A CROFT businesswoman is in the running to be named 2019 Woman of the Year.

The prestigious luncheon and awards is a celebration of female achievement which aims to promote positive female role models who provide inspiration across all areas of society and the business community.

Debbie Francis, managing director of Direct Rail Services, has been nominated in the ‘Business Woman of the Year Category’ and shortlisted as a finalist out of more than 500 nominations.

Debbie, a resident of Croft, joined Direct Rail Services in July 2016 following a three-and-a-half-year term at Network Rail as the London North Western route finance and commercial director.

The businesswoman has 30 years of experience across a range of industries including IT, infrastructure maintenance and rail.

She has also gained extensive experience throughout her career, both in the UK and overseas, in finance, systems, commercial, operations and business development.

Debbie originally left school at the age of 16 with virtually no qualifications but went on to attain a 2:1 degree in business studies from Liverpool Polytechnic, an MBA from Manchester Business School, is a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (FCCA) and has recently commenced a PhD with leadership and team performance at the heart of her research.

She said: “I am passionate about business, diversity and equality, developing and promoting talent and all things ‘adventuring’.”

The luncheon and awards ceremony for Women of the Year is set to take place on Friday, October 25 at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole.