30(ish) Awards 2023
Read the stories of the 30(ish) winners who make up our final 2023 list of change-makers, innovators, and rule-breakers from the Cardiff University alumni community.
Cardiff University’s 30(ish) Awards celebrate the achievements of alumni who have made a positive contribution to their community, and all before they hit 30. Well, 30(ish).
Eschewing the format of traditional ’30 Under 30’ lists, the 30(ish) Awards were open to alumni under or over 30, who feel 30(ish). Designed to recognise the change-makers, innovators, and rule-breakers in the Cardiff University alumni community, there was an overwhelming response.
Alumni from across the globe and a wide range of industries, nominated themselves, or were put forward by their fellow alumni, staff, or colleagues.
After much consideration, 30(ish) winners were selected and have been invited to attend a special awards event on 5 October. Held at the University’s innovative sbarc | spark building, the event will be hosted by Cardiff University’s new President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Wendy Larner and featuring emcee Matt Barbet (BA 1997, PgDip 1999). As a special treat this year, we will also be joined by The Right Honourable The Lord Mayor of Cardiff, Councillor Bablin Molik (BSc 2001, PhD 2008, PGCE 2014) who will be presenting the Wales to the World special recognition award.
We've arranged the list into some groupings to help you navigate through our winners' stories:
- Social Impact
- Health and Wellbeing
- Environmental Activist
- Equity Advocate
- Wales to the World
- Journalism and Media
Guy Verrall-Withers (BMus 2013)
Guy is Artistic Director and CEO of Waterperry Opera Festival, a company he founded in 2017 based at Waterperry House & Gardens in Oxfordshire. His vision was to create an innovative outdoor opera festival that was accessible, affordable, and exciting. Under Guy’s direction, the company has completed 6 festivals and 32 productions and education projects, for over 15,500 attendees.
The company offers free tickets to U16s, in addition to free masterclasses and workshops. Education and access are key priorities for Guy and the company, which has led them to develop an industry-leading fully-funded young artist programme, to break down social and economic barriers in the arts.
Passionate about working for families, the company has toured shows around the country introducing classical music to children, including Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes partnered with the Roald Dahl Estate. 10% of audiences for the festival every year are entirely new to opera. The Telegraph recently commented that Guy was ‘bringing opera to a new generation’.
Cynthia Lee (LLB 2015, PgDip 2017)
Cynthia juggles life as a practising lawyer, PhD candidate, graduate research assistant and member of the Malaysia Bar Council Women's Rights Committee (WRC). As a passionate human rights activist, she led several projects under WRC to empower women and help those affected by injustices.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Cynthia and her team worked tirelessly under the WRC #KitajagaKita Initiative to aid vulnerable women and families across the nation. Through hard work and commitment, the Initiative raised over RM45,000.00 in 6 months.
In 2022, she led her team under the WRC #PeriodPower campaign to raise awareness of period stigma in marginalised communities in Malaysia.
Cynthia also played a role within the WRC to lobby for the enactment of sexual harassment laws and anti-trafficking laws in Malaysia. She and her team are currently working on the criminalisation of marital rape in Malaysia.
Cellan Hall (BSc 2019, MSc 2021)
Recipient of the Social Impact Special Recognition Award
As an advocate for open-source software, Cellan has developed a Python library that utilises freely available data from Transport for London to meet his accessibility requirements. Cellan, who has cerebral palsy spastic diplegia, relies on a manual wheelchair for mobility due to the condition primarily affecting his lower limbs. He frequently uses the London Underground to navigate the city, but existing apps do not consistently provide the necessary accessibility information.
Cellan’s Python library is freely available for developers to use and expand upon. His ultimate goal is to develop an app with comprehensive accessibility features that can benefit a wider audience. He believes that contributing to open-source software is an excellent way to collaborate with people across the world. He recognises the importance of giving back to the community and encourages others to do the same. According to Cellan, by sharing knowledge and resources, we can collectively create more inclusive and accessible solutions that benefit everyone.
Laila Rashid (LLB 2009)
Laila was born in Saudi Arabia and from a young age learned to question the injustices evident in society around her. Despite the challenges she faced, she experienced first-hand that the empowerment of women and girls has a powerful impact on social, political, and economic conditions globally.
Alongside her demanding legal practice, Laila’s passion for women’s equality has led her to countless volunteer initiatives, focused on the advancement of women’s rights in the Middle East, Central Asia, and globally.
Most notably, Laila serves as the Board Chair of Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan (CW4WAfghan), a humanitarian and human rights organisation empowering Afghan women and girls through equitable and quality education. Under Laila’s Board leadership, the organisation continues to operate and deliver critical programming to make the right to learn a reality, despite the near total ban on girls’ education in Afghanistan.
Health and wellbeing
This group of our winners are all change makers in health and wellbeing. They've been recognised for their impact and outstanding work across charity, healthcare and medical fields.
Lucky Chukwudi Aziken (MSc 2023)
Recipient of the Health and Wellbeing Special Recognition Award
Lucky is an Optometrist working to provide sustainable access to quality and affordable eyecare services in neglected communities. In 2006, armed robbers attacked Lucky’s home and his father was shot in the face. Despite prompt medical care, he was unable to access quality eyecare which meant he unfortunately lost his sight. Lucky began volunteering for several health initiatives and led the eye care team of Rural Africa Health Initiative (RAHI).
In 2016, Lucky founded Vision Care Givers International initiative (VCGi), a non-profit with a mission to provide eyecare services in every nation. Under his leadership, VCGi provided access to primary eyecare to over 21,250 people in Nigeria and Malawi with educational materials reaching over 2 million people. In 2018, he also launched Prevent Blindness Africa.
During the pandemic, Lucky started a mobile eye clinic, providing essential services to patients in their homes. He worked with the 4SD team to provide global direction and launched the COVID-19 Mission to Prisons, advocating for the protection of inmates. He is also a Commonwealth Scholar, Mandela Washington fellow, LEAP Africa fellow and One Young World Ambassador.
Dr Afroditi Maria Konidari (MSc 2012, PhD 2017) and Rui Zhang (BSc 2008)
Afroditi and Rui are the co-founders of Tendertec, the Cardiff-based AI startup unlocking healthy ageing and healthy caring. They are two of the 11 million unpaid caregivers in the UK. They started Tendertec in 2017 to transform the ageing market and create a more equitable future where elders and carers can thrive together.
Tendertec’s cutting-edge care support platform Hestia, uses machine learning and thermal sensing to help carers detect the hidden risks of ageing at home, and access better care tailored to the needs of the people they support. More broadly, Tendertec addresses health inequalities by innovating and co-creating solutions with under-represented groups including individuals with learning disabilities and people of ethnic minority backgrounds across the UK and the EU.
Tendertec is a Wales Tech 50 company, was named Tech Nation’s 2021 Rising Star Regional Winner for Wales, won the EIT Health & GE Healthcare 2018 ‘Disruptive Product’ Award, and has received grants from the Welsh Government, UKRI and the European Commission to transform ageing and caring in the 21st century.
Bayan Mohajeri (BSc 2019)
Bayan is a Business Development Director and Charity Trustee from London.
Following his Multiple Sclerosis (MS) diagnosis in 2020, he became a coordinator of MS Together, a support group for young adults with MS from across the UK and Ireland. He was then appointed to the Board of Trustees at the MS Society UK, becoming the youngest Trustee in the charity's 70-year history.
He is a passionate advocate for the MS community, featuring on TV and in newspapers to talk about the condition and the realities people with MS and disabilities face on a daily basis, as well as the impact of policies on their lives. Bayan's ambition is to ensure that the estimated 1 million people in the UK affected by MS feel represented and supported by the charity, while also funding research that will help stop MS.
Josh Burke (PGCert 2016)
Since completing his PGCert in Medical Education, Josh has become a leader in surgical technology and innovation education. Josh was elected as President of The Association of Surgeons in Training, where he represented surgical trainees in the UK and ROI, and navigated changes to competency assessment to support surgeons to continue their training during the pandemic.
He secured over £250,000 worth of educational grants and bursaries to support the education of surgical trainees across the UK. In 2022 he commissioned the ‘Future of Surgery: Technology Enhanced Surgical Training’ report, with The Royal College of Surgeons of England. This landmark paper has informed subsequent UK Cabinet office discovery and policy change.
He is widely published in colorectal surgery, robotic surgery training, and in the development of innovation skills. In 2023 he was announced as the Director of Education for the Royal College of Surgeons of England Innovation Hub, where he launched the inaugural Innovation Education Skills course ran at cost for trainee surgeons. Through this forum he supports clinicians to develop their innovation skills whilst continuing to work within the NHS.
This group of our winners are all entrepreneurs. They have been recognised for demonstrating the power of successful entrepreneurship and the impact of taking an idea from the conceptual stage to fruition.
Harsh Dahiya (MBA 2019)
Harsh is the founder of Harvesto Group, the leading manufacturer of specialised laboratory equipment and world’s largest manufacturer of digital soil testing kits, currently used in over 40 countries across the globe.
Harvesto’s technology under the Soil Health Card mission of the Government of India, has benefited over 200 million Indian farmers. Harsh has created over 1,500 rural entrepreneurs in India, employing over 500 people every year.
Harsh was awarded the ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ award by the Hon'ble Union Minister of India Mr KJ Alphons in 2019. In 2022 he was named in the ‘Top 25 Alumni’ of the Manav Rachna Educational Institutions, out of more than 35,000 alumni. In 2017 his work at Harvesto was recognised by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Harvesto and Harsh Dahiya’s work has been awarded and recognised several times by the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Hon’ble President of India, Government of India, World Economic Forum, Niti Aayog, and Ministry of Agriculture of India.
Dr Arron Cullen (PhD 2023)
Recipient of the Entrepreneurship Special Recognition Award
Arron is a dedicated criminologist who has worked collaboratively for the past five years at Cardiff University’s HateLab to develop a state-of-the-art hate speech monitoring platform to help protect organisations, brands, and individuals from online harms.
He has since co-founded and is the CEO of the University spin-out company nisien.ai. The technology company utilises artificial and human intelligence for ethical and effective online safeguarding against a broad range of online harms for global clients.
As the business develops and matures, Arron is committed to making online spaces safer for people to interact and communicate together. Under his direction, nisien.ai provides a collaborative approach to innovate through research to ensure its commercial products are at the cutting edge of technology.
He (River) Huang (MA 2013)
Born in China, He (River) Huang fuelled his passion for Media & PR when enrolling on his Masters course at Cardiff University to study International Public Relations and Global Communications Management. This not only shaped his educational trajectory but also laid the foundation for his future accomplishments.
River's path diverged into the realm of entrepreneurship, leading to the co-founding of PingPongDigital, a prominent Chinese digital marketing agency. Over the span of a decade, the agency has blossomed into a thriving entity, leaving an indelible mark on the digital marketing landscape. Amidst a competitive and ever-evolving industry, River's unwavering entrepreneurial spirit remains the force behind the agency's ongoing achievements. His unwavering commitment to excellence continually propels PingPongDigital to explore new horizons and scale new peaks.
Rashi Sanon Narang (BSc 2003)
Rashi started ‘Heads Up For Tails’, India’s leading petcare brand, in 2008. At the time, the pet care market in the country was unorganised with no quality offerings. Besides a stigma of inferiority attached to it, no one believed in its potential. She faced rejection from hundreds of vendors, retailers and even her friends and family. But she knew that just like her, there were other pet parents looking for quality products, which kept her going.
15 years later, HUFT has 85 stores pan-India. She has built a brand synonymous to pet care in the country and created a market where none existed. However, her contribution isn’t limited to providing over 5,000 quality pet products and over 50 spas with trained groomers, to the people of India. Rashi has, through the HUFT platform, played an instrumental role in empowering pet parents with knowledge that enables them to understand and care for their pets better. The brand also helps thousands of community dogs and cats via the HUFT Foundation.
This group of our winners have all been recognised for their positive impact on the environment. They are all protecting and aiding the environment on both a local and global scale through promoting awareness and producing solutions.
Andrea San Gil León (MSc 2016)
Andrea is an international expert and thought leader in sustainability, cities, and transport. She led the development of the country’s carbon neutrality programme in 2011. She came to Cardiff as a Chevening Scholar in 2014, and afterwards founded the Centre for Urban Sustainability, an NGO working to accelerate the transition to more sustainable, inclusive, and resilient cities in the Global South.
In 2018 she became a presidential advisor to the Costa Rican government, working with the First Lady in transforming and decarbonizing transport and urban development. In 2019 she co-founded the Global Network for Popular Transportation, an initiative aiming for the recognition, integration, and support for popular transport around the world. She currently serves as the Network’s Executive Director.
Andrea can now add 30(ish) alongside other accolades including Costa Rica’s 40 Top Leaders Under 40 by ‘El Financiero’ Newspaper, a World Economic Forum Global Shaper, one of LATAM's important female figures in transport by the Inter-American Development Bank, and one of the Remarkable Feminist Voices in Transportation in 2023 by the Transforming Urban Mobility Initiative (TUMI).
Eleanor Humphrey (LLB 2014)
Eleanor founded TOPL in 2021 to prove that a world without single-use cups could exist.
Disposable cups can't be recycled easily – they include a plastic lining on the inside to make them watertight, so only specialist plants can recycle them - meaning most end up in landfill.
TOPL is now working with coffee chains all over the world to remove disposable cups from their ecosystems with their game changing IoT Connected Coffee cups.
Their mission is to transform the coffee industry by providing smart, reusable alternatives - having developed an internationally patented coffee cup (listed by the FT & GQ as a top coffee gadget) with embedded technology to track activity and reward reuse.
Countries around the world are now taxing disposable cups, exposing a vast global market to reusables with 2.25 billion cups of coffee drunk on-the-go every day. TOPL are selling in 50+ countries worldwide and the team is only just getting started as ‘latte levies’ continue to be introduced. TOPL and their tech-enabled cups are well positioned to take advantage of this global shift from single-use to reuse.
Aleena Khan (BSc 2020, MSc 2023)
Recipient of the Environmental Activist Special Recognition Award
Aleena’s objective is to create or improve urban environments with an emphasis on alleviating poverty, reducing health inequalities, and using sustainable resources through provision of critical needs such as water, power, transport, and space. She is the youngest commissioner on the National Infrastructure Commission for Wales (NICW) and is focusing on the sustainable infrastructure needs of Wales.
As co-lead of the NICW Renewable Energy project and chair of the Project Advisory Group, Aleena is challenging the ‘business as usual’ approach to infrastructure provision, by giving government radical recommendations for the deployment of renewable energy infrastructure in Wales to help achieve Net Zero Wales by 2050.
Aleena challenges societal norms and contributes to diversity and inclusivity in Wales by taking on leadership roles. She is the Chartered Institute of Transportation & Highways [Wales] - Equality Diversity & Inclusion lead, and regularly contributes to the BBC and S4C on environmental, cultural, and social issues, in Welsh and English.
Aleena is currently a Graduate Transport Planner at Atkins, where she is co-lead of the Atkins ‘UK & Europe Transportation Early Careers Forum’ and member of the ‘UK & Europe Graduate Leaders Forum’.
Yousef Ahmed (BEng 2019)
Yousef, a visionary 26-year-old Mechanical Engineering graduate and entrepreneur, deserves recognition for his exceptional contributions to 3D printing and unwavering commitment to driving positive change.
As director of LUNIA 3D, Yousef's entrepreneurial spirit has propelled the company to the forefront of 3D printing solutions. Offering manufacturing, repair, and educational services, LUNIA 3D's strategic partnerships have streamlined production while promoting sustainability.
Yousef's dedication to environmental responsibility shines through LUNIA 3D's repair services, fostering a circular economy. Educational workshops empower aspiring engineers, fueling innovation.
As the only 3D printing company in Wales offering bespoke services, Yousef's pioneering approach sets LUNIA 3D apart, showcasing his ability to identify market opportunities and create a lasting impact. Continuously expanding his knowledge within the engineering field, Yousef's journey exemplifies adaptability and a lifelong learning mindset, making him a role model for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Our winners in this group are all working towards more equity in society. They all recognise that each person or group has different circumstances, and campaigns for better resources or opportunities to reach an equal outcome.
Elliot Howells (BSc 2016)
Elliot works at Microsoft, leading technical sales across the UK for one of Microsoft’s enterprise platforms. Elliot also chairs Microsoft’s National LGBTQIA+ network, GLEAM, ensuring Microsoft is an outstanding place to work for the community. The network is proud of the work done to introduce new employee healthcare benefits such as gender transition services and fertility support for same-sex parents, while also celebrating key milestones in the LGBTQIA+ calendar.
Elliot also sits on the board of TEDxLondon; focused on giving unheard voices throughout London a platform. He has also recently returned to the board of Cardiff Students’ Union as a Trustee, chairing the People, Development & Inclusion committee, having served as Vice President and President during his time studying at Cardiff.
Continuing the theme of equal opportunity, Elliot has also recently finished his term as a Trustee of pan-Wales arts organisation; The Aloud Charity, having been a previous beneficiary himself. The organisation provides outstanding musical experiences to young people across Wales, developing confidence, positive mental health, ambition and teamworking skills.
Patience Nyange (MA 2021)
Patience is a journalist, International Public Relations Specialist and Global Advocate for women and girls’ rights based in Kenya. With over 18 years’ experience in various communications fields, she has been at the forefront of advocating for gender-sensitive reporting in Africa.
Patience, who serves as the Executive Director at the Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK), is also the Vice Chair at the Sustainable Development Goals Forum in Kenya (SDGsForum-Kenya).
Patience is the founder of #KenyaWomenSeries, a platform that curates inspiring profiles of Kenyan women and their impact on the world. She helps to empower women through her prolific writing that showcases their potential. She was awarded as an Africa Community Figure during the 2021 Voice Achievers Award ceremony.
She is also a mentor and board member at the Emerging Leaders Foundation-Africa. ELF-Africa empowers, supports, and equips young people to achieve meaningful, dignified, and impactful participation in governance, economy, and public affairs. Her persistent passion and voice for human rights, women’s rights and youth empowerment has made her a renowned brand both locally and internationally.
Will Moore (BA 2019, MTh 2021)
Recipient of the Equity Advocate Special Recognition Award
Will is an advocate for healthier understanding of masculinities in order to work towards gender justice. His book, 'Boys Will Be Boys, and Other Myths: Unravelling Biblical Masculinities' was published in 2022 when he was just 24, with a renowned theological publisher SCM Press. The book pushes the boundaries of historical understandings of what it means to be a man as perceived within the Bible, which is the grounding for many of contemporary understandings of themselves.
Will's understanding and commitment to Queer and Gender Studies, Masculinity Studies and Theology is admirable. His publications are uncomfortable reading because they challenge our understanding of theology and who we are, nudging us into a different perspective.
His media appearances on BBC Radio and BBC One have brought his work into the public eye, and show that Will is already an influential young theological educator. His acceptance into the Church of England as an Ordinand, along with his PhD studies, shows the Anglican Church's confidence in him as a future priest.
Dr Emma Yhnell (BSc 2012, PhD 2016)
Dr Emma Yhnell is making neuro(science) more accessible, inclusive, and possible for people in Wales, across the UK and the world.
As elected equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) representative to the British Neuroscience Association (BNA), Emma voluntarily led the organisational development, strategic vision, delivery, and continued improvement of the EDI strategy. She led the creation of a Scholar’s Scheme aimed at addressing under-represented ethnicities in neuro(science). Motivated by personal experience, she established carer grants to enable those with caring responsibilities access to opportunities and funding to attend conferences. Emma’s work catalysed further cultural change, including the establishment of a Safer Spaces policy.
Additionally, Emma has brought neuro(science) to new audiences as a STEM ambassador and has undertaken more than 250 activities, impacting hundreds of thousands of young people, dispelling myths, smashing stereotypes and providing participation opportunities, in neuro(science) and Higher Education.
This group of our winners are recognised for innovation. They all demonstrate how powerful creating and introducing new ideas within your industry can be.
Jenny Mathiasson (MSc 2013) and Kloë Rumsey (MSc 2014)
The C Word – The Conservator's Podcast, is the world's biggest, brightest, and most informative podcast for heritage conservation. Jenny and Kloë are innovators who started the podcast in 2017, four years after graduating from Cardiff University. Together they’ve produced 13 series and 110 episodes. Early adopters of the podcast format, they’re not afraid to challenge the profession and examine issues such as disability, maternity and equality, as well as discussing things important to conservators such as bats in belfries, ethics and repatriation, children in exhibitions, and computers in heritage.
Their voices are recognised and loved by conservators worldwide, which explains why from just a tiny profession, they have achieved more than 200,000 downloads, several thousands of listens per episode, and audiences in 120 countries.
The C Word links and inspires conservators from Argentina to Singapore, encourages personal development and ensures accessibility through transcription, show notes and multiple channels. They also provided vital support and connection to the conservation community through the pandemic.
Dr Aslam Sulaimalebbe (BEng 2006, PhD 2010)
Aslam, an accomplished scientist, inventor, and visionary in the field of technology, continually pushing the boundaries of innovation with a remarkable portfolio of over 20 patents and a prolific record of publications in the realm of sensor technology.
As the Technology Director at Scanna MSC, he has made significant contributions across diverse industries, leaving an indelible mark in the field of healthcare, security, pressure mapping, automotive, and aerodynamics. He successfully achieved many patented prototypes in these domains, pioneered novel non-invasive scanning techniques and revolutionising the detection of explosives, weapons & medical conditions. These groundbreaking innovations have not only elevated security measures but have also propelled the frontiers of healthcare diagnostics to unprecedented heights.
The successful completion of the shoe scanner operational trials, in collaboration with the DfT, MoD, and airport security experts, has ignited optimism for the enhancement of safety and security protocols. This notable progress has been made while also improving passenger comfort through the elimination of the need for shoe removal and the reduction of extended queue wait times. Be sure to thank him the next time you travel with holes in your socks!
Dr Will Webberley (BSc 2010, PhD 2015)
Recipient of the Innovation Special Recognition Award
Will is co-founder of the Cardiff-based innovation tech company, Simply Do Ideas (SimplyDo). As Chief Technology Officer at SimplyDo he has spearheaded the company’s award-winning SaaS product innovation and development. This has been instrumental in growing the company by supporting young entrepreneurs to plan and grow early-stage startups, as well as helping large organisations such as the NHS, to innovate through significant and continuous improvement, and supply-chain enrichment. Will has a broad technological and business background, with previous experiences in fintech SaaS and startups.
Will has lectured at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels at Cardiff University. He has contributed to a number of novel and significant research projects and publications in social technologies and knowledge management innovation, particularly with regard to human-machine and machine-machine communication.
Passionate about business and entrepreneurship, Will enjoys collaborating with other start- and scale-ups, as well as providing experience and insight to young people looking to start their own entrepreneurial journey.
Wales to the World
The winners in this group are taking a leading role in bringing Wales to the world. They have been recognised for celebrating everything Welsh on a global scale, from language to history to culture.
Bleddyn Harris (BA 2014)
Recipient of the People's Choice Award
Bleddyn was recently named as one of the Top 100 Changemakers in Wales and has been recognised on the Pinc List as one of Wales’ most influential LGBTQ+ people since 2019.
As Founder and Editorial Director of LGBTQYMRU, Bleddyn works behind the scenes to promote and amplify the stories of LGBTQ+ people in, of, and from Wales, to a global audience.
Under Bleddyn’s leadership, LGBTQYMRU has become a charity that is home to Wales’ first Wales-wide virtual Pride and the first fully bilingual LGBTQ+ magazine and news forum. More recently, Bleddyn has moved LGBTQYMRU into a publishing space that houses the intersectional and often overlooked experiences of the LGBTQ+ community through ‘The Queer Collections’ – an initiative to collaborate and publish the creative content of individuals from Queer communities in Wales and the wider world.
Bleddyn led on developing both the Senedd Commission’s Ymlaen internship and award-winning apprenticeship scheme. He is currently an Independent Advisor on EDI for South Wales Police, and represents Wales on the UK’s first Future Generations Commission.
Kacie Morgan (BA 2010)
Back in 2010, Kacie set up a Welsh food blog to develop her writing portfolio after graduating. 13 years on, The Rare Welsh Bit has grown into an award-winning blog focusing on food and travel in Cardiff, to as far afield as the Caribbean.
Today, Kacie works full-time on her blog and social channels, which have been featured by BBC One, BBC Wales, Food 52, and Metro. A member of the Guild of Food Writers, Kacie has also written for Visit Wales, Sainsbury’s Magazine, and Co-op Food Mag, among other publications.
In 2018, she received Grenada Tourism Authority’s ‘Blogger of the Year’ award, in recognition of her coverage of Grenada Chocolate Festival.
More recently, she judged the Welsh Street Food Awards in Cardiff for the second consecutive year. She also spoke alongside celebrity chefs, The Hairy Bikers at Scotland Food & Drink’s ‘Power of Food Tourism’ conference.
James Dunn (BA 2012)
Recipient of the Wales to the World Special Recognition Award
Despite growing up in England, James is as passionate a Welshman as they come. He lived in Cardiff for 13 years and contributed significantly to Welsh public life. He was an advisor in the (then) National Assembly for Wales, led policy development for a Welsh charity, and worked extensively with governments to improve student and equality policies. He served on the board of Literature Wales, aiming to increase young people's access to Welsh literature and its global standing.
He joined the UK Government and led the negotiation of trade deals (worth £2bn to the UK economy). He organised trade missions abroad and generated opportunities for Welsh exports. When he moved to England to work for a tech multinational, he continued to showcase Wales. He became a Non-Executive Director at Disability Sport Wales and serves as an audit member for Coleg y Cymoedd.
Journalism and media
This group of winners are all recognised for their work in journalism and media. They are being celebrated for their great journalism which is topical, timely and impactful.
Alexandra Humphreys (BMus 2006)
Before becoming a weather presenter on S4C, Alex was THE trusted face with kids across the UK, presenting CBBC’s Newsround – and its Welsh equivalent, S4C’s Ffeil – ensuring children had a clear understanding of world events.
She still regularly reports for BBC news programmes and has made documentaries on gaming for BBC Radio 4, the World Service and Radio Cymru. In 2022, Alex wrote her first non-fiction book about how video games helped people through the pandemic: ‘Playing with Reality: Gaming in a Pandemic.’
Before presenting, Alex worked as a researcher on the BBC Proms, making use of her degree in Music, and on CBBC’s Blue Peter, where she taught Barney Harwood to play the trombone.
Alex was diagnosed with epilepsy at 17 and has used her profile to raise awareness of the condition – recently filming a documentary, giving a voice to others who live with epilepsy. ‘Alex Humphreys: Epilepsi a Fi’ is available on BBC iPlayer.
Dr Metji Makgoba (PhD 2020)
Metji is a Senior Lecturer in Communication at the University of Limpopo in South Africa, and a sought-after political and public policy commentator across South African media.
He champions meaningful dialogue on South Africa’s socioeconomic policies. His work in this area has re-energised national interest and discussions on the actual impact that policies such as South Africa’s Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) have had on the socioeconomic conditions of South African society.
His work, focusing on constructively critiquing national policy to inspire societal improvement through meaningful policymaking, continues to make him a go-to commentator for all national and regional broadcasters on matters of national policy and political dialogue.
Metji continues to conduct research on the discursive practices around social policy. He has published research in various academic journals including Critical African Studies, African Studies, and the Journal of Public Administration.
Mared Parry (BA 2018)
Recipient of the People's Choice Award
Mared is an award-winning presenter working closely with S4C, BBC Wales and ITV Wales. Her Welsh language series for youth platform Hansh, Tisho Fforc? won Best Social Series at the Edinburgh TV Festival’s New Voice Awards, and is nominated for Best Short Form Format at the Broadcast Digital Awards. She also released a documentary with ITV about ADHD and its under-diagnosis in women.
Mared has worked for the likes of Fabulous Magazine, Heart Radio, OK! Magazine and the Independent, as a showbiz journalist and editor, interviewing A-Listers on various red carpets, and was also the lead digital producer for the Jeremy Vine Show. She is now the commerce social manager for DMG media, leading all commerce strategies for social media across the Daily Mail, Metro, Telegraph and more.
She also campaigns for online safety and has worked closely with the NSPCC to change the laws on online protection for children, and has spoken at Westminster, and on Sky News and Channel 4 news, about her own experiences of grooming.
James Smart (MA 2016)
Recipient of the Journalism and Media Special Recognition Award
James Smart is a journalism leader in television, audio production, and new media, based in Kenya.
He is currently the Managing Editor of newsroom production at Nation Media Group, where he oversees journalism production across television, newspaper, radio and online.
He has previously worked as talk show host and anchor on top current affairs shows in Kenya including ‘The Trend’, a programme focused on young people and current events, ‘News Sources’ which integrated journalists’ opinions with current affairs.
He produced one of the top crime podcast series ‘Case Number Zero’ that investigated the disappearance of a former journalist in Kenya, in a captivating series that has over 1 million listens. Other recent productions include ‘Paradise Lost’, the story of a former TV personality and his struggles, and ‘A country of gamblers’, which looks at unethical gambling in Kenya.
James has focused his journalistic works in telling stories with empathy and finding ways to make journalism meaningful and impactful.
Zhu Yidi (MA 2016)
Zhu Yidi has worked as an undercover journalist and documentary director and has been one of the youngest female producers in the Chinese TV industry, overseeing two TV programs in Shandong Radio and Television Station. In 2020, she won the National Outstanding Youth Representative Award of National Radio, Television and Network Audiovisual Industry in China, due to her outstanding work.
Zhu Yidi worked as the only female undercover reporter in SDTV during the early years of her career. She was able to dig up the secrets and under-the-table practices from industries, which helped her realise the journalistic ideal of being a watchman for justice, and promote positive change for Chinese society.
She worked as an undercover salesperson for a Shanghai collectibles company for over two months in order to reveal a fake collectibles scam. Thanks to her report, Shanghai police investigated and arrested over a hundred people involved. The amount of money involved in this case reached 46 million yuan.
Emma Jones (BA 2009, PgDip 2011)
Emma is a newsreader and co-host on The Dave Berry Breakfast Show on Absolute Radio, which is listened to by 2.3 million people all over the world, every weekday morning.
Emma is also the co-host of a top 5 charting podcast called Secret Mum Club, which launched in June 2023. Emma and TikTok and Instagram influencer Sophiena discuss the highs and lows of parenthood, and aim to offer advice to listeners who write in with their dilemmas - some of which they may not feel comfortable sharing with their friends! Emma started her career at Capital FM in Cardiff Bay and has previously worked for the wider Global Radio group and Sky News.
Connect with our winners
You can connect with our winners on Cardiff Connected, our online platform for alumni networking. Find a mentor, ask questions about your industry, and make connections across the whole alumni community.