Each year a new panel of impeccably independent Judges are solely responsible for deciding the Winners of the Cardiff Life Awards. They will give time to go through all the Finalists’ nominations with care.
Adrian Field / Executive Director, FOR Cardiff
Adrian has headed up FOR Cardiff, the city’s Business Improvement District (BID) since January 2017. He is responsible for the delivery of a number of projects in Cardiff city centre to help make the city more welcoming and vibrant for over 750 businesses including delivering and supporting events, Street Ambassadors, a Gift Card, additional planters and hanging baskets, schemes to reduce business overheads and homelessness as well as supporting the Taxi Marshal and Street Pastor services. Outside work Adrian’s passion is cricket and he once claimed the wicket of world legend Wasim Akram.
Carmela Carruba / Company Director, Real SFX
Carmela is Company Director of Cardiff-based, special effects company Real SFX. Which she set up with her husband, Danny Hargreaves in 2008. They moved then London-based company down to Cardiff after identifying a gap in the market. The company now works on productions including Peaky Blinders, Doctor Who, Sherlock and Good Omens and have won a string of awards including an Emmy, BAFTA awards, Welsh Bafta’s and Cardiff Life awards. After launching its own apprenticeship programme in 2012 has been involved with the development of the National Apprenticeship Week and part of the judging panel.
She lives in Llandaff with her husband and two children.
Emma Leeke / Managing Director, Leekes
Emma, a Business Studies graduate started her career with 10 years at M&S as a Store Manager then Buyer. In 2001, she joined her family business and is now Managing Director of Leekes Retail. Her role takes her around the world sourcing products and she has also overseen the Company’s expansion into the Midlands and Bristol where last year they acquired Park Furnishers. Emma loves to ski, walk and travel off the beaten track with her family. She also loves a challenge and has completed Base Camp Everest. She has been an Appeal Board member of the NSPCC (Wales) for 10 years.
Jessica Shipman / Director, NatWest Cardiff & South East Wales
Jessica is the first female leader of the Commercial and Corporate Bank in South Wales. She studied Psychology at the University of South Wales and has completed various qualifications in Banking and Finance. Jessica is an enthusiastic leader, passionate about developing the economy while adding value to clients across various sectors including manufacturing, technology, charities, education, healthcare and leisure. The team covers Cardiff and East Wales and has a significant footprint in the local economy with partnerships such as the Entrepreneurial Spark powered by NatWest. Jessica and the team are very proud to be helping customers meet their ambitions!
Karl Baranski / Partner, Geldards LLP
Karl is a Corporate Partner at law firm Geldards LLP and head of the Banking and Finance team at the firm’s Cardiff office. Karl has been a lawyer for over 35 years and specialises in advising on a wide range of specialist financial transactions, advising businesses facing bankruptcy and professional partnerships. Karl is well known as a leading figure in the Cardiff legal sector and well respected by colleagues and clients. He is continually ranked as a leading individual in the annual legal directories and praised by clients for his professional and proactive approach to his work and talent as a lawyer.
Mike James / Chief Executive, Cardiff and Vale College Group
Mike is Chief Executive of the Cardiff and Vale College Group. Under his strategic leadership the CAVC Group has transformed into the largest College in Wales and one of the top five in the UK with a £75m turnover and over 30,000 learner enrolments across FE, HE, apprenticeships, part-time commercial and community provision. Mike has worked in the education sector for more than 20 years, and is a driving force behind numerous pioneering initiatives and partnerships that are providing individuals across the region with alternative and inspirational routes into their chosen future careers.
Natasha Williams / Senior Operations Manager, S.A. Brain & Co.
Natasha has worked in the hospitality industry for over 20 years after studying Psychology at Cardiff University. Natasha works for the prestigious Cardiff based brewer SA Brain as Senior Operations Manager for its city centre and bespoke sites. Natasha has opened exciting high profile sites in the Bay and worked in collaboration with the Gareth Bale team in opening the Elevens Bar and Grill. She was part of For Cardiff’s launch as a steering group member and on its Board for the past year. Prior national hospitality roles include Mitchells and Butler and Spirit Group which was “a fantastic experience”, gaining crucial skills in business management.
Pete Grzonka / Commercial Director, Cardiff City FC
Pete has recently joined Cardiff City FC as Commercial Director. Originally from London, Pete has been proud to call Cardiff his home for 12 years where he lives with wife Helen and three kids.
Pete has a track record of spearheading sales, brand management and business development in high profile, diverse and competitive markets. He worked for Molson Coors prior to holding senior positions at Gloucester Rugby, Glamorgan Cricket and The Dragons. A keen traveller and scuba diver, Pete is still playing rugby for St Peter’s RFC and cricket for Y Clwb Criced Cymry Caerdydd albeit through enthusiasm rather than talent.
Simon Rogers / Hospital Director, Nuffield Health Cardiff & Vale Hospitals
Simon has worked exclusively in healthcare since leaving University in 1988.
He trained as a Chartered Public Accountant with NHS Wales and worked in the NHS for 10 years before working at KPMG and Ernst & Young. Simon managed large teams working on operational turnaround, financial recovery and setting up improved governance. In 2013 Simon became Chief Executive of Vale Healthcare (a JV with Nuffield Health) and led the rebrand and integration into Nuffield Health. This involved the development and recruitment of a new Senior Management Team and subsequent commercial turnaround of the business resulting in a successful exit for its investor group.
Victoria Rees-Price / Group Brand Manager, MotoNovo Finance
As Group Brand Manager for MotoNovo Finance, Victoria leads the communications and creative marketing team, responsible for the Brand and Marketing Strategy across the Group nationally. Victoria is a chartered CIM Marketer, having studied History at Cardiff. She then held key strategic positions at the Chartered Insurance Institute and Cardiff Bus, developing core branding and marketing strategies. Victoria is experienced across the financial services industry, both B2B and B2C. She is passionate about consumer marketing and driving marketing performance through digitalisation and brand resilience. Born and bred in Cardiff, Victoria lives in Llandaff with her husband and three children.