The judging panel for the Alumni Awards brings together a wealth of international expertise in education, entrepreneurship and national policy. Find out more about them and their work below.

Alumni Judges

Cherry Gough

Director, British Council Turkey

Cherry Gough took up the post of Director British Council Turkey, based in Ankara, in November 2017. She has a background in ELT, was a senior lecturer in English in China and Professor of Applied Linguistics at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poland. She joined the British Council in 1995. As Deputy Director ELT, she led on ELT Innovation and the promotion of UK ELT through British Council's global networks. She was awarded an OBE in 2016 in recognition of her work in Libya between 2010 and 2014. 

Najma Bouakaze-Khan

Counsellor for Communications and Projects, British Embassy 

A career diplomat since 1987.  Postings include:  Addis Ababa (1989-93), UK Delegation to NATO in Brussels (1993-96), Istanbul (2000-2004), Deputy High Commissioner, Botswana (2004-2009). In London worked in Communications Directorate and South Asia and Afghanistan Directorate, focusing on India foreign policy/security issues. 

Sevil Yazıcı

Assistant Professor, Özyeğin University; Winner of the UK Alumni Awards, Professional Achievement, 2016.

As an architect, researcher and professor, Sevil Yazıcı is fascinated by technology and innovation. After graduating from the Architectural Association School of Architecture in 2006, Sevil was offered a job in world-famous architect Zaha Hadid’s office. The software model Sevil has developed to increase efficiency in the design process was awarded Best PhD Dissertation. She won two Gold Medals for her invention towards building in extra-terrestrial environments in international organizations.


Özden Bademci

Founder director of Maltepe University Research and Application Centre (SOYAÇ)

Özden is the founder of SOYAC, first research and application centre established at a university in Turkey to address the issues facing street children. The Centre conducts interdisciplinary and participatory research to generate knowledge and improve the lives of street children. Özden did her MA at University of East London and Tavistock Clinic and PhD at University of Kent. In November 2011, Özden represented SOYAÇ in the House of Lords and House of Commons in London.


Okan Kara

Managing Partner, ACT Venture Partners

Okan studied the Economics of Innovation at University College London where he had the idea to establish a venture capital fund. After returning to Turkey, he was ready to co-found ACT Venture Partners that manages an early stage venture capital fund of 25 million Euros, for the commercialisation of technology. There are 16 high-tech start-ups under ACT’s portfolio. In 2013, Okan chaired the EUREKA Network - an intergovernmental body of 40 countries that supports the financing of innovation.