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.’

Michèle Boisdron-Celle

Michèle Boisdron-Celle is a biologist and pharmacologist whose scientific credentials speak for themselves: a doctor of pharmaceutical sciences, she has spent 16 years at the Paul Papin Cancer Institute in Angers, France, where she created an oncopharmacology unit to study anti-cancer drugs, and in 2006 founded the Tumours Biopathology Department, overseeing a team of 30 biologists, pharmacists and technicians.

Cara Sayer

Parents of newborns never seem to get enough sleep, but the average baby sleeps 15 to 18 hours a day, a quarter of which is naps. ‘Babies can be disturbed by the slightest change in temperature or light,’ says Cara Sayer, the 39 year-old founder of Really Simple Ideas Ltd., ‘then they wake up grumpy, and you can say goodbye to whatever you had been doing!’

Penina First

Imagine you wake up in the morning to heavy snowfall and your drive needs shovelling. Or you need someone to pick up shopping, mend a bicycle, take your cat to the vet or just about any other daily task you can think of... What do you do? You contact Swifto, and within minutes rest assured that somebody’s there to do it. The idea originated as GoWorkIt, a site dedicated as a way to find temporary workers in a flash.

Kresse Wesling

Kresse Wesling has a rather extraordinary passion: ‘I’ve been passionate about waste for years! I want to add value to waste and build a valuable product from it,’ she says. The result is a company she has co-founded to make luxury goods from waste.

Yes, that’s right: luxury from waste.


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