Being Edinburgh
Being Edinburgh, the award.


Meet the finalists of the 2022 Being Edinburgh award and find out who won.

Meet the 2022 finalists

Martha Dudzinski

Martha Dudzinski

Martha is the founder of SWANS, a volunteer organisation that supports female university students and young professionals from immigrant families, black women and women of colour (BIWoC) to get the jobs that they deserve.

Previously, there was no support system for this specific group: German-raised women who managed to overcome many hurdles and attend university but who still faced discrimination and prejudice based on their gender, race, religion and social origin. SWANS provides its “swans” (as they call the women they support) with soft skill training, a community and platform to exchange experiences and information about jobs, scholarships, internships etc. They get seminars on writing applications, negotiating and leadership, and have access to an application check, systemic coaching and mentoring.

Since 2017, Martha has recruited a team of ten volunteers and a rapidly growing community of over 600 “swans” from all German-speaking countries. In 2018, the organisation was recognised by Chancellor Merkel's government with an award for social impact.

Edinburgh education: 2014 MSc International and European Politics

Current position: Managing Partner at SWANS Initiative

Riaz Moola

Riaz Moola

Riaz is the founder and CEO of CoGrammar and HyperionDev, a tech education start-up that teaches people real job-ready programming skills, using a combination of 1-on-1 personal mentorship and expert code review technology. Since 2014 (the year Riaz graduated from Edinburgh), HyperionDev has grown to become the largest tech education company in Southern Africa and continues to spread globally. It is the first South African start-up to receive financial backing and support from Google and Facebook.

In 2021 HyperionDev secured one of the largest edech Series A crowdfunded rounds, raising over £2.5m in 12 weeks through combined private investments and public crowdfunding. This milestone is set to help the Facebook/Meta and Google-backed coding bootcamps specialist drive its planned global expansion. The funding will also enable over £175,000 in full scholarships for students in need.

HyperionDev has also been able to lead conversations around access to learning and digital adaptation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Riaz says: "Our education model embraced digitisation long before it became something businesses needed to do to survive lockdown. Since our founding we’ve been a big proponent of online and accessible education."

In 2018, Riaz was listed in Forbes Africa 30 Under 30 in the technology sector.

Edinburgh education: 2014 BSc(H) Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science

Current position: Founder and CEO at HyperionDev & CoGrammar.​​​​​​

Judith Nicholson

Judith Nicholson

After an initial career in cancer research labs (something that she had dreamed of doing since her days as a student at Edinburgh), Judith took a career leap and accepted a position with a small biotechnology company. However, her time with them proved to be short lived. The company became a victim of the Covid-19 pandemic, and quickly folded.

Now jobless, it was a naturally difficult time for Judith, but rather than dwell on her own situation, she threw herself into helping her own community around Witney in Oxfordshire. She volunteered with the Witney Land Army, cycling around her town giving food to vulnerable people. She also talked to them and listened to their stories. It was then that something clicked – Judith wanted to combine her love of words and people with her love of science.  Now’s she’s doing just that as editor of iScience Journal, telling powerful stories and inspiring new interest in science.

Edinburgh education: 2007 BSc(H) Biochemistry; 2011 PhD Chemistry

Current position: Editor at iScience Journal

Laura Young

Laura Young

Laura is a climate activist, environmental scientist, sustainability educator and ethical influencer.

Laura has devoted her life to the climate, and currently works for the International Development Charity Tearfund as the Programme Manager for their new climate campaign – ‘Let’s Change the Climate’, after recently finishing a two-year stint as their COP26 Advocacy and Campaigns Coordinator. During COP26, as well as many media appearances, Laura moderated a meeting between the First Minister and Faith Leaders from around the Global South, which was one of the instrumental meetings in getting Scotland to pledge £2 million for Loss and Damage – world leading in climate finance. Laura also runs the environmental platform Less Waste Laura, where she is an ethical influencer and has grown to over 41,000 followers since 2018 on Instagram.

Laura is also a regular media commentator of climate related topics and is regularly seen on BBC, Sky and STV. She also Hosted a TEDx talk in 2019 on ‘Kicking the plastic habit’.

Edinburgh education: 2019 MSc Environmental Protection and Management

Current position: Programme Manager – Let's Change the Climate, Tearfund, Glasgow

About the selection committee

We gathered a group of University of Edinburgh students, staff and alumni representatives to help select our four finalists.

Go behind the scenes