Saluting Sheffield's Leading Ladies


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With Mother's Day just gone and International Women's Day today (8th March), it's a week of saluting women across the globe, and as part of this we wanted to give a nod to female business leaders and entrepreneurs of our own fair city. 

With so many female faces at the helms of Sheffield companies, from leaders of worldwide organisations and brands, to entrepreneurs who have made a name for themselves, these figures are great real models to future generations. It seemed fitting that for International Women's Day we should showcase some of the best of Sheffield - there really are too many to mention but these are the business figures that caught our eye... 

Take inspiration...

Julie Kenny CBE DL 

Position: Chair and Chief Executive of Pyronix Limited 

Background: As Founder and Chair of Pyronix, Julie Kenny has developed this leading manufacturer of products and technologies in the security industry into a global name, recognised in over 70 countries. As a new technologies emerge, the award winning company is now pioneering innovations in PyronixCloud and Home Control+ App 

Inspiration: Julie is prominent figure in the local business community and was the first female president of Rotherham Chamber of Commerce. With such a successful career Julie works to inspire the next generation to consider working in manufacturing, ,and mentors young people to help them achieve business success. 

In addition, she is also currently a Founding Investor in the Dot Forge Accelerator http://dotforge.com/ programme that works as a 13 week mentor programme for fast tracking high growth start ups. 

Lisa Pogson

Position: Resource Director at Airmaster and Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber of Commerce Board Member 

Background: Director of mechanical services company Airmaster - the company is focused on deliver energy efficient heating and cooling systems. Alongside this Lisa takes the role as President Elect and Board Member of Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber to work to deliver a leading an proactive Chamber

Inspiration: Lisa takes an inspirational role with youngsters in the local community, and is particularly involved with Rotherham initiative Grimm & Co https://grimmandco.wordpress.com/ Grimm & Co is a literary arts based charity striving to empower young people and their ability to articulate. Alongside Lisa has worked on various youth schemes including WorkWise and projects with SHU 

Jillian Thomas 

Position: Managing Director of Future Life Wealth Management and President of Sheffield Chamber 

Background: Jillian is at the helm of leading financial practice Future Life Wealth Management and has successfully positioned the company as one of Britian's leading financial services firms. The company offers a bespoke planning service to generators of wealth - whether this be business owners/professionals or receivers such as inheritors 

Inspiration: As such a highly respected figure in the financial services industry and renowned in Sheffield for her business acumen, it seems fitting that Jillian holds the position of President of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce. Jillian has been in this role since October 2015 and is only the second woman to hold this title in 154 years. 

Julia Gash 

Position: Founder of Bag it Don't Bin It (BIDBI) and accessory label Talented 

Background: Julia's success in the 1990's with fashion brand 'Gash' undoubtedly contributed to her success as the clothing was stocked in prestigious stores worldwide and was a great springboard for her future businesses. With a passion for print, and more specifically sustainable print, Julia founded fair trade branded tote bag company BIDBI in 2007. The company has since gone on to make bags for some of the world's top fashion brands and art establishments. Building on BIDBI success Julia launched accessory BIDBI sister brand, accessory label Talented - the most famous pieces are Cityscapes from travel around the world. 

Inspiration: Julia's talent started early as she learn her craft at an early age from her father who had a print and sign writing business in Nottingham - she went on to do a BA in Visual Communications and a post graduate in Printmaking. From there she has gone on to be an inspiring entrepreneur taking brave calculated risks to develop brands and inspire others with her work. In 2015 Julia was elected as a Member of the Institute of Directors and as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) 

Maria Cooper 

Position: Plant Manager at Parker PEGL 

Background: Now part of global Manufacturing giant Parker Hannifin Marie Cooper is working as part of the team Parker PEGL to drive the business forward and further invest in its manufacturing base in Sheffield. The company was last year recognised by the Sheffield Business Awards for their outstanding contribution in bringing manufacturing operations back to the city, expanding and its design and engineering teams. 

Marie is instrumental in the company's development and won Business Person of the year at the Sheffield Business Awards - as well as seeing the company receive The Queens' Award for International Trade and The Manufacturer of the Year Award. 

Inspiration: Marie operates as a Business Champion for Made in Sheffield working to provide young people an insight into developing their skill set to ensure they are ready for the work place. Working with children 13-16 Marie is able to use her extensive expertise to advice young people and help them widen their skill set. 

Emma Killilea 

Position: Founder of Delicious Alchemy 

Background: After being diagnosed as coeliac in 2002 Emma realised there was a gap in the market for healthy and fresh gluten free food, and thus Delicious Alchemy was born. 

Inspiration: Emma was so passionate about her business idea that she packed in her role as a computer games programmer and became fully focused on studying food science and marketing at University. The result was crating a quality brand and award winning products making gluten free options common place. Emma is an example of pursuing what you believe in and should be an inspiration to any budding entrepreneurs out there. 

South Yorkshire Successes 

For further inspiration, here's a snapshot of some more South Yorkshire success stories... 

Bridie Adsetts Warner 

Position: Chief Operations Officer at Naylor Industries and Adsetts Consultancy 

Success: As COO of leading manufacturer of building and construction products, Naylor, Bridie is instrumental in the company's success. The Barnsley business is a great investor of people with 2nd and 3rd generation employees bringing their craftsmanship to the company. Bridie is also active in assisting to the company. Bridie is also active in assisting other businesses through her consultancy business Adsetts - focusing on delivering expert advice on organisational change, strategy and people development. 

Julie Gill

Position: Executive Director - Operations and Company Secretary at Westfield Health

Success: Julie has been with Westfield for over 20 years, rising to the top to manage the operational side of the healthcare business. Julie leads a team of over 100 customer service professionals to ensure excellence in service, managing the teams, facilities 

 management, plus the HR, Training and Development Department. All this is done to an award winning standard - om 2013 Westfield won the Sheffield Business Awards Excellence in Customer Service Award in Investors in People Gold accreditation. 

Hannah Duraid 

Position: Founder and Director of The Great Escape Game 

Success: At 24 Hannah is a real entrepreneur running her own business, The Great Escape Game with Peter Lecole. This real life escape game experience has built a fantastic reputation in Sheffield and has even been voted number 1 on Trip Advisor. The Great Escape Game has created a real buzz in the city and is fantastic experience whether it's for team building or friendship groups. 

Emma Marshall

Position: Operations Director 3Squared Limited 

Success: Emma has over 20 years experience that spans across manufacturing and digital businesses. Most recently Emma has taken then role as Operations Director at 3Squared, an award winning technology consultancy in Sheffield. Emma' s passion and vision has helped her deliver strategic thinking and processes to create successful businesses

Deborah Lockwood 

Position: Partner at Graywoods and Non Executive Director at South Yorkshire Housing Association Enterprises Limited 

Success: Graywoods was founded by Deborah and Adrian Graham - the company is boutique insolvency and recovery practice in Sheffield. With over 20 years experience, Deborah offers an unrivalled service and knowledge offering personal solutions to businesses and individuals facing financial issues.