30(ish) Awards 2022
Read the stories of the 30(ish) winners who make up our final list of change-makers, innovators, and rule-breakers from the Cardiff University alumni community.
Cardiff University’s first 30(ish) Awards celebrated 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, with nearly 300 nominations submitted. Or 300(ish).
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 invited to attend a special awards event on 20 October. Held at the University’s innovative sbarc | spark building, the evening was hosted by Chair of Council and alumnus Pat Younge (BSc 1987) and emceed by alumna Babita Sharma (BA 1998). Around 70 alumni, guests and staff attended this special night, with alumni travelling from the USA, Canada and Europe to receive their awards.
We've arranged the list into some groupings to help you navigate through our winners' stories:
This group of our winners are all community activists. They've been recognised for going above and beyond for a community, delivering change - both individually and alongside others around them - to create a positive impact.
Jamilla Hekmoun (MA 2018)
Community organiser | Mental health advocate | Volunteer
Recipient of the Community Activist Special Recognition Award
Jamilla is chair of the Muslim Mental Health Alliance and worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to provide mental health resources to the Muslim community. She sits on the Board of the Muslim Council of Wales, where she helped organise Eid in the Castle – one of the first test events coming out of COVID.
She also sits on the board of the Muslim Youth Helpline. This passion is also present in her local community where she leads the Community Engagement for SEF-Cymru.
Jamilla also volunteers for the Faraj Foundation, a non-profit helping people in Libya achieve economic empowerment. She is passionate about helping reduce stigma around mental health. She has written a chapter in a book, “It’s not about the Burqa” where she discusses her own experience of mental health and how mental health is often perceived within the Muslim community.
Syeda Batool Zehra (LLB 2020)
Community campaigner | Role model
Syeda has overcome significant obstacles in the pursuit of higher education, to forge a career as Barrister. She is a tireless campaigner for asylum-seekers and has dedicated much of her time as a student supporting Student Action for Refugees (STAR), as well as Faire&Square Welsh Refugee Council, whilst also being a board member of the Bethan Roper Trust for Refugees.
Through her commitment and hard work, she managed to influence politicians and organisations to provide support letters, and persuaded universities to grant scholarships to asylum-seekers. Syeda wasn’t deterred by the difficulties she faced and is determined to inspire others like her to be tenacious in seeking opportunities to fulfil their own dreams.
Jack Collard (BSc 2021)
Community organiser | Urban planner
Jack founded British Roundnet whilst still a student. A wholly voluntary, non-profit national governing body for the sport of roundnet in England, Scotland and Wales.
They have set out on a mission to encourage more people to be active, grow the roundnet community and ultimately gain recognition with Sport UK. Jack leads a team of 12 (and additional volunteers) in delivering national tournaments and events for the public, university students and school children of all levels.
Under Jack’s leadership, they’ve undergone a hugely successful rebrand, resulting in their first ever round of sponsorship drawing c.£6,000+ of investment. This has directly fed into their elite players programme, ensuring representation of Britain at the inaugural Roundnet World Cup.
Anna Celac (MA 2021)
Comms specialist | Blogger | Community organiser
Anna is from Comrat, in the south of Moldova. On 24 February 2022, thousands of Ukrainians entered Moldova fleeing war.
For the local community, it was challenging to find resources for such a high number of people.
Anna decided to use the power of media as it is one of those tools that can drive change (as she learned in the School of Journalism).
She engaged her Instagram account with over 10,000 followers to raise awareness of the dire situation in her community.
Not only did she raise awareness – but she also raised vital funds, purchasing supplies for refugee centres and host families. To date, her efforts have helped over 6,000 refugees.
Jessica Mullins (BSc 2011)
Healthcare worker | Ocean rower | Motivator
Recipient of the People's Choice Award
Jessica is an Occupational Therapist by day, and an adventurist by night
In January 2022, after project managing a successful 3-year campaign, she led a team (IN DEEP SHIP) over the finish line after manually rowing 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean (east to west - Canary Islands to Antigua). It took 42 days, 4 hours and 54 minutes. Why? To raise money and awareness for Covenant House, CRISIS UK and Anthony Nolan Foundation.
They battled hunger, huge waves, dehydration, exhaustion, hallucinations and navigated through wildlife (sharks/whales). They became the world’s first mixed team of their dynamic to cross any ocean and hit their target of beating the previous years´ world record time. As if that wasn’t enough, she then decided to sail the return journey back.
Jessica has since been published in a range of magazines, recognised by Occupational Therapist associations across the globe, a guest on various podcasts, runs her own blog, and is now focused on motivational speaking. Her aim is to empower others to push beyond the boundaries and make their own dreams a reality.
Gladys Emmanuel (LLM 2020)
Human rights lawyer | Gender equity advocate
Gladys is a Human Rights Lawyer and Gender Advocate in Nigeria; a member of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA Abuja).
She currently serves at Tabitha Empowerment Centre, where she leads advocacy efforts to tackle gender-based violence (gbv) and provides support for victims/survivors.
In her role she develops programmes to address gbv - most notably “pro bono lawyers’ scheme, “Anti-gender-based violence campaign and Empower Her Initiative” (disseminating anti-gbv messages, rehabilitating survivors, empowering widows, training anti-gbv champions, establishing anti-gbv support units, and school clubs).
Her passion for human rights, women’s rights, gender issues and justice has provided her with opportunities to lend her voice and expertise on platforms focused on addressing gbv, including a special feature as “Woman of the Sun” in the Sun newspaper (National daily) and serving as a resource person at the School of Law at The Northcap University in India.
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.
Myles Hopper (BA 2010)
Entrepreneur | Environmentalist | Food poverty advocate
Recipient of the Entrepreneurship Special Recognition Award
Myles set up Mindful Chef in 2015 along with two school friends - now recognised as the one of the UK's favourite recipe boxes.
In 2018 they certified as a B Corp believing that businesses really could balance purpose and profit at the same time. To date they have donated over 14 million school meals to children living in poverty. They are a carbon neutral business working towards Net Zero 2030.
Harnessing the power of their community, they now run one of the largest beach cleans in the UK annually. Last year, Mindful Chef customers helped donate the equivalent of 350,000 meals through the Felix Project to those in need. On top of this they recently recertified as a B Corp joining the top 3% of food companies globally.
Joseph Ward (BSc 2018, PGCert 2019)
Innovator| Entrepreneur | Rocket launcher
Joseph is the CEO and Director of Propulsion at Small Spark Space Systems – a company he founded after graduating in 2018, that now employs 15 engineers and physicists operating at a large warehouse in Splott, Cardiff.
Joseph has won multiple awards for dedication to furthering physics within Wales. He also contributes a lot to the local community, most recently supplying virtual reality equipment to a special needs school in Cardiff so that the children can experience space travel and become budding physicists.
Although times have not always been easy building a business from scratch through a pandemic, he has always remained positive and makes sure his employees are well cared for.
Liz Tan (BSc 2004)
Liz is an inspirational leader who has achieved huge success early in her career. She holds multiple senior roles affiliated with the retail and property conglomerate IGB in Malaysia.
One of her greatest achievements since studying at Cardiff Business School has been to establish, design and develop from scratch The Gardens Mall in Kuala Lumpur. The Mall opened in 2007 and offers a luxury experience for consumers. It provides a mix of fashion, lifestyle, entertainment and dining experiences, all curated by Liz. Today, the Mall is largely credited as one of South East Asia’s prime shopping hotspots.
Alongside her 'day job' at the Mall, Liz’s roles as part of the wider IGB group see her providing senior oversight for the conglomerate’s reach across its international property, retail, commercial, residential, construction and hospitality and IT portfolios.
Georgia Aubrey (BSc 2014)
Entrepreneur | Gender equity advocate
Georgia co-founded Lovetovisit.com in 2020. The company has raised £1.5m investment so far from angel/corporate investors and a Seedrs campaign. Next year they plan to raise further funds and expand globally.
Georgia is breaking the bias in her industry (and beyond) for females in leadership roles. Although investment into female-led start-ups is gradually increasing, it is way behind where it should be. Currently 83% of UK VC deals have no women at all in the founding teams. She hopes her hard work and successes help change this.
Her recent successes include being a finalist in the AccelerateHER awards in partnership with Barclays Eagle Labs representing Wales. She was named in the Top 30 influential women leaders list for Travel Tech 2022 and was recently named ONE TO WATCH in the 2022 TTG Media Awards: John Hays Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Lovetovisit.com won the 2022 Start-up of the Year at the National Start-Up Awards, Wales.
Jon Szehofner (BScEcon 2007)
Ethical entrepreneur | Levelling-up advocate
Jon founded GDFM Consulting at the age of 28 and the business has since grown to a team of 80 people, with more growth forecasted over the next year.
Growing up in humble surroundings, Jon takes great pride in supporting the levelling-up agenda through a range of community-focused initiatives and providing employment opportunities for young people from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds.
As the business grows, Jon is committed to further incorporating social, environmental, economic and ethical factors into company decision-making and values. Under his leadership, GDFM have developed a collaborative culture where everyone shares in the success of the business.
GDFM Consulting is a Risk Advisory management consultancy business based in Cardiff, London and Leeds.
Ricky Martin (BSc 2006)
Recruitment entrepreneur | The Apprentice winner
Ricky has dedicated himself to recruiting scientists into the Life Sciences Sector. In doing so, Ricky won BBC1’s The Apprentice in 2012, raising £250,000 to start his own consultancy, Hyper Recruitment Solutions (HRS), alongside Lord Alan Sugar.
In the past decade, this has changed the lives of over 5,000 scientists and is currently turning over £15m revenue, making a profit of nearly £2m per annum and employs over 50 STEM graduates across 3 UK locations; Edinburgh, Manchester and London.
During this time, Ricky has also appeared on the BBC and iPlayer multiple times as an employability expert for a variety of shows including with Stacey Dooley on “The Nine to Five” supporting 15 to 17 year-olds with work experience. As well as supporting the Women in Science (WISE) with their unsung COVID awards at Windsor Castle alongside HRH Princess Anne, Ricky is an ambassador for science, employability and Cardiff University.
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.
Harrison Marshall (MArch 2018), Joshua Peasley (MArch 2018) and Harry Thorpe (MArch 2018) - CAUKIN studio
Architects| Teachers | Responsible planet stewards
Recipients of the Environmental Activist Special Recognition Award
Co-founded in 2015 by Directors Joshua Peasley (MArch 2018), Harry Thorpe (MArch 2018) and Harrison Marshall (MArch 2018), CAUKIN Studio empowers global communities through sustainable design and architecture, and their work educates and upskills local communities world-wide.
Addressing a multitude of Sustainable Development Goals, CAUKIN’s impact runs deep. Their 52 projects worldwide have provided 10,000 end users access to better designed spaces and educated 800 community members in design and construction through 200,000 hours of on-site education. They have also engaged over 50 universities in their workshops through student projects.
CAUKIN continues to support Cardiff University students today – from volunteering their time for talks and offering advice, through to providing work experience and internships.
Oliver Cook (BScEcon 2007)
Fintech entrepreneur| Climate change killer
Oli is the CEO & Co-founder of ekko, an award-winning fintech on a mission to empower millions of people and businesses around the world to take on climate change.
ekko uses cutting-edge technology, carbon data and tangible impacts, and pairs this with behavioral science led nudges to help people take their first steps towards sustainability and reduce their personal carbon impact. ekko’s own 'Good Vibes' bank card and app tells you the carbon footprint of your purchase in real-time and, as you tap the card, customers plant trees, save plastic from entering our oceans, and automatically carbon offset any spend.
Now ekko are partnering with some of the world’s leading brands, including Champions League football clubs, to empower their millions of customers and fans globally to take on climate change.
Sophie Yeo (MA 2014)
Journalist | Environmental advocate
School of Journalism graduate Sophie has gone on to become one of the most influential environment writers in the UK and globally. She freelanced for many publications in the UK and then the US, before moving back to the UK to launch her own business, the Inkcap Journal; a science, environment and nature publication and newsletter.
Sophie has created her own unique style, telling compelling science and nature stories in a longform way that really connects with readers, and informs people about some of the complexities and realities of nature.
Sophie has been quietly and consistently building her brand, and over the years has secured an enviable reputation as a passionate, specialist storyteller, telling important stories that influence people's thinking and even public policies at a crucial time for our planet.
Alex Goff (MEng 2017)
Engineer | Innovator | Nomad
Alex’s first job was to shovel coal into bags and move gas cylinders. He has since gone on to build race cars, trains, insulin pens, AI for banks, before finally quitting corporate life to be an entrepreneur, living nomadically around Europe.
His entrepreneurial focus has been in tackling climate change in consumer tech, building a food tracker that shows both the calories and emissions of the food you eat, and in institutional asset management, helping divert funding towards climate aligned projects.
Along the way, he has been part of the IMechE, the Royal Academy of Engineering’s top 50 leading engineers (ELA), led Cardiff University's formula student team to be the first UK team to win Silverstone, learnt to code, helped others learn to code, helped develop IBM's Watson, and helped start-ups across the world freelancing.
He is now CTO at Vula.
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.
Rania Vamvaka (MSc 2017, MSc 2020, PhD 2019-)
LGBTQ+ campaigner| Asylum-seeker advocate
Recipient of the Equity Activist Special Recognition Award
Rania (she/her) is the co-chair of Glitter Cymru and the founder and chair of Glitter Sisters, the enbys and womnx branch of Glitter. Rania is an out and proud bisexual woman and has spoken on, and organised countless panels surrounding the importance of queer people of colour’s rights, giving a voice to those who need it.
Rania advised the community cohesion officers for Penally asylum camp on Queer Asylum Matters and was trained as a Hate Crime Champion to safeguard queer people of colour. Rania was part of the Welsh Government's Expert panel, regarding the LGBTQ Action Plan, contributing to the asylum section. In February 2022, Rania launched the "LGBTQ+ Housing Asylum Needs Report", the very first report of its kind in the UK.
Rania is a co-convener of GASP, the Genders and Sexuality Research Group based in the University’s School of Social Sciences and is currently an Economic and Social Research Council Doctoral Researcher, focusing on LGBTQ+ asylum policy.
Sudhuf Khan (BScEcon 2018)
Teacher | Role model
Despite circumstances in which she was unable to access education, Sudhuf overcame the barriers and remained committed to pursuing a career in teaching.
Her experience of overcoming adversity has fuelled her motivation to study. After completing her degree she has gone on to become a Social Science Lecturer at Cardiff and Vale College.
Sudhuf has worked with the College to develop the tutorial programme which included developing differentiated bite-sized learning resources, as well as content to be delivered by tutors across the College.
She is also a board member for the Welsh awarding body Agored Cymru who are committed to support employability and progression for learners in Wales.
Alex Davis (BMus 2015, MA 2016)
Musician| Educator | Dream-maker
Alex Davis has not only excelled in his career path as a music educator and Assistant Principal, he has also made great strides to improve the aspirations of a diverse community of students in Dagenham.
Alex joined when the school was brand new and helped establish a "big band project" funded by the Andrew Lloyd Webber foundation for every KS3 pupil to learn an instrument and play as part of a big band. He also developed an “Enrichment Programme” which enables every year group to attend a prospective university each year.
He has admirably forged links with Cardiff University to create an annual 'Big Band Event’ for year 9 students and is a champion for equality, diversity and inclusivity in the arts. He continues to transform the lives of his pupils and it’s our privilege as a university to work in partnership with him to raise the aspirations of these aspiring young musicians.
Jessica Dunrod (BA 2020, MA 2022)
Translator | Author | Equity advocate
Award-winning translator and children’s author, Jessica Dunrod, is a champion for ethical translation practice and positive representation in children’s literature.
Books include Outstanding and Your Hair is Your Crown which she wrote to counteract The Black Doll Test (Brown University) which proved that behaviours such as unconscious bias are acquired by primary school age.
Jessica expanded on this research by coining “The Elsa Affect” theory which theorises a child’s early development is negatively impacted by a lack of representation in entertainment, marketing and literature aimed at children.
She has contributed to the design of the new Welsh curriculum, is a linguist fluent in Spanish and Modern Greek, translator, and international strategist. In 2021 she was named in Wales Online’s 15 Black Welsh Icons list.
Florence Craig (MA 2020)
Journalist | Digital Leader | Disability advocate
Florence Craig is a pioneering BBC journalist and a John Schofield Trust Fellow, specialising in experimental digital and video journalism. Her work has placed her as a leading digital-first storyteller at the BBC and a new face in science and technology journalism. Alongside her journalism, Florence works to make the media industry more accessible for Welsh and disabled people, like herself.
In 2020, Florence launched the BBC's award-winning digital documentary brand, BBC Reel across social media and has amassed more than 600,000 followers to date. She also shoots, edits, presents and produces science and technology digital videos for the BBC and, throughout 2021, edited digital explainers for Channel 4 News.
Florence is passionate about media diversity. She helped shape ITN’s first staff disability policy and is now a board member of BBC Ability, the BBC's disabled staff network – shaping policy, organising events and offering school mentoring.
Jasper Wilkins (BA 2017)
Producer | Journalist | Accessibility advocate
Jasper is an award-winning producer, journalist, and photographer. He has cut trailers for the BFI and BAFTA, directed Bake Off stars for the British Council, and shot musicians including Stormzy, Slayer, and Take That.
In his current role at UKTV he manages the video team responsible for comedy content across the Dave digital channels. Under his leadership, Dave has become the first and only UK broadcast channel with a fully captioned YouTube and Video On Demand service, meaning that everyone can get their fix of Dave laughter in a way that works best for them. Industry press labelled the accessibility innovation as a ‘breakthrough for UK broadcasting’.
While Dave is the first channel to achieve this goal, it shouldn’t be the last. Jasper’s ambition is to drive meaningful change across the wider broadcast world and shine a greater industry spotlight on accessibility in the digital space.
Sheilla Mamona (BSc 2016)
Journalist | Content creator | Racial equity advocate
Shei has come a long way, in an unexpected direction. Following a degree in Mathematics she now works as a beauty writer for GLAMOUR magazine. She also has bylines across many global publications such as The Sunday Times, Vogue, The Telegraph, Vanity Fair, amongst others.
She creates viral social content for awards season events such as the BAFTA red carpet, writes hard-hitting pieces such as "Sainsbury's Advert - racism" and most recently ‘Racism in the Ukraine border”, and even hosted an episode of BBC Women’s Hour.
She won a Highly Commended Award at the prestigious British Society of Magazine Editors Awards (BSME) and strives to inspire girls of colour to pursue their dreams.
Parikrama Khot (LLM 2019)
Lawyer | Equity advocate | Mentor
Parikrama is a first-generation lawyer and socio-legal activist with a strong sense of commitment to uphold human rights - especially those of women, children, senior citizens, LGBTQIA+ and marginalised sectors, based in Pune, India.
In 2020 she founded ‘Sapient Law Chambers’ – an all-female firm. She is also leading the women’s Cell of the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti India Shivaji Nagar branch in Pune Maharashtra, supporting women who were exploited financially or suffering abuse. She has led her team to deliver gender sensitisation workshops for rural youth, and legal awareness sessions for masses.
She mentors girls in rural areas and encourages them to pursue higher education, and to study law in particular – often advocating with their families to understand the opportunities and benefits that education can provide.
Hosanna Hali (BSc 2016, MSc 2018)
Tech influencer | STEM ambassador | Equity advocate
Hosanna is making waves as a tech influencer, having built a platform and significant social media following, to motivate under-represented groups to pursue a career in technology.
She created The Tech Cornr in the summer of 2020 with the aim of guiding, mentoring and inspiring women to join the tech industry. Her focus is on raising the profile of non-coding roles, and she has helped hundreds of people find jobs. The Tech Cornr has been a finalist for numerous awards, and Hosanna was even named as one of the 10 Influential Black Women who code, by People of Colour in Tech.
The Tech Cornr has over 100,000 followers across Instagram, Tik Tok and YouTube.
Suryatapa Mukherjee (BA 2015, MA 2017)
Journalist | Influencer | LGBTQ+ advocate
Suryatapa hosts Suno India’s LGBTQ+ podcast Pride and Prejudice which is the first of its kind in India. It covers all things queer – from politics, laws and healthcare, to history, arts and culture. It ranked number one on Apple Podcasts' ‘New and Noteworthy’.
It resonated with people across borders, featuring internationally on CNN's newsletter, and nationally on Indian Express, Mid-Day and Times of India. She also reports on privacy rights, constitutional laws, elections, and climate change.
Previously at Mojo Story, her ground reports on anti Citizenship Amendment Act protests in Uttar Pradesh and communal riots in the capital Delhi, got millions of views. Previously she was a Senior Copy Editor at The Quint. She has written for Vice, Huffington Post, Asia Times, The Wire and others. She was Chair of the Media Representation panel on Bi+ Pride UK 2020. She was listed on Wales Art Review’s 100 Women of Wales on Twitter in 2018 and 2019.
Dr Simon Thebault (MBBCh 2014)
Neurologist | Scientist | Innovator
Recipient of the Innovation Special Recognition Award
Dr Thebault is an early-career Neurologist and Clinician-Scientist. His research is on translating innovative laboratory advancements into clinical practice to personalise treatments and improve care for patients suffering from neurological autoimmune diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis.
After his degree at the School of Medicine, he completed a lab-based Masters in Oxford, and then moved to Ottawa, Canada to train as a Neurologist. He has taken a leading role into researching and implementing a blood test called "Neurofilament Light Chain" which can be used to monitor patients with Multiple Sclerosis.
As a result of their efforts, including several publications on the topic, this simple and convenient blood test is now approved and used increasingly in the clinic. This early success has set the stage for his career, and he is now a Clinical and Research Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania in the USA.
He is currently working on several other fluid measures that can be similarly used to better prognosticate and predict neuro-inflammatory diseases.
Max Hayward (BA 2017)
Innovator | Rule-breaker | Mixologist
Max is an innovator in the UK hospitality industry. Since working at Lab 22, this Cardiff based bar has been awarded 'Best Menu in the World' and the 'UK’s Best Cocktail Bar’.
He was heavily involved in the creation of their award-winning menu. Their win was predominantly due to their experimental, rule-breaking style, constantly pushing the boundaries of mixology and design.
The Cocktail Service acknowledge "Award-winning head bartender Max Hayward [who] curates a daring drinks menu which is adapted throughout the year.” Lab 22’s current menu, Theory + Frontiers, is inspired by science and innovation.
Max’s most recent innovative creation was a frozen whiskey cocktail, winning him a trip to Miami with David Beckham's whiskey - Haig. Max pours his heart and soul into mixology and is truly passionate about ensuring that his guests have the best immersive experience.
Dr Samyakh Tukra (MEng 2017)
Innovator | Entrepreneur
Recipient of the People's Choice Award
Sam is the founder and CEO of Third Eye Intelligence where they have developed a uniquely powerful AI system, that provides ICU clinicians with an early warning of when a patient will develop organ failure. Unlocking better, more cost-effective ICU care through early, actionable detection of patients at risk.
Their AI utilises data routinely collected in intensive care to predict the risk of organ failure, mortality, and length of stay, in view of guiding doctors in evidence-based decision making.
Under Sam’s leadership, Third Eye has won numerous awards in the MedTech sector, including at Imperial College, and at the Global Grad Show Dubai.
Mo Binesmael (MEng 2017) and Dan Harborne (BSc 2019) - Route Konnect
Innovators | Entrepreneurs
Mohamed Binesmael (CEO) and Daniel Harborne (CTO) have built Route Konnect – a company offering their clients a fully-anonymous understanding of how people and vehicles use our cities.
This understanding can improve accessibility, safety, and tackle various inefficiencies. In the road sector, Route Konnect is helping reduce congestion and tackle the huge amount of CO2 emissions that come from inefficient traffic – saving our time and our planet.
Route Konnect’s AI innovations deliver the world’s first fully-anonymous solution for analysing movement across multiple cameras – other solutions use pervasive technologies such as facial recognition or treat each camera separately, losing the bigger picture of space-utilisation, and the insights that come with it.
2022 has been an exciting year for the company, completing a £100,000 project, receiving $1million in investment, and being awarded Innovative Start-up of the Year at the National Start-Up Awards, Wales.
George Bellwood (BSc 2019), Robin Davies (BSc 2018), Christopher Morris (BSc 2018), Laura Choy (BSc 2022), Daniel Addis (BSc 2021), and Alissa Lutsina (BSc 2022) - Virtus Tech
Virtus Tech is a Google-backed UK-leading expert in virtual reality technology, launched in 2018 by Co-Founders George Bellwood (BSc 2019) (CEO) and Robin Davies (BSc 2018) (CTO).
The Cardiff-made talent runs deep, with a Software Engineering team including Christopher Morris (BSc 2018), Laura Choy (BSc 2022) and Daniel Addis (BSc 2021), along with Business & Marketing Associate Alissa Lutsina (BSc 2022).
Their mission is to provide companies with a no code solution to build a library of unlimited interactive VR training simulations, bridging web 2.0 with web 3.0 within the training space, accessible on any device.
Their all-in-one VR platform provides industry professionals with the tools to create their own virtual training content quickly and effectively, where employees can be immersed in a 360-degree ‘real world’ scenario as well as interacting with 3D digital learning objects around for high knowledge transfer, saving businesses time and money.
Wales to the World
Our winner in this group is 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.
Dr Matthew Jones (MA 2017)
Cymraeg/Cymru champion | Influencer | Educator
Recipient of the Wales to the World Special Recognition Award
Dr Jones is an Assistant Instructional Professor in the University Writing Program at the University of Florida. In this role, in addition to his teaching responsibilities, he is forging transatlantic connections between Wales and the USA.
To date, he has worked with numerous Welsh programmes and agencies to employ American students (who are then able to immerse themselves in Welsh culture) and has developed a study abroad program in Cardiff for UF students on legal and cultural life in Wales post-Brexit and post-EU.
He is also establishing programmes in the USA for Welsh university and high school students. Since 2017 he has also become fluent in Welsh and uses his academic role to raise awareness of Wales’ language, history, and culture.
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.
Chaitanya Marpakwar (MA 2011)
Recipient of the Journalism and Media Special Recognition Award
Chaitanya is an award-winning investigative journalist with the Times of India in Mumbai. He covers civics and politics.
He is a twice winner of the prestigious Ramnath Goenka award for his extensive reportage on the Save Aarey movement, an initiative against the hacking of 3,000 trees to build a Metro car shed in Mumbai’s Aarey Colony forest, and his series of investigative reports on the penguin purchase scam at Mumbai’s Byculla Zoo.
He also won the Mumbai Press Club’s Red-Ink award for his impactful reporting, and for making a difference to the lives of common people. He was a recipient of the Asia Journalism Fellowship in Singapore and the Robert Bosch Stiftung’s India-Germany Media Ambassadors Fellowship in Germany.
Chaitanya believes that the way stories are told is changing but the values that drive real public-spirited journalism are still the same and that it is important to rebuild local journalism as an essential democratic force.
Tomos Lewis (BA 2013)
Senior Journalist | Visual storyteller
Tomos Lewis is a Senior Journalist at BBC Wales News, working as a producer, cameraman, editor and director. He strongly believes it is his duty as a journalist not only to educate and engage, but to tell personal stories in an emotive way.
The breadth of his work is vast. He has worked on subjects ranging from suicide prevention to COP26, working on fascinating climate pieces, a passion of his. Tom is known for his beautiful, cinematic filming, and recognisable news report style.
Tom’s work on The Falklands War was notable, creating a series of news pieces as well as a documentary he filmed and directed called “Ending the Falklands War”. He created an outlet for veterans to tell their stories, reflecting on subjects like grief, war and PTSD, many of whom have said his work produced a sense of catharsis and have reconnected with old war friends as a result.
Dr Jenifer Millard (MPhys 2016, PhD 2021)
Astronomer| Podcaster | STEM influencer
Dr Millard may just “be a girl from Barry”, but she has been making intergalactic waves through her approaches to public engagement, including having recently passed 4,000 followers on Twitter and working in several different aspects of scientific journalism and outreach.
Jenifer is a co-presenter on the Awesome Astronomy podcast (avg. 40,000 listeners a month), managing editor and author of articles for the popular Fifth Star Labs' Sky Guide app (circa 300,000 downloads), and is the recently appointed Honorary President of the Barry Astro Society.
You’ll frequently find Jenifer appearing on TV and radio (Times Radio, BBC Breakfast, BBC World News, Radio 5 Live) to discuss important and exciting space topics such as the progress of JWST and is a presenter for BBC1 Wales’ Weatherman Walking TV show. Dr Millard is also an active advocate for scientific outreach outside of her job and gets involved with audiences of all types, from visiting schools, to helping to organise and run the popular Astrocamp star party event.
Dr Millard is a public engagement powerhouse, driving forward education and making positive contributions in the field of scientific journalism and outreach, with no signs of slowing down.
Vicky Chandler (BA 2015)
Digital leader | Pioneering publisher
Vicky has had a meteoric rise as a young professional in the publishing sector, a leading innovator in digital publishing, overseeing one of Hearst UK’s most exciting digital brands, Delish.
Her journalism career began whilst studying for her BA at the School of Journalism, writing for the likes of Metro and The Independent alongside her studies.
Seven years since graduating, Vicky has since enjoyed a fantastic career at Hearst, joining as a digital writer for Good Housekeeping in 2015, moving into a Digital Food Editor role, and subsequently being asked to spearhead the launch of Delish UK in 2019.
Vicky’s role involves overseeing a team that brings innovating and exciting food content to life for a hungry audience of foodies from long-form features to exciting video series. During this time, Vicky has had numerous successes, including being named in the prestigious Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2022.
Kate O’Connor (BA 2012)
Creative | Comedian | Career changer
Kate was thrilled when she landed herself a place on Accenture’s prestigious graduate scheme in 2012. However, after a few years, she realised management consulting wasn’t what she wanted to do forever.
Having always written in her spare time and with a keen interest in comedy, she decided she wanted to pursue a creative path. So, she took a leap of faith and went to do an MA in Creative Advertising at Falmouth University and went right back to being an intern at the tender age of 26.
She has since carved out a successful career as an Advertising Creative. She’s currently a Senior Creative at Momentum Worldwide. Her recent successes include winning Golds at The Drum Experience Awards and Campaign Experience Awards for the Merck Twitch takeover, ‘Game On! For MS!’.
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.