By: Radhakrishna N S
‘INSPIRATIONAL’ leaders at the GG2 Leadership Awards 2019 showed that minorities can reach their full potential.
GG2 Hammer Award: Nitin Paranjpe, COO, Unilever
AS COO, Nitin Paranpje heads one of the world’s major consumer business giants.
Paranjpe, 56, started as a trainee working for Unilever’s Indian subsidiary. He was appointed head of the company’s foods and refreshment business last year, becoming the subsidiary’s youngest-ever chief executive officer (CEO), and successfully navigating it through the global economic crisis. He added another feather to his cap when he was appointed Unilever’s COO earlier this year.
GG2 Hammer Award: Nitin Paranjpe, chief operating officer, Unilever. (Pictured from left) Kalpesh Solanki, Ramniklal Solanki CBE, Nitin Paranjpe and Clive Myrie.
Widely respected as a corporate visionary, Paranjpe raised his company’s net profit by 35 per cent in just seven years. He encourages colleagues to take risks without fear of failing but operating with what he calls a high moral quotient.
Paranjpe is an advocate for businesses having a purpose beyond profit, and has led the drive for brands to make sustainable living commonplace.
Man of the Year: Vis Raghavan, CEO for JP Morgan in Europe, the Middle East and Africa
VIS RAGHAVAN has been lauded for his work in helping JP Morgan top various banking rankings after joining the multinational financial giant from Lehmann Brothers in 2000.
Raghavan, who in October 2017 was promoted as head of the bank’s European, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) operations, gained degrees in physics, electronics and computing before switching to corporate finance. A huge cricket fan, he has been instrumental in the bank’s multi-million-pound sponsorship for the redevelopment of Lord’s cricket ground.
Man of the Year (sponsored by Sun and Sand): Viswas Raghavan, CEO EMEA, JP Morgan. (Pictured from left) Kalpesh Solanki, Ramniklal Solanki, Anuja Dhir, Viswas Raghavan and Lord Jitesh Gadhia.
Although a science graduate, Raghavan is also qualified as a chartered accountant with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales.
During his time at Aston University, he worked as a systems engineer at General Signal’s European headquarters in Birmingham. In recognition of his work, Raghavan was awarded an honorary doctorate in science from Aston University in 2016.
Woman of the Year: Poppy Jaman OBE, CEO of City Mental Health Alliance
POPPY JAMAN, a third-generation British Bangladeshi, is a leading mental health expert in the UK who sits on the board of Public Health England. Her own experience with depression gave her an insight into the challenges people face with mental health issues, especially among ethnic minority groups.
A health campaigner, Jaman set up an organisation to train teachers, charity workers, employers and NHS staff to identify mental health warning signs. It now has a network of 1,800 instructors who have trained over 300,000 people.
Woman of the Year (sponsored by Edwardian Hotels London): Poppy Jaman OBE, CEO, City Mental Health Alliance. (Pictured from left) Kalpesh Solanki, Ramniklal Solanki, Poppy Jaman, Iype Abraham and James Cleverly MP.
Jaman also launched a parallel organisation with large businesses to help transform their workplaces into mentally healthy environments. She has been programme director for her London-based City Mental Health Alliance since 2015, which has expanded to cities across the world.
In 2009, Jaman became a founding member and chief executive of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England, a not-for-profit organisation that teaches people how to identify and support individuals with mental illness. She has supported the development of MHFA in Bangladesh as part of her initiative to support global citizens.
GG2 Icon: Ozwald Boateng OBE
A BRITISH fashion designer of Ghanaian descent who has dressed celebrities such as Will Smith, Daniel Day Lewis, Jamie Foxx and Mick Jagger, Ozwald Boateng opened his own studio in 1991.
Three years later, he presented his first catwalk show during Paris Fashion Week, becoming the first tailor to ever show there. He was also the creative director at Givenchy Homme from 2003 to 2007.
GG2 Icon Award: Ozwald Boateng OBE, designer. (Pictured from left) Kalpesh Solanki, Ramniklal Solanki, Ozwald Boateng and Clive Myrie.
Boateng opened his first boutique on Savile Row in 1995, making him the youngest black designer to launch a business on the renowned street.
In 2018, he was tasked with redesigning the uniforms for British Airways, to be launched this year as part of the airline’s centenary celebrations.
Boateng has designed bespoke costumes for numerous popular movies including Hannibal, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Tomorrow Never Dies, Sex and the City, Eastern Promises, Gangster Number One, Alfie, Assault on Precinct 13, The Matrix, Miami Vice, Oceans 13, and Rush Hour 3.
He also created garments for the 2018 hit Hollywood film Black Panther.
The Victoria & Albert Museum honoured Boateng with a major 20-year-retrospective exhibition in 2005.
In May this year, he staged a show at the Apollo theatre in New York to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance.
Pride of Britain Award: Professor Dame Elizabeth Anionwu, Emeritus professor of nursing, University of West London
PROFESSOR Dame Elizabeth Nneka Anionwu qualified as a nurse in the 1960s, and in 1979, founded the UK’s first sickle cell counselling centre, paving the way for more than 30 such centres. She has chaired several projects for the NHS Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia screening programme.
Pride of Britain Award: Professor Dame Elizabeth Anionwu, Emeritus professor of nursing, University of West London. (Pictured from left) Kalpesh Solanki, Ramniklal Solanki, Professor Dame Elizabeth Anionwu, and Nitin Ganatra.
As professor of nursing at University of West London, Dame Elizabeth created the Mary Seacole Centre for Nursing Practice. She has lectured at the Institute of Child Health, UCL, and served as dean of the School of Adult Nursing. Her many achievements include becoming the first to lead a ground-breaking sickle cell service in London that led to national birth screening benefiting all those affected by the debilitating disease.
Of Irish and Nigerian descent, Dame Elizabeth overcame a childhood of abuse, racism and neglect to rise to the top of her profession. She received a CBE in 2001 in recognition of her services to nursing. For her efforts in developing the sickle cell and thalassemia counselling centre, she was awarded the Fellowship Of the Royal College of Nursing in 2004.
Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award: Randeep S Lall, co-founder, trustee and global operations director, Nishkam SWAT
NISHKAM means selfless in Punjabi, and Randeep Lall and his team’s mission is to feed the homeless.
Launched by Lall in 2008 as a youth club, the Sikh Welfare and Awareness Team (SWAT) started its homeless project the following year after finding 200 persons sleeping rough on the streets of Southall in west London.
Social Entrepreneur Award: Randeep S Lall, co-founder, trustee and global operations director, NishkamSWAT. (Pictured from left) Kalpesh Solanki, Lord Navnit Dholakia, Ramniklal Solanki, Randeep S Lall and Sir Simon Hughes.
Nishkam SWAT now provides over 3,000 meals a week in 21 UK locations and has expanded into Argentina and India. Run entirely by volunteers numbering more than 1,000, it concentrates on ensuring the homeless and less fortunate in marginalised communities are fed, clothed and have their medical needs met.
The group’s services include healthcare, homeless shelters, services for the elderly, support for immigrants and working with local and national agencies to solve individual people’s problems.
Outstanding Achievement in Law Award: Ayesha Vardag, founder and president, Vardags
LAWYER Ayesha Vardag is widely regarded as the best in her speciality of family and divorce law.
Vardag first made headlines in 2010, winning the landmark supreme court case of Radmacher v Granatino, which has led to a change in the way that courts and the public regard prenuptial agreements.
Outstanding Achievement in Law: Ayesha Vardag, founder and president, Vardags. (Pictured from left) Kalpesh Solanki, Ramniklal Solanki, Ayesha Vardag’s son Jasper Vardag (who collected the award on her behalf) and Dawn Butler MP.
She has also played an instrumental role in forcing parliament to take up the issue of no-fault divorce.
Last year, Vardag won a ground-breaking ruling – a legal first – that allowed sperm to be extracted from a dying husband after an accident so that his widow could have his child.
Vardags, the practice she set up from the spare room of her home, is now one of the UK’s fastest-growing law firms, handling family, civil and criminal cases. It has 120 staff in five offices around the country.
Outstanding Achievement in Science Award: Caucher Birkar, professor of Mathematics, University of Cambridge
BORN in a Kurdish village of western Iran in 1978, Caucher Birkar worked on his family farm and grew up during the Iran-Iraq war which lasted for almost eight years until 1988.
Birkar taught himself by reading books, won a place at Tehran University, and then fled to Britain where he arrived as a refugee.
Outstanding Achievement in Science: Caucher Birkar, professor of Mathematics, University of Cambridge. (Pictured from left) Seema Malhotra MP, Caucher Birkar, Ramniklal Solanki and Shailesh Solanki.
Born Fereydoun Derakhshani, Caucher Birkar is the name (and an identity) he chose for himself after emigrating to the UK. It means ‘migrant mathematician’ in Kurdish.
He went on to win the Fields Medal, often regarded as the most prestigious award in the field of mathematics. His work, which has won numerous other honours, has helped solve a number of significant and long-standing mathematical problems.
Young Achiever of the Year Award: Kriti Sharma, founder, AI For Good Ltd
AN ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI) expert, Kriti Sharma founded AI for Good to give disadvantaged groups a voice in creating the next generation technology. Last year, she launched a digital companion to help victims of domestic abuse in South Africa.
One of the world’s leading voices on AI ethics, Sharma recently gave expert testimony on AI policy to the House of Lords. She built her first robot at the age of 15 and has been creating technologies to help solve global issues, from productivity and education to domestic violence and beyond.
Young Achiever Award (sponsored by Royal Air Force): Kriti Sharma, founder, AI For Good Ltd. (Pictured from left) Air Vice-Marshal Graham Russell, Priya Davdra, Kriti Sharma, Ramniklal Solanki and Shailesh Solanki.
Sharma collaborated with the Population Foundation of India to launch Dr Sneha, an AI-powered digital character to engage with young people about sexual health.
She was invited to the inaugural Obama Foundation Summit in 2017, and was named a United Nations Young Leader for the sustainable development goals at the UN General Assembly in 2018.
Sharma is an advisor to both the UN Technology Innovation Labs and the UK government’s Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation.
Achievement through Adversity Award: Nicki Donnelly
A FORMER West Midlands police officer, Nicki Donnelly has bounced back from extreme personal adversity to become a role model for others.
Born with a gene disease of the joints, Donnelly was abused as a child and disowned by her family. She joined the police, but after being in the force for more than a decade, her career was cut short when her police car was hit by a speeding motorist in 2009.
Achievement through Adversity: Nicki Donnelly, motivational speaker, life coach and disability rights consultant. (Pictured from left) Bhaskar Patel, Ramniklal Solanki, Nicki Donnelly, Lord Kamlesh Patel OBE and Shailesh Solanki.
The accident resulted in a spinal cord injury, leading to the amputation of her legs. Medically discharged with bravery awards, and using bionic limbs, Donnelly now works as a disability campaigner. The mother-of-one is an active fundraiser and promotes awareness of spinal cord injuries working with a number of organisations for disabled people. She is associated with the Disabled Police Association and Models of Diversity.
Inspire Award: Cemal Ezel, founder and CEO, Change Please
CEMAL EZEL is the founder of Change Please, a social enterprise set up in 2015 that trains the homeless as baristas, and provides each person with a London living wage job, housing, a bank account and mental health support.
The enterprise, which has mobile coffee vans and units in office buildings in central London, has three varieties of coffee sold through Sainsburys and Ocado and is now expanding into the US and Australia.
Inspire Award (sponsored by British Army): Cemal Ezel, founder and CEO, Change Please. (Pictured from left) Lt Col Bhairavi Sapre, Brigadier Celia J Harvey OBE QVRM TD, Cemal Ezel, Ramniklal Solanki and Shailesh Solanki.
Ezel was inspired while travelling in Vietnam, where he came across a silent teahouse run by a deaf and mute woman and saw how it functioned as a profitable business. After returning to England, Ezel adopted the same business model to address London’s homelessness epidemic, but instead of tea, he tapped into the city’s booming coffee culture.
Media & Creative Arts Award: Mohit Bakaya, controller of BBC Radio 4
MOHIT BAKAYA, who was appointed as the controller of BBC Radio 4 in July, is the first person from an ethnic minority to hold the position. Prior to this, he served as the commissioning editor for factual content at Radio 4, a role he held since 2008.
Media & Creative Arts Award (sponsored by Hearst): Mohit Bakaya, controller, BBC Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra. (Pictured from left) Kwame Kwei-Armah OBE, Nims Obunge MBE DL, Mohit Bakaya, Ramniklal Solanki, Terry Mansfield CBE and Shailesh Solanki.
After joining the BBC as a production trainee in 1993, Bakaya worked on Radio 4’s arts programme, Kaleidoscope, before going on to launch Front Row in 1998. In 2001, he become editor of Night Waves, before becoming a commissioning editor.
Bakaya specialises in factual programmes in current affairs, history, science and religion, with audience figures of 10-11 million a week. He has also dabbled in documentary production, and his film, Ashes in the Ganges, has won an award.
Young Journalist of the Year Award: Jasmine Cameron-Chileshe
Young Journalist of the Year (sponsored by the Daily Mail): Jasmine CameronChileshe, editorial graduate, Liverpool Echo. (Pictured from left) Ash Tandon, Alex Bannister, Jasmine Cameron-Chileshe, Ramniklal Solanki and Shailesh Solanki.
A REPORTER on the Liverpool Echo, Jasmine Cameron-Chileshe has interviewed politicians including Sir Vince Cable, and has written on the housing crisis and female self-harm, among other issues.
The Oxford University English literature graduate has also delivered exclusives on hate crime and the surge in knife stabbings among the city’s youth. She believes that political journalism can help challenge the status quo and hold governments to account.
Spirit in the Community Award: Eartha Pond
EARTHA POND is a former professional football player, having represented both Arsenal and Chelsea Ladies, before training to become a PE teacher.
She set up Girls Allowed sport clubs to build empowerment, and has launched a schools’ motivational initiative called Programme 8, which allows schools to be inclusive for all pupils, regardless of their entry points.
Following the Grenfell Tower fire disaster in 2017, Pond has worked to bring justice for the victims as well as survivors. She was also one of the first to respond to the west London tragedy and has raised more than £100,000 for survivors.
Spirit in the Community Award (sponsored by Royal Navy): Eartha Pond, educator and councillor, QPCC. (Pictured from left) Barry Gardiner MP, Eartha Pond, Rear Admiral Will Warrender CBE, Ramniklal Solanki and Shailesh Solanki.
Pond now combines her teaching career with that of being vice-principal at Crest Academy. Her additional role at Queen’s Park Community Council aims to enhance the quality of life for 14,000 residents.
She has delivered various extra-curricular clubs at all the schools she has worked in.
Earlier this year, she petitioned the government to make PE a core subject alongside mathematics, English and science so that its critical importance is formally enshrined in the curriculum.
In 2017, Pond was named in the top 50 shortlist for the annual Global Teacher Prize.