Ten leading Asian women were celebrating their success on Tuesday night, when they were announced as winners in the ninth Asian Women of Achievement Awards. The event took place at the London Hilton, Park Lane.
Glamour and excitement preceded the awards ceremony, with guests on the red carpet including Her Royal Highness Princess Badiya of Jordan, and actress Elizabeth Hurley.
The competition was tough, with the shortlist of 44 candidates deemed ‘the best yet’ by the Awards’ sponsors Lloyds TSB.
Co-founded by Pinky Lilani OBE and organised by Real Business magazine, the Asian Women of Achievement Awards is an inspirational event to recognise all levels of achievement made by Asian women in the UK – whether professional or personal – within the commercial, professional, artistic and humanitarian sectors.
The 2008 winners are:
Arts and Culture: Shobana Jeyasingh
Jeyasingh is a world renowned choreographer and artistic director and has directed the Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company since 1988. Today, the company has established itself as the leading exponent of contemporary Indian dance.
Business Woman of the Year: Ruby McGregor-Smith
Ruby McGregor-Smith is chief executive of £1.2bn business services group MITIE and, still, the first and only Asian women to run a FTSE 250 company. An accountant by training, she previously served as the group’s CFO.
Professional of the Year: Afshan Ahmed (joint winner)
Afshan Ahmed, of the Foster Care Association, is a pioneer and author in the field of “life story work”, working with children in foster care. Her work has helped to give hundreds of children a sense of their own personal history.
Professional of the Year: Sue Ashtiany (joint winner)
Sue Ashtiany is the head of employment law at Nabarro LLP. Sue has served on the Equal Opportunities Commission and as UK refugee counsellor appointed by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, making a huge contribution over several decades to the understanding of migrant and refugee issues.
Entrepreneur of the Year: Hasfa Abubacker
After working in home shopping for ten years, in October 2005 Hasfa Abubacker became the only woman and, aged 31, the youngest person in the UK to own and run a shopping channel. After growth, acquisitions and a move into retail, Pitchwell’s unique format of pitch demonstrations has earnt the company a turnover of £8.5m.
Media Professional of the Year: Arti Lukha
Arti Lukha’s determination to get to the heart of cutting-edge news stories as a hard-hitting journalist, has earned her the esteemed position of home news editor of ITN. In this role, Lukha strives to deliver the mix of opinions and backgrounds essential to achieve a balanced news programme that accurately reflects the diversity of British society today.
Public Sector Award: Asha Khemka
As principal of West Nottinghamshire College (WNC), Asha Khemka is the guiding light at the head of one of the biggest colleges in Europe. Khemka is a respected Ofsted Inspector and nationally regarded as an important and inspirational figure in further education.
Social and Humanitarian Award: Bala Thakrar
Bala Thakrar has championed the needs of vulnerable people for 20 years. She founded Apna Ghar (the UK’s first Asian Disabled housing association) and has held posts at the Confederation of Indian Organisations, Voluntary Service Overseas and the Charities Aid Foundation. Three years ago, she founded the Asian Foundation for Philanthropy.
Young Achiever of the Year: Snigdha Singh
Snigdha Singh completed an MBA at the Indian Institute of management at the age of 23, where she was awarded the JP Morgan Scholarship for Best Female Exchange Student. She joined the Lehman Brothers trading floor in 2002, was promoted to associate within a year, becoming director of fixed income rates at just 27.
The Lloyds TSB Award: Wasfi Kani OBE
At the age of 14, Wasfi Kani won a place in the National Youth Orchestra where she was the only non-white member. At 18, she auditioned for the Royal Academy of Music and was accepted but turned this down for an offer from Oxford University where she read music. By 1993 she had made conducting her full-time career.
In 1989, Kani founded the small-scale touring company Pimlico Opera. In 1992, while continuing to run Pimlico, Kani was made chief executive of Garsington Opera. During her five years’ tenure, she doubled their turnover.
In 1998 she created a new opera house at Grange Park, with a new company Grange Park Opera. In the ten years since its inception, she has created an opera festival of the highest artistic standards that rivals Glyndebourne and each summer turns over more than £2m. In recognition of her contribution, she received an OBE for services to music in the New Year’s Honour’s List 2002.
Diana Brightmore-Armour, CEO of Corporate Banking and Co-Head of Corporate Markets, Lloyds TSB, said “Lloyds TSB was delighted to sponsor the Asian Women of Achievement Awards. It is a fantastic event which brings together some of the most influential and successful Asian women in the UK today and recognises their achievement and contribution to the business world.”
Mike Bokaie, Chief Executive of Real Business magazine, said: “The winners this year were incredibly impressive, from an entrepreneur making millions right through to women campaigning for a better world.”