Record entries in 11th Women in Business Awards as short list is unveiled

The panel of judges, chaired by Women in Business Group chief executive Roseann Kelly (seated right), deliberate over a record ahead ahead of choosing the finalists. Picture: Hugh Russell
Gary McDonald Business Editor

THE eight-strong judging panel pored over a record entry list ahead of coming up with the finalists' short list in the 2023 Women in Business Awards.

Now in their 11th year, the prestigious awards recognise, reward and celebrate the outstanding achievements of female business leaders from all sectors and industries across the north.

The gala awards evening, again sponsored by Virgin Media O2 Business and hosted by Pamela Ballantine, take place on Thursday March 2 at Belfast's Crowne Plaza Hotel (booking details at

The judging panel was chaired by Roseann Kelly MBE, chief executive of the Women in Business Group.

It comprised Ian Bailey (Virgin Media O2 Business), Lorna McAdoo (Version 1), Anne Clydesdale (Women in Business Group vice-chair), Nial Borthistle (Glandore), Edel Doherty (Beyond Business Travel) and, representing media partners The Irish News, Sinead Cavanagh (deputy group managing director) and Gary McDonald (business editor).

Roseann Kelly said: “We've been simply blown away by the record number of entries to our 11th awards.

“With more than 200 submissions, it is a real testament not only to the reputation of the awards, but also the calibre of female business talent right here on our doorstep.”

She added: “The judging panel's job was made incredibly difficult by the exceptional standard of entries from across a breadth of sectors.

“But the 84 talented finalists are each having a real impact within their respective industries and are dedicated business women who are very much deserving of special recognition.

“As leaders in their field, they also inspiring a younger generation of women in an ever-evolving world of business and industry.”

All the finalists will now join the Women in Business Award Alumnae of nearly 300 women which offers them the opportunity to network and engage with like-minded businesswomen, enhancing both personal and professional development.

Sponsors and partners of this year's awards include title sponsor Virgin Media O2 Business and media partner The Irish News, along with category sponsors Allstate, Danske Bank, Belfast Harbour, NIE, Queen's University Belfast, Staffline, Go For It, Version 1, Wilson Nesbitt and Kaizen Print.

The following short-list was confirmed:

Advancing Diversity in the Workplace Individual Finalists

• Catherine McCourt – Alfac Northern Ireland

• Clare Orr – The Bar of Northern Ireland

• Claire Webb – Labour Relations Agency

• Kathy Richardson - Staffline

• Sarah Balmforth - Hughes Insurance

Advancing Diversity in the Workplace Company Finalists

• Allstate Northern Ireland

• Davy Private Clients UK

• Fibrus

• Labour Relations Agency

Best Customer Service Corporate Finalists

• Caroline Rowan - Musgrave Retail Partners Northern Ireland

• Claire Bryson - Hughes Insurance

• Leeann Saunders - Qualcom NI

• Paula Mooney - Leckey

• Rebecca Strain - Finyx Consulting Ltd

Best Customer Service Small Business Finalists

• Aisling Lalor – Aisling Lalor Dental-Skin

• Corinna Keaney & Margaret McEvoy - Occupational Therapy NI

• Donna McNeill - AL Hair Extensions Ltd

• Karen Weir - Belfast Bow Company

• Roisin O'Hare - Brand Elevation


Best in Professional Services Corporate Finalists

• Catherine Martin - CavanaghKelly

• Lauren Rousseau - Kainos

• Joanne Alexander - Mid and East Antrim Borough Council

• Rebecca Strain - Finyx Consulting Ltd

• Suzanne Keenan - Cleaver Fulton Rankin

Best in Professional Services Small Business Finalists

• Aideen Duggan - Keenan Recruitment

• Claire Loftus – EVOLVE

• Lisa Park - StudioPARK Architects

• Mairead Donaghy - Kinsetsu

• Melanie Dawson - Origin 7 Ltd

Best Marketing Campaign Corporate Finalists

• Claire Hale - Dale Farm Ltd

• Emma Haughian - Hughes Insurance

• Sarah Owens - GLL

Best Marketing Campaign Small Business Finalists

• Jane Buckley - Ltd

• Jennifer Cairns - Rebel World LTD

• Jennie Wallace - Beyond Skin Clinic

• Olga Lynch - The Transfer Tutor

• Roisin O'Hare - Brand Elevation

Best New Start Up

• Angeline Murphy - Angeline Murphy Design

• Elizabeth MacManus and Tanya McGeehan - TE Property NI

• Helen Nelson - ProMetNI

• Martha Garbe - Basalt Distillery Ltd

• Rabab Flack - Causeway Clear Ears

Best Small Business

• Alana Russell and Nicola Wolsey - Lean Logistics Ireland Ltd

• Becca Hume – Inclutech

• Geri Martin - The Chocolate Manor

• Jayne Gallagher - Legal Island

• Melanie Dawson - Origin 7 Ltd

• Tanya Martin - IQ & Co Ltd

• Tracey McNally - Ecohog Ltd

Outstanding Innovation Corporate Finalists

• Gabriela Martin - Concentrix Europe LTD

• Laura Montgomery – Leckey

• Rebecca Strain - Finyx Consulting Ltd

Outstanding Innovation Small Business Finalists

• Becca Hume - Inclutech

• Emma McClenaghan - Genysys Engine Ltd

• Ineke Rentmeesters - Ubloquity

• Melanie Dawson - Origin7 Ltd

• Patricia O'Hagan - Core Systems NI

Best Green Business

• Bethany Carroll - Hughes Insurance

• Danielle McCormick - Triterra

• Eimear O'Reilly - Everun Ltd

• Grainne O'Loane - Fish City

• Sarah Mackie - Larchfield Estate

• Sarah Simpson - Translink

Excellence in IT

• Catherine Deegan - Doc Elite Ltd

• Emma McCrory - Lisburn Orthodontics

• Lyndsay Shields - Danske Bank

• Monique Silva - Progressive Building Society

• Shannon Stronge – BT

Outstanding Mentor

• Fiona Molloy - FM Coaching and Facilitation

• Lenore Rice - Wilson Nesbitt

• Lynne Beggs - The 27.2 Consultancy

• Nuala Kilmartin - UK Research and Innovation

• Sinead Norton - Mums at Work

Outstanding Management and Leadership

• Becca Hume - Inclutech

• Bernie McHugh Sonner - Hughes Insurance

• Jacqui Pope – GLL

• Prof Karen McCloskey - Queen's University Belfast

• Tanya Martin - IQ & Co Ltd

Young Business Woman of the Year

• Aoife Malone - Realta the Label

• Ashleigh Averell - IBrand

• Michaela Diamond - The Old Thatch Inn Ltd

• Niamh McCarthy - Niamh Designs

• Shannon Stronge - BT

• Tara Russell - Mountpanther Farm Park