Aspire - Leadership for the future

The Aspire 2017 M.A.D. (Making A Difference) Leadership Annual Conference
County Hall, London, 4th and 5th December, 2017

Join Dr Sam Collins, CEO of Aspire and named as 'One of the Top 200 Women to Impact Business and Industry’ by Her Majesty, The Queen, and 'One of the Top 10 Coaches in the UK' by The Independent, and trailblazing women leaders from across industries, levels and backgrounds to lead, create change and make a transformational difference to your career, workplace, organisation and community.

  • Develop your leadership skills.
  • Be inspired by role model speakers.
  • Create a new vision for 2018.
  • Overcome obstacles, challenges and fears.
  • Join a like-minded external network.
  • Gain tools to increase influence and impact.
  • Leave with a tangible action plan.
  • Develop new ideas to advance women leaders.

Part 1 - The Aspire M.A.D. Leadership webinar

Join a 60-minute preparation webinar with Dr Sam Collins. Learn the top tips to be a M.A.D. Leader, define your conference goals, measurements and practical plans. Network with other like-minded attendees ahead of the conference.

Part 2 - The Aspire M.A.D Leadership Conference
December 4th and 5th in London, UK. Part innovation lab, part business change incubator and part career and leadership advice centre, we offer our attendees a unique ecosystem of speakers, tools, resources, inspiration and collaboration opportunities to make a difference as a leader at work, at home and in the world.

Part 3 - The Aspire M.A.D. Leadership Post Event Webinar
Participate in a 60 minute follow up ‘No Excuses’ webinar with Dr Sam Collins to provide the inspiration, support network and challenge to achieve your conference actions and increase your return on investment back at work and in real life.


M.A.D. Leadership Conference Agenda

4th December 2017 - Strategic and Visionary You

Registration, breakfast and informal networking 

Begin the day with a light breakfast and networking.  Exchange ideas, find mentors, role models and supporters for your M.A.D. aspirations, projects and goals.

Optional Breakfast Session

Mindfulness Practice for a M.A.D. Life, Career and World

Learning Objectives: Self care is a critical skill set of M.A.D. Leaders. Develop your physical, mental and emotional tool kit for a M.A.D life, work and world.

Conference Opening Session

Strategic You - The power and impact of being a M.A.D. leader in today’s competitive organisation and global economy.

Learning Objectives: Create your leadership vision for 2018. Learn to think bigger and overcome internal fears and obstacles. Gain a tool kit for being visionary and translate it for use at home, at work or in the wider world.

Dr Sam Collins,
CEO and Founder
Aspire, Trailblazing Women


Session 2

Keynote Speaker:

Challenging Leaders to be a Catalyst for Change

Learning Objectives: The power is within you - tap into your own self belief, confidence and ability to design your own destiny rather than waiting for your bosses, partners, government or society to determine it for you. Be inspired about your role in advancing your career and changing the world.

Brita Fernandez Schmidt,
Executive Director,
Women for Women International, UK


Networking Lunch & Optional Lunch Time Session

Diversity, Inclusion and Women Leaders – A New Conversation

Join an inspiring and supportive network of like-minded women leaders from across industries for a networking lunch or quietly reflect in our meditation room or join a lunch time discussion to gain new ideas, best practice and contribute to your organisational diversity and inclusion goals to advance, develop and retain women leaders.

Session 3

Small Group Speaker Sessions with Q&A

Join the speakers of your choice to get up close and personal on their leadership story and strategies for success.

Learning objectives: Leadership purpose is the ‘North Star’ that provides clarity of direction, unifies people to operate beyond their business objectives and evokes passion and commitment. Define your leadership purpose and transform your confidence, gravitas and personal and professional impact.

Sarah Kitakule,
The Kitakule Foundation


Kirsty Keck,
Director of Strategy and Operational Performance,
Nationwide Building Society


Caron Bradshaw,
Chief Executive,
Charity Finance Group


Sarah de los Rios,
Commercial and Marketing Director,


Geordan Shannon,
Doctor and Research Fellow,
Institute for Global Health, University College London


Nicky Young,
Group Managing Director,
MullenLowe salt Communications and PR


Kate Newhouse,
Doctor Care Anywhere


Session 4

Reflection Session: The Power of Quiet Time

Take the time away from your inbox to reflect on your work objectives, career plans and future direction for 2018. Gain tools to translate your insights into real life and create your M.A.D. plans for after the conference.

Session 5

Panel Discussion: Confidence, Authenticity and Success

Learning Objective: "How do they do it?" - Hear the highs and lows of stories from women leaders from across industries and gain new strategies, top tips and inspiration on how to be confident, be yourself and perform at your highest levels to make a difference to yourself and others.

Rachel Dent,
Head of The Abbey School for Girls


Claire Green,
Security Industry Expert - Office for Security & Counter Terrorism
at the Home Office


Alison Bates,
Director of Application Performance and Delivery (IT),
Avis Budget Group


Erin Northey,
CEO of
EducAid Sierra Leone


Helen Tite,
Social Entrepreneur
Core Health Consultancy


Maria Bondareva,
Global HR Business Partner,


Session 6

Learning and Action Session

Review your learning from the day and actions to take post the conference.

Networking Session

Drinks and Connections Time

Meet other attendees, discuss the day and find mentors, role models and collaborators to achieve your aspirations for home, work and world.


5th December 2017 - Influence and Impact as a M.A.D. Leader

Registration, breakfast and informal networking 

The day begins with breakfast and networking with the opportunity to meet your new peer group of like minded women from across industries, ages and social backgrounds. Exchange ideas, find mentors, role models and supporters for your M.A.D. aspirations, projects and goals.

Optional Breakfast Session

Mindfulness Practice for a M.A.D. Life, Career and World

Learning Objectives: Self care is a critical skill set of M.A.D. Leaders. Develop your physical, mental and spiritual tool kit for a M.A.D life, work and world.

Session 7

Opening Session: Leading and Influencing Others

Learning Objective: Ideas, tools and inspiration for leading and influencing others.

Dr Sam Collins,
CEO and Founder Aspire,
Trailblazing Women


Session 8

CEO Interviews with Dr Sam Collins:

Translating Your Ideas and Knowledge into Action and Gaining Buy-In from Others

Learning Objectives: Gain an insight into the real life reality of women CEO’s who have broken the glass ceiling. How have they achieved what they have? What steps did they take? What strategies did they follow? How did they overcome their fears and obstacles?

Jane Howson,
Autism East Midlands


Beth Butterwick,
Karen Millen


Zareen Roohi Ahmed,
Academic, Humanitarian and CEO,
Gift Wellness Ltd


Optional Lunch Time Session - Aspire Book Club

Join Dr Sam Collins, CEO of Aspire, with your favourite M.A.D. book. Share ideas and trade the books that inspire, empower and lead women to greatness around the world. Dr Collins will share how and why she wrote her own international best seller, “Radio Heaven”, her top tips for how to write a book and do a book signing.

Session 9

Interactive Session: The Power of your Network


Learning Objectives: Improve your networking skills, learn about the critical importance of mentors, sponsors and role models. Participate in a session to help others and receive the support and contacts you need to achieve your goals.

Session 10

Young M.A.D. Role Models - The power and impact of being a Young M.A.D. leader at home, school and in the world

Learning Objectives: Be inspired by the youngest generation of women leaders who will share their strategies in achieving extraordinary successes against the odds.

Destiny Manning-Wong, age 17,
Loreto Sixth Form College


Jenny Raw, age 18,
Human Rights Activist,
National Council of Women Great Britain


Rachel Wibberley, age 18,
King's College, London


Sara Fernandez Schmidt, age 15,
St Francis College


Sophia Zahra, age 19,
Support Worker and Business Administration Apprentice,
YMCA Swansea


Serena Owoeye, age 14,
St Edwards Academy


Session 11

Learning Session - Strategic Thinking & Time Leadership Skills to Make a Difference

Learning Objectives: Learn skills to move from busy and day to day to being a successful strategic leader of your time, life and career. Gain tools to make sure you follow through on your commitments post event, keep your energy high, say no effectively and take time every day to think and be strategic.

Session 12

Interactive Session: Action plans, support and accountability and the Aspire M.A.D. Leadership finale

Learning Objectives: Celebrate, connect and collaborate to create your tangible action plans and have the accountability to achieve your goals post the conference. Leave Aspire M.A.D. Leadership inspired, empowered and ready to follow through on your commitments.

Networking Session

Drinks and Connections Time

Relax and network with your new and empowering external network of like minded women leaders from across industries and backgrounds.


Kate Newhouse
CEO Doctor Care Anywhere

Kate is the CEO of Doctor Care Anywhere, a clinically-led, doctor-founded, global digital healthcare company. Kate is responsible for the commercial strategy and business development and was instrumental in developing relationships with AXA PPP Healthcare, Legal & General, Nuffield Health, AON and Aetna International with whom Doctor Care Anywhere now serve over 100 corporate clients worldwide.

Previously Kate worked as a Strategy Consultant with over ten years' experience, notably at Roland Berger, Tribal Group and BDO where she built key expertise in business strategy, customer insight and digital delivery of services with specialist knowledge of local government, health and education sectors. Kate also worked at Outcomes Based Healthcare and Enjoy Education before joining Doctor Care Anywhere.

Kate won Disruptor of the Year in 2016 at the First Woman Awards and Innovator of the Year in 2017 at the Everywoman Women in Technology awards. 

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Serena Owoeye, age 14
Student, St Edwards Academy

14 year-old Serena is a student from St Edwards Academy in Poole, Dorset, UK. Her interests include singing, badminton, netball, archery, human rights and debating in her politics club. Serena has a leadership role in the student voice team for her school and has been elected as student leader. She volunteers as a Girl Guide leader and Anti-Bullying Ambassador. Serena is an advocate for anti-bullying as she has been bullied herself and has overcome her challenges through her grounded roots and love of singing and music. Serena's biggest ambition in life is to be a human rights activist and open up her own law firm. She is a young leader who has already volunteered at Aspire events previously and presented on stage about the rights of children to over 400 people.

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Maria Bondareva
Global HR Business Partner, Syngenta

Maria was born in Siberia and studied Economics and Sociology there, before moving to Moscow where she studied Organisational Psychology and Counselling. She has worked as a head-hunter, a trainer and a people manager in HR with and for national and international companies such as Astra-Zeneca.

She now works for Syngenta where she has moved from Eastern European roles to Europe/Africa/Middle East region roles and then to a Global one - bringing various change projects to life, working with top leaders in the organisation to understand market trends and to build a strategy contributing to a way to feed the world.

Maria has a passionate belief in people and their potential, in "togetherness", in talents and helping others to achieve great results. When people say "is it possible?", Maria thinks "why not just try and see and learn"? 

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Zareen Roohi Ahmed
Academic, Humanitarian and CEO, Gift Wellness Ltd

Zareen is the Founder & CEO of Gift Wellness Ltd, manufacturing and distributing an award-winning range of natural feminine hygiene products. The GIFT range is currently the fastest growing feminine hygiene brand in Europe and is a best seller in Holland & Barrett. Most importantly, due to Zareen’s commitment to helping women in crisis, over half a million pads have been donated to homeless and refugee women as well as to foodbanks across the UK, as part of her BUY1 GIFT1 programme.

Gift Wellness and a wide range of charitable enterprises are all part of Zareen’s vision to fulfil the dreams of her daughter who was tragically murdered in 2007. Zareen’s achievements are an example of how to channel negative energy following a tragedy into something amazing, simply by focusing on helping others.

Zareen’s PhD explores the role of Muslim women in British society and over a career spanning 25 years, she has held several senior roles.

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Beth Butterwick
CEO, Karen Millen

Beth has enjoyed a wonderful and varied career in retail for over 25 years. Having completed a Fashion & Marketing Degree, she joined Marks & Spencer on their Graduate Training Scheme, where she spent 16 years in the Clothing Division. She joined Gap Inc in 2005 as part of the Senior Management Team responsible for delivering the European Expansion Programme. In 2009 she joined MS Mode BV, part of KKR's Maxeda Group and based in Amsterdam as Commercial Director, playing a key part in its performance improvement prior to its acquisition by Excellent Retail Brands.

In 2011 she returned to the UK to take up a Brand Director role at Bonmarché. 8 weeks into the role the business was put into administration; Beth led the successful sale process to Sun Europe LLP. During her 5 years there as CEO, she steered the company through a massive turnaround, including a successful stock market flotation on AIM Listing in November 2013.

In September 2016 Beth took up her current role as CEO of Karen Millen, a global fashion retailer with 400 shops in 65 countries, owned by Kaupthing Bank, where she is charged with delivering a successful transformation and eventual sale.

In recognition of Beth’s services to the retail industry, she was awarded the Draper’s 2015 Retail Personality of the Year and that same year she was made Barclay’s Business Woman of the Year in acknowledgement of her dedication and services to Bonmarché, a Yorkshire-based business.

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Helen Tite
Social Entrepreneur Core Health Consultancy

Helen embraces Marmite like some embrace hugs - love her or hate her you will listen to her. Founder of Core Health Consultancy and iCareiMove, she is one of the most respected Wellbeing pioneers in the UK.

When you talk to her, you feel the passion and vibrancy ooze from her. She is a story teller and is not afraid to speak out about her cause. She works within specialist health populations and reaches into communities who historically can be overlooked.

Helen takes her vision of holistic health into corporates, businesses and charities. She is a business mentor. Her passion drives her and that is why she stands out. She makes it fun and liberating, especially for women and confidence.

Helen has many firsts to her accolade but most noticeably is the determination to make a difference. "Everyone deserves to move" is her mantra. 

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Erin Northey
CEO of EducAid Sierra Leone

Erin is the chief executive of EducAid Sierra Leone, an organisation that runs schools and trains teachers in Sierra Leone. She is a graduate of Smith College and has a Master’s of Arts in Teaching from Brown University.

A former English teacher, Erin is a firm believer in the transformational power of education and the importance of authenticity. She has had a number of leadership roles since moving to London, including being the editor of FOCUS Magazine and the president of the Junior League of London, an organisation dedicated to developing the potential of women and building communities. She also serves as a Trustee of the Hackney Pirates. 

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Alison Bates
Director of Application Performance and Delivery (IT), Avis Budget Group

Alison is a complex being – a mum, wife, daughter, sister, IT Director and perhaps even a psychologist ‘wannabe’. On a daily basis Alison strives to ‘have it all’ and with the support of her amazing son, husband and close family, she usually manages to achieve this and continues to learn, develop and (hopefully) inspire future generations.

Alison believes in the positives and in providing the opportunity for everyone to excel; exploiting strengths, and working with a growth mindset to deliver continual improvement and beneficial change. Alison is very interested in positive parenting and the link between positive mental health and performance in life.

Alison is a change leader, working with MDs and ‘C’ level executives delivering transformational business change. Her key strengths include her transparent communication and collaborative style - coupled with her ability to think, act and learn quickly, this has helped Alison to deliver multi-million dollar solutions across complex, global organisations.

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Nicky Young
Group Managing Director, MullenLowe salt Communications and PR

Nicky is Group Managing Director of multi-award winning MullenLowe salt, a strategic consultancy that delivers positive change through communications for companies including Unilever, Hunter boots and Andrex. MullenLowe salt was one of the first companies in the UK to be awarded B-Corporation status – a high profile accreditation given exclusively to companies committed to transforming society for good through their business. Working directly with two co-founders Richard Cox and Andrew Last, Nicky has grown the company to 45 employees with a 2016 gross profit of £4.5 million. In July 2017, salt was acquired by MullenLowe, part of Interpublic Group, one of the ‘Big 4’ integrated marketing companies in the world. During her time at MullenLowe salt, Nicky has carved out a specialism in corporate & change communications and employee engagement. She has particular expertise cascading complex business strategy within global organisations in a simple and engaging manner. Her MD experience, psychology degree and 16 years’ consulting for a flagship client within the employment services industry ensures a people-centric and business savvy approach to all her work.

Nicky is a proud mum, a passionate Italian/South African and advocate of women in leadership.

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Geordan Shannon
Doctor and Research Fellow, Institute for Global Health, University College London

Geordan is an Australian medical doctor and Research Fellow at the Institute for Global Health, University College London. She is currently completing her doctoral research in gender and health metrics, exploring the construction of an individualised gender equality measure in Peru using existing household survey data. Prior to commencing her PhD, she attended the University of Cambridge (Master of Philosophy in Public Health (Hon.) 2011) the University of Geneva (Advanced Certificate in Health and Human Rights, 2011) and the University of Newcastle Australia (Bachelor of Medicine (Hon.) 2008).

Geordan is affiliated with the UCL Economics of Global Health and UCL Gender and Global Health Groups. She is engaged with a participatory action research project against gender violence led by a network of community health volunteers in the Peruvian Amazon and also oversees a complex community intervention to improve the quality of service engagement for homeless Indigenous Australians.

Geordan concurrently works as the Medical Director of the NGO DB Peru and is the Co-Founder of Global Health Disrupted, an organisation that enhances global health communication through research, technology and the arts. She has worked as a global medic in various settings including remote Indigenous Australia, post-Tsunami Sri Lanka, the Peruvian Amazon and rural Kenya.

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Sarah de los Rios
Commercial and Marketing Director, Altro

Sarah has been Commercial and Marketing Director for Altro since 2011. Altro is a third-generation family run UK manufacturer based in Hertfordshire and operating worldwide that manufactures and sells commercial floor and wall coverings to the Healthcare, Transport, Education and Hospitality sectors. Sarah has had a leadership role in the globalisation of the business, overseas acquisitions, long term strategic planning and the development and set up of the Altro Foundation focussing on healthcare solutions for vulnerable communities. Her previous roles include Head of Marketing, European Commercial Manager and Business Development Manager for Latin America.

Sarah’s first degree was an MA joint honours in Spanish and Portuguese with French from the University of Edinburgh and she completed an MBA in 2005. Prior to Altro she was based in Latin America for 2.5 years between Mexico, Chile, Brazil and Colombia. Now based in North London and married with three daughters under ten, Sarah’s continual drive is to combine her passions of family, education, opportunity for girls/women, travel, business success in the context of a clear agenda of corporate social responsibility and doing her bit to improve equality in the world.

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Caron Bradshaw
Chief Executive, Charity Finance Group

Caron is Chief Executive of Charity Finance Group. She joined CFG in June 2010 from the ICAEW, where she was Head of the Charity and Voluntary Sector. In addition to supporting a number of small charities and community organisations Caron is a member of the NCVO’s National Assembly, sits on the Charities SORP Committee, on a number of government working parties, is a member of the BBC Charity Appeals Advisory Committee and is on the board of the Directory of Social Change. She is named in the ‘Top 30 UK Social Influences’ in Risk, Compliance and Regtech 2017.

Caron is a trained Barrister and has a wide array of experience across charity, regulation/law, policy, member support and professional ethics. In 2015 she was named Charity Principal of the Year at the Charity Times Awards. In 2016 she received the Association Excellence Award for Leadership.

Caron is an avidly ‘social’ CEO and was been named in the ‘Top 30 Social CEOs’ in 2013, 2014 and 2015 before joining the judging panel in 2016.

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Claire Green
Security Industry Expert - Office for Security & Counter Terrorism at the Home Office

Working for the last 14 years in the security sector, Claire has accumulated experience across the Middle East, Asia and Africa in a variety of countries. She specialises in delivering security solutions in post-conflict and non-permissive environments, thereby creating a safer space for reconstruction and peacebuilding projects. She spent two years living in Iraq during the war and has been travelling to Afghanistan since 2005.

Claire is currently seconded to the Home Office, Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism. She is embedded within the Joint Security and Resilience Centre (JSaRC) whose primary objective is to deliver a joint Government and security industry response to the UK’s national security challenges.

Claire read political science and gained an MSc in International Security and Global Governance. Her particular interest is emerging trends and tensions as the for-profit sector becomes ever more active in traditionally humanitarian spaces. 

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Kirsty Keck
Director of Strategy and Operational Performance, Nationwide Building Society

Kirsty began her career in Human Resources in 2001 and has spent the last 12 years focused on leadership, talent and cultural development. From her role as a leader at Nationwide, to the time she spends on her pro bono coaching and mentoring people from all walks of life from all over the world, her philanthropic endeavours running marathons and riding bikes, to her determination to be (a great) single mum to Jasper and Marnie, she is trying to make a difference.

She is a 2017 finalist for the Leader of the Year Award at Nationwide, during a time immense change for the society and has continued to lead with strong moral values, with her community achieving the highest employee engagement scores in the society. She obtained a part-time Exec MSc in International Human Resource Management in 2008 from Cranfield School of Management.

Kirsty lives in the Cotswolds with her partner and two children.

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Jane Howson
CEO, Autism East Midlands

Jane has worked across the public and third sectors for over 25 years, has a masters degree from York University and four sons, including a 23 year old with autism. Jane took up her post as Chief Executive with Autism East Midlands (formerly Norsaca) in September 2013. Since then the organisation has been undergoing a period of significant change aimed at improving financial viability and quality of services-in addition to the name change.

Jane is a Trustee and Chair of the Autism Alliance UK. This is a national alliance of charities providing services for people with autism. The Alliance aims to improve both choice and quality of the support and services available. The Alliance works with government agencies and other bodies of influence, to ensure that Autistic people have an effective voice. As part of this work Jane co-chairs the Cross Sector Partnership with Mark Lever, Chief Executive of the National Autistic Society.

Jane’s previous roles include managing investigations at the Office of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman and leading a General Medicine Department in a District General Hospital. Immediately prior to joining Autism East Midlands Jane was Business Development Director at Linkage Community Trust.

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Sarah Kitakule
Founder The Kitakule Foundation

Sarah is a strong advocate for women’s economic empowerment and girls’ education. Her recent professional life is centered on advocating for gender equality. She has been a board member of several women’s networks, has provided leadership to private sector associations and, most specifically, was the elected Chairperson of the Uganda Women Entrepreneurs Association for three years. She has mentored young professionals and her contribution was recognised when she was nominated for the British Council Woman Professional of the Year Award.

Sarah has over 25 years’ experience working with several international organisations: the World Bank/International Finance Corporation, United States Agency for International Development and the International Labour Organisation.

She credits her success to her parents who believed in educating their girls in spite of opposition from friends and family. She is an aspiring entrepreneur who believes in not giving up in spite of the many obstacles. She has co-authored a book on the resilience of women entrepreneurs in Uganda titled ‘Above the Odds: A Decade of Change for Ugandan Women Entrepreneurs’.

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Sophia Zahra, age 19
Support Worker and Business Administration Apprentice, YMCA Swansea

Sophia works as a Support Worker and Business Administrator at the YMCA and has just finished self-studying Maths and Biology as a part-time A Level student. She is also passionate about mental health and so volunteers as a Young Champion to raise awareness and battle stigma as part of the Time to Change charity.Sophia is 19 years old and lives in Swansea, Wales.

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Sara Fernandez Schmidt, age 15
Student, St Francis College

Sara is a 15-year-old student from London, England. She currently attends St. Francis College. Her father and mother are of Spanish and German descent and Sara is therefore fluent in both languages. Her interests include fitness, travel, charity work, reading and cooking. In 2015, she travelled to Bosnia, taking part in the annual march commemorating the Genocide that took place in 1995. This summer she visited Rwanda and learned more about the country’s recent history as well as meeting women enrolled in the Women for Women International programme.

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Rachel Wibberley, age 18
Student, King's College, London

Making a difference motivates Rachel. She wants to have a role in shaping the world for others and has recently had the opportunity to represent the National Council for Women at the 61st Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations.

Whilst volunteering in a women's empowerment centre and girls’ orphanage in India, Rachel gained a deeper understanding of the inequality of the status of women. Rachel has spoken in national debates in the House of Commons and she is able to listen to the voices of young people from each constituency of the UK and represent their voices on a national scale. Her current experiences, enthusiasm and desire to promote women's rights inspire Rachel to put words into action and work towards a brighter future for women across the world.

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Jenny Raw, age 18
Human Rights Activist, National Council of Women Great Britain

Jenny was Head Girl at Nottingham Girls’ High School, where she led a team of 12 Prefects to organise regular events in school and in the local community. This empowered Jenny to take on a leading role in the National Council of Young Women at school and she was recently invited to join their Management Committee. She is now the first ever Youth Representative to this non-governmental organisation; she works to increase youth engagement in human rights by visiting schools around the country and using social media platforms. She takes a leading role in organising seminars and conferences and is often asked to attend national and international events. In March, Jenny was accredited to attend the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women 61 in New York, where she gave a speech about ‘leaving no one behind’ when implementing Sustainable Development Goals 1 and 8. She received a grant from the Girls’ Day School Trust to attend and was interviewed by The Metro about what feminism means to young people. She is now a regular blogger for the Huffington Post UK’s ‘Youth Voices’ section, where she writes about issues affecting young people today. Jenny was also selected to work on a Cabinet Office initiative, where she became a Young Community Leader, selecting exceptional volunteers in the East Midlands to be nominated for a national award. The team she led at the Girls' Day School Trust Young Leaders' Conference campaigned for the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust and won their charity’s category, where she learnt about the important work of charities and NGOs internationally. She also received Second Prize in their Human Rights Essay Competition. Jenny hopes to spend her gap year before university, and her career, advocating the human rights of others and inspiring young people to understand the importance of gender equality.

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Destiny Manning-Wong, age 17
Student, Loreto Sixth Form College

Destiny is 17 years old and in her first year of college. She was formerly Deputy Head Girl of Stockport Academy High School where she also held a lot of other titles such as Gold Tie - Senior Prefect, Peer Mentor, Anti Bullying Ambassador, GLAM (Girl Leadership And Marketing) Squad, Hospitality Team Member, Form and Netball Captain to name but a few. She has also won a number of awards: two Princess Diana Awards for Anti Bullying and Being a Good Role Model, a James Conaway award - for caring for others and Sports Woman of the Year. Destiny has achieved all of this since losing her mother half way through her 1st year of high school. Destiny loves helping others and is keen to become a better version of herself. Destiny has aspirations to become an accountant and eventually open her own accountancy firm.

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Brita Fernandez Schmidt
Executive Director, Women for Women International, UK

Brita Fernandez Schmidt serves as the Executive Director of Women for Women International - UK and is responsible for the operation and management of Women for Women International in the UK and Europe. Brita is an advocate and promoter of women’s empowerment, women’s rights and equality. She frequently writes about the challenges women face all over the world in the context of poverty and conflict and is a public speaker on these issues. She has lived and/or worked in over 16 countries spanning three continents.

Brita has led several influential women’s organisations and networks. She currently runs Women for Women International - UK as Executive Director. She has grown the organisation from when it first started in the UK to a medium-sized charity which is helping thousands of women in countries affected by conflict and raising millions through effective and innovative donor relationships and partnerships. She is also the Chair of Gender Action for Peace and Security (GAPS) and Global Ambassador for Roundtable Global. Previously she was a Commissioner to the UK Women’s National Commission, Chair of the Gender and Development Network, Director for Programmes & Policy at Womankind Worldwide, a board member of BOND and she started her career at the European Women’s Lobby.

Brita holds a MA in Women’s Studies from the University of Sussex. Originally from Germany, Brita went to school in Venezuela. She now lives in the UK with her husband and two daughters.

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Dr Sam Collins
CEO and Founder Aspire, Trailblazing Women

Sam founded Aspire in 2001 when she was just 30 years old and it is now a globally sought-after organisation that enables women leaders to thrive through leadership development, coaching and events. The Aspire Foundation, the not-for-profit arm launched in 2010, is integral to Aspire’s way of doing business. Its pro-bono mentoring programme works in 80 countries and has already made a positive difference to the lives of over 16 million women and girls across the world.

Sam is an expert in the fields of women’s leadership and gender diversity within the business world and is also an active campaigner on the role of business in solving world economic and social issues, supporting families after suicide, the developing world orphan crisis and empowering women as business leaders in developing and emerging economies. Passionate about family and life balance, Sam lives in the UK with her husband and 3 children.

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Dr Sam Collins
CEO and Founder Aspire, Trailblazing Women

Award-winning leadership expert, social entrepreneur, keynote speaker, coach and author, Dr Sam Collins is synonymous with M.A.D. (Making A Difference) Women Leaders and is a leading global voice on women as leaders and change agents for workplaces, organisational culture and community impact. Sam has been named one of the 'Top 200 Women to Impact Business & Industry' by Her Majesty, The Queen, one of the 'Top 10 Coaches' by The Independent and 'Leader in the Workplace' in the Ogûnte Women's Social Leadership Awards.

She has worked with over 25,000 women leaders from global corporations, small business, government and non profits over the past 14 years and has contributed to The Financial Times, The Guardian, CNN, The Huffington Post, The Sunday Times and the BBC. She has contributed to 'Focus on Africa' on the BBC World Service and was a 'Micro Genius' for Psychologies Magazine.

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Rachel Dent
Head of The Abbey School for Girls

Rachel Dent has been Head of The Abbey School in Reading since 2014, responsible for the education of more than 1000 girls aged 3-18 - a job she describes as "the best in the world".

Educated in a girls’ school herself, Rachel found her vocation in teaching while travelling in Egypt. Her career has seen her progress from Teacher of English and Drama, to Head of Department in co-ed and single sex schools. She became Director of Sixth Form in 2006, which allowed her to develop her expertise in guiding students through some of the most important life and career choices that they will make. Now Head of one of the UK's most prestigious girls' schools, her deep experience of educating girls brings a fresh and frank perspective to the challenges and opportunities for today's young women to live fulfilling lives as leaders.

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To Boldly Go Where No Woman Has Gone Before…

The BBC has ‘courageously’ challenged tradition and enraged traditionalists by announcing a female Dr Who but there is still a big difference today in 2017 in the image that many companies portray and what really goes on behind closed doors as regards the appointment of women leaders.