Top architect Dame Zaha Hadid wins Veuve Clicquot Business Woman of the Year award


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The Independent Online

An Iraqi-British architect who has helped to design some of the most renowned buildings in the world, including the aquatics centre for the London 2012 Olympics, has won a prestigious business award.

Dame Zaha Hadid was named Veuve Clicquot Business Woman of the Year in tribute to her business achievements and for being a female role model in traditional male-dominated sectors.

Dame Zaha has become one of the most influential architects in the world, designing buildings such as the MAXXI museum in Rome and the Guangzhou Opera House in China, as well as the London aquatics centre, the Evelyn Grace Academy in Brixton, the Riverside Museum in Glasgow and the Maggie's Centre in Kirkcaldy.

Her commitment to philanthropy was also recognised by the judging panel, which praised her support to charities.

Dame Zaha said: "It's hard to believe, but it's still difficult for women to break the business barrier. Through perseverance and hard work, I've been able to do so, but it's been a long struggle. When I started my career in architecture it was very much a male dominated industry, but in recent years I've seen a growing number of talented female architects join the profession and succeed.

"Half of all architecture students are women, yet women still make up less than a quarter of all qualified architects. This award shines a light on our achievements; and I hope it encourages more women to continue with the profession."

The first ever New Generation Award was won by 31-year-old Kathryn Parsons, who founded a company two years ago to help people learn about digital technology.

Her London-based Decoded firm now teaches company chief executives and people starting out in business everything from apps to programming language - in a day.

She is now planning to open offices in the United States and Asia after identifying a huge digital skills gap in people from a wide range of backgrounds, from schools to major global businesses.

She said: "There are so many reasons why women should be learning these skills. There are far fewer women in technology-related fields then there are men, and I want to help change this. This ever-increasing digital transformation of global business brings a greater need for a new hybrid skills set of the future, one that has code literacy at its core.

"Whether it is professional women in established roles or females that are about to embark on a career within this sector, learning these key digital skills now will help to bolster future career success."

Christina Jesaitis, senior brand manager at Veuve Clicquotsaid: "Dame Zaha has made her mark across the globe with iconic works that will inspire people for decades. Not only has she had a huge impact on the world of architecture as a whole, but she has demonstrated great zeal as a businesswoman, growing Zaha Hadid Architects successfully.

"She displays the same passion and determination that Madame Clicquot possessed over 200 years ago. While Kathryn displays many of the core characteristics that Mme Clicquot demonstrated in her own early career. Both have visions of the future and anticipated how industries and commence will change - and adapted their own approach. "