Women Leaders MK 2015 Award Winners


Creative Industries

Sponsors – MK Dons SET

Winner – Monica Ferguson, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of The Stables


“Monica has led a significant turnaround of The Stables from half a million pounds deficit to a £1 million reserve. She has built and leads a team of over 300 people using her hands on and empowering leadership skills to deliver 350 gigs and 250 education sessions annually.

The judges were impressed with Monica’s humble yet ambitious approach as well as her inspiring plans for the future. Her innovative and creative ideas have seen her introduce many new aspects to the arts and cultural scene in MK including the International Festival which in 2014 reached some 350 thousand people.”

Community Impact – Professional

Sponsors – Dentons

Winner – Helen Simpson, Partner at Dentons UKMEA LLP


“A very dynamic leader who has brought London law practices to Milton Keynes and has worked tirelessly to convince colleagues to engage and has generated a momentum within the Company which recognises the needs of the public and third sector.   Preparing and running seminars free of charge and constantly looking for the next challenge whilst running a family and two small children.

Offers a free legal advice clinic but does not involve non-professionals within the office. Struggled offering free legal advice as people presume there was a cost of objective”

Community Impact – Charity

Sponsors – Dentons

Winner – Pauline Giles, Founder of Bosom Buddies UK


“The judges said it was a pleasure to be able to meet Pauline. She is an inspirational enthusiastic lady with so many ideas of how to go forward.

Pauline has changed her life completely and left the judging panel in awe of her energy and focus, imagination, her drive, her passion and knowledge. She is at the beginning of her journey. We truly wish her every success and hope to see her in many more schools. Watch this space WOW.”

Community Impact – Voluntary

Sponsors – Dentons

Winner – Jade Jaiyeola, Founder of Milton Keynes Melting Pot


A proud black African British Woman who recognises family values and shares her deep values and business experience to enable people to succeed.  Her success has reached many and is now a Social Enterprise and all her staff are volunteers.  Jade now has a vision for a healthy restaurant in Milton Keynes.

Customer Service

Sponsors – PJ Care

Winner – Sue Dawson, Operational Director of MKDons


Judges were impressed with Sue’s ‘can do’ attitude, leading by example to meet challenges head on. An inspiring leader, Sue led the operation of StadiumMK from a muddy field to a thriving world-class stadium, ready to receive the Rugby World Cup 2015.  Sue delivers a personalised customer service and experience, built on the strong value of inclusiveness.  The Stadium’s disabled access is second to none.  She works with a wide range of stakeholders, from the MK Dons Supporters Association to fans spanning generations (including grandmothers with granddaughters), players, away clubs, and suppliers. She now leads a workforce of over 500 and with her personal, inclusive style, values everyone in the team, setting high standards and expectations.

Supply Chain

Sponsors – Milton Keynes College

Winner – Daria Drygas, Procurement Manager PJ Care Ltd


“Extremely energetic and likeable personality.  An individual who wants to be the best at everything. Daria has clearly overcome the language barrier and has great potential to achieve improvements and innovation in the procurement disciplines.  Having made savings of over half a million pounds for the company.  Daria is prepared for making further savings in the years to come whilst keeping P J Care’s supply chain as local as possible.  Daria has great potential, possessing the raw materials for success.  She is likeable focused and tenacious with a drive to excel in everything she does.”

Science and Technology

Sponsors – Clydesdale Bank

Winner – Dr Claire Guest, Chief Executive and Director of Operations Medical Detection Dogs


“Claire demonstrated from the first moment she spoke her clear commitment to her vision of combining olfactory science and her passion for dogs. Over a 10 year period Claire has built a strong team of volunteers and employees through her inspiring sensitive leadership.  The judges were impressed by her infectious and individual determination that has changed long term medical perceptions and ground-breaking technology.”


Sponsors – MK Business Leaders

Winner – Dr Kerry J Mashford, Chief Executive National Energy Foundation


“Kerry has an outstanding record of achievement in developing the standards for housing and buildings that will have a real impact on the environment, not only in Milton Keynes but across the country. Kerry is a role model for her industry and women being incredibly engaging, passionate with vast experience and examples of impact at an international, national and local basis, practicing what she preaches.  Kerry is highly professional    she is both academic and commercial living by her profession and has made ground-breaking projects – building her own house is an example of her projects”

Public Services

Sponsors – Lord Grey School

Winner – Hilary Chipping, Head of Infrastructure for South East Midlands

Local Enterprise Partnership


“Hilary is a local lady who was brought up in Bletchley attending the grammar school there. After gaining a degree in Economics at Manchester University Hilary had an illustrious career in local and national government including spells with the Department of Communities and Local Government and the highways agency.  The judges were highly impressed with Hilary’s passionate commitment to infrastructure before expansion, a much vaunted expression that is so true.  The judges shared her vision that Milton Keynes should be the centre of the South East Midlands and are pleased to recognise Hilary’s contribution to date for Milton Keynes and applaud her vision for the future.”

Professional Services

Sponsors – Handelsbanken

Winner – Liz Newell, Partner Keens Shay Keens MK LLP


“As Equity partner at Keen Shay Keens MK LLP Liz is passionate about helping and supporting local businesses and organisations – evidenced by numerous positive client testimonials and significant portfolio of pro-bono work.  Her impressive track record has helped clients to prosper through business growth, strengthening governance and securing investments.  Her community work extends to Board members of MK City Orchestra and Biztech and advisor to Destination MK Board, helping them navigate to a financially stronger position.”

Business Services 

Sponsors – Amway

Winner – Pam Gosal, Head of Corporate Development and

Inward Investment Milton Keynes Council


“Pam impressed the judges with her clear passion and phenomenal self-development. Pam has successfully connected with groups, attracting them to Milton Keynes and gaining inward investment for the local area. Pam’s ability to influence, and her ethos of strategic long term planning were key to the judge’s decision. Pam has a philosophy to take Milton Keynes as a blank canvas and see what grows.”

 Female Entrepreneur

Sponsors – Volkswagen Financial Services

Winner – Jean Gowin, Managing Director Jeanius Consulting LTD


”Jean clearly demonstrated and evidenced a genuine passion and commitment to the Milton Keynes Business community.  She has created two new successful and value driven businesses whilst facing specific personal and professional challenges.

Jean is recognised as an international leader in the maritime industry and is recognised in each strand of her business.

Against this backcloth she has developed a significant role in promoting Milton Keynes and community engagement. The judges were particularly impressed with her passion to drive her skills in her business”

Emerging Leader

Sponsors – NatWest

Winner – Laura Bowley, Owner Happy Bodies Fitness Centre


“Laura impressed the Judges with her clear vision and entrepreneurial drive, her determination to overcome obstacles to get her business off the ground and her focus, grit and resilience.  She is ambitious for her staff and clients and has instilled a welcoming, culture leading from the front with her personalised approach to customer service. She offers support, advice and mentoring, motivating all ages and fitness levels and embracing the wider community as she reaches out to competitive sports players as well as children and grandparents”

Outstanding Support

Winner – Bernie Winkelman


“This special award has been created to recognise the impact of what, we believe, is the outstanding support that takes place somewhat behind the scenes.

Despite this person never seeking the limelight, the community of Milton Keynes is very much aware of the unstinting support she gives unconditionally, always there in, seen but seldom heard.

It is an honour and a privilege to know her and we are proud this evening to present our Women Leaders Award for Outstanding Support”

Outstanding Contribution to Milton Keynes

Sponsors – Mercer & Hole

Winner – Julia Upton


Chief Executive of Milton Keynes Community Foundation for 15 years, Julia has shown a passionate commitment to connecting and growing the community of Milton Keynes. As a creative and transformational leader, Julia is a tireless advocate of voluntary sector organisations, supporting them to achieve impact and sustainability and fighting to ensure they are recognised to be at the heart of our city and the economy. She has built a culture of philanthropy in Milton Keynes, engaging donors with the needs of Milton Keynes.

In her work Julia has never been afraid to dream big and always gives inspiration to those around her to deliver those dreams. Having led the refurbishment of Acorn House in Central Milton Keynes to provide a subsidised hub, offices, conference facility and café for the voluntary sector,  she boldly headed the acquisition and refurbishment of the neighbouring block, now called Margaret Powell House in honour of one of our first women philanthropists.  These buildings and the services they offer are in high demand, providing common ground for the business, public and community sectors to support and work alongside each other.

Julia’s passion and professionalism have earned her the respect of donors, business, the voluntary sector and key stakeholders in Milton Keynes.  She seizes all opportunities to support the community. Indeed, in a recent Government endowment building challenge, MK Community Foundation was the most successful Foundation nationally, drawing down over £2 million to support the disabled and elderly infirm.

The importance of the arts to growing and connecting Milton Keynes has always been recognised and promoted by Julia. This culminated in the launch of the New City Arts Prize in partnership with MK Gallery.

Whether working locally on the boards of YMCA, MK Business Leaders and MK Business Council, or regionally and nationally with other Community Foundations, Julia is an influential voice in,  credit to, and driving force for a developing Milton Keynes.