THE CHIEF executive of a financial services company who was dubbed Katherine the Great has won a prestigious businesswoman of the year award.
Katherine Garrett-Cox, CEO of the Alliance Trust, won the accolade from champagne giant Veuve Clicquot after judges praised her “inspirational” role.
She has worked in the financial services sector for more than 25 years, heading the Dundee-based firm for the last eight years.
She became one of the highest profile women in the City at the age of 26, and was often referred to as Katherine the Great.
The 47-year-old mother-of-four said she has always had a strong belief in the benefits women bring to organisations, particularly in financial services.
There were few role models when she started her career, but her success has been praised for encouraging young women to consider working in a sector not always regarded as female-friendly.
She told the Press Association that to be successful, women should remain true to their values, although having courage and inner strength can help too.
She joined Alliance Trust at the height of the recession, admitting: “It’s how you cope in difficult times that defines you as a leader.”
Her company has as many women employees as men, almost half the board is female and she has been keen to promote family friendly policies such as flexible working, as well as supporting charities.
Katherine was given the CBE last year for her charity work, which includes supporting the Alliance Trust’s 24-hour yomp through the Perthshire countryside to raise funds for the Soldiers’ Charity and the firm’s staff foundation.
She said of being named Veuve Clicquot Business Woman of the Year: “So many exceptional women have been recognised over its 43 year history and I’m proud to shine a light on female success in financial services.”
The New Generation Award, aimed at younger businesswoman, was won by Emily Brooke, founder of Blaze, which produces a front bicycle light which projects the symbol of a bike onto the road.
She worked on the idea while studying product design in Brighton after falling in love with cycling after going on a charity bike ride with a friend.
“As soon as I started my research I found personal safety was by far the greatest challenge. There was one statistic that amazes me - that 79% of cycle accidents occur when the cyclist is travelling straight ahead and a vehicle turns across their path.”
She said she has a Eureka moment when cycling behind a truck, and her Blaze Laserlight is now sold in more than 50 countries.
Lorraine Larmer, senior public relations manager at Veuve Clicquot, said: “This year’s winners are titans of business and are hugely inspiring in their approach to their business - from Katherine’s professional success and commitment to working with communities, to Emily using her business to tackle the huge issue of cyclist safety.”