Rising Stars in Diversity 2016

WeAreTheCity are proud to announce the winners of their Top 100 Rising Star awards. The Rising Star awards were introduced to showcase the UK pipeline of female talent below management and to create female 100 role models across 20 different industries and professions. The awards also included a new category in 2016 which celebrates the efforts of senior individuals who champion gender equality both within and outside of their organisations.

The awards were entered by 850 individuals were judged by a panel of 21 independent judges. Over 28,000 public votes were received for the 200 shortlisted nominees from across 110 countries. The awards were kindly sponsored by Barclays and supported by AON, Bloomberg, Cancer Research UK (Women of Influence), The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Executive and Personal Assistants Association, EY, Keir, Lloyd’s, ISS, Morgan Stanley, Newton Investment Management, Oliver Wyman in partnership with UN Women National Committee UK, PA Consulting, PedalSure, PwC, Reed Smith, Societe Generale, Twenty Recruitment, Virgin Media Business and Worldpay.

Vanessa Vallely, MD of WeAreTheCity said “It has been a total honour to run this years awards and highlight the achievements of so many amazing women, the calibre of entries was truly phenomenal.  WeAreTheCity is very much about supporting the female pipeline and introducing these awards was a perfect opportunity to showcase the amazing talent of women across the UK. We are exceptionally proud of our winners and look forward to following their future success.  We wouldn’t have been able to launch these awards without the support of so many organisations who took no convincing to support these women and recognise their achievements. Both myself, my team, our sponsors, judges and supporters are very much looking forward to celebrating with all of our winners at Barclays on 30 June”.

Once again, we would like to congratulate all our winners and extend a sincere thanks to everyone who supported Rising Stars during 2016.

Stephanie Kouame


Stephanie Kouame is a relationship manager within Bloomberg’s Trading Solutions business. Her role is to support clients’ use of the AIM platform, a multi-asset buy-side order management system fully integrated with the Bloomberg professional Service.

Prior to this, she spent several years in Bloomberg L.Ps Global Data department responsible for turning raw numbers into actionable insights. Since her first role as an economic data analyst, she has held a number of different positions building her expertise in various financial asset classes. In 2011 she undertook her first management role as team leader responsible for 15 analysts across six Global Data teams.

She is co-founder of the EMEA Bloomberg Black Professional Community and also sits on the executive committee of The Network of Networks’ (TNON) BAME/Multicultural chapter.

Stephanie holds a B.Sc. (Hons) in Economics and History from SOAS, University of London and an MBA from Oxford Brookes University.

Rupal Kantaria

Oliver Wyman

Rupal has over a decade of experience in financial services strategy consulting, most recently as Chief Operating Officer of Oliver Wyman’s EMEA Insurance Practice.

Rupal’s current role is Program Manager of OW’s Social Impact team which takes a capabilities-based approach. She is passionate about women’s financial inclusion where she believes OW is uniquely well placed to create impact and is developing this theme to be published in 2016.

Rupal co-leads OW’s Women’s Network globally across 30+ offices. Recent activity has included launching cross-company mentoring, parental coaching and presenting best-practice gender diversity initiatives to support the broader industry.

Rupal is a strategic advisor to her Family’s charitable foundation, focused on women and girls. She is co-director of the Women-for-Change network founded to connect City leaders passionate about using their skills, resources and networks with tangible ways to create social impact.

Rupal is an executive advisor to a UK-based executive search firm.

Julie Thomas

Zurich Insurance Plc

Julie Thomas has led diversity and inclusion (D&I) activity in the UK since 2014. She was the first full-time resource supporting D&I in Zurich Group. Julie has responsibility for both setting the D&I strategy and tactical delivery. Under Julie’s leadership, Zurich has set up four D&I Networks, implemented diversity data monitoring, rolled out several FlexWork pilots, launched the annual Inclusion Week and successfully achieved global EDGE Certification (a global commitment to gender equality). This culminated in her winning Zurich’s UKGI ‘People Award’ earlier this year.

Julie joined Zurich in 2006. She’s worked in various employee communications roles supporting the UK and EMEA business. Before that, Julie worked in a number of marketing and communications roles for companies including Santander and Lloyds Banking Group.

Outside of work, Julie enjoys running, having completed five marathons, and travelling. She is also a volunteer Girl Guiding Leader; coaching and mentoring girls age 10 – 17.

Lauren Peel


Lauren is a Media Relations Manager for Aviva UK Life and Deputy Chair of Aviva Pride, Aviva’s LGBT Network. Lauren joined Aviva on a graduate scheme, undertaking four roles across the business in two years. In addition to her day job, Lauren is committed to diversity and inclusion in the workplace, an active member of Aviva Pride and Aviva’s Women’s Network, as well as the founder of the LGBT Insurance Network in Yorkshire.

Elisha St Hilaire

Aon UK Limited

I am a highly experienced Executive Assistant and have worked in a variety of different industries before joining the insurance sector.

I also Chair Aon’s Women’s International Network “WIN” which is a Business Resource Group for colleagues. Since forming the WIN Committee, we have seen the group grow organically from 60 members to 350 across the UK. It has been a very exciting journey and look forward to what the future holds in this space both internally and across the market.

Last year I was able to further empower our female colleagues at Aon to realise their true potential by implementing a signature event in celebration of International Women’s Day. An idea that was born in the small confines of the WIN Committee and in which I played an integral part.

The WIN – Empower your Career conference welcomed 90 colleagues from all over the UK to Old Trafford, where our CEO and business leaders shared their career journeys and answered guests’ questions on the day. The conference was a great success and has helped our Talent & Development team implement specific training to help develop our female talent pipeline at Aon.  This was WIN’s biggest event to date.


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