Panel of Judges

Making an objective and informed assessment of each candidate against the specific nomination criteria means that drawing together the right panel of judges is of critical importance. The group that has been assembled combines a broad range of professional experience, political balance, and diversity.  The judging panel approach the difficult and important task of agreeing a shortlist and then a winner, with utter professionalism, insight and most importantly, an open mind.  

Ali Miraj

Ali Miraj - Contrarian Prize JudgeAli Miraj

Ali is a political commentator, social entrepreneur, DJ and financier and founded the Contrarian Prize in 2012. He is a columnist for TheArticle and regularly appears on Sky News including the Press Preview and talkRADIO where he provides political commentary every Sunday.

He was the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for the marginal seat of Watford at the 2005 General Election and prior to that he contested the 2001 General Election in Aberavon, South Wales. He served as a Councillor (London Borough of Hillingdon) from 1998-2002 having been elected at the age of 23.

He is a trained House music DJ and has played at leading venues around the world and founded “Decks and the City” a monthly night in Shoreditch for City professionals who play House music.

Having qualified as a Chartered Accountant, he currently works in the City as a Director in Infrastructure Finance at a leading bank, originating and structuring transactions in Europe as well as managing relationships with key infrastructure equity funds.

He is national Vice President of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, a board member of the London Institute of Banking and Finance and a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of International Bankers.  

Educated at Haberdashers Aske’s School for Boys, Elstree, he went on to the London School of Economics where he obtained degrees at both graduate and postgraduate level and also read Modern Political Philosophy at Harvard.

Julia Ebner - Contrarian Prize JudgeVicky Pryce

Professor Vicky Pryce is a board member of the Centre for Economics and Business Research and sits on the Economic Advisory Group of the British Chambers of Commerce and on the advisory board of OMFIF, the central banking think tank. She was previously senior managing director at FTI Consulting, director-general for Economics at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and deputy and then joint head of the UK Government’s Economic Service at the time of the Stern climate change review.

Before that, she was a partner at KPMG and held senior economic positions in banking and the oil sector. She has held a number of academic posts and is a fellow and council member of the Academy of Social Sciences, a companion of the British Academy of Management and a fellow of the Society of Business Economists. She is also co-founder of GoodCorporation, a company set up to advise on corporate social responsibility, including on the environmental impact of business.

Michael Woodford - Contrarian Prize JudgeMichael Woodford

Michael spent the next 30 years of his professional life working at Olympus. In April 2011, he was appointed President of the Olympus Corporation - the first Western 'salary-man' to rise through the ranks to the top of a Japanese giant. That October he was also made CEO, but only two weeks later was dismissed after querying inexplicable payments approaching $2 billion.

After his bravery at Olympus, The Sunday Times, The Independent, the Financial Times and The Sun, all awarded him the 2011/12 ‘Business Person of the Year’. Michael was also the winner of the ‘Association of Certified Fraud Examiners award’ “For Choosing Truth Over Self”, and in 2013 was the recipient of the inaugural Contrarian Prize.

In 2014, Michael was awarded the International Chamber of Commerce’s special award for “displaying courage and a sense of deep conviction towards the highest principles of corporate governance”. In May of 2015, at the Foreign Correspondent's Club of Japan he received the “Friend of the Free Press” award.

Michael has chronicled his unbelievable story in his bestseller true life thriller ‘Exposure: Inside the Olympus Scandal: How I Went from CEO to Whistleblower’. He now spends his life writing and lecturing on business culture, and the frailties of human nature in the workplace.

Izabella Kaminska - Contrarian Prize JudgeIzabella Kaminska

Izabella is the a journalist at the Financial Times and is the editor of FT Alphaville. She joined FT Alphaville in October 2008, which was, perhaps, the best time in the world to become a financial blogger. Before that she worked as a producer at CNBC, a natural gas reporter at Platts and an associate editor of BP’s internal magazine. She has also worked as a reporter on English language business papers in Poland and Azerbaijan and was a Reuters graduate trainee in 2004.

Everything she knows about economics stems from a childhood fascination with ancient economies, specifically the agrarian land reforms of the early Roman republic and the coinage and price stability reforms of late Roman emperors. Her favourite emperor is one Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletian.

She studied Ancient History at UCL and has a masters in Journalism from what was then the London College of Printing.

Gawain Towler - Contrarian Prize JudgeGawain Towler

Gawain was the Head of Press for UKIP between 2009 and 2018 as the party went from being a statistical anomaly to becoming a significant force in British politics, first winning the European elections in 2014, forcing the Cameron Government to offer a referendum, then being a significant part of the winning Leave campaign. Previous to that he worked in the European Parliament in Brussels and Strasbourg as an advisor on International Development and Humanitarian Aid.

He was 'Brussels Sprouts' for Private Eye and founded and edited the EU focussed satirical and investigative magazine, The Sprout. He is a regular columnist in the New European and regularly writes for a range of other publications and runs his own PR firm, CWC Strategy.