Salute to Manjit Wolstenholme:

The first Asian woman to reach her position in business

Tuesday 12th December 2017 07:47 EST

Manjit Wolstenholme, undoubtedly, was a woman of great strength, a pioneer and most definitely, an inspiration. Born on 4th July 1964, the British businesswoman became a multicultural groundbreaker by becoming the first woman from an ethnic minority background to chair a FTSE 100 company.

In August 2017, Manjit Wolstenholme was roped in to replace Peter Crooke as chief executive of Provident Financial after the company had lost 2/3 of its stock value in a day.

Since 2007, Wolstenholme had been a director at Provident and became chairwoman in 2014, and has also been a chairwoman at Cala Homes, non-executive director of Unite Group, and senior directorships at CMC Markets.

Born in Wolverhampton, she was an academic high achiever and studied chemistry at Bristol University. After graduating from university, she met Neil Wolstenholme who would become her future husband. But she did not tell her traditional Indian family for many years until she felt she was able to reveal her relationship to them. Meanwhile, she trained to become a chartered accountant with Coopers & Lybrand, and then moved to Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, where she progressed to work as a co-head of investment banking. Later, she became a partner at Gleacher Shacklock.

For someone who has achieved so much and became the first Asian woman to reach her position in business, she would rather let her work and achievements do the talking.

Suki Sandhu, the founder of Empower worked with Wolstenholme. “It was incredible to me that she achieved so much but nobody outside the business really knew who she was. I wanted her to be well known, but she was incredibly humble. I think, like most people, she didn't want to be labelled a role model necessarily, but once she understood the challenges that ethnic minorities still face in business she agreed to be nominated and was very helpful with Empower.”

Manjit Wolstenholme sadly passed away on 23rd November 2017 at the age of 53. She suffered a heart attack caused by deep-vein thrombosis. She is survived by her two children: Lily, who is an A level student, and Luke, who studies at Edinburgh University. 

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