FLEXIBILITY is the key to achieving strength and resilience after failure, prominent businesswoman Gina Miller told an audience today as some of the UK’s top female entrepreneurs were recognised for their achievements.
Speaking at the Forward Ladies National Awards 2018 in Leeds, the co-founder of SCM Direct, transparency activist and philanthropist, whose legal action forced a parliamentary vote on withdrawal from the EU, said she discovered from a young age how strong she was.
Ms Miller came to Britain as a 13-year-old with her brother to escape civil war and death threats to her family. They had to learn how to survive without their parents.
“I never blamed anyone. It was just about being strong and surviving and that’s when I discovered how strong I was,” she said.
“Not because I’m stubborn or hard working but because I’m flexible. I understand that strength is how you overcome adversity.
“It’s about how you pick yourself up, about how you examine your failures and see the opportunities in them.”
She added: “It is, for me, mind over matter and mind over misogyny. It is about how I’ve created a mindset of how I deal with prejudice, failure and abuse. I’ve learned over time that you can get better at it.”
Ms Miller told the audience at the event, which was held at The Royal Armouries, that she had started seven businesses. “I don’t start businesses to make money or be hugely successful. I start businesses to find solutions and to provide a solution to a problem,” she said.
Lara Oyesanya, UK counsel and director, legal, at Klarna Bank in London, was crowned winner of the overall Business Women of the Year title after picking up the corporate leader award.
Jennifer Crawley, head of the judging panel and head of performance, small business banking for main sponsor HSBC UK, said Ms Oyesanya ‘amazed’ judges with her drive, passion and determination. “Lara has demonstrated an exceptional work ethic and has made a significant impact in her sector,” she added.
Noor Ali, senior buying manager at Morrisons’ World Foods, was the only Yorkshire winner at the event. She was presented the diversity champion award by The Yorkshire Post, which was the media partner for the event.
Entrepreneur Dame Stephanie Shirley received the lifetime achievement award.
Other winners included Cathy Connolly, of Care Merseyside, who won the public sector award.
Charlotte Horobin, of EEF, was crowned emerging leader, while civil engineer Aimi Elias won the STEM rising star award. Suzanne Oliver, of Arm, won STEM leader.
Amanda Peffer, of Blade & Rose, won the international award and Jacqueline Williamson was named social entrepreneur.
Fran Glover and Carrie Weekes, of Natural Undertaking, won the start-up award, while Jordana Chin, of Nutri2Go, was named young entrepreneur.
Joanne Bass, of XL Displays, was female entrepreneur and Geoff Mackey, from BASF, won the male agent of change award
Other speakers included Fiona Daniel, of HSBC, and Susanna Lawson, founder of OneFile, the awards’ 2017 overall winner.