Meet our 2021 winners!


Download the 2021 Winner's Announcement Press Release
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Business Persons of the Year 

2021 Business Person of the Year 

Edgar Chibaka & Jamal Tahlil

Co-Founders and Directors, First Response Group Ltd

Edgar and Jamal are co-founders of First Response Group Ltd, an integrated facilities management company headquartered in Leeds with offices across the UK, and employing over 500 people. Both African immigrants, they started the company in May 2007 from nothing, but now report over £25m sales turnover for July 2021. In the process, they have made two successful acquisitions. The company is profitable and counts AXA insurance among their top blue chip customers. The company is highly accredited and is a headline sponsor for the Security & Fire Excellence Awards to cement its position in the market sector.  First Response was in December 2020 named by the Sunday Times Ones To Watch. Jamal is a father and husband who is well experienced in facilities managements, construction, real estate and insurance risk managements. Edgar serves as Executive Board Chairman of the UK Malawi Business Group that fosters bilateral business between the UK and Malawi.

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Arts and Media

Arts and Media Rising Star Winner

Hannah Chukwu

Assistant Editor, Penguin Random House UK

Hannah Chukwu is an award-winning Assistant Editor at Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Random House UK, where she works on literary fiction and non-fiction, working with authors such as Bernardine Evaristo, Zadie Smith and Arundhati Roy. She is an editor for Five Dials magazine, and the series editor for Black Britain: Writing Back. She is also Policy and Campaigns Consultant for the campaign ‘Lit in Colour’; run by PRH and the Runnymede Trust, the campaign aims to diversify the English GCSE curriculum. She co-founded the theatre production company Chucked Up Theatre in 2016, is a Trustee at education equality charity The Brilliant Club and a Board Member of Creative UK. In 2021 she won the LBF Trailblazer Award and was named on the EMpower Ethnic Minority Future Leader list.

Arts and Media Senior Leader Winner

Miya Knights

Global Content Strategist, Poq Commerce

Miya is an enterprise retail technology writer, expert and commentator, with regular international and national print, TV and radio experience, most recently including C4’s Inside John Lewis: Trouble at the Tills programme. Miya has over 23 years’ experience as a journalist, editor, publisher, analyst, research director, consultant, and currently, global content strategist for mobile shopping app platform provider, poq Commerce.

She has co-authored two best-selling books, ‘Amazon: How the world’s most revolutionary retailer…,’ which has been translated into 17 languages, and will be followed by a second edition this November; and, ‘Omnichannel Retail,’ co-written with the CEO of loyalty software provider, Eagle Eye and former deputy CEO of Tesco who launched Clubcard, Tim Mason. Miya is a Retail Influencer Network and Customer Strategy Network member; regularly contributes to industry awards and rankings as a judge and advisor; and, has this year been ranked as a Top 100 Retail Influencer 2021 and Top 50 Retail Technology Influencer 2021.

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Consumer and Luxury

Consumer and Luxury Rising Star Winner

Vese Aghoghovbia

Founder & Creator-in-Chief, Philly & Friends

Vese Aghoghovbia is the founder of Philly & Friends, a Children's Author, Diversity in the Playroom Advocate, Speaker and Serial Entrepreneur. Her debut book, titled, Who Do I See in the Mirror?, was selected by Hello! Magazine and Indy Best as one of the best children's books on diversity. Also featured on BBC, Metro, Huffington Post, The Strategist UK, Mother Mag. It was selected by the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, as one of the books to read on her YouTube channel, Storytime with Fergie.

Since launching Philly & Friends, she has been involved in multiple conversations about Diversity in the Playroom, raising confident children through the power of representation, parenting & entrepreneurship, speaking on various platforms, including BBC. She is also a contributor to Parenting Magazines such as HuffPost Parent, Mother Mag, Absolutely Mama. She is a Start-up ambassador for Start-Up Loans UK and Small Business Inspirator for Holly & Co. She is a Chartered Engineer and has over 10 years of work experience in Strategy, Operations and Customer Experience working for FTSE-100 Engineering and Technology firms. Together with her three sisters, she also co-founded DVees, a food & drinks start-up. She is passionate about raising confident and wholesome kids. She lives in London with her lovely husband and two kids, a fearless 4-year-old girl and a determined 2-year-old boy.

Consumer and Luxury Senior Leader Winner

Alexandria Dauley

Creative Director, Dauley Designs

Alexandria is a residential Interior Designer and owner of Dauley Designs, a multidisciplinary design and build practice based in South London and Surrey. Alexandria creates homes with a contemporary, modern design aesthetic, coupled with an appreciation for traditional architecture and detail driven service, Dauley Designs creates considered interiors designed to stand the test of time. Passionate about increasing opportunities and access to creative industries for under-represented ethic minority groups, Alexandria is also tackling the issues of diversity as co-founder of charitable organisation United in Design.

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Entrepreneur Rising Star Winner

Alessandra Madubunyi

Director, We are COCO

Alessandra Madubunyi, affectionately known as the new “James Bond of Fashion”, has pioneered a career in retail consultancy and brand development. With a degree in Global Fashion Marketing and Communications, Alessandra worked across various sectors of communications including Hospitality, Tourism and Renewable Energy in London, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar. Her passion for emerging brands and retail stem from her foundational years at the British Fashion Council, where she held a position in International Communications and Buyer Accreditation for London Fashion Week.

Alessandra supported the early development of iconic British brands like, Erdem, Christopher Kane, Peter Piloto and Mary Katranzou. In 2016 she established the COCONAUTICAL Showroom, as a one-stop-shop for buyers looking for emerging brands. Recognizing a need to help young designers and retailers navigate the dynamic challenges of running a start-up fashion business, WE are COCO was born. She established WE are COCO in 2018 as the consultancy arm of the showroom COCONAUTICAL. Which today connects global retailers to the best emerging brands and experienced consultants in fashion through mentorship, consultancy, collaboration and product development.

Entrepreneur Senior Leader Winner

Michael Khouri-Bent

Managing Director, Metropolitan Care Solutions

Until December 2014 Mike was co-owner of Pathway Care Solutions Ltd which specialised in the provision of residential care services to children and young people. At the point of sale the company owned 14 residential homes and employed over of 200 people. The company was IIP GOLD accredited, featured in several business magazines and was largest black-led provider of children’s residential care services in the East Midlands. At the point of sale the company had emerged in the sector as a premier-provider; formally recognised by a number of Local Authorities as either Lead or Preferred provider. After selling PCS (Dec’ 14), Mike developed a property investment & management company (LETS Move – Nottingham Ltd). LMN owns and manages a property portfolio comprising a selection of residential & commercial property. In 2018 Mike returned to the residential care sector and now owns a company (Metropolitan Care Solutions) employing some 60 people.

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Financial Services

Financial Services Rising Star Winner

Jordon Clarke

Executive Director, Morgan Stanley

Jordon Clarke is an Executive Director in Trading Operations for the Institutional Securities Group, at Morgan Stanley. He is responsible for the Global Capital Markets and Syndicate Global Change Programme. In addition, Jordon is the operational lead for Digital Assets. Prior to his current roles, he was Head of European Exchange Traded Products (ETP) Operations, where he had a leading role launching the firm’s successful European ETP business.

Before accepting an opportunity with Morgan Stanley, in 2014, Jordon worked in Equity Derivative Operations at Goldman Sachs and UK Credit Sales at HSBC. Jordon is committed to creating a more equitable workplace in his role as the Co-Chair of Morgan Stanley’s African and Caribbean Business Alliance (ACBA) and as a key member of the Operations Diversity & Inclusion council and The Race to Action Council.

Jordon graduated from Loughborough University in 2010 with a degree in Information, Management & Business Studies (BSc). In his spare time Jordon enjoys playing Basketball and has launched an education app, which currently has over 1 million downloads.

Financial Services Senior Leader Winner

Lara Oyesanya

Group General Counsel, WorldRemit

Lara is an experienced solicitor in the financial services - digital payments sector that is skilled in regulatory, payments, enterprise risk management, consumer protection, small-medium enterprises, retail and commercial banking. She is an external co-opted Member, Committee on Benefactions External and Legal Affairs (CBELA), University of Cambridge, a non-Executive Director, Plan International UK, and The Shaw Trust. She is a Contributing Editor, LexisNexis Encyclopaedia of Banking Law, and a Member, Consulting Editorial Board, LexisPSL. A Fellow of The RSA and 'Business Woman of the Year' & 'Corporate Leader', 2018 FL National Awards. Ranked in The Lawyer Hot 100 2021 and in the 50 Must-Follow Black Female Leaders 2020. Formerly, General Counsel and Chief Risk Officer at Contis, legal director at Klarna, senior legal counsel at Barclays and BAE Systems, a divisional counsel at RAC, a legal director at HBOS (Lloyds Banking Group), and Group Head of Legal at Lex (Lex Autolease). Lara is also a barrister of the Supreme Court of Nigeria and a law graduate (LL.B Hons) of the University of Lagos with an LL.M in Comparative Company Law.

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Professional Services

Macky O'Sullivan
Professional Services Rising Star Winner

Samuel Lawrence

Vice President, EMEA , JLL Technologies 

Samuel is a Vice President, EMEA of JLL Technologies, with responsibility for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. He is an experienced sales professional in his field and has held leadership positions in large organisations including the Altus Group, CBRE and Proptech where he consistently exceeded targets to find simple but effective solutions. At Altus, he was central to the growth of the business and helped seal the firm’s largest consulting deal. Passionate about supporting the next generation, Samuel is a Purpose Mentor for young Black people in the UK with a focus on personal wealth, finance and career progression. 

Professional Services Senior Leader Winner

Akima Paul-Lambert

Litigation Partner, Hogan Lovells

Akima Paul Lambert is a dispute resolution lawyer at Hogan Lovells who works on complex commercial disputes for some of the world’s largest clients. She works across a number of sectors and industries on a range of litigation and arbitration matters. She was recently promoted to partner at Hogan Lovells, and is the firm’s first black partner.

Akima is the co-founder of Creating Pathways, a cross-firm mentoring programme for black lawyers, focussing on pairing up and coming associate talent with senior partner mentors to address the problem of attrition at the mid-senior level. The programme is in its fifth year and has mentored more than one hundred junior lawyers across the City.

Akima is also a diplomat and is the State of Grenada’s Representative to the Holy See.  She was previously a CARICOM (Caribbean Community Youth Ambassador) and was one of the youngest ever awardees of the UN’s Global 500 Award for her advocacy on environmental issues.

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Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Technology (STEM)

STEM Rising Star Winner

Nnamdi Emelifeonwu

CEO, Definely

Nnamdi started his career as a solicitor at Magic Circle law firm Freshfields where he was selected in the inaugural EMpower Ethnic Minority Future Leaders List in 2017. At Freshfields, he met his cofounder, who was one of the few registered blind lawyers practicing as a solicitor in the City. Together, they set out to discover a way to increase the accessibility of legal documents to those with visual impairments and realised their innovation had a much broader use case for anyone reading legal contracts, not just the visually impaired. Since launching in 2019, Definely has signed some of the world’s largest professional services firms and financial institutions as customers and raised over £3.5m in funding from prominent investors such as Google and Moonpig founder/former Dragons' Den investor Nick Jenkins. In 2021, Define was selected as one of the 10 most exciting early-stage scaleups in the UK by influential growth platform Tech Nation.

STEM Senior Leader Winner

Gareth Dauley

Executive Vice President, Pacific Green Technologies

Gareth Dauley is Executive Vice President at Pacific Green Technology where he is committed to creating a greener world and giving future generations more time and an improved environment. Having both started and grown energy start-ups, and renewable energy projects, Gareth’s energy projects are rolled out across developed and emerging countries bringing green electricity and a better quality of life. Through his ongoing work with private industry and governments in Europe, Africa and the Caribbean, Gareth provides financeable renewable energy solutions via solar and Energy storage. Gareth has played a leading role in the rollout of out over 1 gigawatt of projects that have supplied the equivalent of 4 million households with clean energy globally. Always eager to pass on his extensive knowledge to the next generation, he has mentored and guided young people working with the London Youth Mentor scheme. Gareth now independently mentors young black/ethnic minority energy professionals, helping them to network, build confidence and focus on career progression.

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