By Janice Ruffle
On April 29, at the Hilton Hotel, Nicosia, I organised the Cyprus (National) Business Woman of the Year Award.
It was 11 years ago that I created the annual award scheme, which celebrates the achievements of women in business in Cyprus.
As many will know, organising a major corporate event takes a great deal of hard work. I am grateful to have partnered with event styling professionals, Kivotos Luxury Lifestyle. It relieves me of a great deal of stress!
The wife of the Kivotos partnership, a dear friend, too, is Maria Ignatiou-Shiakalli, who, for several years, as an artist, sponsors the main first prize of fine art for the overall winner.
Equally important is the selection of the judging panel. The choice is often from previous winners. The 2017 panel included Despina Theodossiou, Amani Vernescu, Sarah Coyne, Mila Lev and Margarita Elisova. Maureen Watt acts in the capacity of Chairlady and has done so for several years now.
Progressively, women are transforming the face of business and society. A new generation of women in Cyprus are now seen to be snapping up leadership roles.
Whereas, when I first moved to Cyprus, 15 years ago, Cypriot women were rarely seen in management positions. I never saw one as a bank teller. Now women are bank mangers!
Every year, the award attracts more women achievers in business. I continue to be impressed. Equally, through the award, I have the opportunity of meeting women who have achieved so much in business, often in male-dominated sectors.
I get very emotional when the winner is announced, as does the winner herself.
I am not skilled in public speaking, so it is preferred I leave this to joint MCs (Master of Ceremonies), Constantinos Shiakallis and head judge Olga Balakleets, the creator of Creative Women Conference in Cyprus.
The 10 finalists this year were Andri Avraam – Dental Surgeon, Catherine Beger – Little Muse Theatre, Chrysi Iacovou-Harrington – LC Positive Voice, Melissa Lowndes Meli – Property Services, Nicola Smith – Freedom Dolls, Niovi Spyridaki – Actress – Performing Arts, Kalypso Theocharidou -Lawyer Theocharidou and Associates LLC, Yvonne Tsanos – OL Shipping Group, Penelope Walker – Hair Club Salon, Anna Wall – Florida Pools.
Category winners were Andri Avraam, Catherine Beger and Yvonne Tsanos. Tsanos was the overall winner.
Tsanos is General and Projects Manager for ÖL Shipping Group.
“The event was unbelievable! My feet are usually firmly grounded, but for those moments when I heard I had won, I was floating. It was surreal,” said Tsanos.
She is one of the founding members of WISTA – Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association.
She is a passionate advocate of Cyprus and shipping and involved within many industry organisations including: Cyprus Shipping Chamber, Nautical Institute, MarInEM and Cyprus Marine Club, plus many charitable associations.
“Each person we meet in our lives has an impact. I feel honoured to have won this award and hope my achievement will encourage other women to keep striving forward to fulfil their aspirations,” Tsanos said.
“Never give up,” she advises.
I was very happy to have amongst my distinguished guests Lefteris Adilinis, Editor In Chief of the Cyprus Weekly, and his wife, demonstrating their support on behalf of women in business and representing the Weekly as a valuable Media Sponsor of my award event.