Meet The People Changing The UK

PIONEERS: (L-R) Jacky Wright, Ismail Ahmed and Ric Lewis
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As we kick off 2018 with fresh energy and optimism, The Voice is showcasing a group of extraordinary individuals who are helping to shape the direction of UK.

1.GINA MILLER: Best for Britain campaigner, and founder of the True and Fair Foundation

She is known as the woman who held the Government to account over who had the power to trigger Article 50, the two-year formal process by which Britain will leave the EU. Gina Miller went on to become a powerful force during last year’s General Election.

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The businesswoman’s campaign, Best for Britain, was a tactical voting initiative launched against hard Brexit. Following successful crowdfunding – she raised more than £400,000, with three-quarters of that figure raised in just six days – the project donated funds to pro-Remain MPs, aimed to raise voter turnout and to inform people of how to vote tactically against a so-called ‘hard Brexit’.

Guyanese-born Miller is used to causing waves. In the City, she is best known for her long-standing attacks on the ‘hidden charges’ levied by fund managers. She launched the True and Fair Foundation Campaign with her husband Alan Miller which accused the fund management industry of hiding charges behind ‘smoke and mirrors’.

2. Ric Lewis: Founder/chief executive/chairman, Tristan Capital Partners

Ric Lewis’s Tristan Capital Partners is Britain’s largest black-led private company. He is chief executive and chairman of the London-based real estate investment management company, which, with more than £8 billion in assets under management and a track record in its sector that is second to none, is known as the ‘Goldman Sachs’ of the European real estate world.

The firm specializes in investment strategies in all property types across the UK and continental Europe for select institutional and private investors. Lewis says: “We take our work and our success very seriously, but we take ourselves far less so.” He is an Economics graduate of Darmouth College in America and an alumnus of Harvard Business School.

3. Ismail Ahmed: Founder/CEO, WorldRemit

Ismail founded one of the UK’s hottest tech start-ups, WorldRemit, to take the pain and cost out of sending money ‘back home’ to family and friends. Just seven years after its launch, his London-based company is a leading player in the increasingly competitive world of currency exchange – a market which according to Forbes, is worth $550 billion (£413 billion).

The WorldRemit app saw revenue rise from£26.8 million in 2015 to £41.1 million in 2016. In December 2017, they completed 914,000 transactions on the platform and the company now employs 443 people worldwide, 325 of whom are based here in our London office.

Investors include Accel Parers, an early backer of global tech startups including Facebook, Spotify and Dropbox. Somaliland-born Ismail set up the company in 2010 with the compensation he was awarded from his time working at the UN Development Programme, who were judged to have unfairly treated him after he blew the whistle on alleged corruption.

Inspired by mobile communications entrepreneur, Dr Mo Ibrahim, Ismail enrolled on the executive MBA course at London Business School. He says: “I could read financial statements but I needed to understand branding, marketing and leadership.”

4. Sharon White: Chief executive, Ofcom

When she was appointed chief executive of Ofcom in 2015, Sharon became the first woman and the first black person to lead the media regulator, as well as the first black woman to have such a senior role in any UK media organization. During her tenure, she has already had to tackle weighty and controversial issues, not last the Murdoch empire’s bid for 21st Century Fox to take over Sky in a £11.7 billion deal.

In 2017, just weeks before Ofcom took over regulation of the BBC, White said the BBC had failed older women and minorities by focusing on the “middle-aged and middle class.” She would not rule out quotas as a way of tackling the issue.

Prior to her role at Ofcom, White was one of the most powerful women in Whitehall, overseeing the UK’s spending cuts as a senior Treasury official.

5. Dr. Nira Chamberlain: Principal Consultant, Babcock International Group; Professional Mathematician

Hailed by the Science Council as one of the UK’s top 100 scientists, Dr Chamberlain is also the first black mathematician to appear in the prestigious autobiographical directory Who’s Who. He is renowned for using algorithms to solve complex problems across engineering and industry.

An inspirational thinker, he describes maths as a “beautiful and powerful subject – the poetry of logical ideas”. He is currently the principal consultant for data science and mathematical modeling at Babcock International Group, and vice-president of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA). Dr Chamberlain has been described by Loughborough University, where he is a visiting fellow, as one of its “greatest scientific minds”.

He has more than 25 years’ experience developing mathematical solutions across industries in the UK, France, the Netherlands, Germany and Israel. A school careers adviser once told him he had the jawline of a boxer. But while his love of maths led him to global acclaim, he says solving problems is not unlike stepping into the ring: “[It] can be like fighting an invisible boxer, but I find the harder the battle, the sweeter the victory.”

6. Jacky Wright: Chief Digital and Information Officer, HMRC

Jacky Wrights promotion to corporate VP and interim CIO of the global IT giant Microsoft in 2017 made her one of the most senior black women in tech. She was one of only two women of color at Microsoft to have earned the title of corporate VP.

However, in October, Wright left Microsoft to take on a role that makes her one of the most senior women in a tech role anywhere in the UK, becoming Chief Digital and Information Officer at HM Revenue & Customs. Her appointment was formally ratified by the Prime Minister.

Wright, who is known for her unstinting support of diversity issues, says: “I am passionate about the impact innovation can have in truly transforming services for people and businesses in a positive way and want to continue the great work being done within HMRC and across the Civil Service at this time. “I am proud to represent women and BAME in technology and will continue to promote the vital role of diversity within our industry and more broadly.”

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