Yvonne Brady

Yvonne Brady, 41, is a vibrant mother of three who took up running after the birth of her youngest child. ‘I wondered if I hadn’t started too early! On longer runs I experienced light bladder leakage and I was mortified. I felt totally alone.’ Yvonne hunted for support-wear in sports shops, but found nothing that was effective against leakage. A civil engineer and avid problem-solver, she started to research the cause and imagine what product she could create to help. The result is EVB sports shorts.

Carla Delfino

Wherever there are humans, there are generally even more rodents below ground, prolific breeders who spread disease and chew through electric cables. When it comes to getting rid of them, solutions range from the murderous to the macabre: not only are they cruel and frequently ineffective, they’re generally toxic to pets and humans. ‘We tend to think that bio-repellent solutions that are safe for the environment will be too weak to work,’ says Carla Delfino, 54, whose company, Imperial Europe, has come up with a harmless and effective solution.

Alexa Buffum & Stephanie Halphen

Alexa Buffum and Stephanie Halphen both attended university in Boston, but only met when studying together on the MBA programme at IESE in Spain. This is where they developed the idea for their company, Agorique. ‘We decided to look at the fashion industry because a friend had started her own fashion brand and she told us about the difficulties of trying to get boutiques to carry her products.’

Sandrine Devillard

She leads McKinsey's Retail and Consumer Goods sector in France and is a leader of the European Consumer Practice. She helps companies in Europe, North America and Asia on strategy, organization and operational performance, and business development. Sandrine is the global leader of the McKinsey Women's Initiative and has led efforts to develop gender diversity at the firm for eight years.

Patricia Gros Micol

At the age of 17, Patricia Gros Micol was in a train crash that left her with chronic head and back pains. Later she experienced partial facial paralysis, then survived a small heart attack. ‘At one point, all my hair fell out! But I never thought I was a woman with disabilities.’ Legally speaking, she is, but after 25 years working in management positions, Patricia was patently more than capable. So she decided to set up a company giving employment opportunities to disabled people. An ‘adapted’ company: the official term for a company with over 80% disabled employees.

María Gómez del Pozuelo

Five years ago, María Gómez del Pozuelo had a thriving career as a sales and marketing leader at AIG, the American insurance company, where she built and managed a 300-person team from the ground up. One day, she took her son to a talk given by a survivor of a plane crash in the Andes and thought twice about what she was doing with her life. ‘I had a good job, but I thought: “I’m still young and this is not my company. It is not my life project.”’

Leonora O'Brien

A man goes into a pharmacy and tells the pharmacist, ‘I took this pill last night and now I’m feeling very ill.’ The pharmacist replies: ‘OK sir, I’m going to report this.’ This is no joke; this is a reality in the healthcare sector. One look at the headlines is proof enough. In June 2013, a laboratory in France withdrew a series of diuretic pills due to an unexplained error: a blister pack appeared to contain sleeping pills instead. The alert was raised by a pharmacist, who had reasonable cause for alarm when investigating a client reporting the believed mix-up.

Donatella Treu

Donatella Treu was born in Milan, where she actually lives. From her parents, Donatella inherited that perfect mix of tenacity, iron will and operativity that allowed her to reach the business summits.

Cécile Réal

There’s a chronic disease that concerns millions of people but receives relatively little attention and funding for research. It affects only women and causes great pain and frustration, for there is currently no known cure. Proper diagnosis involves a surgical intervention, which most patients and doctors seek to avoid, delaying diagnosis for years. Treatment is hormonal or surgical, with a 30 to 40% chance the disease will return. It remains a mystery to the medical profession, yet an agonising reality for women around the world. Its name is endometriosis.

Valentine Van Der Lande

They say that everyone has a novel inside them: now they have a new chance to get it published, by uploading it onto, a crowdfunding website for aspiring scribes. ‘All you do is post a minimum of 10 pages,’ says Valentine van der Lande, the bubbly young brains behind this new wave in writing. ‘If the public likes it, they buy shares in your manuscript; when enough have been bought, one of our publishers will publish the book.’


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