Judges rule on cream of the crop for Women in Business awards

Pictured at the judging session for the Women in Business awards are (seated) Roseann Kelly (WIB chief executive) and Seamus McCorry (head of sales and presales Northern Ireland at headline sponsors Virgin Media). At back (from left) are judges Judith Totten (managing director of Upstream Positive Working Capital), Gary McDonald (Irish News business editor), Nial Borthistle (business development manager at Glandore) and Nicola McCleery (head of marketing at Danske Bank). Photo: Hugh Russell
Gary McDonald Business Editor

JUDGES have mulled over almost 200 entries in this year's Women in Business Awards, whittling it down to an impressive short list of around 60.

They represent businesses and organisations from every county in the north, and range from established firms employing several thousand staff, to some that are sole traders or have just started on their corporate journey.

The winners in each of the categories will be revealed at the ninth WIB Award night in Belfast's Crowne Plaza Hotel on Thursday November 7, an event expected to be attended by more than 500 guests.

“We were blown away by the standard this year, far and away the best entry list we've had since we started this wonderful initiative nine years ago,” said Women in Business chief executive Roseann Kelly, who chaired the judging session.

“It goes without saying that the Northern Ireland business world is brimming with talented and dedicated women who not only lead successful companies but, in many cases, also juggle the needs of their families.

“These business awards, which are unique in the marketplace, are designed to recognise the achievement of these women across a wide range of business categories.

“As a business community our aim is to celebrate, encourage and inspire women to achieve greater success, by highlighting the amazing talent of businesswomen locally and showcasing them as role models to future leaders.

“This list of outstanding finalists in more than a dozen categories underlines the strength of women in business in Northern Ireland.”

The awards' headline sponsor for the second year in a row is Virgin Media Business, whose regional head Seamus McCorry said: “We believe in job opportunities for everyone regardless of gender, and we're thrilled to be working with Women in Business to support and empower women in Northern Ireland as we work to create a diverse, balanced and vibrant business community.”

John Brolly, marketing manager at the Irish News, which is the media partner for the awards, added: “Women in Business is a driver of women's positive contribution to the local economy and society by supporting the development of every member's professionals, connections and confidence to achieve their ambition.

“We are delighted to support an organisation that promotes the fact that women are an integral and invaluable part of every business, and which celebrates women's professional achievements. Congratulations to everyone on the finalist list.”

The finalists are:

• Advancing Diversity in the Workplace (sponsored by Queen's University Belfast Management School) -

Citi, Danske Bank UK, First Derivatives plc, Sensata Technologies,Version 1

• Best Customer Service corporate (sponsored by RSA Group) - Claire Mullen (Version 1), Diana Johnston (First Trust Bank), Jackie Reid (Deli Lites), Sabrina Lynch (Allstate Northern Ireland)

• Best Customer Service small business - Laura Killough (Larchfield Estate), Lisa McCrink (Zen Day Spa), Olga Lynch (The Transfer Tutor), Samara Prentice (EVOLVE by Samara Personal Styling Consultancy)

• Best in Professional Services corporate (sponsored by Advance Coaching) - AnneMarie Patterson (First Derivatives plc), Ashleen Feeney (KPMG), Colette Eastwood (Bombardier), Maurece Hutchinson (JMK Solicitors), Kerri Bradley (Cleaver Fulton Rankin).

• Best in Professional Services small business - Aideen Duggan (Keenan Healthcare), Claire Stewart (Cartmill Stewart & Co Chartered Accountants), Emma Hunt (Mills Selig), Louise Breen (Mallon McCormick Solicitors), Suzanne Keenan (MKB Law)

• Best Marketing Campaign corporate (sponsored by Kaizen Print) - Amanda Sistern (Cleaver Fulton Rankin), Danielle Baker (Danske Bank), Danielle Dunbar (Phoenix Natural Gas)

• Best Marketing Campaign small business - Charlene Brookes (The Hall of Flowers), Jennie Wallace (Beyond Skin Clinic), Julie McCullagh (Belfast One), Kym Horner (MKB Law), Tierna Byrne (Big Belfast Choir/Tierna Byrne Marketing & Design)


• Best New Start Up (sponsored by Go For It) - Judith Armstrong (JAMMCO Cosmetics), Laura Harbinson (Halo Healthy Kitchen), Lisa Smyth/Christine McKee (SheSaid Design and Branding), Rebecca Bryson (Curvy Chic Bridal), Sharron McCormick (With Love Recipes)

• Best Small Business (sponsored by Danske Bank) - Aideen Duggan (Keenan Healthcare), Katie Martin (Martin Contracting Services Ltd), Laura Slevin (FLEX Language Services), Mairead Scott (Honeycomb Jobs), Tanya Martin & Angela Forsythe (IQ&Co Ltd), Dr Pamela McHenry (Belfast Skin Clinic)

• Outstanding Innovation corporate (sponsored by First Trust Bank) - Julia McDaid (Cubis Systems), Dr Liz O'Sullivan (Allstate Northern Ireland)

• Outstanding Innovation small business - Alex Shepherd (Suki Tea), Dr Esther L. Skelly-Smith (Shanaghan Veterinary Services), Olga Lynch (The Transfer Tutor)

• Excellence in IT (sponsored by Citi) - Dawn Sargent (Admiral Care Services), Laura Kelly (OHMG), Linda O'Reilly (Allstate Northern Ireland), Olga Lynch (The Transfer Tutor)

• Best Exporter (sponsored by The Irish News) - Shauna Blair (Heavenly Tasty Organics), Jackie Reid (Deli Lites)

• Outstanding Management and Leadership (sponsored by Fleet Financial Ltd) - Anne Donaghy (Mid and East Antrim Borough Council), Caroline Rafferty (Homecare Independent Living), Catherine Harrison (First Derivatives plc), Ciara Kennedy (Bombardier), Joanne Molloy (TS Foods), Lorna McAdoo (Version 1)

• Young Business Woman of the Year (sponsored by Ulster Bank) - Amanda Kearns (Inner Angel Health), Aimee Clint (Books by Stellas CIC), Aimee Hull (Coca-Cola HBC), Kathryn Mills (Lifestyle Gymnastics Academy), Kerrie Gass (Fleetwise Ltd)

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