College leader and renowned educationalist Dame Asha Khemka has been named Asian Businesswoman of the Year at a prestigious awards showcasing dynamic business leadership and talent.
The principal and chief executive of West Nottinghamshire College, Mansfield, scooped the accolade at the fifth annual Asian Business Awards Midlands, held at Edgbaston cricket ground in Birmingham.
Organised by Asian Media and Marketing Group (AMG), the event recognised high-achieving business leaders, entrepreneurs and employers across the region.
She was presented with the coveted accolade by Kalpesh Solanki, group managing editor of AMG, Ramniklal Solanki CBE, editor-in-chief of AMG, and Sherelle Singh, of sponsor Investec Private Banking, at a sparkling ceremony attended by business figures, politicians and dignitaries.
Dame Asha said: “I am immensely honoured to receive this award but, above all, delighted that it recognises colleges as being major businesses in their own right.
“Not only do colleges play a vital role in their communities by providing high-quality education and training, the further education and skills sector as a whole contributes to UK plc on a level that is comparable to private industry, with turnovers to match.
“This award is proof that colleges have come-of-age and are now regarded as serious players in the world of business and commerce, and I’m proud that mine is leading the way.”
Under Dame Asha’s direction, West Nottinghamshire College has become one of the leading colleges in the UK.
It has more than 26,000 students including 12,000 apprentices, making it the largest college-provider of apprenticeships in England; which sees it working with over 3,100 employers to provide apprenticeship training across a range of industries and occupations.
Over the past five years the college has grown its income by 27 per cent to £58.5 million, making it the ninth-largest FE college in the country. With over 900 staff, it is one of main employers in the local area.
Dame Asha is credited as being the driving force behind the college’s £50 million transformation of its estate – realising her vision to provide the communities of Mansfield and Ashfield with ‘world-class’ education and training facilities.
Meanwhile, the college’s work with the business community was highlighted as a key strength by Ofsted in its recent inspection report, which graded the institution as ‘good’.
Dame Asha is a board member of several national bodies including the Institute for Apprenticeships; the independent body set up to ensure apprenticeships deliver the skills that employers need while supporting the government’s commitment to deliver three million additional apprenticeships by 2020.
The Asian Business Awards Midlands is a landmark event attended by the industry’s highest-achievers, local celebrities and dignitaries. This year’s awards were hosted by BBC Asian Network presenter Noreen Khan.
Kalpesh Solanki, of AMG, said: “The British Asian community is thriving and these awards have celebrated the innovative and forward-thinking Asian businessmen and women in areas such as entrepreneurship, healthcare and manufacturing. It has been a great evening celebrating the success of our winners.”
This latest award comes just three years after Dame Asha was named Woman of the Year at the GG2 Leadership Awards 2014, also organised by AMG, by then-Prime Minister David Cameron.