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10 Wonderful Welsh Women you should know about

08 Mar, 2023

If there’s one thing we know at GlobalWelsh it’s that there are millions of wonderful Welsh women scattered around the world doing incredible things and making the world a better place. Amongst them innovators, leaders, creators and pioneers, inspiring all of us. Here are just a few of those awesome women…

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Julie Deane CBE - entrepreneur and leader - Cambridge, UK

Cambridge University alumni, Julie, originally from Swansea, started The Cambridge Satchel Co. with her mother in 2008 with just a £600 investment making bags from her kitchen table. She exited the business in 2022 when it was employing over 140 people and selling to over 120 countries.

The company has collaborated with prestigious designers and retailers including Vivienne Westwood and Comme des Garcons and graced catwalks from London to New York. The bags have appeared in shows including Girls, The Good Wife and Gossip Girl and on the shoulders of celebrities including Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift and Alexa Chung.

In 2021, Julie was honoured with a CBE for services to Entrepreneurship and Manufacturing.

Connect with Julie >> 

Cathrin Petty - venture capitalist - London

Cathrin was born in Bridgend to Welsh parents and later moved to the village of Penllyn near Cowbridge. She attended St Clare’s school in Porthcawl, before choosing to study Natural Sciences at Cambridge University. Throughout her youth Cathrin enjoyed playing sports, with tennis and hockey being her main sporting focus at University. She’s proud to have had six blues during her University sporting career in both hockey and tennis.

Today, Cathrin is a Managing Partner, Head of Healthcare EMEA and Board Member at CVC Capital Partners, a world leading private equity and credit investment firm. One of Cathrin’s first investments when joining CVC in 2016 was to found a womens healthcare company called Theramex which provides affordable products for women seeking IVF, or struggling with menopause, endometriosis and osteoporosis. The company sold in 2022 with over 550 people employed (65% being women) and with a revenue stream of over £300m.

Dr. Sarah Louisa Birchley - professor and entrepreneur - Tokyo, Japan

Originally from Cwmbran, Sarah moved to Tokyo, Japan, 20 years ago and pursued an academic career. Today she’s a professor of entrepreneurship at Toyo Gakuen University. Sarah has many published works on transnational entrepreneurship and diaspora and travels the world speaking on these subjects.

Sarah also works as a business consultant to empower small and mid-sized businesses in Japan and the UK to think globally. She trains in the areas of leadership, organisation, entrepreneurship, team-building, and mindset development. She also provides translation and localisation services to Japanese companies seeking to expand globally and research and support services for companies entering Japan.

A passionate Welsh woman, Sarah maintains her close ties with Wales through her family, academic work and as a GlobalWelsh board member.

Connect with Sarah >>

Emma Rees - entrepreneur and doctor - Perth, Australia

Former GP, Emma, from Porthcawl and her former policeman husband, Jimmy, founded Femma in 2021 after moving to Australia. As a clinical lecturer and published author, Emma wanted to use her knowledge to help more women access quality healthcare and ensure they maintain healthy lives.

Femma allows women to have easy access to medical information and become educated and informed on common conditions that women face, such as menopause and endometriosis. Emma found it was important to remove stigma and shame from these often avoided topics by offering advice, solutions and online consultations through the Femma platform.

Connect with Emma >> 

Kelly Davies - sportswoman, entrepreneur and leader - Wales

Welsh born, former international footballer Kelly studied Sports Science and Business Management at Loughborough University before becoming the youngest woman to obtain an MBA in Football Industries at Liverpool University.

In 2018 Kelly founded The Goodwash Company with fellow Welsh sportswoman Mandy Powell. In 2021, Kelly exited the business and secured the role as UK Director of Ashoka, focused on creating and inspiring positive change.

Passionate about Welsh sport, Kelly is a trustee for the Football Association of Wales and independent chair for the Cymru Football Foundation.

Nan Williams - entrepreneur and leader - London

Nan Williams was born in Anglesey and raised in Llanidloes. Nan decided to attend Cambridge University in 1980 to study languages. After finishing University, Nan worked as a trainee with Barclays bank, before joining marketing firm Charles Barker where she became CEO.

15 years later Nan and three friends set up Four Communications with Nan as CEO. Today, Four is an award-winning full-service international marketing agency with offices in; London, Cardiff, Aberystwyth, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Riyadh. Nan is passionate about Wales and stays connected as chair of the GlobalWelsh board.

Connect with Nan >>

Hero Brown - entrepreneur and journalist - London

Hero Brown grew up in Dinas Powys and studied at Howell’s School in Llandaff. Hero left Wales to study at Oxford University. She went on to have a successful career in journalism, writing and editing for the likes of Independent on Sunday, The Observer, Red, Marie Claire and Elle.

In 2011, Hero founded Muddy Stilettos, an online lifestyle magazine for women, after moving out of London with her partner and son to the Buckingham/Oxfordshire border. The online magazine is now the UK’s No.1 luxury lifestyle platform. It has over 1.2m monthly fans, 275,000 subscribers, 250,000 social followers, and can now be found in 28 counties across the UK.

In 2019, Hero was nominated by the Daily Mail as a Digital Pioneer and among the top 50 most inspiring women in the UK.

Ann Ellis - entrepreneur and leader - Dubai

Originally from a rural farming community in North Wales, Ann was inspired by the strong women in her community and their entrepreneurial mindsets. In 1996, after travelling to Northern Italy, Ann founded Mauve with her husband John Ellis. A global HR consultancy aiming to simplify the business of expansion and specialising in employment solutions and expatriate services.

Today Mauve has offices in 32 countries including Switzerland, Kenya and Argentina and works with organisations such as; Water Aid, The Good Food Institute and Family for every child. The company recently launched Mauve Cymru to help ambitious Welsh companies trade internationally. 

Connect with Ann >>

Jan Griffiths - business leader and podcaster - Detroit, USA

Jan was born in Bridgend and studied at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. In 1985, Jan moved to the USA with Borg Warner, a tier one supplier in the automotive industry. Jan has enjoyed a successful career in various roles across the industry including purchasing, supply chain and manufacturing, culminating in her appointment to Automotive News’ Top 100 Leading Women in the automotive industry in 2015.

In 2018, Jan started her entrepreneurial journey as founder of Gravitas Detroit, a company committed to preparing leaders for the future in the auto industry. Jan hosts The Automotive Leaders Podcast. In 2023, Jan launched GlobalWelsh USA, a hub dedicated to growing the business diaspora network across the United States.

Connect with Jan >>

Bethan Gray - furniture designer - London

Originally from Cardiff, Bethan Gray is one of the UK’s most celebrated furniture and homeware designers, having been awarded four Elle Decoration British Design Awards, including the coveted Best British Designer and The Best British Tableware Designer.

Established in 2008 her company, Bethan Gray Design, creates luxury handcrafted collections of furniture and home accessories that are sold through global retailers such as Harrods, Liberty, Lane Crawford and EJ Victor.

Within her own practice in London, she nurtures, connects and encourages new design talent and mentors upcoming female designers. Bethan recently launched a Prize for Women in Craft with Cardiff Metropolitan University where she is

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