An international network for female business travellers has won a major award in the national Women in Business Awards, sponsored by HSBC.

Carolyn Pearson, CEO of Maiden Voyage, won the digital/online business woman title at a major awards ceremony on 1st December at the Royal Armouries in Leeds. She is the founder and CEO of Maiden Voyage, the world’s only specialist network connecting female business travellers globally. Headquartered in Leeds, the company is continuously growing, and Carolyn has raised close to £500,000 in angel investment to underpin global expansion. Alongside an extensive network and a global team of ambassadors to support inbound business travellers, Maiden Voyage offers female-friendly hotel certification and corporate training around gender-specific travel policies and duty of care.

Carolyn earned her place in the national final, beating off stiff competition after winning the regional award in the Yorkshire and North East finals in October. She said about her win: ‘I am absolutely thrilled to be recognized as the Digital Business of the Year. We are proud to help safeguard and empower over 8000 women in our community, whether that’s through individual membership or large corporate partnership. Our aim is to keep growing, to reach more women across the world and make business travel safe and social.’

Carolyn was presented with her award – a bespoke hand blown glass trophy – by Natasha Sayce-Zelem, Head of Technology of Sky UK, before an audience of senior business leaders and their guests.

A Pontefract businesswoman who took her in-house marketing team and set up her own company won the award for the start-up business woman of the year. Joanna Stephenson is MD of PHD Marketing & Strategy, a marketing and communications agency in Pontefract. After a career in the chemical industry followed by working as the marketing director at LINPAC group, Jo pitched to the Board of LINPAC to outsource their marketing dept. PHD now supplies a range of marketing & communications services to manufacturing and distribution businesses across the UK, Europe and the Middle East.

Vicki Davenport, sales and commercial director of The Pink Link, Huddersfield was the Inspiring Leader of the year. Vicki is the MD of the company which specialises in the express distribution of small consignments of palletised freight throughout the UK and Europe. The company is currently celebrating 25 years in business.

Hannah Duraid, CEO of the Great Escape Game, won the Young Entrepreneur award in the national finals of the Women in Business Awards, organised by Forward Ladies. She and her partner opened their first room last year and have subsequently opened four more, with thousands of visitors passing through their doors in the past 16 months. They are expanding premises and devising new technical puzzles challenges.

Jennifer Crawley, chair of the judges and UK Deputy Director of Small Businesses for HSBC said: “I am proud to support the Forward Ladies National Women in Business Awards, which promote and encourage female entrepreneurs. It is great to see so many women being recognised for their hard work and commitment to business. The standard of entries for 2016 has been extremely high, with some really inspirational stories from those women who have taken part.”

James Cliff, HSBC’s Head of Business Banking in the UK announced a parental leave support package for small businesses in the UK. The package will apply to employees of either gender going on parental leave, covering maternity, shared parental leave, adoption and surrogacy. He said: “Our support package is an opportunity to shape a better future for our small business customers who require more assistance in overcoming the challenges of parental leave. Their most significant barrier is financial, with additional costs and cash flow challenges often leading to these entrepreneurs holding off on growth opportunities and limiting their investment plans.”

The move was welcomed by MD of Forward Ladies, Griselda Togobo, who said: “Small businesses are the backbone of the British economy, creating two thirds of jobs, and they need support to help alleviate the cost of maternity or parental leave. This package will help remove one of the biggest obstacles to gender equality whilst helping small businesses. Forward Ladies is proud to be working with HSBC on the launch of this fantastic initiative.”

The Outstanding Business Woman of the Year Award went to former nurse Jan Flawn of PJ Care in Milton Keynes, and the Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Petra Wetzel of West Brewery in Glasgow.


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About Maiden Voyage

Maiden Voyage is the world’s leading specialist provider of inclusive business travel safety education for diverse and minority groups as well as a social community for female business travellers. Maiden Voyage provides traveller safety training, workshops and eLearning solutions for corporate and individual business travellers and works alongside travel industry providers to drive best practice in duty-of-care. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Maiden Voyage released it’s COVID-19 Traveller Safety eLearning toolset to enable employers to prepare their business travellers for travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. The company has been widely featured in the press including CNN, NYT, Mintel, Forbes, BBC and the Economist and the leadership team are regular contributors to major business travel industry and security panels and events.

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