WeAreTheCity celebrated the winners of the 2017 Rising Star Awards last night, at a prestigious ceremony at NewsUK, London.
Over 200 winners, sponsors, judges and guest attended and enjoyed a champagne reception and welcome by Vanessa Vallely, Managing Director, WeAreTheCity; and Chris Duncan, Managing Director, Times Newspaper Ltd.
Addressing the audience, Vallely said, “It is a great pleasure to welcome all our winners and guests.”
“I think we can all agree that The Times have done a pretty epic job.”
Speaking about the top 100 winners, she said, “These women were amazing before these awards – all we did is shine a massive light on them.”
“So now it’s time to shine a light on you.”
“Enjoy this moment – life is far too short not to.”
Following Duncan congratulated the winners, saying, “I can tell each and every one of you, you are in for a truly inspirational evening as we celebrate the many achievements of WeAreTheCity’s Rising Stars winners.”
Going on to speak about how far women and gender diversity have come at The Times, Duncan spoke of inspirational women such as Caroline Norton, Miss Wreford, Marie Colvin, Flora Shaw and Christina Appleyard.
However, speaking about how far equality still has to go, Duncan said, “Women still earn £1.34 per hour less than men, with the UK’s gender pay gap not currently predicted to close in 2041, the same date we are predicting scientists will be able to erase human memories.”
“Only one of those sounds scary.”
“These milestones will all come.”
“My hope is that our winners tonight will continue to rise and become the next wave of role models and ground breakers within their organisations.”
Concluding Duncan said, “So to the winners tonight I would say congratulations in your work to date – the mantle is now passed to you to bring on the next generation as they look up to you and your achievements.”
“I look forward to reading about your progress in The Times and The Sunday Times.”
Journalist and BBC News presenter, Jane Hill hosted the awards ceremony, sponsored by The Times & The Sunday Times. Congratulating the winners, Hill said, “I know an awful lot of you will end up on those boards and in the BBC studios being interviewed by me.”
“So I look forward to that in years to come.”
“Lets see if we can get this trending [on Twitter] and continue the conversation in weeks to come.”
Hill then introduced the evening’s keynote speakers, Heather Melville OBE, RBS and Funke Abimbola MBE, Roche. Both were previous Rising Star Champion winners and were recently recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
Abimbola was awarded an MBE for services to Diversity in the Legal Profession and to Young People, while Melville was awarded an OBE for services to Gender Equality.
Addressing the room, Melville said, “This is what diversity looks like.”
Abimbola added, “It’s really surreal being here as a year ago we were standing here as Champions – and who’d have thought that we would be on the same honours list together.”
Congratulating the winners, Melville said, ““Each and everyone of you, you are all role models and you leave here tonight being even bigger role models.”
“But please, please, please support each other.”
“You are going to be in work a lot longer than me and you’ll need your friends.”
Abimbola concluded their speech with her favourite quote, saying, “You are the captain of the ship, driver of your destiny, and master or mistress of your fate.”
During the interval of the awards presentation, the audience were treated to surprise entertainment from the gospel choir, Uplifted Voices. The choir delivered a moving performance and received a standing ovation from the audience during their rendition of ‘Proud Mary’.
Closing the awards, Vallely implored the audience to network with each other, make new connections and to enjoy the moment.
The Rising Star awards were introduced to showcase the UK pipeline of female talent below management level and to create 100 female role models across 20 different industries and professions as well as celebrating the hard work and support of our Rising Star Champions and Company of the Year.
The winners were narrowed down from over 1,250 nominations and were judged by a panel of 33 independent judges. Over 35,000 public votes were received for the 200 shortlisted nominees from around the world.
The winners of each category can be found in alphabetical order below. Full details of each winner can be found here.