Cecile Bonnefond may be the head of champagne maker Veuve Clicquot but she does not fit the criteria to enter her own company's annual award for businesswomen. To do this, a woman has to either have started or inherited her own business. 'We are looking for women who have the same profile as Madame Veuve Clicquot herself. She was only 27 years old when she took over her husband's business,' said Ms Bonnefond, who has been in Hong Kong promoting the company's Business Woman of the Year Award. Nevertheless, Ms Bonnefond has well and truly shattered the glass ceiling in her business sector - the international food and beverage industry. She is the first woman since Madame Clicquot to lead the French company in its more than 200-year history. In March, the award, which has had past winners from all over the world, will be held in Hong Kong for the first time. Ms Bonnefond said it was hard to find women who had taken over a business at a young age. 'But, of course, it happens and we've had candidates in the past. 'We opened a phone line where people can call and recommend their candidates. We'll have a jury of top business people, bankers and media, both male and female, to decide the winner. We've had all sorts of winners, which makes the award interesting. The jury may choose whoever they like. We give the guideline but they decide.' In 1972, one of Ms Bonnefond's predecessors set up the award to honour successful businesswomen. It was greeted with such enthusiasm that the award continued on an annual basis. Ms Bonnefond said the award was based on business success, leadership, audacity and innovation - all qualities which enable businesswomen to change the way their companies operate. 'The one thing the France-based jury must do is consider nominees from all over the world. We're not looking for well-known names but talented and audacious people.' Hong Kong will be the 13th country to host the award. 'We decided to come to Hong Kong because it is a vibrant city and the gateway to China.' She said Hong Kong had many successful businesswomen who had gone to the top and would surely have award candidates. Ms Bonnefond said today's generation of young businesswomen had to be grateful for those who had gone before. 'I know my numbers. Women are not yet there [full equality with men]. It's just a question of time. 'A lot of women have the right vision and right career paths. Their time is really coming. In Hong Kong, we found a pool of successful women leaders,' said Ms Bonnefond, who has had more than 20 years of experience in the food and beverage industry. 'I'm told that it's very difficult to do business in Asia as a woman. It's also difficult for women to do business in Europe but it is easier now than it was 20 years ago. I hope it'll be even easier 20 years from now.' She said the time when women wanted to be like men was over. 'I think that is great. I think a woman can now be a woman in her own right and be successful.'