Brummell magazine is proud to have celebrated the achievements, determination and dedication of pioneering professional women at all levels – from rising stars to City leaders – in its annual Ones to Watch and Inspirational Women listings, both of which have been running for over a decade.
To curate this year’s Inspirational Women feature, we looked back at our previous Ones to Watch alumni – a roster of bright young talent chosen as outperformers in their markets – and have selected 10 outstanding women who have continued to demonstrate the drive and energy required to become established thought-leaders in their respective fields.
These women have also continued to show a holistic contribution to the organisations they represent. Not only are they successful in business, they are at the forefront of positive change in the City, creating new ways of working and thinking to tackle important issues, such as gender equality and diversity. Each one of them is taking responsibility for ‘firsts’ within their companies and beyond, all with infectious entrepreneurial spirit.
The following pages highlight the women who inspire others with their tenacious attitude for overcoming challenges, and reveal how their lives and careers have changed since they were featured in the Ones to Watch list, as well as the lessons they have learned along the way.
NATALIE CAMPBELL (pictured above)
When Campbell was listed in the Ones to Watch list in 2017, she was busy running her social innovation agency, A Very Good Company. Fast forward to 2021, and she now runs Belu, the UK’s most ethical drinks business with a purpose ‘to change the way the world sees water’. Since 2011, the company has given WaterAid more than £5m to bring clean water, toilet facilities and good hygiene to everyone, everywhere.
Taking over Belu at the start of the pandemic in March 2020 has been Campbell’s biggest achievement, as she had to scrap everything she thought she knew about the business and start with a blank-page approach. Since joining Belu, she has kick-started a new 10-year strategy aligned to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, launched the filtration business in Hong Kong, as well as a new environmentally friendly tonics and mixers range, and recruited six new people.
Her biggest learning has been that everything can change in an instant – for better or worse – though she always hopes and focuses on better. ‘As long as I work on my ability to communicate honestly, my personal resilience, and stay true to who I am or what I need to be happy, then I’ll be fine and my team and the people around me will be fine.’
CHAIR, ECONOMIC CHANGE UNIT
After being featured in the Ones to Watch list 2019, Fielding (née Laycock) spent a further two years growing the Finance Innovation Lab’s work to include innovation, intrapreneurship and policy programmes, before moving into a portfolio career in May 2020. Much of her time since then has been spent with the Economic Change Unit (ECU), a non-profit that works towards a fairer, more sustainable and more resilient economy, and at the start of 2021 she became chair of the ECU. She also worked on a project with Cohere Partners, exploring ways public narratives about money are a barrier to the growth of the ethical finance sector, and she has continued her service as a Trustee of the New Economics Foundation, which she joined in 2019.
She’s proud of having had the courage to begin a new career path, which has included qualifying in organisation and relationship systems coaching and completing an introductory course in therapeutic skills, in preparation for an MSc in humanistic psychotherapy. ‘I’ve always wanted to bring together the “outer change” and “inner change” aspects of my work – I’m a firm believer that the degree to which you can make a difference in the world is strongly related to the degree to which you’re willing to work on yourself,’ she says.
PARTNER, INSTITUTIONAL INVESTOR PRACTICE, ALLEN & OVERY
Kwafo-Akoto has 11 years of experience advising sovereign wealth funds, central banks, family offices, insurance companies, pension funds and development finance institutions around the world on their investment arrangements, including 15 sovereign wealth funds in the Middle East. Her work includes public and private fund investments (both cornerstone and smaller amounts), single investor mandates and co-investment arrangements covering all asset classes including infrastructure and energy, as well as a wide variety of other agreements and financial services regulatory issues.
She also heads Allen & Overy’s client facing diversity and inclusion initiative, the Institutional Investor Forum, and was shortlisted in International Financial Law Review’s Women in Business Law Awards 2021, and was named a Rising Star in Legal Week’s British Legal Awards 2019. Her recent publications on the Great Fund Insights podcast include Is there any money in Africa?.
Since featuring on the Ones to Watch list in 2019, her greatest achievement has been becoming a partner at Allen & Overy LLP, as well as managing a better work-life balance. Her biggest learning is: ‘Don’t let other people’s insecurities become your own, and make sure you have a strong support network around you.’
FLAVIA RICHARDSON (pictured above)
CHIEF COMMERCIAL OFFICER, JUICE VENTURES
It has been a period of great and intensive work since Richardson featured on the Ones to Watch list in 2018. She joined Silicon Valley Bank as vice-president in the Early Stage Practice, working with some of the most exciting technology companies in life sciences and healthcare, and saw substantial growth in 2020, with currently more than 100 companies in the portfolio. She also worked for the European Commission as an expert evaluator for two years, looking at some of the best companies funded by the SME Instruments and Horizon 2020. Now, after two and a half years, she is joining the team at Velocity in supporting a new fund as its chief commercial officer.
Identifying early-stage high growth companies, which in 2020 attracted a lot of attention from VC investors all across Europe, is her biggest achievement during this period, and she is proud of the portfolio and practice she has helped to build with the support and exceptional leadership at Silicon Valley Bank.
Her biggest learning is understanding how important it is to support others without any expectations. ‘I think empathy is the most valuable human quality, and to ensure our ecosystem success, we all have to work together closer than we ever did before.’
EDIT LASZLO (pictured above)
HEAD OF STRATEGIC DEVELOPMENT & INSIGHTS IN REAL ESTATE FINANCE, NATWEST
Laszlo joined NatWest 10 years ago, and since featuring in Brummell’s One’s to Watch list in 2015, she has held numerous mid-management positions. She currently works as the head of strategic development & insights in real estate finance, responsible for formulating strategy within the sector. She contributes to numerous CSR activities, and is passionate about mentoring, working with students, professionals from junior to mid-senior level and entrepreneurs.
While she was an executive board member of Women in Banking & Finance, in charge of the mentoring programme that has now become the flagship programme of the network, in 2017 she increased the participant numbers by 400%.
Her biggest achievement is completing a two-year-long executive MBA with distinction from Oxford, while holding down demanding full-time jobs and delivering her first child one week after completing the EMBA.
Her most valuable learning has been to try to find the right balance between being a working mother and not aiming to become a “supermum”. She believes it’s also important to work for an organisation that gives working parents the flexibility they need while offering career growth. ‘Once you find the right balance, your kids and employer will get the best out of you,’ she says.
Since featuring on the Ones to Watch list in 2016, Vohra was made a partner at PwC in 2019, her biggest career achievement to date. She continued to play a leading role in the company’s gender balance network until 2019 and was a ColourBrave advocate until recently, raising awareness on race and ethnicity. She is still involved in a number of market-wide initiatives focused on inclusion, and now has responsibility for all things people-related within PwC’s insurance audit practice.
She is delighted to see the increase in female representation and greater gender balance in recent years, and last year PwC’s audit practice won an award for gender diversity, which Vohra describes as ‘testament to the collective effort of many women and men, with clear leadership from the top’.
‘There is clearly more to do, and it needs constant focus, but with the right focus, attention and interventions we can now see results,’ she says. Her greatest learning is to not let mistakes and difficult times knock her down.
‘Setbacks will happen (all the time) and it is during the most challenging times that I have experienced the most personal growth. It is really important for me to have people around me who I know will lift, encourage and inspire me.’
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COUTTS & CO
Having joined Coutts in 2011, Harrington featured in the Ones to Watch list in 2015, and is now part of the leadership team of the Coutts Family Office UHNW business. She also leads Coutts’ bank-wide specialist advice and support for clients on philanthropy, wealth succession and preparing the next generation, as well as charity investment. She is a trustee of the Coutts Foundation, managing its day-to-day operations off the side of her desk, and a trustee of charity Breaking Barriers, which has helped over 800 refugees into employment since 2015. She also joined the advisory board of the Environmental Funders Network.
In the past 18 months she found it hugely rewarding to help so many clients who wanted to use their money, time and expertise to make a difference during the pandemic, and to see the results of that coming to fruition. She believes navigating the demands of the pandemic has underlined the importance of connectivity, collaboration and community.
‘I’ve learned a lot about myself in terms of adaptability and resilience – and even surprised myself in many ways – but at the heart of everything has been the relationships with family, friends, colleagues and clients. I hope that from this experience we’ll all learn to be kinder, both to others and to ourselves.’
RUPAL SACHDEV KANTARIA (pictured above)
PARTNER, OLIVER WYMAN
Kantaria works primarily in Oliver Wyman’s The Forum: a diverse community of private, public and third sector influencers engaging together to co-create thought leadership and practically test solutions to shared global challenges. She also works across Financial Services and co-leads Oliver Wyman’s UK Social Impact team, serves as a strategic advisor at the 30% Club, is a board trustee for The Lullaby Trust and serves on the government-commissioned City of London social mobility taskforce. She has co-founded two social mission movements: MissionINCLUDE, driving inclusive culture at corporates, and GenGive, igniting the social conscience in families.
Since being featured on the Ones to Watch list in 2016, she was promoted to partner at Oliver Wyman and has taken on a number of other external strategic advisory roles. She is particularly passionate about why diversity is a turbo-charger for climate action.
Her biggest achievement since 2016 is committing to daily early morning meditation. Her biggest two learnings: ‘Simplifying and slowing down has an incredible power, your experience is entirely impacted by the perspective you choose.’
JULIA DE BOINVILLE
CO-FOUNDER AND TRUSTEE, THE ANTI-SLAVERY COLLECTIVE
Following her inclusion in the Ones to Watch list in 2019, de Boinville became head of external affairs and sales enablement at Afiniti, where she had held numerous roles since 2017. She continues to run The Anti-Slavery Collective, the charity that she co-founded in 2017, which brings change makers together to raise awareness of modern slavery as a global epidemic, and she is currently working to release a podcast for the collective.
De Boinville first became exposed to the shocking truths of human trafficking visiting the Women’s Interlink Foundation in 2012, and she has since worked with organisations such as the McCain Institute, the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, and the US State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.
She has spent time with victims, charities, law enforcement agencies, policy makers and business leaders to help identify where she could make a difference and take action to fight this organised crime.
She considers getting accepted by Oxford University to study for a Postgraduate Diploma in Global Business to be her biggest achievement in the past few years, and her most valuable learning is that ‘sometimes you have to take one step back to take two steps forward.’
LIZ DIMMOCK (pictured above)
FOUNDER AND CEO, MOVING AHEAD
Since being featured in the Ones to Watch 2018 list, Dimmock has developed the Moving Ahead team so that it has tripled in size, with global programme launches in Mexico and the US. She has also grown the 30% Club cross-company mentoring scheme, designed to build more diverse pipelines and board level representation, now having supported 12,000 mentors and mentees in 32 countries, across 30 sectors and 234 organisations, expanding the programme to cover wider diversity and inclusion beyond gender. Additionally, she launched a new cross-company mentoring scheme for Women in Rail and Women in Defence, in addition to a programme for the Wellcome Trust to advance diversity in early career scientists.
Dimmock considers having her first baby, Leo, as her biggest achievement during the past three years, ensuring she lives more in the present. She is also proud of having kept the Moving Ahead organisation stable, resilient and growing throughout the pandemic, as well as the progress and positive results her programmes have achieved. Her mantra is to always find a way – have big goals then break them down, approach them one step at a time. ‘Focus on each step, not the enormity, then acknowledge the successes and the steps – and you will get there,’ she says.
Shot on location at Wardian: a leading botanically inspired residential development in London; wardianlondon.com
Photography: Kasia Bobula; photographer’s assistant: Daniel Simm; grooming: Stefan Jemeel