Rebecca Purchase

Rebecca Purchase | Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Rebecca Purchase

Working for a safer future.

My fascination with Health and Safety began at university where I studied a module and undertook my dissertation on 'Health and Safety in Nuclear Medicine'.

After leaving uni, I know Health and Safety was what I wanted to do, but it was for all the wrong reasons. My impression of health and safety was that you just read the legal stuff and got people to do it. You didn't need the 'soft skills'. I quickly learned that that was not the case so got to work on my soft skills as well as my technical qualifications. I was determined to see where it went and so far on this journey, health and safety has made me a better person and I believe that I am beginning to make a difference in the world of health and safety.

I started my career as a consultant and then (after a short break to try a career as a stock broker - mid-20s crisis!) moved into in-house health and safety roles at HS2, ZSL London Zoo and Canary Wharf Management Ltd, before landing my current role as Health and Safety Manager at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

It has not always been an easy journey and I have absolutely had to fight to be where I am today - by not listening to those telling me I couldn't do it/wasn't good enough and also by pushing on through my own self-doubt, I am now thriving in a role that I am genuinely passionate about.

I absolutely adore what I do from start to finish and I know health and safety might seem pretty boring to a lot of people but it is so necessary. From people working on the ground to the COO and board, we all need health and safety to be managed effectively. There are always challenges as you're constantly dealing with different people so using my coaching skills has never been more necessary and I love coming up with new ideas and ways to do things. I am here to enable companies to do what they do...safely. And that, to me, is a dream job.

Carol Valentine

Carol Valentine | Kent County Council

Carol Valentine

The highways industry is still largely male with little racial diversity.

For the past 10 years I have been working in highways and I currently work as a Highway Manager for Kent County Council. I manage a team of staff who deliver reactive maintenance on the roads in the west of the county and I lead on providing the road winter service for the county.

As a woman I have been able to influence work on developing modern approaches to winter road service (gritting and other activities) and developed a national presence and voice and I am currently the Vice Chair of the National Winter Research Group, the leading body for highways winter service. I have a drive to continuously improve the services that I deliver, and I am currently doing trials that are attracting attention from highway colleagues in different parts of the country. I am frequently requested to speak at seminars and conferences across the country and last year presented at an international conference in Gdansk, I feel that I am a role model for women generally and women of colour working and thriving in a male environment. Alongside my day job I have a passion for equality, diversity and justice. Contributing to my local community is important to me and I am on the governing body of a local college, with a remit on diversity and inclusion. I am a Tribunal Lay Member serving on two tribunals.
Prior to working in highways, I worked in diversity and equality, economic development and policy work. I also did a short spell in Central Government carrying out a diversity role

Lindsey Porter

Lindsey Porter | Yoga Nu U

Lindsey Porter

Following a successful 20 year career in Financial Services as a Project Manager working around the world I chose in 2015 to refocus my energy and drive into following my passion for sharing the benefits yoga can bring to all minds and bodies.

This has lead me to leading yoga sessions in my local area with different members of the community including, adults with learning disabilities, dementia patients in a care home, children with special needs (I am also a SEN mum), various children's interest groups such as Beavers and Rainbows and adults. I was selected to be a Tutor with Yoga Scotland to co-deliver the Yoga Foundation course. This passion to share has grown into co-founding and producing an international podcast series called Voices of yoga ( where we record and share for free inspiring stories from yogis around the world covering a range of topics. We are already listened to in over 70 countries worldwide all through organic growth.

I've become a Signatory for the Mental Health Charter for physical activity and sport across Scotland. I've undertaken fundraising for SAMH charity the Scottish Association for Mental Health who also advise the Government on mental health policy - raising over £2500 last year. In October 2018 I applied and was accepted into Scottish Parliament to deliver an Evening Reception on Yoga; Mental Health and Wellbeing. I arranged for the Minister for Mental Health to give an opening address along with other keynote speakers and its still having a very positive ripple effect across Scotland. I've recently been featured on the latest SAMH social media campaign talking about yoga and mental health.

I write and have had articles published on yoga and wellbeing topics in the Huffington Post and major Yoga magazines. In December 2018 I published my debut book, 'Whirlpools, Yoga and the Balance of Life' which is already receiving positive reviews and sales. The book shares tales of adventure and my journey in to yoga and becoming an advocate for mental health and wellbeing.

'We all have mental health, just as we have physical health, and it’s important that we take the time to look after it.' - SAMH

Yasemin Sunbul

Yasemin Sunbul | Openreach

Yasemin Sunbul

I joined Openreach as an Apprentice Network Planner back in 2014, straight for leaving High School.

My apprenticeship was a 2 and a half year in Network Design & Planning for the BDUK Scheme. I gained the equivalent to 2 A levels on completion. I completed my apprenticeship 9 months early as I was always ahead of my work and also won Openreach Apprentice of the Year in 2016.

I pushed myself throughout my apprenticeship as I knew I wanted to get stuck into different roles as soon as possible so I could build up my skills and network.

From this, I moved into an analytical role which was using data to find solutions for our planning teams to help them improve productivity and quality. Alongside this role, I joined a BT Scheme called Future Leaders which is a programme for high achievers to help progress into management, we each had or own learning group and would catch up monthly to discuss opportunities, skills and experiences.

Throughout my time on this scheme, I was promoted into a people management role where I had a team of 21 people. The main bulk of the team was down in Ilford with a few team members in Bedford and Walsall. This was a long way from home back in Lancashire but I decided to take this challenge on to stretch myself. I gained so many skills and got a lot of great feedback from my seniors who explained that I showed strong leadership qualities. I increased my teams performance by 40% within 2.5 months while maintaining the quality. I achieved this by consistent structure, setting up support mechanisms and setting expectations from the beginning - having a firm but fair approach.

I was next looking for a role that had more of a solution based/continuous improvement focus so I gained a role as a Ethernet Service Delivery Manager. I was accountable for driving service levels set by Ofcom for North West & Midlands. We went from a low performing team, to being one of the best teams in the North. I helped to transform the age of our workstack from 59 days to 35 working days and delivered 4.77% in H2 for H2. This was achieved by taking 319 tails down to 85 a 77% net reduction in 118 tails throughout the year.

Openreach is now currently going through a big re-organisation so there is a lot of structure and role change. I am currently sat within the Lancs & Cumbria team covering the Service Assurance Manager Role. This is similar to my previous Ethernet role but now I am looking after multiple products such as Newsites and ILC. My short term goal is to achieve the Service Assurance manager role - this would also mean a promotion for me.

Throughout my time in the company I have also been very helpful and offered advice to everyone. I love to speak at apprentice events as I enjoy inspiring other young people. I cant wait to take the next step in inspiring more people as I am currently in the process of enrolling to be a STEM Ambassador and Women of the Future Ambassador.

I am enjoying my career so far and have just started my Business Management Degree which was kindly funded by Openreach.

Hannah Elderfield

Hannah Elderfield | Canvas8

Hannah Elderfield

I graduated in 2015 with a First class BSc Honours degree in Psychology and now I work at the forefront of strategic insights by helping business understand human behaviour to impact change.

After a short stint in the events industry and a few months working for a van leasing company, I landed a job with behavioural insights practice Canvas8 in 2016 as a Junior Behavioural Analyst doing exactly what I loved doing at University - learning about people.

Over the past three years, I have been instrumental in delivering insight to inform campaigns with a direct contribution to society. From tackling taboos around intimate health and working with nonprofit organisations helping young people better manage their money, to presenting at international conferences for senior stakeholders at media agencies, brands and governmental organisations across the world. I’ve also authored Canvas8’s first ever journal, The Science of (2018), which uncovered the commercial applications of recent academic work from scholars across the globe and made behavioural science accessible to business within the industry.

Within my day-to-day, I work to actively develop and mentor junior team members through personal mentoring, training initiatives and by leading the Canvas8 Graduate program to help senior management build a strong supportive culture for new talent. Outside of Canvas8, I’ve worked with the National Citizen Service program as a Senior Mentor for teenagers enrolling in its summer program, ‘The Challenge’, where I was responsible for leading, inspiring and developing a team of 13 young people aged 15-17.

I’m so passionate about finding ways of translating the learnings from my experiences into opportunities for others - either by helping them find better ways of working or different ways of thinking - so that we can all benefit from the sense of achievement and empowerment that comes from breaking through invisible barriers. I’m now our youngest Senior Behavioual Analyst and am determined to uncover a deeper understanding of human behaviour not just for our clients, but for Canvas8 itself so that we can truly practice what we preach.

Olivia Hawthorne

Olivia Hawthorne | Cycle For Your Cycle

Olivia Hawthorne

Olivia is a 22 year old fitness professional who has been working in health and fitness world since she was 18.

It was at age 18 she was diagnosed with Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome after suffering with symptoms for 5 years. It wasn't until she started working in Central London and spent two nights in hospital after a cyst had burst, that she realised the general public didn't have a clue what PCOS was and so she decided to make a change.

Combining her love of teaching spin and her love of educating women, Cycle For Your Cycle was born. An event that opens the eyes of the masses to what this condition is and how women can help their symptoms, as currently it's not something that can cured entirely. She also has a passion for breaking the taboo of periods and feminine health. She worked alongside charities such as Bloody Good Period to help raise funds for women who are in the depth of period poverty and don't have the means to buy themselves period products.

Hope Virgo 1

Hope Virgo | Hope Virgo

Hope Virgo 1

I am the the Author of Stand Tall Little Girl, and an international leading advocate for people with eating disorders.

I help young people and employers (including schools, hospitals and businesses) to deal with the rising tide of mental health issues which affect one in four people and costs employers between £33 and £42 billion annually. I have been described by Richard Mitchell, CEO of Sherwood Forest Hospital, as "sharing a very powerful story with a huge impact". I am also a recognised media spokesperson, having appeared on various platforms including BBC Newsnight, Victoria Derbyshire, Good Morning Britain, Sky News and BBC News.

For four years, I managed to keep it hidden, keeping dark secrets from friends and family. But then, on 17th November 2007, my world changed forever. I was admitted to a mental health hospital. My skin was yellowing, my heart was failing. I was barely recognisable. Forced to leave my family and friends, the hospital became my home. Over the next year, at my lowest ebb, I faced the biggest challenge of my life. I had to find the courage to beat my anorexia.

I began sharing my story in 2016 after my book was published and have gone from strength to strength. As well as working with organisations, I work closely with Government championing the rights of people affected by eating disorders. I launched the #DumpTheScales campaign in July 2018 reaching over 70,000 signatures, secured a debate in parliament, national media, an EDM as well as Ministerial support. The campaign has been something I have worked on completely alone with no support or funding from any organisations. I have used my passion, hardworking ethic and determination to get to where the campaign is today.

A huge part of the work I do is focusing on exercise and how this can be used to support recovery. This is why I chose to cycle across the country in October 2018 to raise awareness of mental health education and the importance of making it compulsory in schools. Along the way I spoke in schools and hospitals to share my story of recovery from anorexia.

Prior to working for myself to raise awareness and tackle stigma around mental health I worked for Alzheimer's Society in Public Affairs, UNICEF in their Corporate Partnership team and in Thailand volunteering for a year.

Louise Maynard-Atem

Louise Maynard-Atem | Experian

Louise Maynard-Atem

I have always been motivated to do things that haven't been done before and to have a positive impact on society, so it was these motivations that drove me to complete my PhD in materials chemistry in 2013.

My research was tackling the issue of greenhouse gas emissions, and I was developing new materials that would capture carbon dioxide. Whilst I enjoyed my time in research, I felt that I could have greater impact outside of academia and so decided to take the highly numerate and analytical skills I had developed and apply them to policy making in the Civil Service, driving evidence based decision-making in a number of teams across Health and Defence.

My passion for doing things differently and my domain expertise leading me to helping set up the Futures Innovation team at BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, and I am currently using the skills I developed in this role to help set up the data innovation team at Experian - focusing on products and services that drive financial inclusion in emerging markets.

Claudia Craig

Claudia Craig | Centenary Action Group

Claudia Craig

Claudia is a women's rights campaigner and activist motivated by injustice and the potential for change.

Claudia is inspired by strong and powerful women on a daily basis, but finds it impossible not be infuriated by the way women are continually marginalised and oppressed. This fury fuels an intense passion for gender equality and inspired her to choose a career campaigning for transformative gender justice.

Claudia is currently Campaign Manager for the Centenary Action Group, a unique cross-party coalition of over 100 women's rights activists and organisations #StillMarching for women's right to take part in the decisions that affect their lives. Prior to joining the Centenary Action Group Claudia worked for CARE International UK on their global campaign to end workplace harassment whilst simultaneously studying for an MSc in Gender, Development and Globalisation from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Originally from Scotland, Claudia started her career working as policy support in the UK and Scottish Governments.

In a personal capacity, Claudia successfully campaigned for home use of the abortion pill in England and Wales, sharing her own experience of abortion to highlight the need for change. Claudia appeared on BBC Newsnight and the Victoria Derbyshire Show to advocate for home use and has also been published in the Guardian and Independent.

Anna Blackwell & Kate Culverwell

Anna Blackwell & Kate Culverwell | Kayaking the Continent

Anna Blackwell & Kate Culverwell


I am an adventurer, speaker, writer and photographer. Over the last six years, I have pursued a number of large adventures, including walking 1,000 miles across France and Spain by myself; completing a five week solo trek across the wilderness of Arctic Sweden; hitch-hiking to Morocco; summitting Mount Toubkal, the highest mountain in North Africa; and most recently, kayaking from London to the Black Sea in Romania with Kate, for which I was solely responsible for media creation (expedition outlined below). Alongside my adventures, I share my experiences and the things I have learned with a wide audience, through writing for a variety of platforms and speaking at events, festivals, schools, and businesses.


While I am a first-year university student, I have set out to encourage women to participate in sport and musical composition, two areas where women aren’t represented enough. As a composer, I was selected for the BBC Proms Inspire Scheme to encourage under 18-year-old composers, which included talking on BBC Radio 3 about the project. I have since set up various concerts where we only use new music set by young composers. As an athlete, I was a key part in my school’s successful rowing program as Vice-Captain, helping lead our two boats win two National golds. Now at Oxford University, I am becoming Captain of Women’s Boats for my college, to further inspire young women who are either new or old to sport. Further to this, I put together the Kayaking the Continent expedition with Anna (see below).