This International Women’s Day, we wanted to take the opportunity to celebrate some of the recent successes and achievements by female alumna from our global Cranfield alumni community – and to highlight the work and initiatives being carried out here at Cranfield to promote equality, diversity, inclusion, and to encourage more female representation in the fields of technology and management.

International Women’s Day aims to celebrate the achievements of women all over the globe – while also acting as a call to action for promoting gender equality. This year’s theme, #EachforEqual, encourages individuals to collectively create a gender equal world by choosing to challenge stereotypes and bias, celebrate women’s achievements and take responsibility for our own thoughts and actions.

The fantastic achievements we see from our Cranfield alumna are a testament to the impact and influence of our worldwide alumni community, as they drive innovation and change. The below is just a small sample of the many success stories we see from Cranfield alumni.

Alumna in the media

Every quarter, we publish a summary of alumni who have featured in the media – from high profile appointments, to new research areas and thought-leadership. So far in 2020, we’ve seen numerous alumna success stories, including:

Read the full summary of alumni featured in the media here.

Celebrating female entrepreneurship

Lolade Oresanwo (MBA 2011)
The work that Lolade Oresanwo, along with co-founder and fellow Cranfield alumnus Paul O’Callaghan, are carrying out with their company WestAfricaENRG in Lagos was recently highlighted in a speech by Boris Johnson at the UK-Africa summit. While studying for their MBA, Lolade and Paul worked together on a business plan that would later from the basis of their company. Now, WestAfricaENRG is a successful environmental and renewable energy company, transforming waste to resources while providing responsible, sustainable employment that benefits the local people and economy.

We were lucky enough to catch up with Paul and Lolade as part of our #CranfieldConnections campaign. Read their story to hear more about how the Cranfield MBA opened them up to an entrepreneurial path and the idea of doing good through business.

Dr Sarah Qureshi (PhD Aerospace 2016)
Dr Sarah Qureshi is CEO and founder of Aero Engine Craft, working to develop the world’s first contrail-free aircraft engine that recovers water from fuel emissions to induce artificial rain – treating the emissions as a resource. Dr Qureshi was recently shortlisted as one of just twelve finalists in the Study UK Alumni Awards in Pakistan, and her work has featured extensively in the press recently (for example, TribuneRS NewsThe News International and AviaPort Russia).

Dr Qureshi will be featuring in the next episode of our Leadership on-the-go podcast, coming very soon! Head over to our podcast page and subscribe via your preferred platform to make sure you don’t miss the chance to hear about her work and leadership experiences first-hand.

Dr Kim Nilsson (MBA 2012)
Dr Kim Nilsson left a successful career in astronomy after realising that she was more passionate about a career in business, than in science – choosing to come and study for her MBA at Cranfield.

Prior to studying the MBA she had always felt that entrepreneurship was too risky, despite being a fourth generation female entrepreneur. Her time at Cranfield helped to show her that risk can be managed, gave her confidence and helped her navigate the journey from academia to industry.

Along with fellow classmate Jason Muller, Dr Nilsson went on to co-found Pivigo – successfully helping businesses to connect with data scientists to harness the power of data. The company has since won many awards, and Dr Nilsson was named as the winner of the Excellent in Achievement Award for Recent Graduates in our 2018 School of Management Alumni awards. Read her story here.

Working to promote true equality and diversity on boards, and to raise the profile of women working in technology and management.

Female FTSE Board Report 2019 and Women to Watch list
The Female FTSE Board Report is produced annually by the Cranfield School of Management, monitoring trends in women’s representation on boards and identifying where more work to promote true board diversity is needed. The 2019 report went beyond the numbers, identifying worrying trends that implied companies are appointing women for symbolic value, and investigating the true diversity of women appointed to FTSE board – finding that just 11% of women on boards are from BAME backgrounds. Meanwhile, the Women to Watch 2019 supplement published alongside the report, put a spotlight on 50 eminent female professionals from BAME background – highlighting the existing talent pool, challenging assumptions and disproving the refrain that the talent is not out there.

Inspiring future generations and raising the profile of women in STEM

The University also participates in a number of initiatives to help change the perception of engineering and STEM, encourage more women and young people to pursue careers in technology and management, and raise the profile of women working in the sector:

  • Professor Helen Atkinson CBE, Pro-Vice-Chancellor Aerospace, Transport and Manufacturing discusses the crucial and diverse nature of engineering as a career path and shares her own journey into the field.
  • In support of International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) 2019, the University hosted an interactive event for local female Year 7 students. The event provided them with the opportunity to engage with leading female engineers and attend talks and practical demonstrations with exhibiting companies, aiming to inspire the next generation of future female engineers.
  • At the end of last year, Cranfield hosted the Big Boat Build, which saw students from local schools utilising their design skills and testing their boats against our 30m wave machine.
  • The upcoming Women in Water 2020 conference, taking place on campus on 17 March, aims to provide a platform for female early career researchers and young water professionals to promote their work and increase the visibility of women working within the sector.

If you’re interested in volunteering your time or expertise to help inspire and encourage future leaders in technology and management, visit the alumni portal to find out how you can get involved.

We’re always looking to celebrate the work and achievements of everyone from our alumni community, so if you’ve got a story to share please email the alumni communications team.