Inspirational women: City pioneers

Brummell’s 2018 list of the most inspirational women in the City celebrates the pioneers creating new ways of working and thinking

People 17 Sep 2018

Leigh Hansson, Partner, Global Regulatory Enforcement group, and co-leader, International Trade & National Security team, Reed Smith
Jillian Kowalchuk, Founder and CEO, Safe & The City
Selina Sagayam, head of Transactional Practice Development, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher
Sara Siegel, head of healthcare, Deloitte
Alexandra Haggard, Managing Director and Strategic Product Management, BlackRock
Dureka Oldenburg Carrasquillo, senior portfolio manager EMEA, Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board
Sophie Chandauka, executive director and global COO, shared services and banking operations, Morgan Stanley

The City is experiencing considerable positive change, and at the forefront of trailblazing initiatives to tackle issues such as gender equality, there are pioneering women creating new ways of working and thinking. Brummell celebrates 30 of them in this year’s inspirational women in the City listing.

The distinguished judging panel, made up of industry professionals from diverse sectors, had a difficult task applying the rigorous shortlisting criteria. They required each of the women who made the final list to be responsible for ‘firsts’ within their companies and beyond, and to be innovative thought leaders in their respective fields.

While the top 30 women in the listing are from a variety of working backgrounds – from large corporates to entrepreneurial start-ups – each is an outstanding pioneer, inspiring others with their infectious attitude for overcoming challenges, and proving that innovation and determination are at the core of successful leadership.

Shruti Ajitsaria
Head of Fuse, Allen & Overy

Ajitsaria originally conceived the idea of Fuse, a tech innovation space in Allen & Overy, while on maternity leave. Within one year of her return to work, with the support of the board, she opened Fuse, which houses specially selected legaltech companies within Allen & Overy’s London offices, enabling lawyers and clients to touch and feel new technologies they would otherwise struggle to access. Since it opened in September 2017, Fuse has welcomed more than 6,000 people, most of whom will have seen one or more demonstrations of new technology. Outside work she is an angel investor (including appearing on BBC2’s Million Pound Menu) and has given a TEDx talk at Leeds University to inspire lawyers of the future.

Susan Allen
Head of customer interactions, Santander

Since joining Santander in 2015, Allen has held positions of chief transformation officer and managing director, UK Banking, and her current role encompasses the leadership for all of Santander’s retail contact centres, branches, provision of wealth and private banking and Cater Allen services. Sheis a champion of diversity and inclusivity and is currently the executive sponsor of the Santander LGBT network, which has trebled in membership and been recognised for its progressive achievements. She is also an active sponsor of Santander’s Returnships, Apprenticeships and Traineeships. Allen is a member of the Advisory Board for Women in Banking and Finance.

Abisola Barber
Trading Business Manager, Barclays

Winner of the 2018 Women in Banking & Finance and WeAreTheCity’s Rising Star Awards, and named in the Top 20 Ethnic Minority Future Leaders 2017 by the Financial Times and EMpower, Barber is a pioneering young professional to watch. She partners with bank-wide stakeholders to manage bespoke trading desks with Barclays Investment Bank, and champions Barclays’ efforts within the Diversity and Inclusion space. She established a six-month secondment programme for high-performing individuals in the UK and South Africa, and hosts mentoring and networking huddles to engage the next generation of women in financial services careers. She is also co-chair of the Win Gender Network’s Recruit and Retain committee.

Leigh Hansson
Partner, Global Regulatory Enforcement group, and co-leader, International Trade & National Security team, Reed Smith

Hansson manages 26 lawyers, at partner and associate level, based around the globe to provide round-the-clock support to clients. She and her team were selected to create a bespoke global sanctions programme and provide ongoing sanctions support for Fifa. Hansson pitched a team of all-female lawyers for this work and was selected over a number of magic-circle firms. She has advised more than 1,000 Reed Smith clients in the past three years, and her practice is truly cross-border, making her deep understanding of both the sanctions regime and the key policymakers in Washington DC, London and Europe invaluable for clients.

Inga Beale
CEO, Lloyd’s of London

As the first female CEO of Lloyd’s, Beale has been instrumental in steering it away from the ‘old-school boys’ club’ to a more diverse, modern, digitally powered market. She was previously group chief executive of Canopius, and was group CEO of Swiss reinsurer Converium Ltd, where she led a major turnaround before it was acquired by SCOR in 2007. Beale was president of the UK Chartered Insurance Institute from 2017 to 2018. She is a member of the UK Government’s Financial Services Trade and Investment Board, the UK Department for Education’s Business Advisory Group, the London Mayor’s Business Advisory Board and the Geneva Association Board. Beale is also a member of the UK government’s Public Service Leadership Taskforce.

Sharon Blackman
Director, Office of the General Counsel, Citi

English law qualified barrister and New York attorney Blackman has worked for Citi since 2004, heading the EMEA Foreign Exchange and Local Markets (FXLM) legal team. She has represented Citi at a variety of industry level committees, most recently as the legal representative on the Bank of England Joint Foreign Exchange legal subcommittee, sits on Citi’s EMEA Legal Diversity Committee and represents EMEA on Citi’s Global Legal Diversity Council. In 2017 she was a finalist in the Women in Banking Finance Awards, and as chair of the Citi EMEA Pro Bono Committee, she accepted the award for In-House Pro Bono Legal Team of the Year at the Trust Law Awards 2015.

Galina Carroll
Founder, SFE Consulting

A UK Financial Services regulatory expert in regtech, insuretech and lawtech, Carroll is a founding member of the RegTech Council. She worked pro bono on this project to strengthen the wider regulatory community, and was instrumental in providing consumer expertise. She has worked on a number of pioneering projects in regtech, helping to develop cutting-edge new products and providing guidance on the technical development of Open Banking from a consumer perspective.
Her work with regulators, including helping set up the FCA’s regtech capabilities and running their groundbreaking TechSprints, has increased industry collaboration on some of the industry’s most intractable problems, such as financial inclusion.

Jillian Kowalchuk
Founder and CEO, Safe & The City

Despite only operating her London-based tech startup Safe & The City for around one year, Kowalchuk recently won the Commonwealth Businesswoman Award for Most Inspiring Role Model. The Safe & The City app is designed to battle opportunistic crime and sexual harassment on the streets, using GPS technology, crowdsourced information and data from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to chart areas prone to incidents, enable users to report events and track the safety of a given route to improve the city. She is also a member of the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) and a founding member of FemTechTalks, which discusses ways in which women can surmount the challenges they face in entrepreneurship and the technology sector.

Selina Sagayam
Head of Transactional Practice Development, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher

One of the UK’s leading public M&A advisers, international corporate finance lawyer Sagayam is a dual-qualified barrister and solicitor, who has been in practice for nearly 25 years. She has been named in the London Top 50 Women section of Super Lawyers, and is a regular speaker on takeovers and cross-border M&A. Passionate about diversity and innovation, she chairs her firm’s Diversity, Talent & Inclusion Committee and CSR Committee in the UK, co-chairs NetworkforKnowledge, an external networking organisation for senior women in law and compliance, and sits on the Advisory Board of Diversity UK. Sagayam is also a non-executive director on the board of a FTSE 250 company.

Zoë Chowney

A qualified accountant and technology entrepreneur, Chowney runs and is non-executive director to a number of technology companies. She began her career with Allianz and AIG, before founding a number of internet ventures and selling a digital media agency to WPP. A passionate campaigner for the LGBTQ+ community, she serves as the first openly transgendered woman co-chair of Gay Women’s Network – a group of 1,500 LGBTQ+ professional women in London. She is also founder and co-chair of Pride in Business, promoting and supporting diversity in the SME sector. She writes for Gay Times and has run events funded by the Institute of Directors, with prominent speakers such as John Bercow.

Sam Day
Partner, KPMG

Leading a team of 500 professional advisers at KPMG, Day’s mission is to help every person within her team to do their best work. She encourages new, flexible ways of thinking and working, and collaborates with leading psychologists and well-being experts to bring fresh thought and innovative practices into KPMG. Outside of the firm, Day also spends time working with communities on initiatives with a social-mobility ethos, believing everyone deserves the chance to develop the skills they need to reach and maintain top performance and remain mentally healthy. Day made it to partner as a single mum with three children – a journey which gave her some insight into how to help other working parents to become successful.

Abby Ghafoor
Managing Director, arc Management Consulting Ltd

With more than 20 years of experience in marketing and management consulting, Ghafoor’s network is extensive across various industries and platforms. She is an official ambassador to London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) and the committee member of the Asian Business Association at LCCI. She is also a fellow at the Institute of Consulting and the Chartered Management Institute. She is the ambassador to the Path to Success charity supporting women athletes in disability sports for Tokyo Paralympics 2020, and has been secretary on the executive committee for the charity organisation HMWC (Hackney Women’s Organisation) for the past two decades.

Abigail Herron
Global Head of Responsible Investment, Aviva Investors

Herron brings her passion for sustainable business practices to her job at Aviva Investors, where she leads conversations on environmental, social and governance topics with the companies Aviva Investors invests in. With Herron’s efforts, Aviva Investors has taken a leadership role as the investor voice pushing antibiotic resistance up the agenda. She sits on the 30% Club Investor’s Steering Committee, ICAEW’s Corporate Governance Committee, is a technical adviser to the Zoological Society of London’s palm oil and forestry group, an adviser to the new Fish Tracker initiative and a trustee of the Chartered Secretaries’ Charitable Trust.

Sara Siegel 
Head of healthcare, Deloitte

Siegel leads Deloitte’s Health Practice in the UK, supporting the NHS to do more with the resources at its disposal. Her work includes the introduction of robotic and cognitive automation to improve the speed and quality of NHS services and to release time for direct patient care. Siegel enjoys the complexity of improving healthcare. Every global economy is struggling with a similar issue: caring for an increasingly complex panoply of healthcare issues within a finite budget and using the introduction of new technologies to increase the quality of care. Siegel is a trustee of the Peter Sowerby Foundation, which supports healthcare causes, particularly with grants for out-of-hospital services and better technology use. She has two young sons and lives in west London.

Alexandra Haggard
Managing Director and Strategic Product Management, BlackRock

Haggard’s role is to drive product strategy for BlackRock’s equity business, which is in excess of $3 trillion in assets under management. Before BlackRock, she was the first official CEO of Stamford Associates, a boutique investment consulting firm serving institutional investors and wealth-management firms. At BlackRock she is a diversity leader and a founder of the Diversity Project, aiming to improve inclusion of gender, ethnicity, socio-economic background, degree discipline, sexual orientation, age and disability in savings and investments. She is a board member of the CFA Society of the UK and was one of Financial News’ top 100 women for 2015 and 2016. Also a passionate equestrian, she rides competitively at international level.

Nadya Hijazi
Global Head of GLCM Digital, HSBC

Hijazi is a trailblazer in the digital channels space, driving innovation-led transformation and steering HSBC to achieve more than $256 billion in mobile payments authorisations for corporate customers. Nadya manages all the day-to-day activities to deliver new initiatives through these platforms. She also leads the bank’s Digital Business Banking transformation, improving business banking customers’ end-to-end digital experience. She is a strong advocate for diversity, actively supporting gender balance in her own leadership team in line with the bank’s goals, as well as being passionate about people development, ensuring those who work in her teams have the support and guidance required to be their best.

Pamela Jones
Operational change manager, TP ICAP PLC

In more than 15 years’ managing teams at UBS, Goldman Sachs, and Credit Suisse in London and New York, Jones was often the only BME woman on the trading floor. She joined ICAP Plc in its Global Broking Division to drive efficiencies, innovation and change. Instrumental in forming ICAP’s Women’s Network, which she co-chairs, Jones is a member of TP ICAP’s global ‘Connect’ employee network, formed this year. In 2013 she joined the board of WILD London (Women in Listed Derivatives) and chairs the mentoring committee. She is a corporate brand ambassador and advisory board member for Dress for Success London and a mentor at Central Foundation Girls’ School in Bow, London.

Anita Karppi
Founder, The Buy-side Trading Community (BTC) by K&K Global Consulting 

Following a successful career at Reuters, Goldman Sachs and FlexTrade, Karppi built the BTC – a unique, private, buy-side trading community that has more than 900 participating senior, heads and global heads of buy-side trading worldwide. Since 2010, she and her husband have built four services for the buy-side trading community, creating a global network leveraged by a capped commercial model to optimise the quality of services and exclusivity to the prestigious client base. She is an Exercise to Music fitness instructor, and teaches dance to women in her home of Weybridge, Surrey. She is also
a proud mother to her eight-year-old daughter.

Dureka Oldenburg Carrasquillo
Senior portfolio manager EMEA, Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board

Carrasquillo’s career in finance spans 19 years, including stints as a partner at leading hedge funds Andor Capital, Partner Fund Management and Tranberg Capital Management. In 2014 she joined CPPIB to launch its Active Equity Long Short team for Europe, Middle East and Africa, leading a majority female team. She believes no gender bias should exist in finance, and that success in numbers is due to individual merit. She spoke at SOHN London Investment Conference in 2016, where the stock she picked went up 80 per cent, and will speak again at this year’s conference in November. She loves adrenaline sports and music, and speaks Danish, English, French, Italian and Spanish.

Clare Flynn Levy
Founder and CEO, Essentia Analytics

Flynn Levy spent 10 years as a fund manager, both active equity (running more than $1bn of pension funds for Deutsche Asset Management) and hedge (as founder and CIO of Avocet Capital Management, a specialist tech fund manager) before going into the software space as the president of Beauchamp Financial Technology, a market-leading provider of portfolio management systems to hedge funds. In 2013, she founded Essentia Analytics, a fintech company that uses behavioural data analytics to help professional investors do more of what they’re good at and less of what they’re not. She also serves as a non-executive director of Leathwaite, a global financial services human capital search and consulting practice.

Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith CBE
Portfolio advisory non executive director and chair

Baroness McGregor-Smith is the former CEO of Mitie Group Plc, which she joined as group financial director in 2002, being promoted to CEO in 2007. She was the only Asian female chief executive of a FTSE 250 company at this time, and was awarded a CBE in 2012 for services to business and promoting diversity. During her decade at Mitie, the firm increased its turnover by £1.5bn, passing the £2bn mark for the first time in 2012. She was nominated as a Conservative life peer in August 2015, was appointed to the House of Lords EU Market Committee in July 2017, and was on the Conservative Party’s long list to become the candidate for Mayor of London.

Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu
Lawyer, founder of Women in Leadership publication; political and women’s rights activist

Dr Mos-Shogbamimu is a New York attorney and solicitor of England and Wales with expertise in financial services, an author, public speaker and political commentator. She founded the Women in Leadership publication and established She@Law Talks to promote women and BAME leadership in the legal profession. She is also the co-chair of the American Bar Association Africa committee. She teaches intersectional feminism to refugees and asylum seekers; scrutinises policy from a gender perspective; and organises social campaigns. She has an Executive MBA (Cambridge); PhD (Birkbeck); LLM (LSE); MA (Westminster) and LLB (Buckingham).

Vin Murria OBE
Partner, HG Capital

Murria has amassed countless achievements in mergers and acquisitions and as a business founder and CEO in the software sector. She has employed 4,000 people over her time and created $3.5bn in shareholder value. She is currently on the boards of Zoopla Plc, Sophos Plc and Softcat Plc, is a senior adviser at NM Rothschild and HG Capital, and was awarded the Tech Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2012. She also founded a charity educating women and young girls in India and the UK directly and through charity Shivia, is a patron of the Princess Trust in the UK and an active ambassador for the Outward Bound Association. She received an OBE for services to the UK digital economy and advancing women in the software sector in 2018.

Sophie Chandauka
Executive director and global

COO, shared services and banking operations, Morgan Stanley Award-winning international corporate finance lawyer Chandauka is co-chair of Morgan Stanley’s African and Caribbean Business Alliance, co-founder of The Black British Business Awards and on the Global Expansion Committee of the Executive Leadership Council (ELC), committed to increasing the number of global black executives. A member of the Steering Committee of the 30% Club, she was in the 100 Women to Watch Supplement of the Female FTSE Board Report 2017, in the EMpower 100 BAME Executive Power Lists in the Financial Times in 2016 and 2017, and has been on the board of trustees of charities Sentebale (Prince Harry’s charity for children in Africa) and Protimos.

Khalia D Newell
Vice president, Barclays

Newell sits on Barclays’ Black Professionals Forum and also the Chief Controls Office Junior Think Tank, working to up the number of female directors and managing directors in the Chief Controls Office, with a focus on people of colour. Newell has implemented director/managing director leadership training across Barclays, met with Prince Charles at St James’ Palace and assisted the Advisory Board for an All Party Parliamentary Group on Diversity and Inclusion in Stem after her 2017 TEDx Talk ‘Why Diversity Initiatives Fail’. She has received awards including The Black British Business Award: Rising Star in Financial Services 2016 and WeAreTheCity, Female Rising Star 2017 and was among the Financial Times’ Top 3 EMpower Future Leaders in 2018.

Melanie Richards
Deputy Chair, KPMG UK

Appointed as deputy chair of KPMG UK in October 2017, Richards has significant influence on the Big Four firms’ strategic direction as well as policy positions around the big topics. She is a founding member of the 30% Club Steering Committee, which is focused on increasing female representation in FTSE Boards and Leadership, and in September 2017 she was named #1 in the Financial Times’ Female Champions of Women in Business list. Throughout her successful career, she has become an influential voice on diversity and social mobility, and her work on social mobility has been instrumental in the recognition of KPMG as the leading employer on the Social Mobility Employer Index.

Shannon Sagawe
Director, UBS

Sagawe began her banking career in LA with Salomon Smith Barney in 1994, moving to London in 2001 to start a new branch. She spent the next seven years managing assets for HNW, Ultra HNW and institutions, joining Advanced Equities’ London office in 2008, raising late stage venture funds for portfolio companies backed by Silicon Valley’s most successful venture capitalists. In 2017, she joined UBS in Zürich – a wealth manager that has raised nearly £2bn worth of assets YTD through its Sustainable Investment portfolio – as a director-relationship manager covering the UK market. She is a passionate advocate and tour guide through their financial future, helping them to leave a legacy bigger than just a number.

Angelique Schouten
Global Board Member and CCO, Ohpen

Schouten successfully set up core banking provider Ohpen’s UK office, interviewing 2,000 people to create a team of 30 committed fintech professionals composed of more than 10 nationalities, with a 50/50 gender split. She played a leading role in signing one of the largest Dutch asset managers as Ohpen’s third client, and managed the first robo-advisor in the Netherlands based on Ohpen’s technology. This achieved a cost reduction of 80 per cent, securing more than 2,000 new customers with more than €100 million in assets for Ohpen’s client. In 2014 she co-founded the world’s first cloud-based contract management tool, Cloudtract, which now serves more than 4,500 companies in 105 countries.

Yasmin Sheikh
Founder, Diverse Matters

After a spinal injury in 2008 saw her become a full-time wheelchair user, Sheikh founded Diverse Matters three years ago as a bridge between people with disabilities and employers. An award-winning international speaker and TEDx speaker, she won a 2018 Asian Women of Achievement Award for her work tackling pre-conceptions about disability, LGBT and ethnic minorities. Vice chair of Lawyers with Disabilities Division and a Law Society council member, she has spoken to more than 100 City organisations about disability and how they can recruit and retain disabled talent. She introduced The City Wheelchair Challenge in which leaders spend a day using a wheelchair to give visibility to disability.

Hayley Sudbury
Founder & CEO, WERKIN

Dedicated to helping organisations manage, measure and scale career development and diversity programmes, WERKIN’s nudge technology enhances the visibility of diverse talent and turns mentoring programmes into effective sponsorship. A speaker on technology and behavioural science, Sudbury is on the steering committee of LB Women and was named on OUTstanding FT’s 2017 Leading 100 LGBT+ Executives list. The champion of the WeAreTechWomen’s Tech Women 50 Awards, she was named a Workplace Advocate by the 2018 Silicon Republic Women Invent 100, and was shortlisted as Inspirational Role Model at the Diva Awards and Disruptor of the Year in the Women in Finance awards.

The Panel 

We would like to thank our expert panel of judges who, using their extensive knowledge and experience in the industry, selected this year’s inspirational women from a very impressive longlist

Nina Amin MBE
Consultant, KPMG

Amin is a qualified chartered accountant with more than 25 years experience providing commercial tax and financial advice. She joined KPMG in 1997, was a partner from 2004 until 2018, was head of KPMG’s Asian markets from 2013 to 2018, and now works with the firm as a consultant. She is also chair of the Audit Committee for Koovs Plc, and a non-executive director for a private fintech company. She is the first female president of TiE London, and became chair of the Investment Committee for Unicorn Ascension Fund in June 2018. Her many accolades include the 2009 Asian Who’s Who Leadership Award, the 2016 Woman of the Year Award at the British Asian Achievers Awards, and an MBE in 2013.

Sigga Sigurdardottir
Chief customer and innovation officer, Santander

One of the Inspirational Women City Influencers in Brummell’s 2017 list, Sigurdardottir is a digital-change agent, driving innovation-led transformation across Santander UK and influencing change across the industry. She is partnering with the start-up, digital and fintech community to lead efforts to design a customer-centric ‘bank of the future’ through mobile-first business models. She sits on the Tech City UK Fintech Delivery Panel, the Foreign Trade and Investment Board Fintech Senior Steering Committee, the CBI Innovation Council and the Business in the Community Race Equality Board.

Jacqueline Onalo FRSA
Founder, Jolt International ltd

A multi-award-winning human rights lawyer, leadership and legal trainer, coach, diversity and inclusion expert. Onalo devised the holistic JOLT Youth Leadership and Mentorship Programme to support talented, yet marginalised, young people to fulfil their potential. As a diversity and inclusion expert she co-founded Inclusion Convention, and helps organisations adhere to relevant legislation but crucially strive to become values-led. She is an acclaimed international speaker and her work in sub-Saharan Africa in international grassroots development has transformed the lives of hundreds in rural and urban communities. She is also a solicitor at R.Spio & Company.

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