/ 3 June 2024

Visionary business leaders on the art of being a Bold Woman  

All Judges
The judges for the 2024 Veuve Clicquot Bold Woman Award.

The starting point for women in business is almost always about improving daily life or the world itself, not just about earning money

Ahead of the 2024 Veuve Clicquot Bold Woman Award adjudication process, the esteemed jury shares their business wisdom and what they’re looking for in this year’s candidates. For over 50 years, true to the legacy of its founder Madame Clicquot, the award continues to honour remarkable female entrepreneurs. This year’s candidates stand to join an influential community of bold businesswomen walking in the footsteps of Madame Clicquot — whose tenacity continues to shape entrepreneurial success today.  

Erik Kruger, international keynote speaker, author and leadership development specialist 

Erik Kruger

In his work with corporate teams, Erik Kruger says that “women tend to bring a more inclusive leadership style to business environments, which can foster better teamwork and communication”. He adds that they bring unique perspectives and strengths such as emotional intelligence, empathy and a talent for mentoring others. “They can serve as powerful role models. However, they still face more barriers and biases than men when trying to advance into top roles. More work is needed to level the playing field,” he says. Kruger goes on to credit women with higher levels of emotional intelligence — the ability to perceive, understand, and manage emotions effectively — than their male counterparts. “This heightened EQ can be an asset for leaders in developing meaningful connections, reading social cues adeptly, and navigating interpersonal conflicts,” he explains. 

What is something you would like entrepreneurial women to know about running a successful business? 

“Trust your instincts, play to your strengths, and don’t be afraid to do things differently from the traditional male-dominated approach. Most importantly, don’t let doubts or societal expectations hold you back from pursuing your entrepreneurial ambitions.” 

Amanda Dambuza, founder and CEO of Uyandiswa Group 

Amanda Dambuza

As an established woman in technology, Amanda Dambuza says there’s been an evolution of women in FinTech, and technology at large, a typically very male-dominated space. “I remember when I got into technology at the start of my career there was the sense that women were not choosing technology as a career because they felt there were no opportunities for them,” she says. “That has changed significantly, and with the evolution of tools like AI and mission learning blockchain, there’s more interest from younger women.” She continues by saying that women in FinTech make sense, particularly within a stokvel context. “Stokvels have been the order of the day for years and quite a few female entrepreneurs are looking at ways to advance from just putting money in a bank to using technology to make sure that it grows.” 

What is something you would like entrepreneurial women to know about running a successful business? 

“There’s most certainly a big accolade that comes with rising above the hard times, so celebrate the wins, but don’t dwell on them. Similarly, don’t get so bogged down by the disappointments that you forget that there will be another, brighter day. Know that in business you’re not going to succeed all the time and you also aren’t going to fail all the time. Learn how to deal with both of those emotions and what they bring forth.” 

Aimee Kellen, Head of Consumer Engagement for Moët Hennessy Africa and Middle East 

Aimee Kellen

When it comes to business, Aimee Kellen believes that women possess a deep understanding of the significance of ‘power skills’. “Many call them ‘soft skills’, but if you understand how effective they can be, ‘power skills’ is a better term,” says Kellen, listing relationship- and trust-building, transparency and an ability to have the hard conversation as some of these skills. “Women understand that to galvanise teams, we need to create psychological safety,” she says. “I have experienced how this propels women, men, and business forward!” She also believes that community is one of the key cornerstones for women in business. “A supportive collective of women can change the trajectory of your career or business,” she explains. “This is why I am so invested in driving the Bold platform across Africa. I have seen first-hand how it has helped forge networks of phenomenal women across the globe.” 

What are you looking for in this year’s Veuve Clicquot Bold Woman Award candidates? What qualities resonate most with you when approaching the adjudication process? 

“I believe that good business equals successful business. I love it when I see entrepreneurs driving incredible commercial returns while simultaneously investing in their people and the environments around them. At Veuve Clicquot, we also believe strongly in sustainable initiatives, so I’ll be looking for this in the submissions.” 

Carole Bildé, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer of Veuve Clicquot 

Carole Bilde

Carole Bildé says female entrepreneurship is a powerful socioeconomic force that benefits women as well as their environment. “Entrepreneurship is not just about launching a business,” she says. “It’s also about economic empowerment and reducing gender discrimination.” Bildé also believes that female entrepreneurs often possess a deeper motivating factor than their male counterparts. “The starting point for their business is almost systematically about improving daily life or the world itself, not about earning money. All these audacious women have a chance to build tomorrow’s world,” she says. “Of course, money is also important, but their mindset is larger than that.”  

What advice do you have for this year’s candidates? 

“My best advice remains to come as you are, don’t try to tell the perfect story — share your journey with sincerity and enthusiasm. Talk about your success and how you’ve learned from your failures. Share your vision for your business and how you want to bring impact. We want to feel the personality behind the business.” 

Claire Blanckenberg, founder and CEO of Reel Gardening 

Claire Blanckenberg

For Claire Blanckenberg, women have been integral to building her successful business. The memory of being one of a few women while studying and working as an architect in the building sector was stark, and stayed with her when she started her own business. “I think all industries benefit from having women in the business, because we have a very different leadership style, we’re far more empathetic, creative and we can compartmentalise,” she says. “My focus within my organisation is to empower the women that work for me, and to use the magic inherent in the female psyche to excel.” With a team of over 75% women, many of whom are single mothers, Blanckenberg is aware of the impact women can have on a business and the economy. “If you empower a mother financially you create a lot of opportunity not just within that household, but within the community itself,” she explains. “You’re also enabling them to change the trajectory for their children and therefore enabling the next generation to be better off.” 

 Having won the Bold Woman Award in 2023, what advice do you have for the entrants of this year’s award?  

“Do it for you. We’re very quick to feel like we’re not enough or like we’re thinking too highly of ourselves. Don’t. You are amazing, you are enough and you are the woman we need more of.” 

Timothy Maurice Webster, international keynote speaker, author and neuroleadership specialist 

Timothy Maurice Webster

In his work with C-Suite executives, Timothy Webster says that women in these positions tend to bring perception awareness in terms of the link between the bottom-line impact and the humans executing that impact. “Women’s brains and nervous systems have an additional sensory capacity, allowing them to use their cognitive capacity to navigate intricate sensory challenges to proactive team complexity,” he says about the neurological edge that women possess. “Often women are in the minority at senior levels and it can cause them to second-guess their strategy,” he adds, noting the importance of empowering women to feel confident in their ability to strategically plan and carry out tasks, even in a male-dominated environment. 

What are you looking for in this year’s Veuve Clicquot Bold Woman Award candidates?  

“I’m looking for women who can demonstrate the link between the value of their boldness and the ability to make systemic change in their work. I’m also looking for anchored values, alongside the ability to hold certainty lightly.” 

Happy Ralinala, Director of Palesa Mbali 

Happy Ralinala

In her role as director at Palesa Mbali, Happy Ralinala knows first-hand the influence that women have on professional environments. “Their presence adds a valuable layer of diversity, encouraging more collaborative discussions,” she explains. “This inclusive approach not only leads to better decisions but also fosters a sense of unity and mutual respect within the organisation.” She adds that the positive effects of more women in boardrooms extends beyond individual companies. “Research shows that diverse boards tend to excel financially and exhibit stronger governance practices,” says Ralinala. “Beyond the boardroom, the impact of women in leadership positions resonates deeply with broader societal values. Organisations can foster economic growth and promote social progress by creating environments where women are empowered to thrive.” 

What are you looking for in this year’s Veuve Clicquot Bold Woman Award candidates? 

“I am looking for candidates who embody a sense of audacity and creative innovation in their endeavours. I am drawn to women who courageously push boundaries, challenge norms, and approach problems with fresh and inventive perspectives. These individuals inspire others with their boldness and resilience.” 

Following an adjudication process with six finalists, the 2024 Veuve Clicquot Bold Woman Award ceremony takes place on 17 July in Johannesburg. It will reveal one winner in each category — the Bold Woman Award and the Bold Future Award — with the laureates joining an empowering community of over 450 winners in 27 countries who have achieved international recognition through this coveted award. 

About the Bold Woman Award 

In 1805, Madame Clicquot took the reins of the House after the death of her husband, at a time when women did not have the right to work or even hold a bank account. Over the years, she revolutionised the sector. To mark its 200th anniversary, Veuve Clicquot decided to pay tribute to this great, daring woman, and in 1972 created the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award (Bold Woman Award), followed by the Clémentine Award (Bold Future Award) in 2014. For nearly 50 years, the House has honoured and featured women who have built, taken on, or developed a business — to date, over 450 women across 27 countries. In response to society’s evolution since 1972, starting in 2019 the award has been part of an international program: Bold by Veuve Clicquot, a series of initiatives to generate conversations around the world, designed for more impact and inclusiveness. 

Please drink responsibly.