On Thursday 26 January, our team headed up to London for a prestigious awards evening. Lana Harrison, Director of Exterior Solutions Ltd was a finalist in the Great British Businesswomen Awards. Relishing the opportunity to dress up, Lana and members of her team were justly proud to celebrate her achievements.

Lana was one of 160 inspirational women who were recognised for innovation and leadership. As Exterior Solutions Ltd is a leading manufacturer of premium charred timber cladding, Shou Sugi Ban®, Lana was one of 8 UK entrants to be shortlisted in the Engineering & Manufacturing category.

“The standard of entries was fantastic and the breadth of talent and achievement demonstrated by the finalists is nothing short of inspirational. If you are a finalist, you should be exceptionally proud, as you have already beaten off some outstanding competition.”

– Francesca James, Award Founder

Inspiring Leadership

Exterior Solutions Ltd was formed as a partnership in 2011, however, since 2017, Lana has been the sole Director. The business has grown year after year ever since. Under Lana’s leadership, the company has relocated to a site with a workshop, taken great strides to improve energy efficiency in production and secured the registered trademark Shou Sugi Ban®.

This name Shou Sugi Ban® was created by Exterior Solutions Ltd but has become a generic term for charred timber. Securing the trademark was important, as this premium product comes with quality assurance. The company wants to avoid their reputation being damaged by others manufacturers or timber suppliers using its name. Whilst being emulated has its frustrations, it also evidences that this is a highly desirable product with a strong market position.

Lana is evidence that success is built on hard work, a commitment to quality, being adaptable and employing a skilled team to help you realise business ambitions.

Working in a Man’s World

In 2021, 140,000 female-founded companies were established in the UK and 32.5% of FTSE 100 companies had women in leadership positions. There is still a way to go before we realise a gender balance, yet progress has been made through the determination and drive of businesswomen.

“The challenges I face as a businesswoman largely stem from manufacturing and construction being male-dominated industries. The majority of suppliers, clients and employees; timber mills, architects, building developers, contractors, delivery drivers and our workshop team are men. Initially, they are surprised to be speaking with a woman; the perception that this isn’t a woman’s work remains. I have to work harder to convince them that I know my products inside out, understand the specification and can address their questions and issues.”

– Lana Harrison, Exterior Solutions Ltd

Being in a room filled with talented and professional businesswomen was an honour. What was evident was the diversity of industries, ages, backgrounds and expertise that these women represented.




Businesswoman Award Winners

In total, there were 21 winners at the event. The Engineering & Manufacturing Businesswoman Award was presented to Samidha Anand, Engineering Manager at Caterpillar. The Construction category was won by Gauri Talathi-Lamb, Co-Founder of Iolas Capital and the Transport & Logistics winner was Nancy Hobhouse, Head of ESG at Evri. The Great British Businesswoman of the Year was awarded to Beth Knight of Amazon in the Community.

Full list of Winners

“I’m usually so immersed in the business, that I give little thought to what the team and I have achieved. Being shortlisted among such a high calibre of businesswomen and attending the ceremony was an amazing opportunity to reflect. I have poured my heart and soul into Exterior Solutions Ltd and it is wonderful to have this recognition. My Finalist certificate is now proudly displayed in the office!”

 – Lana Harrison