Wednesday 8 March 2017 5:18 pm

International Women's Day: 12 of the most awesome women in the City

With International Women's Day upon us, what better time to celebrate some of the City's brightest and best, from business bosses to economists?

Here's a run-down of 12 of the most awesome women in the City… 

1. Jayne-Anne Gadhia – chief executive of Virgin Money

Jane-Anne Gadhia has been chief executive of Virgin Money since 2007 and during the course of her career has learned a lesson or two about being a successful woman in a traditionally male-dominated field.

She made our Power 100 Women list last year and dispensed some sage advice at the Power 100 breakfast launch. "Fundamentally, if you're good at your job, you can stand your ground," she said. (Listen to the full panel discussion here.)

In 2015, Gadhia also led a government-backed review which investigated how to increase female senior executive leadership in the business and finance sectors.

2. Yael Selfin – chief economist at KPMG

​Yael Selfin lives and breathes economics, from her training at Coopers & Lybrand to her Twitter feed, where she will often tweet off-the-cuff thoughts on current economics events, like the latest Budget. Selfin was raised by her grandmother who, among other ventures, studied psychology in Austria with Sigmund Freud.

Selfin, who was named analyst of the year at 2016's City A.M. Awards, also encourages women to be more assertive in negotiating payrises and promotions.

“If you want something, you need to go for it. If you feel like you deserve something, you need to say it,” she said.

“If you want a promotion, you need to go and ask for it. You should not sit there and wait for people to give you things if you think you deserve them.”

3. Minouche Shafik – Bank of England deputy governor

Minouche Shafik is no stranger to appearing on lists of influencers – Forbes ranked her as the 59th most powerful woman in the world last year and the most powerful Arab woman on Forbes Middle East. And, of course, she was included in our Power 100 Women list.

Shafik was born in Alexandria, Egypt and studied in America for her undergraduate degree. At 36, she became the World Bank’s youngest vice president. She is leaving Bank of England for the director’s position at the London School of Economics in September, where she earned her master’s degree.

4. Sandie Okoro – general counsel of HSBC Global Assessment Management

Sandie Okoro was featured on, you guessed it, the Power 100 Women list and for good reason. She was included in the Guardian’s annual Powerlist last year, profiling Britain's most influential people of African and African-Caribbean descent. Okoro also received the BSN Lifetime Achievement Award at BSN’s UK Diversity Legal Awards 2016.

Here's Okoro's message for International Women's Day:

5. Eileen Burbidge – partner at Passion Capital

TechCrunch Disrupt London 2015 - Day 2
(Source: Getty)

Originally from the US, Eileen Burbidge began her career in Silicon Valley before moving to London in 2004 to join Skype, just a year after it was launched. She is now an experienced venture capitalist who invests in startups like Lulu, Monzo and GoCardless and seeks strong women entrepreneurs.

Burbidge said she sees her status as one of the few female tech investors as something that can be an advantage.

“If others underestimate me or lower their expectations because I’m a woman, that just means they are all that more disadvantaged or ill-prepared when they inevitably see and experience how much more capable I am than them,” she said in an interview with VentureBeat in 2014.

“If some people correlate low expectations with me because I’m a woman, there’s no question I will over-deliver, and that is always very satisfying.” 

6. Nina Devani – chief executive and founder of DevaniSoft

Nina Devani’s father was having trouble remembering the passwords he used for his various internet accounts, so at 14 years old, she launched a mobile app to help people like him remember their passwords.

She was the youngest finalist in NatWest’s Everywoman Awards 2014. On Twitter, Devani advocates for youth representation and dispelling negative stereotypes about millennials.

7. Karen Blackett – chair of MediaCom UK

Karen Blackett has been heralded as the most powerful woman in the ad industry.

She participates in panels and events like the leadership and diversity masterclass at the House of Commons last week. We spoke with her last month for our podcast, where she discussed diversity in the ad industry.

In an interview with the Drum, Blackett said equality isn’t just a women’s issue, but a social issue – and encouraged men to get involved in women’s advocacy as well.

8. Adizah Tejani – marketing director at Token, Inc.

Adizah Tejani was a founding member of Level39, Europe’s first fintech accelerator. Apart from being one of the millennials included on the Power 100 Women list, she was also featured on TechWorld’s recent list of influential UK women in the tech industry.

Tejani has advocated for women in tech and seeks to inspire other young girls to enter the field by hosting events with Level39 like Code First Girls.

“I know that mentoring is an old concept, but it’s a good one,” she wrote in an article for Tech City News. “We never stop learning, and what better way to learn about the highs and lows of tech, than to be mentored by someone who has experienced them – maybe even invented some of them.”

9. Dido Harding – chief executive at TalkTalk 

Although she will step down from her seven-year role as chief executive in May, Dido Harding also serves as chair of the remuneration committee for the Bank of England.

The Dorset native says her grandfather was a source of inspiration for her as a young girl. At Management Today’s Women in Business Conference in 2016, she said:

“When I was 14 my mum told my chemistry teacher she thought it was a waste of time girls going to university because they’d only just get married. I remember being so angry with her. I had this extraordinary role-model of rags to riches success in my grandfather and yet I was a girl, and girls in a very military family were not meant to have professional careers. I think that created the spur and edge to drive me on.”

10. Joséphine Goube – chief executive at Techfugees

Also featured on the TechWorld list, Goube and a voluntary team organised a series of conferences, hackathons, and the like to benefit refugees.

The ongoing project is dubbed Techfugees, bringing together technology and humanitarian efforts. Goube was also the co-managing director of Girls in Tech London from 2013-16 and a technical evangelist for Yborder, which aims to provide a platform for headhunters to exchange information about local jobs and talent in their area and aid in recruitment.

11. Nancy Curtin – chief investment officer at Close Brothers Assessment Management

Nancy Curtin is one of the most senior women in her field and said she had the drive to be successful from the beginning.

“I’ve always been highly motivated, very focused and very achievement oriented. My mum used to say, ‘You just came out that way,’" she said in an interview with Werfelli. 

Curtin also revealed that while she objected to some of President Donald Trump’s more controversial comments about minorities, she was less worried about his standpoints on women because “he has a lot of powerful women working for him,” including his own daughter. A Harvard and Princeton graduate, Curtin was included in our Power 100 Women List. 

12. Carolyn McCall – chief executive of EasyJet

(Source: Getty)

McCall was voted our Personality of the Year in 2013. In an article published earlier this week by Management Today, she said “women in leadership positions need to inspire female leaders".

EasyJet launched the Amy Johnson Initiative with the goal of doubling the number of new female pilots during a two-year period. McCall also speaks at state secondary schools at part of the Speakers for Schools campaign to encourage children to broaden their horizons and aspire to positive career goals.