• Co-op’s Food Chief Executive, Jo Whitfield, the first female CEO of a British food retailer announced 2019 winner of the Award
  • Founders4Schools founder and CEO, Sherry Coutu CBE named winner of the Veuve Clicquot Social Purpose Award
  • Cybersecurity entrepreneur Poppy Gustafsson, CEO of Darktrace, announced the winner of the Veuve Clicquot New Generation Award
  • Founder of iconic British retail brand The White Company, Chrissie Rucker OBE, honoured with a Veuve Clicquot Tribute Award

Jo Whitfield, Chief Executive, Co-op Food has been announced as the winner of the 2019 Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award. By receiving the longest-standing award for women in business globally, Jo follows in the footsteps of some of the most exceptional female business leaders- from Anita Roddick, Founder of the Body Shop to architect Dame Zaha Hadid CBE, and youngest female FTSE 100 CEO, Liv Garfield of Severn Trent.

Since 1972, the awards have recognised women pioneering different aspects of business today and celebrates those who share the same qualities as Madame Clicquot, an original trailblazer: her enterprising spirit, as well as her courage and the determination necessary to accomplish her business goals.

Sherry Coutu CBE, Founder and CEO of Founders4Schools is awarded the Veuve Clicquot Social Purpose Award which honours female leaders whose organisations are championing social enterprises. Sherry’s outstanding efforts to connect young people with successful businesses and therefore helping them make informed decisions about their future, was one of the key achievements outlined by the judging panel.

Co-founder and CEO of cybersecurity firm Darktrace, Poppy Gustafsson, is the winner of the Veuve Clicquot New Generation Award. Poppy’s mathematical and data-driven mindset has spearheaded the growth of Darktrace which after five years, under her leadership, has been valued at $1.65 billion.

The achievements of this years’ runners-up – Alex Mahon, CEO, Channel 4; Susie Ma, Founder, Tropic Skincare and Cecilia Crossley, Founder, From Babies with Love – were also highlighted and celebrated at an awards ceremony held at the Design Museum in Central London.

Chrissie Rucker OBE, Founder of The White Company, this year receives a Veuve Clicquot Tribute Award, in recognition of how she has built and grown her company over the past 25 years. The Veuve Clicquot Tribute Award celebrates women who have not only shown exceptional success in their careers, but through their work, inspire the next generation of female trailblazers. It reflects the achievements of Madame Clicquot herself who, as one of the world’s first businesswomen, continues to influence other female leaders through her legacy today.

WINNER – Jo Whitfield, Chief Executive, Co-op Food – Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award

As the first female CEO of a British food retailer, Jo oversees the day-to-day operations of Co-op’s food business, part of the Co-operative Group.

The judging panel outlined Jo’s role in boosting profits and sales for the Co-op’s retail arm and achieving over 4 years of like-for-like growth. Additionally, she has led on innovative trials to take Co-op food online – trialling delivery methods with Deliveroo and AI robots, boosting sales in test stores – as well as her work in making stores more sustainable.

Jo has established a new not-for-profit women’s network, Grocery Girls. It aims to nurture talent, widen people’s networks and develop new business partnerships to aid this. It has over 500 senior members and aims to attract female leaders and those who aspire to a more senior role from all grocery businesses, including supermarkets, manufacturers and their suppliers. It offers business women a forum to network and meet like-minded individuals and share best practice. The organisation aims to help change attitudes, represent women as visible role models wanting to talk about their experiences, as well as grow and retain talented women within the grocery industry.

On receiving the award, Jo Whitfield commented: “This is such a prestigious award and I am genuinely thrilled to have won. It is an amazing way to champion the success of business women worldwide. There are still opportunities needed in many workplaces to match the diversity of modern society. That is why I felt it important to launch a new network, Grocery Girls, to develop and foster female talent in the Grocery sector.”

“I’m so pleased to have been awarded this honour, which is also great recognition for my colleagues at the Co-op. Our convenience business is growing ahead of the market and we’ve shown that you can be successful by doing good business and go on to do good things in community with the money you make.”

She added: “I’m proud to lead a business that gives back £39M to local causes, has the lowest plastic footprint
of any retailer and is innovating for customers with pay-in-aisle technology and home deliveries on eco-bikes.”

WINNER – Sherry Coutu CBE, Founder and CEO, Founders4Schools – Veuve Clicquot Social Purpose Award

Sherry Coutu, CBE is a serial social entrepreneur who serves on the boards of companies, charities, and universities. Sherry also co-created Founders4Schools and Workfinder.

By building smart connections with over 3,000 partners including teachers, parents and leaders of the business community, its social purpose is to help all young people in the UK be well-informed about their future options, motivated to succeed and equipped to lead enterprising lives.

The judging panel was impressed with the social impact that Sherry has made through the Founders4Schools platform so far, which has supported over 900,000 Student-Employer Encounters in the classroom or workplace and nearly 290,000 students.

Sherry Coutu CBE said: “I am thrilled to receive the Social Purpose Award from Veuve Clicquot for my work at Founders4schools and Workfinder. It has been such an immense privilege to work with amazing colleagues and friends to help bring about change and I love seeing what happens when our technologies facilitate communities acting together on issues they care about.”

“Businesses need young talent with experience of the workplace in order to flourish and their employees benefit from hosting work experience and from speaking to students in classrooms. I firmly believe we can make work experience work for everyone and thereby reduce inequality and promote inclusive prosperity.”

WINNER – Poppy Gustafsson, Co-founder and CEO, Darktrace – Veuve Clicquot New Generation Award

Poppy Gustafsson’s work in co-founding and leading Darktrace – the first company to offer cybersecurity based on AI – reflects the core attributes that Madame Clicquot exhibited in her formative years, such as a fearless approach and innovative thinking to achieve her goals.

The judges noted Poppy’s role in developing the Darktrace technology which has been deployed more than 5,000 times across 5 continents, as well as growing the organisation globally to over 650 employees. Poppy’s passion for encouraging young women into technology careers was also recognised; Darktrace recently became a sponsor of WISE, a social enterprise that aims to increase female participation in science and technology.

Poppy Gustafsson on receiving her award said: “I am honoured to receive the New Generation Award from Veuve Clicquot. The phenomenal success that Darktrace is experiencing is testament to the passion, fearlessness and hard work of our brilliant team of 900 employees, as well as the fundamental innovation behind our autonomous fight back technology.”

Veuve Clicquot Tribute Award – Chrissie Rucker OBE, Founder, The White Company

Chrissie Rucker OBE is the recipient of a Veuve Clicquot Tribute Award this year, which comes four months before The White Company celebrates its 25th year of business.

Winners of the Veuve Clicquot Tribute Award have created their own unique space in business today. Importantly, they join Madame Clicquot as women who are inspirational figures to future generations of women in business.

Since being founded in 1994, The White Company has evolved enormously and become a complete lifestyle brand, now offering a wide range of essential home accessories that really make a house a home. Renowned for her meticulous attention to detail when it comes to creating products, Chrissie’s desire is to constantly improve, as well as delight the customer.

On receiving the award, Chrissie Rucker commented: “I remember being so excited to be one of the youngest finalists many years ago, so it’s incredibly special to now be receiving this Tribute Award, in this our 25th Anniversary year.”

“I have always thought of the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Awards as being one of the most prestigious (almost the Oscars for women in business!). It’s wonderful that it celebrates the breadth of our new up-and-coming stars as well as the more established businesses.”.

She added: “It has taken a massive team effort to get where we are today, I cannot thank my incredible team both of today and over the years enough, for making it all happen.”

“I hope we can all play a small part in helping to inspire the next generation of future female leaders, just as Madame Clicquot has done for so many years.”

Julie Nollet, Marketing & Communications Director, Moët Hennessy UK, commented: “This year’s winners are remarkable women who demonstrate the calibre of female leadership we have pioneering business today. All of them reflect the attributes of our founder Madame Clicquot, with an outstanding trailblazing, courageous and innovative spirit. In a time where women weren’t allowed bank accounts, let alone seen as able to run a business, Madame Clicquot was one of the first women to lead a company to international success- it’s an honour to celebrate women who are continuing to push the boundaries for business women two centuries later.”

The Award’s high-profile judging panel is comprised of business leaders from various industries, including Moira Benigson, founder, MBS Group, Caroline Michel, CEO of Peters, Frasers & Dunlop, Casandra Stavros, CEO of Propercorn, Sian Westermann, Senior Adviser in Rothschild & Co’s Global Advisory division, and Vanessa Kingori, Publisher of British Vogue.

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