Nineteen extraordinary women from across the country have been unveiled as the 2021 finalists in the UK’s leading programme for female entrepreneurs, the NatWest everywoman Awards. Selected from nearly 1,000 entries, the finalists’ stories tell of success in the face of adversity and demonstrate that even they are not immune to the challenges of the past 18 months.
Julie Bishop, CEO of IT Naturally has been announced as one of the 3 finalists of the Artemis award. It recognises inspirational women running a business that has been trading for 18 months to 3 years.
IT Naturally was born in 2019 from the demise of Tour Operator, Thomas Cook where Julie was Head of IT Infrastructure Delivery. Julie was facing her own job uncertainty, but the liquidation presented an opportunity to use her expertise and she was able to step in and provide uninterrupted IT support to Condor (one of Thomas Cook’s airline partners), saving the jobs of some of her talented IT infrastructure team at the same time.
Julie has capitalised on a gap that she believes exists for medium to large organisations, providing a responsive, friendly, and human face that protects and nurtures their IT infrastructure. Julie’s business has grown rapidly during the pandemic and lockdown. Despite being just two years old it has impressive internal processes and controls including ISO 90001 & 27001 and an Investors in People Silver accreditation, as well as an established range of customers in the UK, Europe and beyond.
She has supported and mentored Women in Tech for years and regularly speaks at different forums to encourage more women and girls into technology-based careers.
Now in their 19th year, the NatWest everywoman Awards celebrate female entrepreneurs from all walks of life, providing a platform for them to share their achievements. From the founders of multi-million-pound empires to those spearheading social enterprises for the greater good, this year’s finalists are the role models whose success will inspire future generations of female entrepreneurs.
The 2021 finalists span diverse industries – from home accessories and cooking supplies through to law and architecture, from IT and energy to health supplements, and from milk to gin. The 2021 finalists were chosen by a judging panel comprising some of the UK’s top business figures including Chrissie Rucker OBE (The White Company), Helen Pattinson (Montezuma), Rosaleen Blair CBE (Alexander Mann Solutions), Roni Savage (Jomas Associates), Annoushka Ducas MBE (Links of London/Annoushka), Melissa Odabash, Kelly Hoppen CBE and Sam Smith (FinnCap).
Female entrepreneurs face many complex challenges in setting up, growing and sustaining their businesses. From gender stereotypes to a lack of access to finance, a range of barriers can prevent women’s businesses from thriving. Earlier this year the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women reported that 1 in 10 women cited the pandemic to be the greatest challenge they had ever faced and 4 in 5 reported a negative impact on their business. Many of this year’s finalists were forced to pivot their businesses as the pandemic hit and their journeys, with successes and failures, serve as a handbook to future generations of how to survive and thrive against the odds.
The award winners will be announced at a ceremony on 7 December 2021 when the cream of business will once again unite to celebrate the achievements of these extraordinary women.
“For nearly two decades these awards have provided a platform to share the stories of hundreds of entrepreneurs; encouraging, emboldening and empowering other women to follow suit. Against a backdrop of Covid, these women have shown how innovation and enterprise have helped their businesses to thrive under extraordinary trading conditions. We hope their experiences will go onto inspire others and provide the motivation and inspiration that will be the backbone of the UK’s economic recovery.”
Maxine Benson MBE, co-founder of everywoman
“This year we celebrate the 19th year of the NatWest everywoman Awards which continue to celebrate and showcase the wealth of female talent from across the UK. Shining a light on the phenomenal female entrepreneurial talent and those inspirational role models has never been more important during these uncertain times. I want to congratulate all the shortlisted finalists and look forward to the Awards on the 7th December.”
Jen Tippin, Chief People & Transformation Officer at NatWest Group