currently working for an all female start up recruitment agency I am hugely proud of everything we have achieved and am privileged to have been recognised for this award.