The HERoes lists celebrate company leaders who support women in business.

The following individuals were identified as champions of women: all were nominated by peers and colleagues, and the nominations then reviewed by a panel of judges (see end of article). 

Top 100 Female champions
RankNameCompanyJob title
1Brenda TrenowdenANZHead of financial institutions, Europe
2Jayne-Anne GadhiaVirgin MoneyChief executive
3Melanie RichardsKPMG Deputy chair
4Emer TimmonsBrightstarChief marketing officer and president enterprise and strategic sales
5Rana Ghandour SalhabDeloitte Middle EastTalent and communications partner
6Karen BlackettWPPCountry manager
7Francesca McDonaghBank of Ireland Group Group chief executive
8Harriet GreenIBMChief executive and chairman, IBM Asia Pacific 
9Leena NairUnileverChief HR officer
10Claudia ParzaniLinklatersMilan capital markets partner and WEELEG managing partner
11Sue UnermanMediaComChief transformation officer
12Carol AndrewsBNY MellonManaging director, global head of service directors, client experience
13Alison NimmoThe Crown EstateChief executive
14Funke AbimbolaRocheGeneral counsel and head of financial compliance
15Tamara BoxReed SmithManaging partner Europe and Middle East
16Evelyn BourkeBUPAGroup chief executive
17Amanda MurphyHSBCHead of commercial banking UK
18Caroline FrankumLightspeedGlobal chief executive
19Charlotte Hogg VisaChief executive, Europe
20Serpil TimurayVodafone GroupGroup chief commercial operations and strategy officer
21Laura BarrowmanCredit SuisseChief technology officer, chief information security officer
22Tanuja RanderyApax PartnersOperating executive
23Anna PurchasKPMGPartner, head of people
24Sharon McCooeyLinkedInHead of LinkedIn Ireland 
25Sarah MorrisAvivaChief people officer, Aviva
26Linda FriedmanAstellas Pharma USExecutive vice president, general counsel 
27Catherine LuzioLuminaryFounder and chief executive
28Patricia BindiHSBCHead of commercial banking Argentina
29Rachel HighamBTManaging director of IT
30Aline SantosUnilever EVP for global marketing
31Siobhan MoriartyDiageoGeneral counsel 
32Pips BunceCredit Suisse Director / head of global markets core engineering strategic programs
33Maggie StilwellEYDispute services partner
34Lindsay PattisonWPPChief transformation officer, WPP and GroupM
35Emma CoddDeloitteManaging partner for talent
36Denise GibsonAllen & OveryPartner 
37HyonJoo ParkStandard Chartered Bank KoreaExecutive vice president
38Jacqui ChinAmazonDirector, Baby and EU programmes
39Jennifer RademakerMastercardExecutive vice president, global customer delivery
40Lisa KimmelEdelmanPresident and chief executive
41Joanna SantinonEYPartner
42Sigga SigurdardottirSantanderChief customer and innovation officer
43Miriam GonzalezDechertPartner, co-chair of the international trade and government regulation practice
44Mel EdwardsWunderman EMEA chief executive
45Sarah PinchPinch Point CommunicationsManaging director
46Jennifer DaSilvaBerlin CameronPresident
47Susan RevellBNY MellonDeputy chair and general counsel EMEA
48Tracey GrovesIntelligent EthicsFounder and owner
49Victoria FoxLidaChief executive
50Souad BenkreddaStandard Chartered BankHead of financial markets Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan sales
51Estelle BrachlianoffVeolia GroupChief operating officer
52Sue Fox M&S BankChief executive
53Hannah GroveState StreetChief marketing officer
54Sara Luder Slaughter & MayPartner
55Nicky BullardMRM-MeteoriteChairwoman and chief creative officer
56Heather Melville Royal Bank of Scotland Head of financial inclusion, corporate and private banking 
57Julia MuirGaia InnovationChief executive
58Roni SavageJomas AssociatesManaging director
59Simone RocheEvents 1stChief executive 
60Bijna DasaniLloyds Banking Group Head of group architecture, strategy and innovation 
61Deborah BakerSkyGroup director for people
62Joanna LudlamBaker McKenziePartner
63Mairead NayagerDiageoChief human resources officer
64Nicole LonsdaleKineticChief planning officer
65Rachel HusseyArthur Cox Partner, head of business development
66Sarah CarrollMUFGManaging director, corporate banking 
67Raquel FlorezFreshfields Bruckhaus DeringerPartner
68Lauren KisserAmazon Web ServicesDirector, AWS S3
69Cristina FerreiraState StreetHead of regulatory solutions and innovation
70Leigh Lafever-AyerEnterprise Rent-A-Car UK & IrelandHuman resources director 
71Stacey HawesEpsilonPresident, data practice
72Abi WrightSpabreaks.comManaging director and co-founder
73Farah FoustokLazard Asset ManagementChief executive — Gulf
74Emma McGuiganAccentureGroup technology officer, communications, media and technology
75Lea PatersonBank of EnglandExecutive director human resources
76Ann CairnsMastercardVice chairman
77Wendy WarhamFujitsu ServicesVP hybrid infrastructure services and networks/telecoms, EMEIA, DTS
78Tracey WarsonCitiHead of Citi Private Bank North America
79Elizabeth RaffleLloyds Banking GroupHead of Finance, Legal and Strategy Community
80Diane SullivanWeil, Gotshal & MangesPartner, litigation department
81Runa AlamDevelopment Partners InternationalCo-founder and chief executive
82Sue DouthwaiteSantander BusinessManaging director
83Carol LiaoThe Boston Consulting GroupSenior partner and managing director
84Ebru PakcanCitiHead of treasury and trade solutions, EMEA
85Mazuin ZinEdelmanManaging director
86Helene SilvermanLightspeed ResearchSVP, client relations
87Holly VilliersMUFGManaging director, head of UK, Ireland and Nordics corporate banking 
88Payal VasudevaAccentureHuman capital and diversity executive sponsor
89Jill GwaltneyRauxaFounder
90Kerry SinclairSage Group PLCVP of IT enterprise application delivery (global)
91Laura MeyerHarperCollins PublishersChief information officer
92Kimberley Hunt GSKVP commercial excellence EMEA and Americas
93Noiana MarigoFreshfields Bruckhaus DeringerPartner
94Merelina MonkKnight FrankPartner student property team
95Nicci Takem62 vincisChief executive
96Katie KochGoldman SachsPartner, Goldman Assessment Management — fundamental equity business
97Rakhi KumarState Street Global AdvisorsSenior managing director — head of ESG investing and asset stewardship
98Biola AlabiBiola Alabi Media and EntertainmentChief executive
99Lisa FinneganLinkedInHead of HR EMEA
100Bukola AdisaBarclaysManaging director, head of risk and controls framework, design and execution

‘I don’t have time for this damn cancer’

FT Wealth 30% club. Brenda Trenowden.
© Charlie Bibby

Brenda TrenowdenHead of financial institutions, Europe, ANZ

Brenda Trenowden came late to the fight for gender equality. “I can’t believe it took me so long,” she says. She began her career working in finance and became used to being one of a few women on the trading floor. “The financial institutions business was very white male dominated,” she says. 

It was not until she joined Lloyds Banking Group in a senior role in 2006, that she noticed how younger women were coming to her for advice. “They would say: ‘How do you do this? You have kids, how do you manage it?’ I realised there was a real opportunity to be a role model but also to build a network to help these women.”

A friend introduced her to the City Women Network and encouraged her to join, and “that was it”. 

Ms Trenowden, as well as running the financial institutions business in Europe for ANZ and serving as a member of its UK management board, now leads the banking group’s gender diversity initiatives. “I realised I had only had a few [women role models] in my career, and wouldn’t it have been nice to have had more women that I could speak to or work with?” she says.

Ms Trenowden is a leader of the UK chapter of the 30% Club, set up in 2010 to campaign for a minimum of 30 per cent women on the boards of listed companies. They have seen progress: the figure is now 28.9 per cent, up from 12.5 per cent when it began. 

Her ideas about what is required to achieve greater gender equality have evolved. “I initially thought that women supporting each other was what was really needed,” she says. “I’ve realised it’s important but not enough. It is also really important to engage with men, and have CEOs and leaders of organisations be really bought into [equality] for it to happen.”

Ms Trenowden spends time publicising the research and business case for increased gender diversity. “The more I work with organisations, the more I see that if the CEO gets it, if they see diversity and inclusion as important for the success of the organisation, then it really works,” she says. “If they don’t, nothing changes.”

Mentoring women on all rungs of the finance career ladder reminds her of how much work there is to do in shifting the mentality around working women and flexible arrangements. Someone’s success, she says, should not be measured on their time in the office but on productivity and output. 

So Ms Trenowden makes a point of leading by example by taking advantage of her company’s flexible work policies and working from home on Fridays. “Unless you see senior people doing it, [other] people won’t do it,” she says.

Ms Trenowden has also been battling a rare form of cancer. “I don’t have time for cancer,” she says. Having so much that she still wants to achieve has helped deal with it, however. “I’m convinced that by having this great, purpose-led work, it’s really helped my resilience and recovery.” 

She is thoughtful about her illness. “On top of my day job and my family, I want to make an impact and I’m just hoping that this damn cancer doesn’t get in the way.” 
Madison Darbyshire

Top 50 Male champions
RankNameCompanyJob title
1Paul PolmanUnilever Chief executive
2Peter T GrauerBloombergExecutive chairman
3Marc BenioffSalesforceChief executive
4Vittorio ColaoVodafoneChief executive
5Michael Cole-FontaynAFMEChairman
6Steve VarleyEYUK chairman
7Brian CornellTarget Chief executive
8Andrew PennTelstraChief executive
9Peter HarrisonSchrodersGroup chief executive
10Paul RawlinsonBaker McKenzieGlobal chair
11Les MathesonRBSChief executive, personal and business banking
12Wim DejongheAllen & OverySenior partner 
13Iain AndersonCicero GroupExecutive chairman
14Ajay BangaMastercardPresident and chief executive
15Ivan MenezesDiageoChief executive
16Chris WeiAvivaGlobal chairman Aviva Digital, executive
17Ron O’HanleyState StreetPresident and chief operating officer
18Christopher StirlingKPMGGlobal chair, KPMG Life Sciences
19Jim CowlesCitiEMEA chief executive
20David LiaoHSBC Bank ChinaPresident and chief executive
21David SproulDeloitteSenior partner and chief executive
22Oliver BenzecryAccentureUKI chairman and country director
23Matt ElliottVirgin MoneyPeople director
24Dominic ChristianAon BenfieldGlobal chairman Aon
25Mark ReadWunderman & WPPChief executive and chief operating officer
26Rakesh KapoorRBChief executive
27Andrew PearceAccentureManaging director — operations
28Johan LundgreneasyJetChief executive
29Keith WeedUnileverChief marketing and communications officer
30Murtaza AhmedArtistic MillinersManaging director
31Richard RobinsonEconsultancyManaging partner
32Josh GraffLinkedInEMEA vice-president of marketing solutions and UK country manager at LinkedIn
33Sir Roger CarrBAE SystemsChairman
34Rob MukherjeeVodafoneNorth West regional chair
35Tom CasteleynBNY MellonManaging director, global head of custody product management
36David HynamBupa UKChief executive
37Matt HammersteinBarclaysHead of Barclaycard UK and retail lending
38Daniel KramerBNY MellonExecutive vice president, chief client experience officer, asset servicing
39Matthew KrentzThe Boston Consulting GroupSenior partner and managing director, global people chair
40Osman FaizStandard Chartered BankChief information officer, Singapore
41Jorg AmbrosiusState Street BankExecutive vice-president
42Omar AliEYUK financial services managing partner
43Colin PassmoreSimmons & SimmonsSenior partner 
44Karl EdgeKPMGMidlands regional chair
45Matthew NorrisStandard Chartered BankGlobal head, Standard Chartered global business services
46Alex AtzbergerSAPPresident, SAP customer experience
47Seamus SmithSageExecutive vice president, global payments and banking
48Mark BurgessColumbia Threadneedle InvestmentsDeputy global chief investment officer
49Simon LinaresDirect Line GroupGroup human resources director
50Mark HeightonCMSHead of UK real estate team

‘We are using size and scale to galvanise change’

Paul Polman, chief executive officer of Unilever NV, poses for a photograph with a selection of Unilever products at their headquarters in London, U.K., on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016. Unilever manufactures branded and packaged consumer goods, including food, detergents, fragrances, home, and personal care products. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg
© Bloomberg

Paul PolmanChief executive, Unilever

Paul Polman does not speak of an epiphany or a defining moment — equality for women, he says, has always been his priority. 

“I’m not a person who says: ‘I have a granddaughter and now I am suddenly interested.’ You won’t hear that from me,” says the 62-year-old Unilever chief executive. “It was there in the way I was brought up, the way I was educated.”

His relentless focus on promoting women’s rights inside and outside the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods group bears him out. Over a decade of leadership, he has promoted women to a string of senior roles, led a company-wide commitment to banish “unhelpful” stereotypes from branding and advertising and was a founding member of the UN Women Private Sector Leadership Advisory Council, among many other initiatives. 

Nine of the Unilever’s 23 board members are women and just over half of the group’s managers are female. His reputation as an activist chief executive is firmly established. Now, says Mr Polman, the time is right for him to focus on a wider struggle. 

“For us [at Unilever], gender is not a challenge any more. We are looking at the total value chain to empower women, [using] size and scale to galvanise change.”

He is talking about the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, which includes an ambitious target to improve the lives of 5m women across the company’s global supply chain through measures such as gender targets and financial inclusion programmes. Another example of this approach is a global policy offering three weeks of paid paternity leave, which will be fully implemented from next year. 

Despite his activism, Mr Polman is opposed to compulsory quotas for gender representation, although such legislation has been in place in some countries for up to a decade. Mr Polman argues instead for “disincentives” for businesses that fail to achieve it. “Why not lower tax rates for those companies that do achieve it?” he asks. “I believe that if you don’t do it, you should bear the consequences.”

He prefers the nudge-style approach of the 30% Club, which lobbies for greater female representation in FTSE 100 companies, and of which he is a member — though he describes its target as “timid”.

“I personally do not agree with 30 per cent [as a target for women on boards], but it’s the minimum. If you can’t achieve that then you aren’t giving it enough attention.” But more ambitious targets could be off-putting for business: “So you start at 30, then move it higher.”

Unilever has women in senior roles: including a female global chief information officer, chief legal officer and head of human resources. After all his progress, will the next chief executive of one of the world’s biggest companies — his successor — be a woman? 

“It would be great to have a woman, but the intention is to hire the best person to do the job,” he says. He pauses to consider the Unilever pipeline, and adds: “We are at the point where we don’t need to have these conversations — and that is a great place to be.” 
Helen Barrett

Top 50 Future leaders
RankNameCompanyJob title
1Susan RobsonNational GridPrincipal consultant
2Lucinda WakefieldBNY MellonVP, principal, administration and planning
3Sue McLeanBaker McKenziePartner
4Khalia NewellBarclaysVice president
5Pamela JonesTPICAPOperational change and integration manager
6Parisa NamaziCicero GroupHead of talent
7Ashlesha VaishampayanRussell InvestmentsManager, consultant relations
8Catherine YuileEdelmanExecutive vice president, insights and analytics
9Carolyn PorrettaAIG Asset Management EuropeHead of portfolio services
10Ngaire MoyesLinkedInSenior director, corporate communications and brand marketing
11Niamh CartyAIG EuropeSenior multinational client executive
12Amma MensahBeyond the ClassroomFounder and executive director
13Tiffany PoeppelmanLinkedInHead of sales productivity, EMEA
14Angela Oduor LungatiUshahidiDirector of community engagement
15Jayashree MitraStandard Chartered Global Business Services Private LimitedHead, global regulatory portfolio management, information technology and operations
16Lauren GemmellAmazonManager, software
17MaameYaa Kwafo-AkotoAllen & OverySenior associate
18Laura TynanEYManager EMEIA restructuring
19Emma SummerfieldAvivaDigital product manager
20Joanne BorrettIBM UKSenior software development release project manager
21Catherine Lang-AndersonAllen & OveryCounsel 
22Sherah BeckleyThomson ReutersSustainability specialist and editor, Thomson Reuters sustainability site
23Katherine (Katia) RamoCMSAssociate — technology, media and telecommunications
24Pippa MurrayPip & NutFounder
25Smita JoshiEdelman IndiaEnergy and infrastructure lead 
26Akansha Goyal Barclays BankVice president, product control 
27Val RiskFujitsuClient executive
28Tanveer Kaur NandhraStandard Chartered Bank KenyaExecutive principal; head financial market sales Kenya
29Melisa TuranoHSBC ArgentinaCorporate sales team leader
30Ana BattungHyatt Hotel Corporation Global director
31Coleen MensaEY Trainee solicitor 
32Katja ButlerSkadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & FlomPartner, private equity
33Anna StablesAviva Digital innovation manager
34Kathryn CrippsKnight FrankPartner
35Samantha Jayne NelsonMarshVice president risk engineer
36Helen BakerSageQA director, interim director of payroll and services for UK and Ireland product engineering
37Mary Ellen OareHSBC Bank USA Senior vice president, head of US international banking centre 
38Sharon MalhiFreshfields Bruckhaus DeringerSenior associate — antitrust, competition and trade
39Plaxedes MakuraHerbert Smith Freehills South AfricaILDP manager
40Pauline WongState Street Senior vice president, head of global services, Hong Kong 
41Rachel PashleyJ Walter Thompson LondonHead of Female Tribes Consulting
42Shruthi RaoAdapt ReadyChief executive
43Bianca Miller-ColeThe Be Group & Bianca Miller LondonEntrepreneur, author and chief executive
44Shuchi SharmaSAPGlobal VP and head of gender intelligence 
45Laura WallisBank of England Head of EU withdrawal unit
46Sayli ChitreOliver WymanAssociate (manager) 
47Kenesa AhmadAleada ConsultingPartner and co-founder
48Siva KarthikeyanAonSenior finance business partner
49Rochelle ParryWealth of Knowledge Chief executive
50Elena ElkinaAleada ConsultingPartner/co-owner

‘Everyone must make the culture inclusive’

Susan Robson

Susan RobsonPrincipal consultant, National Grid

“I always question the word ‘passionate’,” replies Susan Robson, principal consultant at National Grid, the FTSE 100 utility group, when asked why she became involved in promoting gender equality in her workplace. “What motivates me to do this is a sense of injustice and a sense of unfairness.”

Ms Robson began her career in management consulting, later moving to the energy sector with National Grid. She did not feel that she experienced much gender bias. It was not until later, she says, that: “I would go to events and there would be one woman in the photo, or no women in the photo, or I’d be the only one. And, I thought, this can’t be everyone’s best people.”

Ms Robson now chairs the company’s women’s employee resource group, which she joined in 2015, and works to bring the ERG’s mission in line with the business initiatives of National Grid. She also leads a programme at the company to encourage men to become more active in the diversity debate. 

At National Grid, collecting data has become the first and most important step to identifying diversity problems and tracking progress. “You really have to start with the data, and it’s not rocket science,” Ms Robson says.

National Grid relies on data to first figure out where it is as a company, and then where it wants to go. The team drafts ideas to establish different approaches or experiments to get there. Ms Robson says: “People used to be satisfied running initiatives that they thought were the right thing to do, but looking at the data you can identify specific pain points.”

What helps, she says, is an evolving understanding of the responsibilities of employees, men and women, outside the office. “Employers are much more aware of thinking of people in teams,” Ms Robson says. “People are part of a home team as well as a work team.”

That thinking has helped balance the approach to important life events. For instance, more men now take leave around the birth of a child. Now “it’s parenthood, instead of motherhood”, Ms Robson says. 

One problem for diversity initiatives across the energy sector is the lack of women in the Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) pipeline. “It’s heightened in terms of a skills shortage because we have fewer women in engineering,” Ms Robson says. “Energy, in particular, is transforming radically, and if we don’t learn to think differently about how to generate and move energy around, then we are going to be caught out.” 

Ms Robson is keenly aware that inclusion challenges extend beyond gender to, for instance, social mobility. She mentors two sixth-form students, a boy and a girl, to help them pursue their ambitions to go into higher education. 

Ultimately, Ms Robson hopes to make National Grid a leader in gender diversity best practice. One way to achieve this, she says, is for each department at National Grid to take responsibility for its own inclusion and diversity. “If you’ve centralised responsibility for inclusion and diversity,” she says of companies that rely on HR, “it’s easy to not get involved, or to think it’s someone else’s job.

“It’s everyone’s business to make the culture more inclusive.” 
Madison Darbyshire

Methodology: how the champions were assessed

Each person was scored on the seniority and influence of their role, their internal and external work to champion women, their recent and significant business achievements, and the testimonial that was provided with their nomination.

Across all three lists, the role models were required to be visible and vocal champions, working to create an environment in which women can succeed. 

For scoring purposes, the Champions’ efforts needed to sit outside the remit of their day job in order to be considered.

The judging panel comprised: Mellody Hobson, president, Ariel Investments; Mark Wilson, chief executive, Aviva; Gigi Chao, executive vice-chairman, Cheuk Nang Holdings; Helena Morrissey, head of personal investing, Legal & General Investment Management; Suki Sandhu, founder and chief executive, INvolve; and Harriet Arnold, FT Special Reports assistant editor.

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