Pictured is Debbie Heald
Twenty two women whose vision and tenacity have driven their entrepreneurial success have been named as this year’s finalists in the 14th annual NatWest everywoman Awards, the UK’s most prestigious event celebrating the achievements of women business owners.
Debbie Heald of Heald Ltd from Hornsea has been chosen as a finalist in the Hera Award category – this Award will go to the most inspirational woman running a business which has been trading for ten years or more.
Debbie founded Heald with her husband in 1994. Since that time she has played a vital role in growing the business to become a world class leader in the field of hostile vehicle mitigation systems and the largest manufacturer of security equipment in the UK.
She has been a driving force behind the international expansion of the business, and today around 80 per cent of its products are exported overseas to countries as diverse as the US, Australia, Singapore, Algeria and the Middle East.
In order to overcome the preconceptions that often exist towards women in STEM careers and male dominated working environments, Debbie has made an effort to showcase her advanced knowledge of the industry and share her knowledge of this sector.
The skills and capabilities that she has gained over the years have enabled her to gain the respect and immediate interest of other professionals in this sector, and she is committed to using her position to encourage other women into pursuing and succeeding in STEM related careers.
The surge of entrepreneurship has been one of the most encouraging business trends of the last decade with record numbers of new business registrations. The prospect of lighter regulation, lower corporation tax, an enviable pool of talent and venture capital funding makes the UK one of the easiest countries to launch and grow a business.
Yet the rate of women-led business start-ups remains significantly lower than that of men – 5.7 per cent versus ten per cent.
Research undertaken by Deloitte suggests that targeted help for early stage women entrepreneurs could provide a £100bn boost to the UK economy over the next ten years, proving the need to provide a better environment in which women-led entrepreneurial businesses will succeed at similar levels as for men, thereby benefiting the companies, stakeholders and, ultimately, the national economy.
The FSB agrees, with its report by the Women’s Business Council suggesting that the UK is missing out on some 1.2 million enterprises due to the untapped business potential of women and recommends more visible and diverse role models as one of its seven key recommendations.
Speaking about the finalists, everywoman Co-founder Maxine Benson MBE said: “The ambition, success and humility of our finalists make them all strong accessible role models for other women and girls considering starting their own business.
“Gender has never been a barrier to great ideas or initiatives and this year’s finalists bear that out. We live in one of the best countries for entrepreneurship and there is no better place for enterprise to flourish, as our finalists prove. We wish them continued success and good luck!”
Julie Baker, head of enterprise at NatWest, said: “We are very proud to recognise these women, who are not just successful in their own businesses, but are also great role models. The importance of women in business cannot be underestimated, so we hope these role models will inspire other women to take their first steps in business.
“To help these entrepreneurs and would-be business owners, NatWest has a network of over 340 externally accredited Women in Business specialists who understand our customers’ ambitions and provide business advice, mentoring and networking opportunities.”
The awards were judged by 19 of the country’s most successful businesswomen including Chrissie Rucker MBE, Cath Kidston MBE, Julia Hands MBE, Amanda Wakeley OBE and Rosaleen Blair.
The winners will be announced on Wednesday 7 December at a lunch reception at The Dorchester Hotel attended by over 300 leading figures from business, politics, the media and the city.