Original Role Models

Let’s have a look at these female leaders in the creative industries. And the women who have in turn, motivated them to strive towards the top of what they do. Faces and names to immerse and inspire you, to help you discover and uncover those around you who are trailblazers in their field.

More about Leading Uncovered project.
Listen to talks from some of these women and others.




Ruth Bonser I’m Director of Rumour PR alongside Mel Lee, and we work with an exciting collection of interior and lifestyle brands. I started my career at Mathmos (inventors of the lava-lamp) and have also worked at Purves & Purves, The Conran Shop, and most recently Cath Kidston, where I was PR Manager for five years. During my time at Cath Kidston, I oversaw some exciting projects, most notably the Nokia phone range with The Carphone Warehouse, and the famous floral tents with Millets – which sparked a huge trend in ‘glamping’ and designer camping gear.

Cath Kidston – I was Cath’s PR Manager for five years, and in that time saw the company grow an insane amount. Cath taught me how important your supporting team is, and to choose staff carefully to fit your business. She is a hugely inspirational business woman and I admire her so much for what she has achieved.

My mum – (of course) When I announced I wasn’t going to Uni and would “stay living at home and work part-time I think”, she told me to get off my lazy bum and get a full time job and move out! Mum instilled a ‘work hard and be nice to people’ ethic in me from an early age.

Stephanie Busari I’m a Supervising producer at CNN.com and am currently overseeing the special projects department at CNN. I’m also a media consultant and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership network, and have been working for 12 years with outlets such as the BBC and the Daily Mirror. In addition to that, I’m the curator of the upcoming TEDx Brixton.

My grandmothers – I come from a line of very strong women both on my mum and dad’s side. These women were grafters and raised 13 children between them, they also looked after me for long periods of time when my parents were not in the country. I developed a strong bond with them and they passed on a lot of advice about life to me, including a strong work ethic.

Ms Wales, my English and Drama teacher at secondary school was the one who encouraged me to pursue a career in journalism, she believed in me and pushed me to give more than I thought I could.


Fatima Najm I’m the co-founder of Creatives Against Poverty with Namrata Tanna. We started as journalists but we felt we needed to respond to the suffering, injustice and human rights abuse we witnessed and we now donate our skills for social impact – to meet the need of vulnerable communities we identify through our reportage and work in their field.

Kiran Bir Sethi.In 2001, she founded the Riverside School in Ahmedabad. Fighting the stereotype of modern kids as rude and delinquent, she looks for ways to engage Ahmedabad’s children in modern city life with an ‘I can’ ethos – it’s what we base our work on in London, Rwanda, Congo, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India

Chetna Sinha, whom we (Creatives Against Poverty) work with. She is a microfinance genius. She enabled 100 thousand illiterate women to come in and open savings accounts in Mahrashtra, India


Yen-Yen Teh I’m a dedicated Londoner, architect and mother. I went to school in Streatham, and studied architecture at Cambridge University and The Bartlett UCL. I run the architecture and design practice Emulsion, which I established in 1998 whilst in my mid-twenties and I’m also involved in architectural education as a visiting critic and examiner to The Bartlett.

Rei Kawakubo, an uncompromising fashion designer and founder of Comme des Garcons.

Lucienne Day, the iconic textile designer who helped shape the aesthetics of post-war Britain.


Jules Wright ‘After studying education psychology in Australia, I came to the UK and became a theatre director. I then turned a semi derelict hydraulic power station into The Wapping Project; a restaurant and gallery, commissioning and curating contemporary artists and followed by The Wapping Project Bankside, a photographic gallery.

Clare Venebles – Former Theatre Director of Stratford East
‘..She took a risk with me…we spent the evening chatting at Kentucky Fried Chicken..’.

The women from the Women’s Playhouse Trust
We set this up in the 80’s and held meetings, gatherings, coffee mornings every week’


Thank you to….


Photography: Juno Calypso
In 2012 Calypso was the winner of the Hotshoe award and the Michael Wilson Photographic Prize, and in 2009 was shortlisted for the AOP Student Photographer of the year. In December 2011 she held her first solo show in London, showing selected works. Calypso lives and works in East London, she is the co-founder of photography collective Artificial Kingdom, and recently graduated from University of the Arts London.


Illustration: Estelle Morris
She lives in Cambridge with her housemates and pet finch, who perches on her bookshelf while she draws. Her illustrations consist of people, narrative and intricate details, always starting off as pencil drawings. She collects old 8mm slides and photographs, which often make an appearance in her work.