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18 November, 2021 - 14:34 By Tony Quested

Two Cambridge Judge Business School alumnae win Women of the Future Awards

Two recent graduates from the MBA and Executive MBA programmes at Cambridge Judge Business School – Toni Thorne (MBA 2020) and Dr Bola Grace (EMBA 2019) – were victorious at the 16th edition of the Women of the Future Awards.

The competition recognises successful young women in Britain across various sectors and winners were announced at London’s Park Lane Hotel.

Toni Thorne was joint winner of the ‘MBA Star’ award. The MBA Star Award which “recognises a female MBA student of exceptional vision, talent and promise,” and is designed to “identify individual stories of current or former MBA students with a compelling life-story and exciting visions for the future.”

A student co-chair for the Wo+Men’s Leadership Centre at Cambridge Judge, she was recently named to the ‘Best & Brightest MBA’ list by the business school publication Poets & Quants, which recently said in a new article that Cambridge Judge “earns the spotlight” among European business schools by increasing the proportion of women on its MBA programme this year by six percentage points to 43 per cent.

Toni said: “One of the questions I was asked in the interview was: ‘What would this award mean to you?’ As I said in my acceptance speech, the United Kingdom has been very good to me. I am a proud Barbadian and bona fide island girl, but this is now the place where I have settled and truly visualise as my new home.

“As such, I feel there is a responsibility for me to pay forward all the kindness shown to me to other women and future generations. This award further solidifies and confirms this feeling and I am extremely elated to be a recipient of the MBA Star Women of the Future Award.

“ I would like to thank Cambridge Judge Business School for recommending me. My time at Cambridge was most magical and I truly see the decision to go to the Business School to pursue an MBA as the best decision I have ever made. As such, the Business School and its community will always have a special place in my heart.”

The Women of the Future organisation said: “Toni is a former entrepreneur and media personality in Barbados and the Caribbean and has been an ardent supporter of women and children’s rights. 

“She pivoted into finance, and a myriad of programmes and competitions with the Cambridge MBA. Her passions have evolved to include finance, electronic data interchange and she will soon take up the role as vice-president in asset management at JPMorgan Chase.”

The judges said that Toni had demonstrated “charisma abounding, mind-blowing achievements, and a passion for giving back” to her community as a catalyst for change.

Dr Bola Grace, a recent participant on the Executive MBA programme (EMBA 2019) won the ‘Mentor of the Year’ category, which “recognises active mentors behind the success of younger women in British life.”

Bola said: “Along with five other inspiring finalists, I was nominated in the Mentor category – which is pretty much the category for unsung heroes. It’s always heart-warming to get recognition for things you’re passionate about but would have done anyway. 

“My career in the healthcare industry and academia has provided me with great opportunities to give back and work with young people, junior colleagues and peers, supporting their career development. 

“My Executive MBA at Cambridge Judge provided an excellent opportunity and platform to grow and do more in this area. The tagline ‘See Where It Takes You’ has always resonated with me. 

“In many ways, I feel like I’m just beginning to scratch the surface of where it’ll take me. For example, the privilege to contribute to the fantastic work being done by the Wo+Men’s Leadership Centre in their commitment to foster a gender balanced workforce, making a global impact.”

Women of the Future said: “Bola has enjoyed a diverse career that includes over a decade of senior leadership in the healthcare industry and academia. Her passion to encourage women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) has driven a formidable track record of organising initiatives to mentor, coach and champion women.”

Bola is founder of Orishi, a firm which provides inclusive innovation solutions. “Bola founded Orishi to ensure that under-represented groups are involved in the design, development and deployment of products and services intended for them,” said Women of the Future. 

“The judges felt that Bola scored extremely highly in terms of authenticity and the impact she has as a mentor,” and they “believe this award will amplify her ability to impact others.”

Tracey Horn, executive director of the Wo+Men’s Leadership Centre, said: “We are proud to have supported two such outstanding women and congratulate them on their success. Women’s leadership and diversity in business is needed now, more than ever, and Bola and Toni will undoubtedly have a significant impact in the years to come and make a meaningful difference to the lives of many.”

The Women of the Future Awards, founded by Pinky Lilani CBE DL, recognise the “inspirational stars of tomorrow.” HRH The Countess of Wessex is Global Ambassador; Cherie Blair is patron of the Women of the Future Awards; and Baroness Gabrielle Bertin is chair of the awards judging panel.

• PHOTOGRAPH: Bola Grace and Toni Thorne at the Women of the Future Awards ceremony. Courtesy – Cambridge Judge Business School

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