WILL business women ever win the Board game? The answer is an emphatic yes, as proved by the trailblazing trajectory of Michelle McDowell of engineer BDP, who was last night crowned Veuve Clicquot Business Woman of the Year.
As chair of civil and structural engineering, McDowell helped increase BDP’s turnover to £96m through her involvement on projects such as the £70m redevelopment of the Albert Hall – and her achievements helped her beat Joanna Shields, EMEA vice-president of Facebook; Susie Hewson, director of Natracare; and Jillian Maclean, founder of Drake & Morgan to take home the champagne bottle-shaped silver trophy.
The evening’s keynote speaker was former City minister Lord Myners, who declared the private sector’s failure to recognise female talent is the “largest missed opportunity in the economy at the moment”.
“The private sector has been blinded by tradition and prejudice,” he told the packed audience at Claridges, before predicting that at least five FTSE 100 boards will have a majority of women directors within ten years – but solely on merit, rather than “political correctness”. So no quotas, then.