Female firsts recognised at awards

Posted on 13 Jun 2013 by The Manufacturer

Fifty seven outstanding female leaders in business and industry were recognised last night at the First Women Awards in London.

Last night’s ceremony was the eighth annual First Women awards hosted by Real Business magazine and the CBI and sponsored by Lloyds Banking Group.

Women in STEM-based careers and working for manufacturing firms made a powerful impact on the evening which was magnificently compered by sports reporter Clare Balding.

A special award was given at the start of the evening’s celebrations to Karen Hester, operations director at Adnams the Suffolk-based brewery.

Ms Hester started as an office cleaner at Adnams but showed her hidden business talent and potential value as a leader when a management and culture shake-up was started by the current managing director Andy Wood.

It was not only for her achievements at Adnams that Hester was recognised for last night however. In her career previous to joining the beer-maker she became, at the age of 16, the youngest girl to hold an HGV licence. She was also instrumental in changing the practice in the UK armed forces of dismissing women if the fell pregnant.

The First Women in Manufacturing Award went to Judith Hackitt, now chair of the Health and Safety Executive and president-elect of the Institution of Chemical Engineers. She has previously acted as director general of the Chemical Industries Association and her industrial career culminated in becoming group risk manager for Exxon Chemicals. When first approaching Imperial College London to study chemical engineering, Ms Hackitt was originally advised to forget a career in chemical engineering.

A commendation in the First Women of Manufacturing category went to Jennifer Osbaldestin, Type 45 programme director at BAE Systems.

Focussing on engineering, the award for this discipline went to civil engineer Joanna Kennedy, director and global leader of programme and project management at Arup. A commendation was also given to Professor Lianne Deeming, director of global business excellence at Tata Steel in Europe and Hanna Sykulska-Lawrence, a research fellow at the University of Oxford was given a special mention for being the only woman from the UK to have participated in mission operations for the NASA Mars Pheonix programme. Ms Sykulska-Lawrence has achieved several technical firsts in space engineering and introduced a new paradigm in sensor technology for the sector.

Another achievement in relation to space technology to be recognised last night was made by Eleni-Antoniadou, chief of science at Transplants without Donors, a medical research company. Ms Antoniadou was commended in the First Women of Science & Technology category  for her discovery that stem cells grow faster in space.

See the July/August issue of The Manufacturer for more on manufacturing for the UK space sector.

The awards ceremony was held at the Grosvenor Marriott Hotel and attended by a diverse audience of around 500 advocates of female excellence in business.

More information about the First Women Awards can be found here.