Having worked as a Personal Assistant for a family run business for seven and a half years, Dianah decided that she would like to progress and improve her skills.
Hayley works for Coventry University as Senior Commercial and Enterprise Administrator and has been nominated for this award by a business contact.
Leighton is a Senior Associate in PO (People and Operations) personal Tax at PricewaterhouseCoopers, he has been with the firm for circa 7 years.
Mum sets out to prove her doubters wrong
Dianah has been nominated for this award by the team in Pitman Training Manchester.
Having worked as a Personal Assistant for a family run business for seven and a half years, Dianah decided that she would like to progress and improve her skills in her role. Having spoken to her sister about this she suggested that Dianah speak to a friend of hers who worked for a successful PA company in London. She advised her that Pitman Training were who she should do her training with. She knew that it would be hard work, but worth it.
Dianah applied through her work for financial help with the cost of the training as it would allow her to enhance her skills in her current role and benefit the company. Initially, they were happy to look into it and so she started making further enquiries, and after discussions with the centre, Dianah was able to go back to her company with a possible solution that they might be happy with. However, her work declined the offer to assist her. She was told by them that it would be too much for her and that she wouldn’t cope. Dianah was determined to prove them wrong.
She was devastated that they had decided to not support her and showed openly that they didn’t believe in her capabilities. However, after speaking with her dad, who fully supported her dreams, he encouraged her to continue working towards her goals. With his help and support, she was able to finance the course herself and was excited to get started. Her place of work were shocked that she’d decided to go for it on her own, still believing that she wasn’t up for the challenge.
Dianah’s partner frequently works away from home for long periods of time throughout the year which was an additional challenge, meaning that she is solely responsible for running the household and family life. She admits it was a struggle at times to fit her studies around her other commitments. However, she was determined to complete it and regularly attended the centre to concentrate on her course.
Her motivation to succeed came from a few places; partly to prove her work wrong, but mainly from her son Will (14) and daughter Jessica (16). She says, “Both work incredibly hard in school and seeing how hard they worked spurred me on. They even kept on nagging me to do my studies and inspired me to keep going even when I felt I couldn’t do it. They both would remind me of what I wanted to achieve at the end and encouraged me the whole way.” Every time Dianah gained a Distinction grade, it boosted her confidence more and more. Despite this, her place of work still didn’t seem impressed
On successful completion of her training, Dianah had the confidence to apply for positions outside of her role. She was even head hunted by an agency who thought she’d be perfect for their role. They told her that all of her skills were transferable and knowing she had her Pitman diploma behind her gave her the confidence to go for it. She went for the interview and got the job!
Dianah now works as a Project Assistant for a medical communications company as part of the events planning team. She is responsible for the logistics of staff and print materials. It’s a role she has only been in a few weeks but already, they can see her potential and want to help her work towards becoming an Accounts Executive. Dianah said, “I’m so pleased to now be able to work for a company who support me, my career and my progress. I couldn’t be happier. I feel so proud of my achievements, and what I’ve overcome to reach my goals.”
The team at Pitman Training Manchester said, “Dianah is fantastic! She is kind and caring and would do anything for anyone. She has such a bubbly nature and I think all of these things makes her successful at what she does as she always makes such an effort to do the best she possibly can do for others. Over the time she has studied with us her confidence has grown dramatically. She has that belief in herself now, which has allowed her to branch out and change her career.”
Dianah has obviously worked incredibly hard on her studies and her inspirational story shows that if you have that dream, and you really put your mind to it, you can achieve it, even if others don’t believe in you!
Young Achiever Striving to Progress
Hayley works for Coventry University as Senior Commercial and Enterprise Administrator and has been nominated for this award by Helena Bassett, a business contact that has got to know Hayley through various business and networking events.
Helena feels that the dedication, commitment and ambition Hayley has demonstrated so far in her career deserved some recognition, and through this nomination, she takes the time to tell Hayley’s story.
Hayley left school at 16 and found a part-time job working as a Barista that she juggled alongside an intensive course at college. She excelled in her part-time role, working her way up to a team management position.
Motivated to progress further, Hayley went on to gain an administration position at an engineering firm. This role enabled her to gain additional, transferable skills and her next career move was to take a position as a Personal Assistant at a leading accountancy firm where she remained for 3 years before taking her current role.
Helena detailed many qualities that Hayley possesses – adaptability, the ability to remain calm in all situations, reactive under pressure. She also commented that Hayley is a naturally optimistic person and has the ability to see the bright side of whatever situation is ahead.
Helena comments, “Hayley can always be relied upon to make sure an event or project that she is working on is always successful. Her time management and organisational skills are impeccable. She has a natural empathy with clients and businesses, putting new and old delegates at ease. Hayley is always willing to take on new experiences and challenges, where her supporting, positive attitude and skills thrive and enable her to become successful.”
Hayley is obviously an extremely motivated person, with a strong ambition to grab every opportunity that comes her way. It is inspirational to see someone in their early 20s strive to progress with such determination.
We asked Helena why she felt Hayley deserves to win this award and she said, “I would class Hayley as a role model for other young people around the same age group that are unsure of their routes for achievement and success. Her achievements need to be acknowledged and celebrated as society is quick to judge the younger generation.
“Should Hayley win this award, it would be a great moral booster, not only for Hayley, but for all her family and work colleagues that have made her the person she is today. This achievement will be great for her CV, professional profile and the career progression that she intends to strive for. This would be something that she would be very proud to achieve at such a young age.”
An impressive testimony of someone dedicated to progress her career through continuing professional development and hard work. Hayley clearly has an attitude that is everything SuperAchievers is designed to recognise and reward.
Encouraging others to see the art of the possible
Leighton has been nominated for this award by his wife Chantal. They met at work, at PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) in Southampton – on the stairs between floors! They have been married for two years now.
Leighton is a Senior Associate in PO (People and Operations) personal Tax at PwC, he has been with the firm for circa 7 years. Chantal describes Leighton as very diligent, patient, intelligent, dedicated, determined, and perhaps most importantly, a caring person with great leadership skills. This is borne out of the feedback he regularly receives from those he works with at PwC. In his every day tax role, he regularly works with individuals facing challenges and on occasion, upsetting difficulties relating to their personal tax. Leighton is able to calmly manage those situations and quickly build rapport as a trusted advisor to them. It’s not just about his technical knowledge and abilities, these people are often far more senior than himself and the difficulties they are facing can involve hundreds of thousands, if not millions of pounds, so this is no mean feat.
We asked Chantal what she felt were Leighton’s inspirational achievements and she said, “Coming up with the idea for Ride the Nation. #PwCRtN is PwC UK's iconic charity cycle challenge taking place in June 2017 and the inaugural event, was held in May 2015. The event aims to physically connect all 30 offices in the UK PwC network, a cycling relay in only a month, including offices in the Channel Islands & NI.” She continued saying, “Ride the Nation remains the single largest event of its kind the UK firm has embarked upon, raising over £300,000 for The PwC Foundation and charities local to each and every office in the UK network. Over 1,000 staff take part at each event. The Ride the Nation event demonstrates PwC’s ethos of doing the right thing in our communities, what can be achieved when we work together as one firm and it physically connects our staff in a way that, before May 2015, had never been done before.”
Organising an event of such a scale (PwC has 30 offices across the UK) is no mean feat. Leighton was tasked to work with a minimal budget of around £40k for each event. When you consider that they initially received quotes of £150k upwards from events companies, his achievement is remarkable. In the inaugural 2015 event, Leighton rode the entire length of the country covering around 2,500 miles in only one month, supporting the events riders out on the road every day; a feat of endurance as well as mental and physical strength.
He obviously has a high level of self-motivation and we asked Chantal what traits about Leighton makes him stand out and succeed. She said, “Leighton could be seen as stubborn but actually this shows in work as tenacity and determination; an ability to keep going when others would give up. When he was told that he couldn’t possibly run a charity event the size of Ride the Nation at PwC, at his grade, he saw that as an opportunity to prove what he could do rather than being stopped in his tracks. All the while conducting himself professionally with those who doubted him, and in a way that made others think he was far more senior than he was. He is honest and has an openness about him that makes him an ambassador for leadership at all levels.”
Leighton has encouraged others to see the art of the possible within PwC in relation to Ride the Nation, where so often, due to red tape and the size of the company, taking an idea and getting support for it could seem impossible. He has paved the way for others to put their head above the parapet, fight for what they are passionate about and make a difference in the communities we work in every day.
Chantal then continued to say, “What makes Leighton’s achievement's even more astonishing is that the 2017 event was completed against a backdrop of personal challenges, which resulted in him having a nervous breakdown and being out of the business for some considerable time. Leighton is now using this difficult episode in his life to propose even greater opportunities for how PwC as a business can increase options for our staff to take part in physical activity to support their mental health, something that for others who have suffered too, are encouraged by.”
For over three years Leighton has worked tirelessly to make a difference, fought with passion and desire to demonstrate what he believes in. He has put in a huge amount of overtime; working evenings and weekends for months on end, well into the early hours, then getting up for work again at 5am. He’s made great personal sacrifices to help raise a huge amount of money for an enormous range of charities across the UK. Ride the Nation 2015 & 2017 has raised £302,008.08 supporting over 80 charities nationwide. Leighton’s achievements are truly inspirational and he thoroughly deserves to be one of our SuperAchievers finalists.
Using personal experience to help others
Samantha is a secondary school teacher by trade and has been teaching for seven years, as well as being a Head of Year for four years. Around a year ago, Samantha also launched an anxiety coaching business, ‘A Happy Mind’. She is currently doing both of these jobs full time.
Her initial passion in life was for every single child to know that they are loved, accepted, supported and could do and be anything they put their mind to. That passion never died, it is something she still loves about her job and is a philosophy she carries across to her coaching business.
Throughout her teaching career she has had to learn a lot about herself and her emotions. Samantha found that anxiety caused a lot of stumbling blocks early on in her career and this was very hard to cope with at the time. When she didn’t get her first ever promotion, she says that it nearly broke her - until a better opportunity came along. Samantha says, “It is funny how things work out and how the hardest of times, can become the best lessons we have ever learnt.”
Samantha is open about her own mental health struggles saying that she has experienced anxiety for over 10 years, and has been through some very traumatic experiences as a teenager and young adult from the divorce of her parents, her Mum and brother moving away and sadly, the unexpected passing of her Dad, who she lived with at the time. Samantha says that following these events “anxiety, abandonment and panic were very common worries and emotions in my life.”
Samantha says her biggest challenges were learning how to be emotional within her job, but in a way that helped - not hindered. Something so many people feel and question - Can I say I am struggling? Can I ask for help? Am I doing a good job? Samantha recognises that these internal struggles and challenges can be the reason we don't find happiness at work, and she is working hard to change that.
Her coaching business helps her to follow one of her biggest passions. She carries out public speaking engagements, coaching and one-to-one sessions. She goes into companies and delivers coaching and workshops to staff, designed to help make a difference to their mental wellbeing. She has three key messages to deliver to anyone suffering similar struggles;
Samantha also shares her solutions and journey in podcast interviews, writing for a mental health magazine, and in a Facebook group and with 1:1 clients all over the world. Samantha says, “Anxiety is something so many people experience and feel burdened by and I LOVE being able to shed light, love and support on this topic for people in a human, realistic and genuine way.”
Aside from her own self-motivation, Samantha has the support of her husband whom she says is her rock. However, her Dad remains her biggest inspiration of all. She said, “He went through a lot of struggles in his life and always taught me as a child to never give up. Never lose faith in yourself and what you are capable of and he also taught me what unconditional love really is. He made me the strong minded, passionate and determined young women I am today.”
Samantha has many highlights in her career so far. She clearly loves her job and is proud to be able to live her passion and help others. Knowing she is changing lives and helping others to find their own happiness, success and contentment spurs her on.
Samantha continues to push herself out of her comfort zone and works hard to create a life that not only can she be happy and proud of, but one that inspires others to do the same themselves. Samantha says, “We are all capable of anything we put our mind to and this last year has taught me more about this than I ever knew.”
Claire Young: “Through her role as a teacher Samantha has seen first-hand the need for students to receive help on mental health and wellbeing. I applaud her for taking action and starting A Happy Mind. There is no doubt that this organisation will be helping young people. Inspirational!”
Han-Son Lee: “It takes a lot to be a great secondary school teacher, and even more to deal with one of the most important issues of our day, anxiety, which can be caused by so many areas. Setting up her own coaching business show’s incredible dedication to an area where Samantha is clearly making great impact.”
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Abbie Coleman is an entrepreneurial working mum of a 2 year old - a highly qualified recruitment consultant with 15 years’ experience in the industry, and over 7 years running her own recruitment firm, Harrington Norman, before she set up MMB Magazine in late 2015 - a website for working parents with all the information they need to advance their own businesses, careers or get that work life balance.
MMB has experienced rapid growth, with the business working on year 2 plans in the first few months, thanks to the demand for the community Abbie and the team has created. With Open Letters from Working Mums attracting over 45K views and employment law articles reaching 30K views, women within the working mum community are queuing up to be a part of MMB. They are also working closely with businesses across Yorkshire to change the flexible working landscape.
Catherine Asta Labbett is a Psychotherapist transforming women to achieve their 'Disco Ball Sparkle' through working with to help overcome challenges and blocks that prevent them from living their best life. She established this business after working for 10 years as a strategist in the NHS, after realising that she needed to follow her own dreams and become self-employed, in a role where she could also have an impact of improving the lives of others.
Catherine is also Founder of Girl Tribe Gang, a national community for women who have aspirations to be a #girlboss or who might be in the transition stage of ditching the 9-5 along with those who are already running their own business. With Girl Tribe Gang Catherine wanted to create a space where women can build each other up, where women feel connected, where they can feel they can collaborate, where they can be encouraged and empowered, where they can grow in confidence and their knowledge – a space where like-minded women can feel part of something special. Girl Tribe Gang is growing quickly across the UK as new 'tribes' launch nationwide each month and honorary members include Blogger Honest Mum and radio personality Stephanie Hirst.
Catherine has been featured on BBC & CNN discussing the rise of the female entrepreneur and is passionate about supporting women through coaching, support, knowledge-sharing and collaboration.
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Craig Harris is an award winning assistant, currently working in the third sector. Prior to his career as an assistant Craig had worked as an administrator and customer service manager.
His experience comes from working in various sectors including finance, utilities, retail and commercial. Craig has described himself as a ‘PA for life’ and does all he can to empower other assistants, encouraging other assistants to support and build each other up. Craig uses his experiences to speak at events and help train other admin professionals.
He also regularly writes articles and blogs about the profession. He recently won the Pitman Super Achievers PA of the year 2017 and was a finalist at the both the London PA Awards and SecsInTheCity awards.Twitter: @Harris3thatsme
Founder of DaddiLife – a parenting website for dads which focuses on a range of areas to help, celebrate and inspire the modern day father.
I’m so delighted at being asked to judge the awards this year. Winning the award for Working Dad of the Year last year was great and gave us platform on which the site could grow. I’m very much looking forward to being on the other side of the table this year.Visit Daddilife.com Twitter: @LifeDaddi
Entrepreneur. Media Speaker. Enterprise Champion. Mother.
Claire Young was made famous by her role as the highly driven runner up of series four of ‘The Apprentice’ where was dubbed a ‘Rottweiler’ by Lord Sugar for her tenacious approach in the boardroom and drive not to quit. She beat 40,000 candidates to reach the final and this experience inspired Claire to set up ‘School Speakers an award winning business. It is the UK’s No 1 speaking agency working alongside schools, colleges and universities across the world to provide talks to students and staff. She also works within the media as a journalist & radio presenter in addition to advising the government on a range of projects supporting young people and women.
Claire started out her business career in roles at Colgate Palmolive (sales and finance), L’Oréal UK (brand and marketing) and AS Watson (retail buying for Superdrug). She shares her experiences, and insights, from, climbing the corporate ladder to then starting her own business.
She studied Equine Science at the University of Bristol and remains a keen rider with her Irish Sports horse. She has won several business awards and combines her busy career with being a mum to her young daughter Eva.