Recognising the extraordinary achievements of Asian women in Britain today


May 2017, London:

The Asian Women of Achievement Awards (AWA), in association with NatWest, announced the winners of the 2017 awards at a star-studded event in London last night in the presence of Princess Badiya bint El Hassan of Jordan; The Hon. Amber Rudd MP, The Home Secretary; Datuk Jimmy Choo OBE, shoe designer; chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, Sara Thornton CBE; The Rt. Hon. Diane Abbott MP, The Shadow Home Secretary; and Dato’ Soo Min Yeoh, Executive Director of YTL Corporation Berhad.

The awards, now in their 18th year, celebrate the contributions made by Asian women both professionally and in their communities, cutting across a broad range of sectors from business and media to sport, medicine, culture and public service.

From the only female founder and managing partner of a private equity advisory business in Europe to a para-climber, this year’s list of winners features an incredibly diverse and exciting group of women. Despite their varied backgrounds, the winners are united by their shared ability to inspire, and their determination to drive positive change in their respective fields.

12 women were selected as category winners by a judging panel chaired by Lady Emma. The full list of winners are:



  • Jaspreet Sangha (Behind the Netra), Spoken Word Artist and Teacher, St Marylebone School (Arts & Culture)
  • Raj Dohil, Talent Acquisition Specialist, Enterprise Rent-A-Car (Business)
  • Sunaina Sinha, Founder and Managing Partner, Cebile Capital (Entrepreneur)
  • Shay Grewal, Presenter, BBC (Media)
  • Vidisha Joshi, Managing Partner, Hodge Jones & Allen LLP & Vandita Pant, Group Treasurer and Head of Europe, BHP Billiton (Professions)
  • Dr Harjinder Kaur, Monitoring and Evaluation Manager and Gender Advisor, PwC (Public Service)
  • Professor Sadaf Farooqi, Professor of Metabolism and Medicine, University of Cambridge (Science & Technology)
  • Sofia Buncy, Prisoner Rehabilitation and Community Development Coordinator, Muslim Hands UK (Social & Humanitarian)
  • Anoushé Husain, Para-Climber (Sport)
  • Anoushka Babbar, Head of Regulatory Policy and Government Relations, London Stock Exchange Group (Young Achiever)
  • Fatima Zaman, Prevent Officer, Home Office and London Borough of Tower Hamlets (Chairman’s Award)

Video Credit: Kiran Rai and Samuel Varley


Also highly commended by the judging panel this year were:

Abda Khan (Arts & Culture), Dawinder Bansal, (Media), Tanya Laird (Science & Technology), Dr Rouba Mhaissen (Social & Humanitarian), Mimi Harker OBE (Public Service).

Jaspreet Sangha, Winner of the Arts and Culture Award

This year’s winner in the Arts and Culture category is better known as ‘Behind the Netra’ for her poetry. She is a spoken word artist from East London, focused on sharing her thoughts on gender issues and taboo subjects both in the Asian community and wider society. Jaspreet’s passion, charisma, kindness and altruism shone through and the judges were immensely impressed by her poetry.

Raj Dohil, Winner of the Business Award

The Business Award goes to an inspirational woman who oversees recruitment for almost 100 branches of Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Grounded, immensely talented and with a heart and passion despite the challenges she has faced, the judges were seriously impressed with the AWA 2017 business champion who is empowering women and breaking down stereotypes.

Sunaina Sinha, Winner of the Entrepreneur Award

The only female founder and managing partner of a private equity advisory business in Europe (Cebile Capital) and one of less than 7% of women in private equity who hold a senior position, the Entrepreneur Award 2017 goes to Sunaina Sinha. The judges said she was a

great example of a 21st century leader, demonstrating outstanding entrepreneurship and leadership in the financial services sector.

Shay Grewal, Winner of the Media Award

Shay is the 2017 Media Award Winner and celebrated for her work as a TV and radio presenter for BBC West Midlands and Radio London. She was the first high profile Asian to join BBC WM and now presents seven days a week. Shay has carved a position whereby she is able communicate her passion for education, combating marginalisation and empowering women. A role model for all women in media.

Vidisha Joshi and Vandita Pant, Winners of the Professions Award The judges picked two stellar candidates in this category as the 2017 winners. Vidisha Joshi is one of the UK’s youngest law firm managing

partners (Hodge Jones & Allen LLP). Under Vidisha’s leadership the firm has increased turnover by £1 million in the last three years. Vandita Pant is the Group Treasurer and Head of Europe at BHP Billiton, and is the most senior female Asian working in the world’s largest natural resources company. The judges praised both winners as exceptional role models who have already achieved outstanding goals. Both are exemplary leaders.

Dr Harjinder Kaur, Winner of the Public Service Award

As a social researcher and development consultant specialising in child and women’s rights and gender equality, the judges said that the

importance of Dr Harjinder Kaur’s work over many years in understanding issues of gender equality cannot be underestimated. She has worked for international governments and NGOs and it is hoped that this award helps highlight the importance of Harjinder’s work.

Professor Sadaf Farooqi, Winner of the Science & Technology Award As the Professor of Metabolism and Medicine at the University of Cambridge and a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow, Professor Sadaf Farooqi has used her research to pave the way to treating a condition that is often fatal. The judges praised her for the huge impact that her focus on obesity has had on society and for her ongoing mentorship of young doctors.

Sofia Buncy, Winner of the Social and Humanitarian Award

As the Prisoner Rehabilitation and Community Development Coordinator for Muslim Hands UK, Sofia highlights the plight of Muslim women in British prisons. The judges praised her for working to mobilise deep social change within the Muslim community of Britain, creating a positive community-driven approach to dealing with Islamophobia and for working tirelessly to provide voice and visibility for Muslim women in prison who are otherwise excluded from dialogue.

Anoushé Husain, Winner of the Sport Award

Energetic, charismatic and overflowing with enthusiasm, the judges believe that Anoushé is a force for good! As a civil servant, para-climber and cancer survivor, her personal accomplishments are astonishing. She has overcome immense challenges of her own and yet she’s determined to have a positive impact on others, through her mentoring and charity work.

Anoushka Babbar, Winner of the Young Achiever of the Year Award The judges were blown away by Anoushka’s career success to date. As Head of Regulatory Policy and Government Relations at London

Stock Exchange Group, she is on a career trajectory to become one of the youngest CEOs in her chosen field. She’s regularly consulted by governments globally and is also a keen mentor and role model.

Fatima Zaman, Winner of the Chairman’s Award

The Chairman’s Award goes to one outstanding candidate across all of the categories and for the first time since the awards began 18 years ago, the Chairman’s Award is drawn from the Young Achiever category. The outstanding candidate is Fatima Zaman. The judges believe she could change the world. Her work with the Kofi Annan Foundation, Home Office and the London Borough of Tower Hamlets to guide local and national responses to violent extremism and radicalisation is internationally ground-breaking. Demonstrating enormous resilience and pursuing the cause despite threats, the judges believe Fatima could be a future nobel prize winner.


“I feel so very privileged to have won an AWA award. The win has given me a renewed responsibility to be a role model. I want to use the award to help the young people I mentor recognise that they too can achieve their goals. I also believe it will help me to strengthen my own voice within the communications industry in which I work, to promote ethnically diverse cultures in businesses, something which is much needed. The award has pushed me out of my comfort zone and has started to change my life. Ultimately, it is a dream come true and something I will forever  cherish.”

– Deepa Shah, CFO, Hall & Partners – Winner of the 2016 AWA Business Award



The awards have led to the creation of numerous initiatives and projects designed to help women and improve opportunities for the next generation. The awards are not simply a night of recognition but a community and a programme of initiatives that offer the opportunity for candidates to meet like-minded women and build business contacts. Our sister initiative, the Women of the Future Programme, enables opportunities through our Women of the Future Network and Women of the Future Ambassadors Programme.

Women of the Future Network

An active network of high-achieving women bringing members together to share experiences and build their own networks. Our membership of over 1000, continues to grow each year with the inclusion of the AWA shortlisted candidates and Women of the Future Awards candidates.

Women of the Future Ambassadors Programme

Connecting students with role models and strengthening the pipeline of talent among Britain’s younger women.

“We have received such a wide range of applications for our Asian Women of  Achievement Awards 2017. From women working at the cutting edge of science to photographers, artists, business leaders and social workers, we are proud to provide a platform to celebrate such incredible talent and the positive impact of British-Asian women on our society today” – Pinky Lilani CBE DL, Founder, Asian Women of Achievement Awards

“NatWest is proud to be a part of the Asian Women of Achievement Awards for the sixth consecutive year. As always, the shortlist this year showcases the incredible contribution that Asian women are making in the UK today. My congratulations to all those that have been shortlisted, they are fantastic role models already achieving tremendous success in their fields” – Marcelino Castrillo, MD, Business & Private Banking, NatWest


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