Skip to content

Doncaster Business Awards

NEXT EVENT: Wednesday 22nd January 2025

Women in Business Logo

Sponsored By

Polypipe Building Products_blue

On Wednesday the 24th of January, we launched our inaugural Women in Business Conference to great success.

Building upon the foundations of our popular Women in Business lunches, this half-day event allowed attendees to explore a number of thought-provoking issues that don’t always get the attention they deserve.

In addition to networking, the conference featured pair of panels, on the topics of breaking stereotypes and overcoming adversity, as well as a conversation about equity in the workplace.

Over the course of the ensuing discussions, attendees heard from influential female business leaders, executives and entrepreneurs, hailing from all over the country, about their unique experiences.

While this was the first-ever Doncaster Women in Business Conference, it will be returning again next year even bigger and better. More information about this is to follow, so watch this space!

Meet Our Conference Hosts

Amelia Banful

Amelia Banful, Head of Business Strategy at Enviro Electronics

Amelia is the Head of Business Strategy at Enviro Electronics and has led the business to win numerous awards.

She has over 20 years experience in project management and has operated in various fields, including health and construction. Amelia is also a qualified Change Practitioner and specialises in helping organisations to effectively assess and mitigate against the possible impacts of change.

Outside work, Amelia works with a number of organisations to mentor young people, providing purpose and helping them to become a positive influence in society. She is a member of the Doncaster UTC Employer Advisory Committee and is part of the leadership team for Father's Heart Centre; a church in Birmingham.

In addition to all of this, Amelia is also very passionate about working with women so that they feel empowered to achieve their ambitions in life

women in business speakers (4)

Felicity King, Director of Development at Edwards & Pearce.

Felicity is an expert in human behaviour — having amassed over 25 years of experience in the field of Learning and Development (L&D) — and has held several high-ranking positions in both the public and private sectors.

Now with her own company, she is a professional coach who has made great contributions to sustainable leadership and the prevention of burnout. For this work, she has even been honoured with a fellowship from the Charted College of Teaching.

Each year, Felicity selects a new research theme to benefit her clients and network. Currently, she is looking at the impact of seasonal changes on the brain and performance, offering a unique approach to harnessing natural cycles for empowerment and sustainability.


Profile_Sarah Naylor

Sarah Naylor, Director & Head of Commercial and Disputes Team at Switalskis Solicitors

With over 18 years’ worth of experience in the legal sector, Sarah is currently a Director at Switalskis and Head of their Commercial and Disputes team.

She supports both organisations and individuals through business services, employment and dispute resolution. This entails helping SMEs across a range of areas that include: commercial contracts;  employment law; and commercial disputes.

Sarah has worked in Doncaster since 2005, training as a solicitor with Atherton Godfrey, which then later became Switalskis in 2023. She has been a non-executive Director of the Chamber since 2018 and in her spare time has two young children to run around after and also plays basketball at a high level.

Meet Our Conference Panellists and Speakers

In Conversation With:
Embracing Equity In The Workplace

Layla Young

Layla Young, HR Director for the Sustainable Building Solutions Business Unit at Genuit Group

Layla has over 20 years' worth of experience in generalist HR, and has operated mainly in the manufacturing and construction sectors.

She has a degree in Psychology & Neuroscience, as well as a Masters Degree in Human Resource Management. A Chartered Fellow of the CIPD, Layla is also an experienced business leader, having worked in various organisations; from large American corporations to Swedish state-owned and family-run businesses.

Layla has a passion for ensuring the employees in her organisation are able to bring their whole self to work each day and continue to thrive and develop along with the organisation. Complementary to her role at Genuit, Layla is an Enterprise Advisor within the South Yorkshire region, a role which see’s her work with schools and businesses to bridge the gap between the two worlds of business and education.

Layla was recently invited to be part of the British Chamber Of Commerce Equity Commission — which is working to address the issue of workplace Equity —  a subject of great importance to both herself and the Genuit Group.

Sarah Marsden

Sarah Marsden, Regional Managing Director for Strata

 As Regional Managing Director for Strata in Midlands and East Yorkshire, Sarah is responsible for leading the property business, growing its land delivery pipeline, delivering quality new homes to meet annual targets and driving customer satisfaction in general.

She joined the property industry back in 2000 and has held several senior positions for three house-building companies across the North West, North East and Yorkshire. In 2022, Sarah stepped down from a more senior position to achieve a greater work life balance.

She is also a Justice of the Peace for West Yorkshire, lives at home with her son Jack and her cat, Eddie, is a keen gardener and an enthusiast of classic Volkswagen sports cars.

Panel: Overcoming Adversity

women in business speakers (1)

Rebecca Dickenson, Owner of Rebecca Dickenson Hair Body Soul.

Rebecca is a multi-award winning, internationally recognised hairdresser.  Having worked in the field since the age of 13, she realised the dream of owning her very own salon in 2019. 

 After navigating the challenges of a global pandemic, the business has gone from strength to strength and Rebecca's career continues to flourish. She is currently shortlisted for three awards later this year – and plans are afoot to expand the salon further early in 2024.

Rebecca is unashamedly driven and is dedicated to shaping not only her future but the careers of her team members too. 

Abi Hookway Photo

Abi Hookway, Managing Director, Redmayne Smith Ltd & Director of Touchstone Education

If you’re considering property investment but need somebody to cut through the noise and tell you what’s really happening in the market, Abi Hookway has the insights for you.

Abi went from being an unsatisfied corporate career climber to a multi-million-pound property investor in less than 5 years. She did this by educating herself about property investment and seizing opportunities with both hands. Now, she has the passive monthly income necessary to live the life that she wants.

Having developed experience in a number of strategies, including: property flipping;  buy-to-let; serviced accommodation; and commercial property, Abi has more knowledge than most in her field. 


Leana Coopoosamy-Pearson, Global Inclusion Business Partner at Mastercard

Currently working in a Global DEI Director role at Mastercard, Leana is committed to creating an environment wherein everyone's voice is heard and everybody feels truly valued.

Prior to this, Leana has also had experience as an Inclusion Manager for Clifford Chance LLP. During her stint there, she led the company's UK race and ethnicity strategy. Not to mention, she also launched inclusion objectives at the firm for the very first time.

Outside of her role at Mastercard, Leana is the founder of Nigella Boutique, a company that aims to support small Black and ethnically diverse businesses, providing Parent-to-be hampers with products for both baby and parent. 

Karen Headshot Edited

Karen Betts, CEO of Nouveau HD Beauty Group

Having founded her own multi award-winning beauty empire (which encompasses a number of successful brands), Karen has accomplished a great deal as a businesswoman and has been showered with accolades in the process.

With a fiercely entrepreneurial spirit, she has established her own salon, reshaped the industry by introducing various makeup and beauty treatments, and advocated for better safety and hygiene practices. 

In short, Karen is a trailblazer in her field with incredible determination, a drive to innovate and strong ethics. 

Panel: Breaking Stereotypes

women in business speakers (5)

Zoe Hands, Managing Director at First Bus Midlands, Manchester and South Yorkshire.

Before joining First at the end of July, Zoe previously served as the Chief Operating Officer for Merseyrail, accumulating a decade's worth of experience in that industry, 

During her tenure, she was responsible for the on-time performance & overall service quality of the train network. Under her leadership, the organisation achieved remarkable punctuality records and earned the top spot in customer satisfaction. Most notably, Zoe led the successful implementation of a new fleet transformation project, introducing state-of-the-art trains with cutting-edge battery technology.

women in business speakers (7)

Charlie Dean, Managing Director at Catering24 Ltd.

At the young age of 24, Charlie took on the role of Managing Director at their family-run, multi-million-pound business. Since then, they have been committed to highlighting the need for greater female representation in a typically male-dominated field. Charlie's efforts in this regard have been recognised with a finalist spot in the National Business Women's Awards.

In addition to this, Charlie serves as the Chair of Governors for two county council schools and also leads the Parent-Teacher Association at their own children's school. 

women in business speakers (3)

Kathryn Kelly, CEO of Lionheart Educational Trust & Director of Southwell-Kelly Recruitment.

Kathryn has spent over 25 years working in education, having been a Principal of a large outstanding college and, for the last eight years, serving as CEO for Lionheart Academies Trust. The latter encompasses 14 schools that themselves cater to over 12,000 pupils. More recently Kathryn has also become the joint founder of Southwell-Kelly Recruitment, an agency which focuses specifically on IT roles. 

During her journey she has overcome a multitude of personal and professional challenges: from coping as a single parent to dealing with homophobia and imposter syndrome. 

Julie Carrier Amended

Julie Carrier, Chief Commercial Officer (UK & Europe), Unipart Rail

Julie is a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers with 30 years’ experience in infrastructure projects in the rail sector. She has worked in design and construction roles in technical and project leadership positions. Julie began her career at British Rail and has since held a variety of senior positions including Transport for the North, where she led a team of diverse stakeholders to agree proposals for the Northern Powerhouse Rail programme and SYSTRA where she grew the company’s high-speed offering, applying learning from Europe to the UK market.

Julie joined Unipart Rail in 2022 and is accountable for sales and growth of products and services. She leads a team of 70 people, focused on developing and manufacturing solutions to improve the performance of rail networks.

She is involved in a range of initiatives to attract young people, especially women, into the railway industry, and promoting careers in construction. She lives in Leeds with two grown up sons, and has a passion for trains and engineering.

‘Thank you to Vicki & Collette for organising and running such an inspirational Women in Business event at The Yorkshire Wildlife Park.  ‘Breaking the Glass Ceiling’ provided the space to discuss not just the issues, but the phenomenal progress made by women in business within our local area.  Thank you to Karen Beardsley and the rest of the panel for taking the time out to share your thoughts and journey to success with us all.’

Christina Hughes, Dragonfly Financial Services.

Scroll To Top