Diversity in Luxury Awards

Welcome to the prestigious Diversity in Luxury Awards, an annual celebration that recognizes and honours outstanding contributions to diversity within the luxury industry. These awards aim to shine a spotlight on brands and individuals who champion inclusivity, equity, and representation, driving positive change within the opulent world of luxury.

With a commitment to breaking barriers and fostering a more inclusive industry, the Diversity in Luxury Awards serve as a platform to inspire, empower, and acknowledge those who are leading the charge in embracing diversity across various sectors of luxury, including fashion, beauty, travel, art, and more.

Judging Process

The Diversity in Luxury Awards employs a rigorous judging process to select the deserving winners in each category. Our esteemed panel of industry experts, thought leaders, and influencers will carefully review all nominations, evaluating the impact, innovation, and dedication demonstrated by the nominees.

The judging criteria will focus on the brand’s or individual’s efforts to promote diversity, representation, and inclusivity within the luxury industry, considering their initiatives, collaborations, campaigns, and overall commitment to positive change. The judging process ensures fairness, transparency, and the highest standards of excellence.

Judging Panel

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Elizabeth Solaru


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Mario Perera

Executive chef, The Dorchester

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Michael Darko

Farringdon Jets

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Yasmine Torab

5 Star Wedding Directory

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Dr. Kelly Meng

Programme Director

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Yemi Osunkoya

Founder And Head Designer Kosibah

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Sofia Isabel Gutierrez

CEO Of Valroa Luxury Travel

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Karen Cummings Palmer

Founder Of 79luxeskincare

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Toks Aruoture

Businesswoman and the founder
of The Baby Cot Shop

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Barbara Kennedy-Brown

Co Founder Fashion Minority Alliance

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Julia Starzyk

Project Manager and Quantity Surveyor

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Sheetal Jain

Founder and CEO Luxe Analytics

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Rita Alay Libera Del Curto Askenasy

Art Sales Director at MTArt Agency

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Leanne Hewitt

Founder Of Wildabout

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Stella Oni

British Nigerian Novelist

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Ana Cerna

Co-Founder of Two Social Gals

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Dan Salmon

Luxury Travel Designer

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Antonio Paraiso

Senior Marketing Consultant

Upcoming Awards Ceremony

Mark your calendars for the highly anticipated upcoming Diversity in Luxury Awards ceremony, where we will gather to celebrate the achievements of this year’s nominees and reveal the esteemed winners. The event will be held on [date] at [location], with a captivating evening filled with glamour, inspiration, and recognition.

Join us in honouring the trailblazers of diversity in luxury, as we come together to celebrate their extraordinary contributions and shape a more inclusive future for the industry.

As Founder of the Diversity in Luxury Awards, I am thrilled to witness the positive impact that these awards have on promoting diversity, fostering representation, and encouraging progress within the luxury industry. Together, let us champion diversity and pave the way for a more inclusive world of opulence.

 Elizabeth Solaru, with over 20 years of experience as a luxury seller and CEO of the world-leading Elizabeth’s Cake Emporium, is a visionary leader in the luxury industry. With an impressive background spanning diverse industries, she has made a significant impact in the luxury business world, driven by her passion for excellence and her commitment to promoting the business of luxury.

Elizabeth’s journey began as a scientist, a background that instilled in her an analytical mindset, attention to detail, and a strong work ethic. These qualities have profoundly influenced her approach to the luxury industry, guiding her relentless pursuit of innovation and perfection.

Recognizing the value of exceptional talent, Elizabeth ventured into the realm of headhunting, where she excelled in identifying and nurturing top industry professionals. This experience provided her with invaluable insights into the inner workings of the luxury sector and reinforced the significance of diversity in building successful teams.

Beyond her achievements, Elizabeth is also an accomplished author and the proud owner of a luxury business consultancy. Leveraging her vast experience, she guides and supports brands in their pursuit of excellence and deepens their understanding of diverse luxury clients. Her consultancy serves as a trusted partner, offering strategic guidance, innovative solutions, and a profound understanding of the ever-evolving dynamics of the industry.

Throughout her multifaceted journey, Elizabeth has consistently demonstrated an unwavering commitment to promoting diversity and challenging the status quo in the luxury sector. Her advocacy encourages brands to embrace inclusivity, fostering growth and shaping a future where diversity is celebrated at every level.

Elizabeth Solaru is a remarkable individual who continues to leave a lasting impact on the luxury industry. With her exceptional leadership, deep expertise, and dedication to diversity, she serves as an inspiration for professionals and brands alike, shaping a more inclusive and prosperous future for the luxury business world.

Michael Darko, an entrepreneur with a lifelong passion for aviation, has established an impressive career that combines his love for flight with his acumen in business and finance. From an early age, Michael’s fascination with aviation drew him to numerous flight museums, sparking his interest in the world of flying. At the age of 15, he eagerly embarked on his first pilot lesson as a member of the UK’s Royal Airforce cadets, setting the stage for his future endeavors.

While Michael’s passion for aviation remained unwavering, his life’s path veered toward business and finance as he discovered his innate talent and affinity in these domains. Over a decade ago, he launched his career in the investment sector in the United Kingdom by way of real estate, quickly establishing a reputation for his tenacity, determination, and knack for delivering exceptional results. In a bold move, within three years, Michael transitioned into offshore investments, after relocating to Dubai as an expatriate. This move provided him with an invaluable opportunity to cultivate his expertise in international business, earning him multiple qualifications as a vetted member of the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investments. Throughout his career, Michael has tirelessly assisted individuals in achieving long-term financial security as a trusted consultant and financial planner.

During one of his trips, Michael developed an enduring affection for Colombia and decided to make it his permanent home. Collaborating closely with a consortium of British Independent Financial Advisors, he extended his services to both local nationals and expatriates across Latin America and beyond. In this capacity, Michael became intimately acquainted with the unique demands and expectations of High-Net-Worth Individuals and Ultra-High-Net-Worth Individuals. This immersion in the financial world ultimately presented Michael with an opportunity to merge his unwavering passions for aviation and business, enabling him to bridge the gap between safety-conscious VIPs and secure international travel. In 2020, Michael Darko brought his vision to life by founding Farringdon Jets, a luxury charter jet service company dedicated to providing excellence and reliability to an elite clientele. Drawing upon his own experiences and understanding of safety concerns during travel, particularly in certain regions, Michael meticulously designed the company to become the foremost security-focused private jet charter provider in the world. Leveraging his extensive professional background in international finance and his specialized skill set, Michael flawlessly anticipates and caters to the unique needs of his esteemed clients while prioritizing their safety and protection.

Under Michael’s leadership, Farringdon Jets has assembled an exceptional team of industry experts, each bringing more than a decade of highly qualified experience to the table. Together, they continually strive to redefine industry standards, surpassing the expectations of their clients at every turn. With unwavering dedication to excellence, Farringdon Jets ensures that every aspect of its service is carefully crafted to deliver an unparalleled travel experience.

Recognizing the pressing importance of addressing climate change and environmental sustainability, Farringdon Jets has proactively implemented measures to reduce its carbon footprint. By prioritizing emission reduction and offsetting carbon through innovative initiatives, such as proposing charter options for otherwise empty flights and utilizing newer aircraft known for their efficiency, the company empowers its clients to travel in a more environmentally friendly and cost-effective manner. Moreover, Farringdon Jets offers clients the opportunity to fly with operators committed to sustainable aviation fuel, onboard sustainable alternatives, and investments in certified carbon credits. With an unwavering commitment to minimizing its environmental impact, Farringdon Jets aims to contribute to a more sustainable future for private aviation.

Michael Darko’s remarkable journey from an aviation enthusiast to an accomplished financial consultant and founder of Farringdon Jets showcases his unwavering passion for excellence, security, and sustainability. Through the fusion of his deep-rooted passion, professional expertise, and unwavering integrity, he has positioned his company as an industry

Yasmine Torab, Co-Founder and Marketing Director at 5 Star Weddings Ltd. which is a Luxury Directory – Blog – Boutique began her career in the luxury events industry more than twenty years ago. Working at the original ‘Grand Hotel’ – The Langham – in London’s West End, Yasmine gained considerable hotel world experience by organising hi-spec parties, weddings, diplomatic events and more. It was while working with some of the world’s best suppliers that Yasmine spied a flaw in the luxury wedding industry – a lack of a central hub where couples, planners, media could exclusively search for the elite and most highly recommended suppliers, from haute couture wedding dresses, remarkable venues, gourmet cakes, stylish photography and fabulous flowers, to the most sought-after wedding planners.

5 Star Wedding Directory has gathered an exceptional collection of the world’s most inspiring wedding brands featuring beautiful, fresh and original ideas for sophisticated brides all gorgeously presented at one wedding website. From Engagement to Honeymoon, 5 Star Wedding Directory content is tailored to entice and inspire couples throughout their happy journey.

Dr. Kelly Meng is an academic currently leading the MA Programme Director in Luxury Brand Management at Goldsmiths, University of London. She has been instrumental in shaping and guiding the MA programme since its inception in 2017.

Kelly’s expertise and research span various facets of luxury brand management and international business development, and her academic achievements are highlighted by her groundbreaking research and publications. As part of her doctoral research at the University of Leeds, she delved into the realm of inward investment into China from South Africa, examining the institutional factors that impact the effectiveness of South African firms within the Chinese market. Her pioneering work culminated in her published book, “South African Business in China: Navigating Institutions (Routledge 2021),” which has contributed significantly to the understanding of international business relations between China and Africa.

Yemi Osunkoya is the Founder and Head Designer of the Kosibah brand. After obtaining a BA Fine Art (Textile Design) Degree from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, Nigeria and Diplomas in both Womenswear and Menswear from Paris Academy School of Fashion, London, UK, Yemi Established Kosibah in London in 1991 and is now based in Brooklyn NYC.

Yemi counts among his clients, members of the British Parliament, senior staff of the British Royal Family, daughters of a member of the British House of Lords, members of Royal Families from Nigeria and Ghana, Actresses, Singers and other Celebrities.

Founded in London in 1991, Kosibah specialises in figure enhancing contemporary and elegant bridal and evening gowns. Kosibah produce Custom/Bespoke, Madeto Order and Ready to Wear gowns.

Kosibah has had Editorial features in The New York Times, Brides Magazine, The Knot, Hitched UK, World Bride Magazine, Munaluchi Bride magazine and has agown, worn by Bride Titilola Bello, in the fashion archive of the Brighton Museum, Sussex, UK.

Kosibah is based in Brooklyn NYC with a satellite atelier in London, UK

Sofia, originally from Hawaii but raised in the vibrant city of Mexico City, is an avid and fearless traveler who thrives on embracing new experiences. She has a deep passion for immersing herself in unique adventures and has a strong inclination to share these remarkable moments with individuals who possess the same spirit, all in the hopes of making a meaningful contribution to a larger community.

Bringing a wealth of experience from innovative brands such as Google and Pinterest, in 2020 Sofia co-foundedIn 2020, she co-founded The Circle Travel & Tulum Circle, an extraordinary lifestyle travel company that offers an all-encompassing experience with their impeccable white-glove concierge services, luxurious villa rental options, and real-estate consulting.

In September 2022, the company underwent a transformative rebranding endeavor. The Circle transitioned into the prestigious Valroa Luxury Travel—a highly exclusive and premium travel company that now encompasses a diverse range of services, including a membership-based model.

Additionally, Valroa Luxury Travel introduced their expedition line, Varuna Expeditions, further widening their offerings and captivating a wider audience. Introducing our new revolutionary Lifestyle Brand: Varuna Expeditions by Valroa: Tap into the ultimate luxury adventure – join us in our unique & exclusive expeditions, designed to take you on a journey of a lifetime, like never before. Immerse yourself in the extraordinary experiences that go beyond your wildest dreams, and explore the world like you’ve never imagined.

An important characteristic of the new brand is our lema or moto ‘Travel with Purpose”. We want our clients to immerse themselves in unique experiences that will make their life better and enhance their passion for life.

Today Sofia is the CEO of Valroa Luxury Travel – the team has grown immensely as well as all of the global destinations Valroa is operating today.

Karen Cummings-Palmer is a health and beauty specialising in non-invasive age-management, weight management and beauty from the inside out.

A regular commentator from panels discussions to editorials, focusing on beauty from the inside re-framing midlife and the beauty of inclusivity.

As a certified nutrition coach Karen provides bespoke personal wellness packages as well as hosting retreats and creating healthy menus for hotels, restaurants and private clubs.

Founder of multi award-winning luxury, intentional body care – 79 Luxe available at Harvey Nichols, Nails & Brows Mayfair, Rosewood Hotel Spa and the Conservatory NYC. The boutique collection tackles the challenges of dry sensitive and dull skin – as luxurious as it is efficacious, made in England it nourishes protects and illuminates all of the skin on every body.

A great believer in using her natural gifts, Toks left her career in the pharmaceutical sales industry and launched her interior design business, specialising in residential homes. Shortly afterwards, she transitioned her passion for interiors into her first retail establishment in the United States, where she developed a love for craftsmanship and luxury furniture.
The financial crisis in 2008 led to her relocation back to the UK after which exploring the market; she discovered a gap in luxury furniture for babies. Toks established her new company, an online shopping destination for discerning expectant parents. Five years later she transitioned it into a brick and mortar store located on the famous King’s Road in Chelsea, London.
Her inspirational work has been featured on the pages of major British and international publications, including Vogue and Hello! magazines and her clients include celebrities, sports personalities and royalty.

Toks works with entrepreneurial women who want to play bigger in their businesses. First shortlisted for The Precious Best Business Award in 2012, Toks has gone on to become the absolute best at helping female professionals transition into entrepreneurship so they can use their skillset to play bigger.
She is a highly creative, dynamic, impeccably presented and driven luxury business owner with over ten (10) years of business experience. Having started and scaled her business,
Toks understands the dynamics of business growth and knows how to maximise the awareness, sales and profitability of a brand. Toks believes that the most valuable tools for exponential growth are the gifts each person carries, but limiting beliefs often envelop them, which make accessing their exceptional abilities near impossible. Through her speaking and coaching, she helps women in business unwrap their gifts by identifying and removing these mindsets so they can excel.
She was shortlisted as Retailer of the Year by the Women in Business Awards twice – in 2015 and 2016 – and as a finalist at the prestigious Kensington & Chelsea Business Awards 2018 and 2019.
Toks is passionate about transferring her knowledge to the younger generation, and she mentors young people through award-winning charity, Urban Synergy. In July 2020, Toks was one of fifty business owners selected by the UK Government in their GREAT Inspirations Campaign. The campaign celebrated businesses that responded in a remarkable way during the COVID-19 pandemic. Toks keynotes at women’s conferences and corporations; her corporate client list includes Pricewaterhousecoopers and Hyve Group Ltd.

Barbara Kennedy-Brown is a British business woman. She pivoted from a successful media career by founding an independent creative communications agency, B2B Media Ltd PR, that specialises in media, content, entertainment marketing and development for fashion and lifestyle brands. She carved her own path and works alongside leading international luxury brands and talent. In 2020, alongside international celebrity stylist Cheryl Konteh, she set out to ensure that others like her, from underrepresented backgrounds, could build successful careers in fashion, get equity, feel represented and be heard in the industry by co-founding the charity Fashion Minority Alliance Inc.

Julia Starzyk is a Private High End Residential Construction Project Manager and Quantity Surveyor. She has spent over a decade working on projects in and around London, delivering the most unique houses you can imagine.

In her career so far she has completed hundreds of construction projects. She has worked within the most prestigious postcodes within the capital delivering outstanding properties. Over 50% of those were either a listed building or within a conservation area with the most stringent rules. Complex access, difficult neighbours and other unexpected, unaccounted for layers are  bread and butter for her.

She has also worked on a number of commercial projects including hotels, restaurants, and offices.

Dr. Sheetal Jain is Founder and CEO of Luxe Analytics, a luxury market consulting firm based in New Delhi. She is a brand strategist, internationally published author and consumer behavior expert. She has over 18 years of experience in advising various brands including start-ups and established multinational corporations in building their marketing and branding strategies. She holds a PhD in Marketing. She has been featured in the leading magazines such as Forbes, IBEF, Mint, Luxury Daily, etc. She has been invited by Wharton Business School – Knowledge at Wharton to talk about ‘Luxury Marketing in India’. She has introduced Luxury courses at leading B-Schools in India including IIMs and is regularly invited for expert sessions in premier national and international institutions such as ISB Hyderabad, SDA Bocconi, Neoma Business School France, Sotheby’s Institute of Art London, University of London, to name a few. She has published 30+ research papers in ABDC journals and contributed book chapters in various management books. She is in the Editorial Review Board of Journal of Consumer Behavior (ABDC-A), USA. She has been honored with ‘Outstanding Paper Award’ in 2018 and 2022 Emerald Literati Awards.

Sri Lankan-born Mario Perera was part of the culinary team at the Taj Samudra in Colombo before he moved to London in 1995 to take up the role of commis chef at The Dorchester. He moved on after 15 years to be part of the reopening team for the Four Seasons Park Lane hotel as executive sous chef, returning to the same role at The Dorchester in 2017 before being promoted to executive chef.

Mario follows an esteemed alumnus of great executive chefs, including Jean Baptiste Virlogeux, who launched the hotel’s Chef’s Table in the 1940s, Eugene Kaufler, Anton Mosimann, Willi Elsener, and Henry Brosi, who held the position for over 20 years. Mario first joined The Dorchester over 18 years ago and has risen through the culinary ranks. In his role as executive chef, Mario oversees the brigade of more than 100 chefs within The Dorchester’s six kitchens.

Mario’s culinary style demonstrates his commitment to quality and a strong responsibility towards local suppliers, farmers, seasonality and sustainability. He is highly regarded for his people skills, always ensuring the development and mentorship of his team is at the heart of his leadership style. Mario excels at the banqueting side of food & beverage, having had the opportunity to oversee the catering for many high-profile events throughout his career. He is no stranger to presenting his culinary creations to heads of state, diplomats and dignitaries and is exceptionally proud to have served her Majesty the Queen.

Rita Alay Libera Del Curto Askenasy has worked at Christie’s, The Serpentine Galleries, Convelio and Sotheby’s and is currently Art Sales Director at MTArt Agency. Founded almost 10 years ago, MTArt Agency is a certified B Corp® award-winning talent agency for the most exciting up and coming visual artists worldwide, and a creative agency that delivers exciting art-driven projects for brands, public bodies and cultural organisations. While the art industry typically concentrates on selling art on walls, MTArt’s visionary approach focuses on investing in and supporting the person behind it. In her role at MTArt Agency, she is thrilled to champion almost 50 contemporary artists and support contemporary artists to place them in private collections, museums and important corporate art collections. She represents artists that have traditionally been under represented, including British Nigerian Artist, Àsìkò who had a blockbuster exhibition at Gagosian and has been featured in the Financial Times, How to Spend It, the Guardian and the Times and a mega public art installation next to St Paul’s Cathedral, later acquired by BNY Mellon and displayed in their Manhattan HQ and 4 works were acquired by the John Randle Museum or Stefania Tejdajda, Colombian artist based in Paris who just had 2 museum acquisitions and placed in major collections.
Rita is often requested to speak at organisations or companies like HSBC or Barclays Bank on how to collect or invest in art or Universities, like Chicago University on the art market trends.

Leanne Hewitt is the talented founder of Wildabout, a luxury floral design company based in London. With a passion for flowers and a background in floral design, Leanne established Wildabout in 2010 to create stunning, bespoke arrangements for high-profile clients and events.
Under her leadership, Wildabout has grown to become one of the most sought-after floral design studios in the world, collaborating with top luxury brands and expanding its offerings to include installations, weddings, and corporate events.
Leanne’s innovative designs and commitment to quality have earned her numerous accolades, including industry awards and features in prestigious publications. She is also dedicated to giving back to the community through charity events and mentoring aspiring floral designers.
As Wildabout continues to thrive, Leanne’s vision, talent, and leadership ensure the company’s ongoing success and cement her status as a pioneering force in the world of luxury floral design.
Rita is often requested to speak at organisations or companies like HSBC or Barclays Bank on how to collect or invest in art or Universities, like Chicago University on the art market trends.

Stella Oni is a British Nigerian novelist, food enthusiast, travel and tech writer. She is known for her debut crime fiction novel, Deadly Sacrifice, set in London and Nigeria. It introduces Toks Ade, the first black female police detective in UK fiction. Deadly Sacrifice was shortlisted for the SI Leeds Literary Prize in 2016 and was selected as Audible’s Crime Thriller of the Month in September 2020. Stella has contributed short stories to several anthologies, including Midnight Hour. She is writing the first in her contemporary crime series – The London House Mystery, set in the fictitious opulent Mews Hotel in Knightsbridge, and book 2 of the Toks Ade Mystery series. Stella serves on the board of the Crime Writers Association. She is an International Thriller Writers judge and a Jhalak Prize 2024 judge.

Ana Cerna is a distinguished bilingual professional with over 15 years of experience in luxury hospitality and event planning. As the co-founder of Two Social Gals, a boutique event planning company for the luxury market, Ana excels in creating bespoke events that resonate with sophistication and elegance. Her expertise extends across hotel sales, marketing, revenue management, and digital strategies, particularly within the U.S., LATAM, and European luxury travel sectors. A visionary leader known for her strategic prowess in identifying high-value opportunities, Ana has significantly contributed to leading luxury brands, including Baha Mar and Rosewood Mayakoba. Her Mexican heritage and deep understanding of the international luxury market have positioned her in the luxury hospitality industry, committed to excellence and innovation. Ana’s contributions have been recognized with several industry accolades, affirming her role as an influencer and trailblazer in luxury hospitality and events.

Dan Salmon is a multi-award winning travel designer and owner of the luxury travel company Never A Wasted Journey.
Dan’s knowledge, experience and contacts within the travel industry are second to none.
Having been named Luxury Travel Designer of the Year, out of 63,000 agents from within the uk, he has grown a loyal following, with clients throughout the U.K and even Dubai, New York, Cape Town, Nairobi and Sydney. He specialises in bespoke travel arrangements for a number of high networth individuals, sports personalities and celebrities. Creating holidays that add the wow factor and create memories of a lifetime – from afternoon tea with royalty in India to sunrise yoga at the top of the Empire State building in New York. Dan’s luxury travel experiences are so bespoke that you won’t find them anywhere else.
Dan has also won the ‘Luxury Travel Big Idea of the Year’ with his self-published book ‘Never A Wasted Life’ and been named Luxury Travel Advisor of the Year for the last 6 years. He has been featured in the Independent, OK Magazine, Channel 5, Reuters, the Daily Telegraph and many more. He has also been credited with being one of the top 100 small businesses, the Best of British Businesses and the most inspirational in luxury travel.

António Paraíso is passionate about excellence and lived in many countries, sharing his expertise on luxury marketing, strategy and innovation, as a senior marketing consultant and public speaker. On stage, he has spoken at conferences for Giorgio Armani, Loewe, Porsche, L’Oréal, The Luxury Network, Deloitte, Jaguar Land Rover, Lexus, Allianz, Pandora, BNP Paribas, Philips, Procter & Gamble and many others in Europe, Latin America and Asia. Antonio collaborates with the World Business Forum, loves travelling and telling stories, is obsessive with detail, enjoys out-of-the-box thinking and is fascinated by the world’s cultural diversity.