Oxford vaccine Prof Sarah Gilbert and Depop CEO Maria Raga are finalists of the The Bold Woman Award by Veuve Cliquot

By Michelle Johnson | 31 Aug 2021 | Culture, Leaders

The champagne brand’s annual award honours the impact of female leadership, innovation and entrepreneurism in the UK

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* Veuve Cliquot Bold Women and Bold Future finalists (l-r) Maria Raga, Dame Donna Kinnair, Professor Sarah Gilbert, Sharmadean Reid MBE, Ebinehita Iyere and Theadora Alexander

Professor Sarah Gilbert, the vaccinologist who helped create the Covid-19 vaccines, is among the 2021 finalists of 49th annual Bold Woman Award and Bold Future Award by Veuve Clicquot. 

Honouring the impact of female leadership, innovation and entrepreneurism across the UK, The Bold Woman Award celebrates inspirational women with an established track record of organisational and personal success, as well as the leaders of the future. 

Selected by a panel of judges, the awards recognise women who emulate Madame Clicquot’s enterprising spirit and courage, as well as her values of innovation, audacity, fearlessness and drive. The judging panel look for evidence that nominees have excelled across four key pillars, from successfully reinventing traditions and demonstrating entrepreneurial daring, to championing better representation of female leaders and maintaining an ethical approach.

“This shortlist celebrates the fearless, visionary and inspiring female leadership that has been on display over the previous twelve difficult months,” says Kristina Blahnik, judging panel member and Manolo Blahnik CEO. “These women have steered their organisations to success and pioneered innovation during intensely challenging and disruptive times. The judges have been awed by the calibre of leadership among this year’s nominees and we’re delighted to celebrate this collection of bold women.”

Bold Woman Award finalists:

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* Maria Raga

Maria Raga

CEO of fashion resale app Depop, Raga has been instrumental in driving the company forward in its mission to reshape fashion consumption. Under her leadership, Depop has seen 100% year-on-year revenue growth, raised $100m in funding and has a community of over 27m users worldwide.

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* Prof. Sarah Gilbert

Prof. Sarah Gilbert

University of Oxford Professor of Vaccinology and co-founder of Vaccitech. Professor Gilbert has over a decade’s experience in developing cutting edge vaccines and led Oxford’s Covid-19 vaccine development. 

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* Dame Donna Kinnair

Dame Donna Kinnair

Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, Judges were inspired by Dame Donna’s consistent commitment to the more than 450k nurses the RCN represents, from campaigning for Fair Pay For Nursing to standing up for nursing staff to have access to proper PPE as well as priority access to the COVID-19 vaccine for all staff.

Bold Future Award finalists:

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* Sharmadean Reid MBE

Sharmadean Reid MBE

The Founder of Beautystack, a beauty platform allowing consumers to book talented professionals directly based on photos of their treatments. Beautystack has seen impressive external investment and growth, all while its innovative ‘see it, like it, book it’ approach elevates service providers often left at the bottom of the multi-billion-pound beauty industry

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* Ebinehita Iyere

Ebinehita Iyere

Founder of Milk Honey Bees, a safe space for young black women and girls to explore their creativity and gain skills to navigate society. Judges were inspired by Iyere’s drive to use creativity to make a significant difference to the lives of the young black girls she reaches through the organisation before and during the Covid-19 crisis.

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* Theadora Alexander

Theadora Alexander

Co-Founder of Young Foodies Group, a platform giving up and coming FMCG brands everything required to scale, from consultancy advice and investor matchmaking to a dedicated online supermarket. Young Foodies has become one of the fastest growing communities of emerging consumer names, representing more than 1,500 brands with a combined turnover of £300m.



A new research report from Veuve Clicquot suggests that the Covid-19 pandemic has galvanised female entrepreneurship, with 47% of women (of a 34,000+ UK survey) agreeing that they would like to become an entrepreneur – despite 70% of female business leaders considering entrepreneurship riskier in light of the pandemic. 

64% of aspiring female entrepreneurs said they would like to launch an environmentally-sustainable initiative (compared to 49% of men) and 57% of women said they would like to lead a business or organisation that benefits society, compared to 48% of men.

“Veuve Clicquot launched the Bold Woman Award in 1972 and Bold Future Award in 2014 to recognise innovative and audacious female leadership, so it is fantastic to see that every changemaker on this shortlist truly embodies the pioneering spirit of Madame Clicquot,” says Veuve Cliquot president Jean-Marc Gallot. “Our Barometer research highlights that despite these turbulent times, women have never been more eager to lead and innovate, and our 2021 Bold nominees are tremendous role models for the next generation of aspiring entrepreneurs.”

Winners will be announced later this year.