Meet our 2020 Finalists

2020 FINALISTS

Download the 2020 Finalist Announcement Press Release

Arts and Media

Rising Star Finalists

Magdalene Abraha

Publisher - Jacaranda Books

Magdalene is a writer and publisher at Jacaranda Books. In 2019, she was voted the Bookseller’s Rising Star and awarded the London Book Fair Trailblazer award 2020 for her contribution to publishing. Whilst writing for the Independent Newspaper as a columnist and numerous other outlets, Magdalene entered the publishing world working for houses such as I.B Tauris before joining Bloomsbury publishers. Magdalene is now an award-winning publisher managing her own list of books and has been featured in several news outlets including the Metro, The Telegraph, The Independent and The Times. Magdalene is also part of the team behind the #Twentyin2020 initiative which will be the first time a publisher has dedicated a year to publishing 20 black British writers. She is also the creator of the new ‘ground-breaking- book series called A Quick Ting On, the first non-fiction book series dedicated to black British culture.

Nnena Nwakodo

Producer - Bartle Bogle Hegarty

An experienced producer, Nnena’s diverse range of work includes television commercials, branded content, music videos and short films. At Bartle Bogle Hegarty, Nnena has produced television and online content for several global brands including Burger King, Tesco, Audi, Mentos, Absolut, Volkswagen and Samsung. In 2019, Nnena joined Bartle Bogle Hegarty’s in-house production company, Black Sheep Studios where she produced some of her proudest work including Absolut Vodka Pride Film and The Photographers Gallery Portrait Films which previewed on Nowness. She also produced the 2019 London Fashion Week x Justice 4 Grenfell stunt casting many celebrities to participate including Adwoa Aboah and Emilie Sandé. Earlier this year, Nnena produced a large-scale production for Mentos with production taking place in South Africa. Nnena is also a co-founder of unsigned, an exhibition to promote unsigned and diverse photographers, illustrators and filmmakers on the creative industries radar.

Malakaï Sargeant

Associate Director - Theatre Peckham

Malakaï is the Associate Director at Theatre Peckham. A writer, theatre director, cultural producer, and facilitator based in Hackney, East London, Malakaï’s projects exist to rattle audiences, shift perspectives, and transform viewers to evoke a meaningful interpersonal and societal change. A both as an artist and producer, Malakaï has curated and presented work with the likes of Soho Theatre, SOAS, Serpentine Galleries, the Royal Exchange and the Royal Court. Malakaï is an alumnus of the Barbican Young Poets and has since independently produced and directed work by other Black writers, pushing the boundaries of form and storytelling in live performance. In 2014, Malakaï co-founded producing theatre company The S+K Project, where they were Artistic Director until 2019. Malakaï is currently Associate Director at Theatre Peckham and is Co-director of Afro-diasporic literary movement BORN::FREE. Malakaï has served as a Trustee for LIFT since 2017 and is Trustee for Hackney Showroom.

Arts and Media

Senior Leader Finalists

Anthony Andrews

Co-founder and Creative Director - We Are Parable

Anthony Andrews is the co-founder and Creative Director of We Are Parable. With a marketing experience spanning almost two decades, Anthony Andrews has always been an avid fan of films. In 2013, , Anthony and his wife Teanne decided to start their own film company after screening one of their favourite films, Coming To America where they created an a full, immersive experience complete with African arts and craft makers, rosebearers, poets, performers and artists, in order to bring Zamunda to East London. Over the past three years, Anthony has curated nationwide programmes in association with the British Film Institute. Seen as an expert practitioner to attract new and diverse audiences to film events, Anthony has spoken at a number of industry conferences including the UK Cinema Association’s annual event and This Way Up. Anthony has also worked with some of the most prominent Black film-makers in the US and UK such as Ryan Coogler, Idris Elba, Amma Asante, Rapman and Oscar-winner Spike Lee.

Gail Babb

Theatre Maker/Producer & Co-Director of MA Applied Theatre - Goldsmiths University of London

Gail is a theatre maker, Producer and Co-director of MA Applied Theatre at Goldsmith University. As well as being a producer and consultant, Gail is an ambitious theatre maker who is unique in forging a career that sits at the intersection between community engagement, producing and artist development. Gail has created inspiring, participatory arts experiences for thousands of individuals through creative learning in schools, equality and diversity training in universities and workplaces. Her previous shows have been created for a range of settings, including theatres, a tour to South Africa’s National Arts Festival and site-specific pieces in museums and a derelict school. In 2017, Gail was awarded a Clore Fellowship, a tailored programme of development for exceptional leaders in the cultural sector. She has supported and trained hundreds of emerging Black artists, most of whom are now sustaining careers in the industry including recognisable names such as Michaela Coel and Natasha Marshall.

Denise Maxwell

Director and Lead Photographer - Lensi Photography

Denise Maxwell is the Director and Lead Photographer at Lensi Photography. A photography for 10 years, Denise was previously at the NHS. Starting in event and portrait photography. Years later her portfolio has expanded to cover many genres including sports (The Diamond League Athletics), fashion (London Fashion Week), weddings, red carpet, portraits, music, food and events. Throughout her career, Denise has worked with some of the most well known names in the world such as Barak Obama, Tom Hanks, Oprah Winfrey and Usain Bolt. Denise’s work has featured in publications such as Vogue, The Independent, Ok Magazine, and have clients that include the BBC, Birmingham University, Yodel Delivery and Gumtree to name only few.

Consumer and Luxury

Rising Star Finalists

Sarah-Jane Bampoe-Addo   

Senior Program Manager - Amazon

Sarah-Jane Addo currently leads Diversity Talent Acquisition programs for Amazon’s Consumer business across the Americas. She has driven Global Talent Management (GTM) product launches and enhancements to employees globally. Sarah-Jane managed GTM expansions to new Amazon countries and subsidiaries e.g. Souq.com, Ring.com and PillPack. As the subject matter expert for globalization, she partnered with product managers on launch and change management strategies. Sarah-Jane supports the Black Employee Network affinity group, organizing internal events and representing Amazon at external conferences e.g. AfroTech and the National Society of Black Engineers. She is committed to driving strategies that attract, retain and develop underrepresented groups within the Tech industry. Prior to joining Amazon, Sarah-Jane worked in financial services, as Vice President for Global Talent Development at Bank of America, Fixed Income Currency and Commodities Technology. She also led large-scale change projects at HSBC’s Investment Bank, including delivering the multi-year program to expand the global banking pricing tool to the commercial business in 50 countries.

Rachael Corson and Joycelyn Mate

Co-founders - Afrocenchix

Rachael Corson and Joycelyn Mate are Co-founders of the award-winning Afrocenchix. In 2017, Afrocenchix became the first Afro hair brand to launch in WholeFoods and is available in all nine stores in the UK. Since launching in Holland & Barrett in late 2019, Afrocenchix were selected as 'Brand of the Month' in March 2020 and were featured in Holland & Barrett’s online communications to all customers. With the objective to be a market leader in the Afro-hair industry, Rachael and Joycelyn focus on closely working with scientists to formulate natural products from locally sourced and naturally derived ingredients to offer a range of ethical products that are great for Afro Hair. Since March 2020, sales directly through their website have increased by 600% proving that they are an essential brand to diversifying the beauty industry. The company will soon be launching in one of the UK’s biggest beauty retail stores.

Iré Hassan-Odukale

Co-founder and Managing Director - Ikoyi

Iré Hassan-Odukale is Co-founder and Managing Director of Ikoyi. Originally working in the City of London as an underwriter for six years, Iré approached childhood friend Jeremy to work on project and there Ikoyi was born. Opening three years later in 2017, Ikoyi welcome the first guests to try its unique cuisine of at its location in St. James’ in London. In October 2018, Ikoyi was awarded its first Michelin star, only 15 months after it began operations, and it has maintained the star to date. It is the first African-inspired restaurant to be awarded this coveted recognition. Iré hopes to aspire other young restauranteurs from ethnic minority backgrounds and mentors young black restaurateurs who are just starting their journey, helping with contacts and guiding them through the process. Iré has also been invited to speak at various events like the WISH Africa expo, 'Who wants to be an entrepreneur?' and a number of Food Symposiums around the world.

Consumer and Luxury

Senior Leader Finalists

Brandie Deignan

Managing Director - Marco Pierre White Restaurants

Brandie Deigan is the Managing Director of Marco Pierre White Restaurants. She is also the first female in her role and is the only Black female Managing Director in the branded restaurants industry within the UK.  Brandie is responsible for all the restaurant concepts across the Marco Pierre White brand with Black and White Hospitality as well as leading the strategic direction for the business including acquisitions, investor relations and spearheading growth. Brandie has a wide portfolio held senior positions in hospitality, retail and aviation at global brands including British Airways plc, Tesco plc, Whitbread plc, Travelodge and Hilton Hotels. Brandie has a passion for education and equality and supports a number of schools, colleges and universities in an advisory capacity in this space. Brandie was recently voted No 41 of the 50 top listening leaders.

Sandra Murphy

Founder and Managing Director - Equidiet UK Ltd

Sandra Murphy is the Founder and Managing Director of Equidiet UK Ltd. Based in Lincolnshire, Sandra has worked tirelessly to expand her revolutionary brand using local suppliers and manufacturing in Lincolnshire, producing multiple hydration systems for horses which have gained high recognition within the equine industry. Passionate about horses from a young age, Sandra became one of the top riders and competitors for the Royal Air Force and was a founding member of the Joint Services Equitation centre during her 12 years of service. The first black female to have gained a European Patent in the UK, Sandra’s products provide 100% natural, unparalleled daily rations and clinical management systems delivering nutrition and hydration simultaneously. In 2019 Sandra was awarded the Entrepreneur of the year by the English Veterans and the Legend Award 2019 for contribution to the community and humanity, given by Trinidad and Tobago Friends UK.

Nigel and Victoria Ogunniyi

Co-founders - FAVOUR Catering & Events

Nigel and Victoria Ogunniyi are the Co-founders of award-winning FAVOUR Catering & Events. Founded over 20 years ago, Nigel and Victoria spotted the lack of good quality professional Afro-Caribbean caterers in the event industry and have since then have become one of London’s leading African and Caribbean caterers. FAVOUR is now accredited caterers for many of the UK’s top venues including Kew Gardens, Eltham Palace and Epsom Downs Race Course. FAVOUR is also boasts a portfolio of prominent hotel chains including Hilton, Marriott, Mandarin Oriental, Intercontinental and Sheraton and corporate clients such as Tedx, Facebook, Ethiopian Airlines and Ebay. In 2018, Nigel and Victoria Ogunniyi were awarded Wedding Caterers of the Year and African Food Expo Caterers of the Year.

Entrepreneur

Rising Star Finalists

Wilfred Fianko, Stephen Boakye and Peter Olowe

Co-founders - Cornerstone Partners

Wilfred Fianko, Stephen Boakye and Peter Olowe are three of the six co-founders of Cornerstone Partners, an angel investment network focused on investing in businesses owned and run by black and diverse founders. Starting out as a group of friends connecting over WhatsApp, Stephen, Edwin, Peter, Rodney, Wilfred and Jude decided to start pooling their funds together for the purpose of investing into both private and publicly listed companies. Cornerstone’s mission is to empower generations through financial literacy, economic partnership, and philanthropy we provide various thought leadership pieces, webinars covering the fundamentals of Angel Investing and Venture Capital across a range of sectors. Cornerstone also runs a bespoke internship program for university graduates, which provides hands on industry exposure, and develops personal and professional skills. They have collaborated with many organisations such as Foundervine, ImpactX and Black Investor 360 on workshops and events.

Izzy Obeng

Founder - Foundervine

Izzy Obeng is the founder of Foundervine, an award-winning social enterprise specialising in digital start-up and scale-up acceleration programs. Since launching in 2018, over 2,000 young people have been skilled by Foundervine’s programs with 62% female participation. Previously at KPMG, Izzy realised a gap in the market for entrepreneurial programmes to stimulate business creation within her community and then went on to become an Enterprise Advisor at Queen Mary University where Foundervine was born. Izzy has assisted with individual’s development at global brands such as Just Eat, Facebook, PwC, Google, AirBnB and more. In 2019, Izzy was named by Tech Nation as one of the 50 most influential black voices in UK Tech. An ambassador for One Young World and a member of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, Izzy now divides her time between the UK and West Africa, delivering start-up and scale-up acceleration programs designed to transform the digital innovation ecosystem.

Ayesha Ofori

CEO and Founder - Black Property Network

Ayesha Ofori is the CEO and Founder of the Black Property Network (BPN). Ayesha Ofori is a multi-award winning real estate investment specialist holding previous roles at global financial services insitutions Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs. Starting the company as a one-woman band, Ayesha launched BPN with the aim to increase financial literacy and enable people within the Back community to financially empower themselves through property investment. Fast-forward to today and BPN are a team of six with a community of over 700 registered members and reaches an audience of more than 5,000. BPN have helped people to save, purchase their first property and have helped others to improve their financial literary and make their first passive investments. Ayesha has won several awards for her work, including Management Today’s 35 Women under 35 and the Women of the Future Award for Real Estate, Infrastructure & Construction. She speaks frequently at leading organisations including Google, The London Institute of Banking and Finance, KPMG, London Business School and Kings College London.

Entrepreneur

Senior Leader Finalists

Sanmi Adegoke

CEO - Rehoboth Property International

Sanmi Adegoke is CEO of Rehoboth Property International, London’s premier property search, development, investment, and acquisition firm primarily operating in the niche D1/D2 property market in the UK. Recently nominated as the CEO of the month by Acquisition International, Sanmi has led his team to recently break ground on the first co-working and co-living  space of its kind in the UK. Origiinally a court building and police station, part of this new co-working space will be an ecosystem for businesses the immediate community to have access to resources and funds to aid their growth and provide an opportunity to build connections. Rehoboth has consistently delivered for the UK’s most prestigious property owners and investors alike. Rehoboth engages in development projects with industry partners to help alleviate the London housing deficit. Sanmi also leads the firm’s give-back initiative, Give One which donates a mortgage-free flat to a family or single parent household in dire need, so that the family can focus on other aspects of their lives.

Trevor Robinson OBE

Founder and Executive Creative Director - Quiet Storm

Trevor Robinson OBE is the Founder and Executive Creative Director of award-winning agency Quiet Storm. Despite being told by his school careers advisor at the age of 11 that his best option was to become a bus driver, Trevor took his chances in the creative industries. During his time as a court illustrato, Trevor was inspired by Spike Lee and Quentin Tarantino to direct so began freelancing. In 1995, Quiet Storm was created, the first agency to write, direct and produce its own work. To this day it is still one of the few agencies where creatives direct their own commercials. During his 30 year career in the industry, Tevor has created some of the most iconic,talked about advertising of our era, including the multi-award winning “You’ve Been Tango-ed” Orange Slap campaign and more recently Haribo “Kids Voices”, which is live in 12 markets globally. A champion of diversity and inclusion, Trevor wass awarded an OBE in 2009, after setting up ‘Create Not Hate’ a project to tackle gun crime.

Julia Senah

Clinical Director - Almond Care Limited

Julia Senah is the Clinical Director of Almond Care Limited which provides an innovative model of nurse-led complex care in the home. While still in hospital after receiving critical care following the birth of her son, Julia established Almond Care in 2009 and has spent the last 11 years growing it into a thriving business comprising complex care and children’s homes divisions, employing 130 people. The complex care division provides nurse-led complex care in the home, while ensuring that clients are able to live with as much self-determination as possible, despite the constraints of their significant. The division is modelled on the successes of the complex care division, with mental health nurses working closely with children who have complex mental health needs. In an industry where most of the Almond’s Care competitors are large corporations, Julia’s reputation to provide high-quality, tailored care is the driving force of the company’s success.

Financial Services

Rising Star Finalists

Mariolla Baffour

Vice President, Securities Division - Goldman Sachs

Mariolla Baffour is a Vice President within the Securities Division at Goldman Sachs. A three-time recipient of the Best FX Sales Analyst Award, Mariolla is responsible for the electronic trading business in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) for the Multi Asset Platform Sales desk. In this role, she focuses on deepening client connectivity by leveraging technology, bolstering cross-product coverage intensity, and achieving greater operating scale on across asset level. During Mariolla’s oversight of of the EMEA eFX banks business, the firm recorded meaningful revenue growth stemming from price optimisation from clients trading over APIs. Mariolla is also a Partner at Cornerstone, an angel investment network focused on investing in businesses owned and run by Black and diverse founders. Mariolla serves as a mentor in the Raising Aspirations Programme in partnership with Mentivity, a mentoring organisation that provides support for young people, schools and parents.

Zainab Kwaw-Swanzy

Digital Product Manager - Barclays

Zainab Kwaw-Swanzy is a Digital Product Manager within the Global Digital & Platforms team at Barclays.  Delivering innovative digital products, Zainab’s latest project was launched earlier this year where she managed the end-to-end development and delivery of the payments journey for non-Barclays accounts that customers link into the Barclays app. This made Barclays the first high street bank to offer this service, and increased customer app engagement. The project was shortlisted for the FSTech ‘Best Open Banking Service’ Award. Zainab became Deputy Chair of the Barclays Black Professionals Forum (BPF) last December, and oversees career progression and colleague development initiatives such as the internal mentoring programmes and personal development workshops. On top of this, she is currently writing a book on Afro hair for independent publisher, Jacaranda Books, as part of the ‘A Quick Ting On’ series on black history and culture, to be released next year.

Lewis Sinclair Parry

Associate, Global Advisory Division - Rothschild & Co

Lewis Sinclair Parry is an Associate in the Global Advisory division at Rothschild & Co. Lewis joined the firm in 2015 as part of the graduate programme. Promoted to Associate in 2018, Lewis has worked on successful transactions, typically high-profile, with several making headlines including the sales of House of Fraser and Poundland. Outside of his role, he actively leads a team providing pro-bono advice to Circle Collective and over the last two years helped increase its revenues by 60%. Following this, he was presented with a Community Investment Award by Alexandre de Rothschild, Executive Chairman of the firm. Lewis is also a founding member of an internal committee focused on raising awareness of the lack of diversity and increasing the representation of Black employees at the firm and in the City more generally.

Financial Services

Senior Leader Finalists

Anulika Ajufo

Head of Investments (Africa and Middle East) and Global Head of Investment Consulting - The Sagana Group

Anulika is the Head of Investments (Middle East and Africa) and Global Head of Consulting at the Sagana Group. She believes in the ability to drive change at scale through socially and environmentally oriented businesses. Over the last decade, Anulika has developed extensive hands-on experience, notably in the fields of financial inclusion, technology, and corporate finance. Since joining Sagana, Anulika has worked on supporting inclusive investment strategy development in development finance institutions, corporations and foundations focused on developing countries, while also leading on social impact investments. With over a decade of experience in Investments and Finance at some of the world's largest Financial Institutions- Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs, and The Carlyle Group, Anulika has an investment track record spanning across sectors, stages and geographies. Anulika is also the Chair of the Board of Governors at University of East London and is the founder of the Sequoia Platform, a leading educational not for profit focused on social mobility in the UK.

Kene Ejikeme

Managing Director, Securities Division - Goldman Sachs

Kene Ejikeme is a Managing Director within the Securities Division at Goldman Sachs as well as leading the Multi Asset Platform Sales team in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) servicing over 1000 clients globally. In this role, he is responsible for driving the multi-asset client coverage model across Equities and FICC, advising and structuring investments in equities, fixed income, interest rates, foreign exchange and commodities as well as increasing the firm’s client footprint in EMEA. Kene joined Goldman Sachs in 2004 as an analyst in the Listed Derivatives business in London and was named managing director in 2013. Within Goldman Sachs, Kene co-heads the Firmwide Black Network (FBN) at Goldman Sach and is actively involved in informing and advancing the black talent strategy, as well as leading recruiting initiatives and mentoring black talent.Outside of the firm, Kene is one of the co-founders of ImpactX, a double bottom line venture capital company founded to support underrepresented entrepreneurs across Europe.

Gavin Lewis

Managing Director, Head of UK LGPS - BlackRock

Gavin Lewis is a Managing Director and Head of the UK Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) at BlackRock where he is responsible for the UK Local Government Pension Scheme as well as being a member of the UK Institutional Executive Committee. Gavin has held previous senior roles at Russell Investments, UBS and Vanguard Europe. Driving the cultural change in his business, Gavin has created and implemented a career progression strategy which has been rolled out to all individuals across the business. The recent racial events in the US against the background of Covid-19 led him to launch a social media campaign #IAM through #Talkaboutblack which has galvanised the industry to confront systemic racism. The campaign is now fundraising for social causes impacting Black communities, successfully campaigned to for a petition to debate the ethnicity pay gap in the House of Commons, as well as working with companies to improve the experience of their Black employees.

Professional Services

Rising Star Finalists

Alex Alleyne

Enterprise Sales Lead - Amazon Web Services

Alex Alleyne is an Enterprise Sales Lead at Amazon Web Services where he is leading one of their latest product releases to drive adoption across Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). An award-winning sales expert, Alex has been recognised by LinkedIn as the 3rd Top Voice Globally for Sales thought-leadership, alongside the likes of Richard Branson who was highlighted in an alternate category. Alex is best regarded for having significantly overachieved against sales quotas consistently, which is reinforced by not having ever missed a sales target in a career spanning almost 10 years. He was one a founding member of cloud communications leader, Twilio, in EMEA, joining when the company was 400 people. He was instrumental in scaling the company on a journey from 400 staff at the time of joining to almost 4000 globally in a three-year period.

Natalie Carter

Senior Associate - Greenberg Traurig LLP

Natalie Carter is an award-winning senior associate in the Real Estate team at Greenberg Traurig LLP. Joining the firm in 2018, Natalie has acted in multiple high-value and high-profile transactions including the financing, acquisition, disposal and development of high value commercial properties across London. Committed to providing a clear pathway for other Black people pursuing a corporate law career, Natalie works with various charities and organisations including the Black Solicitors Network and Urban Lawyers, where she originally designed their annual conference. Since 2015, over 2000 students have attended. On top of this, she is the co-Founder of Black Girls Book Club, the UK’s premier Book club for black women creating a safe space for black women to enjoy literature. Over 200 events have been hosted with celebrity guests such as June Sarpong, Malorie Blackman, Afua Hirsch and Dorothy Koomson. Natalie is a trustee of the Creative Land Trust and was appointed as a judge for the annual renowned BookSeller Awards.

Macky O'Sullivan

Anthony Ojukwu

Associate - Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP

Anthony Ojukwu is an Associate in Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP's market-leading competition litigation team, where he works on some of the highest value and most complex court cases in Europe. Joining the firm as a trainee in 2014, Anthony also spent six months on secondment in Brussels to the firm’s pre-eminent competition practice before qualifying as a solicitor in 2016. Now in the EU Dispute Resolution team, specialising in competition, public law, commercial disputes and investigations, Anthony works with a variety of clients on complex multi-jurisdictional matters. He recently completed a postgraduate diploma in competition law at King's College London and has contributed to upcoming competition law publications. In 2019, Anthony was selected to act as a judicial assistant in the High Court of England and Wales, where he worked closely for High Court judges. Anthony has volunteered for several free legal advice charities such as the Citizens Advice Bureau, Asylum Support Appeals Project (ASAP) and Islington Law Centre. Anthony has also been involved in schemes aimed at black representation including the Stephen Lawrence Scholarship programme. Anthony will shortly take on a new role at the Competition and Markets Authority.

Professional Services

Senior Leader Finalists

Nnenna Ilomechina

Managing Director and Partner, Strategy, Communications, Media, Tech - Accenture

Nnenna Ilomechina is a Managing Director and Partner within Accenture’s Strategy, Communications, Media and Technology group. Nnenna was previously at Sapient and then Alix Partners, where she achieved a rapid rise to Senior Director in the UK in a white, male dominated restructuring industry. In her three years at Accenture thus far, Nnenna has restructured the UK TMT Sector strategy team, attracted and recruited key talent into her team and worked fiercely to drive a collaborative way of working across the firm; bringing a customer centric and innovative approach to solving our client’s strategic challenges. This has led to doubling strategy-led revenues in the sector over this period and the recruiting of two new Managing Directors as the team has expanded. Recently, Nnenna has also taken on the Inclusion and Diversity role for the strategy and consulting practice across all sectors in the UK. Nnenna holds a dual MBA from Columbia and London Business School and was listed on Cranfield University’s 2019 Women to Watch list.

Segun Osuntokun

London Office Managing Partner - Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner

Segun Osuntokun is the Managing Partner for Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner’s (BCLP) London Office, the firm’s largest office with approximately 900+ employees and a turnover of +£250M. Appointed to the role of Managing Partner in 2018,  Segun has overseen the integration of the London office into the global firm that was created in 2018 by the merger of Berwin Leighton Paisner and Bryan Cave. He has also overseen the relocation of the London office from Adelaide House to Governor’s House, which culminated in an office move during the current lockdown. Segun has continued to lead Race for Change, an initiative designed to increase black representation in the legal profession and which is BCLP’s most successful recruitment event – Race for Change participants accounted for 12.5% of BCLP’s vacation students and 13% of training contract hires. Segun received the ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Legal Profession’ Award at the British Nigeria Law Forum Awards in November 2018 and featured in The Lawyer’s ‘Hot 100 Lawyers’ in London.

Bennard Owusu

Senior Partner - BWF Solicitors

Bennard Owusu is the founder and Senior Partner of his own firm, BWF Solicitors. Founded in 2006, Bennard starting with three staff members and today has grown the business to a turnover of approximately £1 million. Recognised as an expert in his area, Bennard is as a member of the prestigious Family and Immigration Law Accreditation panel and is focused on helping his community through the provision of free legal advice. In 1999, he started a Radio Legal Programme on Voice of Africa for the diverse communities. Today their weekly radio programmes on Rainbow Radio and GN Radio (DAB, FM, TuneIn Radio, Sky TV platform, Facebook Live and YouTube) channels are viewed, clicked, and listened to by over twenty thousand members of the community every week with approximately one million views, clicks, listeners every year.

Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Technology (STEM)

Rising Star Finalists

Frida Nzaba

Advanced Manufacturing Engineer - Rolls-Royce Plc

Frida Nzaba is an Advanced Manufacturing Engineer at Rolls-Royce. Starting her engineering career in 2013, Frida joined Rolls-Royce as an apprentice. Three years later, she concluded the apprenticeship achieving a Level 4 Extended Diploma and then attainined a first class degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2017. Since January 2020 Frida has been working as an Engines & Modules Manufacturing Engineer. This role consists of developing, implementing, and improving methods that can be used to assemble and disassemble the engine. Outside work, Frida founded Edu-Cater Global in 2019, a non-profit social enterprise that acts as a catalyst in bridging industry and education through inspiring, energising and developing individuals to harness the power STEM to make tangible differences to their communities and economies. Frida is also a WISE Young Professionals Board Member, advocating for women in engineering.

Georgia Thompson

Design Coordinater - BAM Nuttall

Georgia Thompson is a Design Coordinater at BAM Nuttall where she manages and supports a £25m structures portfolio of behalf of Network Rail. This role involves providing integrated engineering management and technical assessments of bridge reconstructions and refurbishments, as well as delivering to budget, quality and programme. Through her role of innovation lead for Rail South, she facilitates and encourages the use of new material, products and construction methods to provide improved efficiencies to their client and encourage sustainable practices. In 2018, Georgia co-founded a social enterprise called Dversty to improve the inclusion of diverse groups in engineering and technology industries. Georgia has also been involved in campaigns with WISE, Women’s Engineering Society, Open Data Institute, CHAIN Events, STEMAZING and the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE).

Ninarita Williams

Project Manager - Transport for London

Ninarita Williams is a Project Manager at Transport for London (TfL) working on the signalling and construction for the +£5bn Four Lines Modernisation Programme (4LM). With a reputation for successfully managing large-scale and influential projects, Ninarita has also managed award-winning projects including the operation to bring cooling and ventilation to underground hotspots on the Jubilee, Bakerloo and Victoria lines. A particularly proud achievement of Ninarita’s was project managing the ground-breaking DCA Sim project set to drastically alter the industry by changing the way trains are tested and maintained. In the last 3 years, Ninarita has have led project teams to save TfL circa. £2.5 million through the implementation of innovative procurement strategies, pro-active value engineering and progressive core-team and supply-chain integration working. She is also an active mentor coaching young people in STEM and has mentored one young person into a higher-level professional role each year for the past three years.

Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Technology (STEM)

Senior Leader Finalists

Obum Ekeke

Global Lead, University Relations & Educational Partnerships - DeepMind

Obum Ekeke is the Global Lead, University Relations & Educational Partnerships at DeepMind where he leads the company’s vision to significantly contribute to increasing diversity and building a more inclusive Artificial Intelligence research community. With a career spanning over 20 years, several geographies and areas in Technology, Obum is dedicated to delivering international educational, skills development and mentoring programmes that have helped millions of students across the world. Prior to DeepMind, Obum spent 12 years at Google where he had several success stories including leading Google’s partnership with SAP and several other organisations to launch Africa Code Week, the first-ever continent-wide coding initiative. Over 3 million youths across 37 African countries have explored coding through Africa Code Week since 2015. In 2019, the Financial Times named Obum among the top 10 most influential BAME leaders in the UK's tech sector. Obum was recently appointed as an external council member of the University of Essex. He is also a trustee of UK Youth, a national charity that provides skills development to youths in some of the highest deprived areas of the UK.

Rachael Palmer

Head of VC and Startup Partnerships, EMEA - Google

Rachael Palmer is the Head of Venture Capital and Startup Partnerships at Google where she drives its strategic partnerships across the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region. Rachael has held previous positions at Microsoft, EY and American Express and received her MBA from The Wharton School with a dual concentration in Strategic Management and Marketing. In addition to her current role, Rachael helps drive Google’s approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion, including leading their diversity recruiting efforts at the Wharton Business School. Rachael was listed on the Empower 100 Minority Top Executive List 2020. She has been a featured speaker at Google’s first EMEA “State of Black Women” Conference in the UK and the Wharton Women in Business Conference.

Cecil Peters

Executive Director - J.P. Morgan

Cecil is an Executive Director at JPMorgan Chase & Co. With a distinguished career in Technology including previous roles at NatWest, Coutts, UBS and Credit Suisse, Cecil joined JPMorgan Chase & Co in 2018 to develop cryptographic technology and application software across the global financial institution. With a pending patent, Cecil is reinventing the way that application encryption is applied in the financial sector with the current development of the first Data Protection system designed to work at scale. A leader in this field, Cecil and his team have led industry consortiums including the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC), the Confidential Compute Consortium and the National Institute of Standards and Technology as well as global Tech giants including Microsoft, Amazon and Google pivoting their product roadmaps in support of the Data Protection strategy. Cecil is also an avid supporter of UK Black Tech and is a mentor within Greenwich Universities mentorship program.

Dr Abdullahi Sheriff

Executive, Strategic Partnerships & Solutions, Europe, GE Healthcare 

Dr Abdullahi Sheriff is an Executive with the Strategic Partnerships & Solutions team for Europe, GE Healthcare. Dr Abdullahi Sheriff’s focus is on Healthcare and Life Sciences with the primary purpose to drive revenue growth through creating novel scalable services and solutions that solve challenges for organisations and patients. Prior to joining GE Healthcare, Sheriff worked at PA Consulting from 2011 - 2017. At the start of the COVID-19 crisis, he led a rapid response team to support a UK health system to rapidly design and set up the infrastructure for its COVID crisis response to co-ordinate the Primary, Social and Community care needs of up to 800,000 people. Sheriff leads a ‘start up’ oncology service and insights business within GE Healthcare Europe, where he and his team designed and implement a range of solutions that seek to create enhanced diagnostic and treatment capacity for cancer patients. He has published numerous papers, a book and has been invited to speak at leading global institutions including Loughborough University, UCL & Harvard Business School.

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