Britain’s brightest women business leaders

As the UK heads towards the worst recession for decades, these talented young businesswomen will be helping to rebuild the economy and rebalance the scales.

Britain's brightest women business leaders 1
Britain's brightest women business leaders 4

Accenture is as impressive as ever. Among others, there are partners at magic circle law firms, managing directors of creative agencies, the founder of a vegan burger company, and a social entrepreneur tackling sea plastic. All of them have achieved extraordinary things in a remarkably short period of time.

Britain's brightest women business leaders 5Victoria Anderson, solicitor, Schillings; CEO, Big Voice London – 27

Anderson is a solicitor at Schillings, specializing in reputation management and privacy. Passionate about diversity in the legal profession, she started volunteering for Big Voice London, social mobility and youth empowerment charity supported by the UK Supreme Court that aims to get a new generation into law. In 2015, she became its CEO. Last year she was recognized in The Attic’s “Lawyers who are changing the world for the better” list.

Britain's brightest women business leaders 6Freha Arshad, senior manager, Accenture Security – 34

Arshad is leading the way in cybersecurity – an industry where she has few female role models. She has worked with the police force and central government, among many others – and co-founded 'Women in Security Scotland', as well as the Women in Security group within Accenture. With over a decade of experience, she is a powerful advocate of sharing her experiences and lessons with the next generation. 

Britain's brightest women business leaders 7Yvonne Bajela, founding member and principal, Impact X – 30

Baja is a founding member and principal at Impact X, a venture capital fund set up to invest in companies led by underrepresented entrepreneurs across Europe. Prior to Impact X Capital, Bajela was a senior investment manager at Mitsui & Co. where she led investments in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. She is a board member and most recently had exposure to the FTSE 250 listed board of HarbourVest Global Private Equity. Baja is also an advocate for female entrepreneurship and a Shaper for the World Economic Forum.  

Britain's brightest women business leaders 8Abbie Bates, director of people & culture, DeepMind – 31

Since joining DeepMind in 2017, Bates has risen up the ranks of the Google-owned AI research institution to become director of people & culture, helping to develop the firm's values and culture. In that timeframe, the firm has grown from 200 people to 1,000 across four countries. Bates is a qualified Insights Practitioner, NLP Practitioner & Coach, Predictive Index Practitioner, and an Associate Member of the CIPD.

Britain's brightest women business leaders 9Shabina Begum, associate solicitor, Dawson Cornwell – 33

An exceptional lawyer working with vulnerable and emotional clients, Begum is a pioneer in her field. She leads the way in researching and championing the rights of women and girls, specializing in international child abduction, forced marriage, child marriage, female genital mutilation, and gender-based violence. Begum is an UN-recognized expert of a child, early and forced marriages in the UK. She has a relentless commitment to helping those who can't help themselves and changing lives, and the law, for the better. 

Britain's brightest women business leaders 10Mary Bonsor, CEO and co-founder of F-lex Legal – 33

Former lawyer Bonsor is the co-founder of F-lex, an online platform to connect law firms and general counsel to lawyers and law students for flexible, on-demand service. Today the firm has 4,500 paralegals and lawyers on its platform, more than 350 clients including magic circle firms and FTSE 250 firms, and is set to turn over £6.5m this year. Recognized as a “legal disruptor”, Bonsor is also a school governor and supports other female startups through the Legal Geek and London Young Lawyer Group mentoring schemes.  

Britain's brightest women business leaders 11Rebecca Burgess, CEO, City to Sea – 33

Burgess is a social enterprise leader, heading up City to Sea, a not-for-profit organization campaigning to stop plastic pollution at source. She's overseen 763% revenue growth in the past three years and has created a flexible working culture for staff, with an emphasis on personal development and company cohesion. Through effective and purposeful campaigning, Burgess has built an entire ecosystem of supporters for City to Sea.

Britain's brightest women business leaders 12Bex Carson, chief product officer, Brandwatch – 34

Carson started her career with market research firm Nielsen before joining the social intelligence firm Brandwatch as a senior analyst. Within six months she was leading the research team and, when the firm merged with its industry rival in 2018, she was promoted to chief product officer. Brandwatch, which counts Unilever, Whirlpool, British Airways, Walmart and Dell as clients, aims to have a $1bn valuation in the next few years: CEO Giles Palmer says Carson “will be one of the key driving forces in getting us there”. Keen to make a meaningful contribution to increasing diversity in tech, Carson mentors women and is involved in organizing women in tech events.

Britain's brightest women business leaders 13Ana Diaz, head of operations, Henderson Rowe – 34

Born in Mexico, Diaz graduated at the top of her business school, Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, then gained a scholarship to do a master’s degree at London’s Westminster University. After working for Santander Bank as a credit risk manager for corporate clients, she joined investment firm Henderson Rowe in 2013 and now heads up its operations. She is also a senior executive at Rayliant Global Advisors, a prestigious institutional investment manager based in Hong Kong.

Britain's brightest women business leaders 14Elise Dickinson, marketing manager, Budweiser, AB InBev – 32

Dickinson cut her teeth on the sales and trading floor at Morgan Stanley, where she was the only woman on a team of 15. After studying at Kellogg School of Management, she was selected for Colgate-Palmolive’s MBA grad program in New York then joined consumer goods giant AB InBev. As European head of innovation, she launched Corona beer on draught in Britain’s pubs and introduced an initiative to eliminate plastic ring packaging across the company’s entire UK portfolio. She now manages Budweiser, the world’s most valuable alcohol brand. Dickinson was selected as a Marketing Academy Scholar last year.

Britain's brightest women business leaders 15Mikela Druckman, founder and CEO, Greyparrot – 32

The former chief commercial officer at tech firm Blippar, Druckman co-founded Greyparrot last year to “digitize waste”. Her London-based AI firm, which raised £1.8m in seed funding in May, has trained a series of machine learning models to recognize different types of waste, such as glass, paper, cardboard, newspapers, cans and different types of plastics, in order to make sorting recycling more efficient. Druckman is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council.

Britain's brightest women business leaders 16Helena Eccles, associate, McKinsey & Company – 26

At 26, Eccles has already had a stellar career at McKinsey, worked alongside Helena Morrissey and Dame Vivian Hunt (legends), has advised some of the leading UK institutions across the public, private and third sectors, has championed diversity and inclusion, and co-founded a cricket program for Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Her work both in and outside her direct role shows a dedication to gender equality and the ability to take action to deliver positive change and to lead with kindness and compassion.

Britain's brightest women business leaders 17Christie Fearnside, managing consultant, PA Consulting – 31

Fearnside is a managing consultant at PA Consulting, specializing in the rail industry. Described as a “future leader” within the global management consultancy firm, she is currently being fast-tracked to becoming a partner. A former international hockey player, she is also the co-founder of ethical ski wear company Red7SkiWear, which launched on Kickstarter in 2015 and was successfully funded within 30 hours. Fearnside has a master’s degree and a graduate diploma in law.

Britain's brightest women business leaders 18Bernie Fischer, COO, Mobkoi - 35

Fischer has taken Mokboi from a startup to a $35m-turnover mobile advertising firm, creating a diverse and inclusive culture along the way – Mokboi has won Campaign magazine's 'Best Places to Work' three years in a row. Working in a service business with a human-centric approach, her soft skills have played a huge role in creating a healthy company culture of fun and excellence. 

Britain's brightest women business leaders 19Madeleine Goerg, engagement manager, McKinsey & Company – 33

Goerg's career has had a huge impact on society. The Foreign Policy Association recognized her as one of the top 35 non-Africans under 35 making an impact in Africa. She sits on the board of an NGO as well as working for McKinsey in the energy sector helping large corporations navigate complex environments, reassess societal impact and shift toward purpose-driven performance. Georg is a diversity advocate and champion both within and outside her organization. 

Britain's brightest women business leaders 20Cara Hegarty, partner, Linklaters – 35

Legal rising star Hegarty is one of only six partners in the London Employment & Incentives practice at Linklaters, where she leads a team of 40. Recognized by Legal500 as a “next-generation lawyer” and “simply the best in the business”, she advises some of the world’s biggest companies on their remuneration strategies and most complex multinational deals. Hegarty is a member of  Linklaters’ ‘Allies with Pride’ network to support inclusion and LGBT issues, and she coaches junior female lawyers as part of the firm’s ‘Stepping Forward’ program.

Britain's brightest women business leaders 21Annie Herdman, partner, Kirkland & Ellis International - 32

Smashing the male-dominated world of law, Herdman is the youngest female partner in her field, promoted at the age of 31 following nine months of maternity leave. Herdman is passionate about nurturing young female talent in the legal profession and frequently offers pro bono advice, recently acting for a community, a not-for-profit nursery in South East London. She was recognized as a “future leader” in the Who's Who Legal 2020 global competition rankings. 

Britain's brightest women business leaders 22Rachel Hugh, co-founder, The Vurger Co – 34

After a trip to California, Hugh made it her mission to bring tasty vegan food to the streets of London – and to make veganism mainstream. The Vurger Co. was born. In just four years, the brand has exploded in popularity, growing from a market stall (where Hugh cooked and served every single burger) to a multi-site restaurant company, serving up 100% vegan food and using environmentally friendly, plant-based packaging. Last year, The Vurger Co. raised £1.4m and Hugh was named on the Forward Fooding Top 10 Women in Food Tech.

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