A nurse who swapped hospital beds for balance sheets was crowned as the outstanding business woman of the year at the Forward Ladies National Women in Business awards.
Jan Flawn, the owner of PJ Care, walked off with the top award after impressing the judges with her work to establish a company that provides specialist neurological care and rehabilitation.
Ms Flawn, who also picked up the national SME (Growth) category prize, left school with no qualifications. She became a registered nurse and rose to a senior management position at the Department of Health. She launched PJ Care after seeing young people with neurological conditions living in homes for the elderly, which she didn’t believe was the most appropriate place for them to be treated.
The awards ceremony, which attracted hundreds of guests to the Royal Armouries in Leeds, also heard a keynote speech from Petra Wetzel, the founder and MD of the WEST Brewery in Glasgow, which she has grown from a self-contained German style beer hall and brewery into a major distribution operation. Around 5,000 venues now stock WEST beers. Ms Wetzel urged the audience to do something they really enjoy.
She added: “You (have to) love your job. I still get out of bed, even if it’s very early in the morning, and I’m raring to go. I always think, ‘What’s coming behind the next corner?’
“Who am I meeting today who is going to enrich my life?”
The retail business woman of the year award was presented by Greg Wright, the deputy business editor of The Yorkshire Post, to Harriet Kelsall, the founder and creative director of Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery, She was one of the first jewellers in the world to both sell Fairtrade gold and be certified by the Responsible Jewellery Council.
Other winners included Carolyn Pearson, the CEO of Leeds-based Maiden-Voyage.com, who won the digital/online business woman title. Maiden-Voyage is a specialist network which connects female business travellers around the world. Maiden-Voyage has a team of global ambassadors who support in-bound business travellers by providing female travel safety training. She has raised around £500,000 in angel investments to underpin global expansion.
The inspiring leader of the year title was presented to Vicki Davenport, the sales and commercial director of The Pink Link, based in Huddersfield. She is the managing director of a company which specialises in distributing small consignments of palletised freight throughout the UK and Europe.
The national young entrepreneur winner was Hannah Duraid, the CEO of the Great Escape Game, a live escape room experience in Sheffield. She and her partner opened their first “escape room” last year and have subsequently opened four more. The start-up business woman of the year was Joanna Stephenson, MD of PHD Marketing & Strategy, a marketing and communications agency from Pontefract. The Yorkshire Post was the media partner for the awards, and the event’s main sponsor was HSBC. During the awards, James Cliff, HSBC’s UK head of business banking, also announced that the bank was supporting a parental leave support package for small businesses in the UK.
Other winners included Jenny Holloway of Fashion Enter, who picked up the not for profit business woman of the year title.
The rising star national winner was Monica Chia, MD of Karimix and Barinder Hothi, founder and group MD of The Knowledge Academy, won the international business woman of the year. The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) business woman of the year was Emma McGuigan who is the senior managing director of technology UK & Ireland for Accenture. The award for the SME (emerging) business woman of the year went to Tricia Cusden, who is the founder and MD of Look Fabulous Forever