Last night, the financial industry stepped out in style to celebrate the fantastic achievements of its trailblazing women at the annual Women in Finance Awards UK 2022.
Sponsored by Sage, the event took place at The Brewery in the City of London and was hosted by newsreader, TV presenter and journalist Natasha Kaplinsky OBE.
The Women in Finance Awards UK 2022 highlighted the remarkable work of women who are carving their paths in the traditionally white, male, and socially privileged sector. Women who, despite the political and economic turmoil of the last year, have gone above and beyond to deliver for diversity, equity and inclusion, and their businesses.
This year’s submissions provided plenty of examples of resilience, grit, creativity and courage to do the right thing to make the sector a place where diverse talent feels they belong – as well as better serving of society’s and business needs. They also showed how diversity of thought could spur innovation when given the space to thrive.
Co-hosting the keynote speech of the evening, Monica Arora, Executive Vice President of Commercial Finance, and Jacqui Cartin, Executive Vice President, Group Financial Controller, both at Sage, shared their experience of the sector.
Arora spoke about returning to the workplace after having a child and how this was her biggest professional development period. She wants to assure other women that becoming a mother doesn’t mean abandoning a successful career.
Cartin described her early experience as one of the few women in many of her meetings and one of the only ones from a working-class background. As she progressed and finally got a “seat at the table” and decision-making power, she realised her differences were strengths.
Now in their 6th year, the Women in Finance Awards UK 2022 didn’t disappoint with the calibre of winners in the room.
The judges said that this year’s Woman of the year is a woman to be reckoned with. Helen Bierton, Chief Banking Officer at Starling Bank, won for her involvement in rapid product development, exceptional business performance and growth, embedding diversity and inclusion into the company culture, and her clear commitment to the wider industry.
The judges commented on her win: “This person leads DE&I from the front with a focus on women’s recruitment and retention plans. She has also successfully developed a structure and environment that empowers staff of all abilities to be creative and innovative and share in a positive and engaged workplace.
“You are truly a phenomenal woman leading it all. Our judges have been blown away by your efforts and impact. You certainly are our Woman of the Year!”
On accepting her award, Bierton said: “I grew up in the 80s when we had a woman on the throne and a woman as prime minister. And that was inspiring, and I never believed in glass ceilings or challenges for women to achieve whatever they wanted to achieve. And then you progress through your career when you realise that some of those glass ceilings do exist.
“So to all the women who’ve been nominated, to everybody who’s put this award ceremony together, to everybody who has a dream and to all the women who have so many fantastic talents, and I’m so incredibly proud.
“Keep dreaming, keep believing and one day, you may win an award like this. I am truly, truly honoured.”
Another worthy winner was Ama Ocansey at BNP Paribas, who scooped Diversity Lead of the Year. Earlier this month, she was also named Head of Diversity of the Year at the European Diversity Awards.
The Women in IT Awards UK 2022 judges said: “Our diversity lead of the year has established wide-ranging targets covering all levels of the organisation. She addresses inequalities, focuses on intersectionality, and improves outcomes using measurable inputs.
“She has a solid platform to affect change and is invested in collecting and analysing data to inform better future strategies that ultimately bring about a sustainable long-term change model built on insights.
“She is a rare breed of Diversity Leader. One who cares deeply about furthering diversity through her role and leverages different channels such as events, charters, initiatives, and programmes to deliver a multichannel DE&I campaign for the business. Brilliant work!”
Many heartfelt congratulations to this year’s winners who are working to advance women in the UK’s finance sector, and a big well done to all those who were shortlisted, your impact matters.
Along with this year’s headline sponsor Sage, the event was supported by category sponsors Apex Group and BNP Paribas; the event supporters were Finedge and Nucleus. This year the National Autistic Society was chosen as the charity partner for the wonderful work they do to help people with autism in the UK and their families.
Women in Finance Awards UK 2022 winners:
Accountant of the Year – Ju-Vern See, Quantico
Advocate of the Year – Katarina Roele, JP Morgan Asset Management
Ally of the Year – Dean Proctor, 7IM
Banker of the Year – Ashani Jayawardana, Castle Trust Bank
CFO of the Year – Anna Manz, LSEG
DEI Recruitment and Advancement Initiative of the Year – Year 12 Work Experience, BGC Partners
Diversity Lead of the Year – Ama Ocansey, BNP Paribas
Employer of the Year – Fidelity International
Finance Team of the Year – The All England Lawn Tennis Club (Championships) Ltd, team led by Fiona Canning
Legal Adviser of the Year – Wei Ling Wong-Morrow, BGC Partners
Next Generation Leader of the Year – Elise Soucie, Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME)
Outstanding Contribution of the Year – Anna Dilku, Aviva
Outstanding Diversity Network of the Year – Mind Matters, Phoenix Group
Specialist Investor of the Year – Iryna Podoliak, Wren House Infrastructure
Sustainability Project Leader of the Year – Esohe Denise Odaro, PAI Partners
Wealth Manager of the Year – Jane O’Hara, Rosebridge
Woman of the Year – Helen Bierton, Starling Bank
To find out more about the Women in Finance Summit & Awards Series, click here.