The Great British Businesswoman Forum’s global audience enjoyed a first day packed with sessions dedicated to the celebration of British businesswomen

Equity fundraising expert, Julia Elliott Brown got the morning’s talks underway with a deep dive into her personal experiences as a woman in the business world. 

Julia underlined how most of her business advice came from out-of-touch senior-level men, and explained to get past that you “don’t listen to critics who are sitting on the sidelines throwing advice at you when you’re the one in the arena falling down and lifting themselves back up again. If we as women don’t put ourselves in that arena, we’re never going to get there.”

Julia said:

“We have to get over our fears about building businesses and aiming to get investment because otherwise, it’ll never happen.”

Julia coined the phrase, ‘female-founder syndrome’, something she originally heard from a client. She explained that “one of my clients who phoned me up one day and said that an investor had told her that she was suffering from female founder syndrome. He was quite down on her, saying she wasn’t being ambitious enough. This guy contacted her a week later, saying that he had realised that a lot of the male founders he usually worked with are too optimistic about their plans.”

On Julia’s fundraising journey, “It’s changed hugely - most progressive investors now, whether they’re angel syndicates or individual investors - most are aware of the issues and are trying to be more mindful of processes, attitudes and behaviours.”

“I’ve seen good changes in the industry, but I’ve not seen the dial move greatly in terms of female investors in the industry.”

“On the founder side, I’ve seen so many more incredible female founders coming through in the last six years. The younger ones are telling me that they’re not experiencing a great deal of gender bias. 

The following session dealt with the negative impact COVID has had on the female workforce. 

Monica Mahay, Intel Corporation recognised the negative impact of COVID, but also recognised what it’s done to create ‘opportunities’. She explained, “it presents a huge opportunity for many men and women, myself included, who have been longtime advocates of flexible working and flexible working in itself is not the sort of shortcut but it was perceived to be for a long time, it’s actually a way that you can best utilise your time, your efforts to deliver the most for your work.”

The following session dealt with the lessons learnt from businesswomen who have reached the top. 

To get to the top for Samantha Coggins-Thompson, the Chief Audit Executive of Computershare, she said “quiet determination wins the day.”

Sarah Matthew, founder of the Vibrant Company attributed her success to “persuading people by what women do and how we behave. All we can do is keep demonstrating that we’re really well qualified to do the jobs we’re doing.”

The following stream dealt with the topic of belonging, and how that’s the key to transforming and maintaining diversity in the workplace. 

Kathryn Jacob of Pearl and Dean set the scene, stating that “there are more CEOs called Steve than there are women. There are millions being put into Diversity and Inclusion, but you can’t buy diversity.” 

Sue Unerman of MediaCom explained why it’s easy to put more money into diversity, but difficult to get men to do more than that. “I’ve had men say to me ‘the chances of me saying something that could end my career is so high that I’m not gonna say anything. It’s a witch hunt.’” 

Mark Edwards, Coach, Journalist, and Author said that if you want to “help men to become better allies, you have to provide them with a positive vision of the future, and clear first steps. You can’t go around telling people they’re wrong. You have to say that your future will be better if you make this change, this is how you do it.”

The Great British Businesswoman Awards

And of course, we’d like to congratulate all of the Great British Businesswoman’s winners and finalists for all the hard work they have put into getting where they are. The Great British Businesswoman Awards brought together and celebrated the whole Great British Businesswoman Series community and celebrated the women who are changing the face of business across the United Kingdom.

The awards showcased the business role models, advocates and mentors, as well as the inspirational women leading businesses and those ascending to new heights!

The winners

Construction Businesswoman of the Year

Carrol Massey

Head of Construction, Access Group

Consumer Goods Businesswoman of the Year


Anna Brightman

Co-founder, UpCircle Beauty

Creative Industries Businesswoman of the Year


Sharon Whale

Chief Executive Officer Global Markets & Operations, OLIVER Agency

Engineering & Manufacturing Businesswoman of the Year


Karen Emanuel

CEO, Key Production

Entrepreneurial Businesswoman of the Year - Sponsored by Starling Bank


Julianne Ponan

CEO & Founder, Creative Nature

Finance Businesswoman of the Year


Natasha Frangos

Partner and Head of Corporate, Haysmacintyre LLP

Food & Drink Businesswoman of the Year


Annabel Karmel

Founder and CEO, Karmel Foods Ltd.

Social Enterprise Businesswoman of the Year


Sarah Jordan

Founder & CEO, Y.O.U Underwear

Technology Businesswoman of the Year


Joanne Dewar

Chief Executive Officer, Global Processing Services (GPS)

Transport & Logistics Businesswoman of the Year


Rachel Houghton

Managing Director, Business Moves Group

Utilities Businesswoman of the Year


Penelope Hope

Co-founder & Chief Operating Officer, Rebel Energy

Young Businesswoman of the Year


Anneka Wallington

Founder, Recognised London Ltd

Rising Star Award - Sponsored by mthree


Ellie Long

Early Careers Business Partner (EMEA & APAC), Rolls-Royce

Gamechange in Sport Award


Claire Nelson

Early Careers Business Partner (EMEA & APAC), Rolls-Royce

Team of the Year Award


BBC 50:50

Role Model of the Year Award


Leena Nair

Chief Human Resources Officer, Unilever

Diversity Award - Sponsored by Colt


Amy Golding

CEO, Opus Talent Solutions

Male Advocate of the Year Award


Mark Bennett

Senior Building Manager, Willmott Dixon Interiors

Female Ambassador of the Year Award


Hannah Ingram-Moore

Director, Maytrix Group / The Captain Tom Foundation

Great British Businesswoman of the Year Award

Missed a session? No problem - all sessions are available on-demand HERE