Pitman SuperAchievers 2018

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Working Dad of the Year Finalists

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James Johnson

Working Dad helping others succeed

James is the founder of Leeds-based recruitment consultancy, Spencer Edwards, and has been nominated for this award by his wife, Carla.

They have two “crazy” children and Carla describes James as a very hands-on Dad. Describing his relationship with his children she said “with Jack (aged 6) they can often be found cycling together, knee deep in Lego or playing Star Wars with light sabres together – Jack usually wins!” And of Amelia, aged 2, Carla says that, “she has Daddy wrapped round her little finger, and though he dons a suit and professional look for work, at home, Amelia often has Daddy wearing fairy wings whilst she brushes his hair and adds pink clips to it!”

James has worked in banking and financial recruitment throughout his career. Six years ago, having become disillusioned with the industry and how money oriented it was, he decided to set up his own business. Carla told us how James loves helping people, saying “he is the kindest person I know, and he has the highest moral standards. He was struggling to find these values in the recruitment industry so set up his own consultancy to provide something different.” Now, James is able to follow a career that reflects his personal integrity, and his clients find that this honesty reflects in the service he provides.

Of course, establishing a business is a huge challenge, but it’s one that James relished. Knowing that he was genuinely helping others with their careers and lives is a huge motivational factor. He tackles each day with enthusiasm, making sure all the fine details are researched and covered so that each step of the recruitment process is approached with care and transparency. His knowledge of the industry is described as second to none and this holistic approach to his business is appreciated by all of his clients.

When we asked Carla why she thought James deserves to win this award she said, “to me and our babies, James is already a SuperAchiever. He has built up a successful business whilst looking after a young family. But, he hasn’t sold his soul to the devil to do it. He has used the same honesty, positive attitude and kindness we see at home to help others advance their careers in work.” She continued, “James works long hours and often weekends, but never misses a school pick up or bedtime story. He has created a business to be proud of through putting helping people at the heart of what he does (rather than making money). We think he deserves to win a SuperAchievers award so that everyone else knows what a hero he is!”

Lee Goodall

Broadcaster Dad with family always at the heart of things

Lee has been nominated for this award by his wife Amy. They have a daughter, aged 3, and he also has a son, from a previous relationship, who is nearly 12.

Lee works as a radio and TV broadcaster in the tennis world, a career he has been in for around 20 years now. With such a well-established, lengthy career, Lee has a vast amount of expertise and knowledge of tennis. Amy tells us that he is thorough in his research, is detail oriented and, perhaps most importantly for broadcaster, has ‘an amazing voice!’.

The nature of Lee’s career means he is often travelling across the world. Whether he has to travel to China, the USA or all across Europe, he’ll be there at different tournaments.

When Lee’s previous relationship ended, it was an extremely stressful time, naturally. But Lee was committed to maintaining his close relationship with his son. When Amy met Lee, his son was 6 years old. However, Lee had to make the difficult decision of moving to Bristol from Sussex and this brought about its own challenges as his son remained in Sussex. So, Lee had to adapt how they maintained contact, but he put this to the top of his priorities. Amy told us that “Having to leave a child when a relationship breaks down is one of the hardest things a parent will have to face. His son was six when we got together and he moved to Bristol, but he has called him every single night without fail, from wherever his job has taken him, to ensure a consistent and as close a relationship as possible with his son.”

Amy continued to say “As well as being devoted to me and our little girl, he has battled terrible guilt over moving away from his son, and has handled the split with so much maturity, rationality and calmness.”

Lee has been shortlisted for this award in recognition for the dedication he shows juggling a busy career whilst keeping his family at the core of all he does. Amy’s final statement in her nomination captures this perfectly by saying “Everything he does is for the good of us as a family and his son in Sussex, he is the most selfless person I know.”

Mel Wright

Working Dad Carves His Own Career Path

Mel has been nominated for this award by his wife, Nicola.

When they met, Mel was taking a career break to be able to dedicate himself to supporting and caring for his parents. Mel had three children from a previous relationship, so it was decided that Mel would remain a stay-at-home Dad whilst Nicola sought to progress her own career, something which she describes as “hugely beneficial.”

They went on to have their son, James, who is now 7 and as he got a little older, Nicola explains that Mel “became restless and wanted to be more than a stay-at-home Dad.” Deciding to seek a new career, Mel found there were few roles available that would offer him the flexibility he needed to remain their son’s primary carer. Sadly, he also encountered an enormous amount of prejudice. Mel had a range of experience he had gained from time in the Army and working in a police control room, but these weren't seen as relevant. Very few could see the skills of budget-management, time management, conflict resolution and negotiation needed as a stay-at-home parent, as transferable into other roles.

Mel didn’t let this stop him. He decided to carve his own path and although initially nervous of rejection, at the age of 47, Mel enrolled in college to embark on a Diploma in Sports Massage. Any nerves or doubts Mel held soon disappeared as he began to thrive in this new challenge.

Mel worked hard and in July 2017, proudly passed his diploma. August saw him launch his own business and it was ready for bookings from the September onwards.

Mel tackled every challenge he met head-on. Learning and developing his skills, getting to grips with the practicalities of running a business and all that entails, as well as building and maintaining the professional reputation he now holds as a qualified massage therapist.

Nicola truly believes that Mel has succeeded due to his enthusiasm, and the fact he constantly strives to be the best he can be. She said, “his appetite to keep learning and growing is voracious, most evenings I’ll find him reading or watching something about new or different techniques, reviewing his case notes from clients, thinking about future appointments and the questions he wants to ask them about.”

This isn’t just ‘work’ for Mel, he has a real passion for what he does. With a deep sense of empathy, he cares about his clients. That personal rapport and connection he creates with each one means Mel tries his utmost to deliver the best, individually tailored treatment that he can. Knowing the positive difference he’s making to each and every client fuels his motivation.

As Mel continues to aim high, family life also expands. He already has one grandchild and there is another one due March 2018.

When Nicola was asked why she thought Mel deserved to win a SuperAchievers award she said, “Mel has gone from stay-at-home Dad of 10+ years, to a qualified massage therapist running his own business. During his years as a stay-at-home Dad, his family were always his priority, and even with everything he's had to do to set up and run the business, that focus hasn't changed. He's found a way to balance both without compromising either.” She continued, “At the end of a week, his measure of success is never how many hours he worked or how much he earned, but what the feedback was like. If he feels his clients have left satisfied, that's his measure of success.”

Nigel Higgins

DIY Dad inspiring others

Nigel has five children aged 22, 20, 18 and 6 year old twins. He has been nominated for this award by his wife, Emily.

By trade, Nigel is a painter and decorator, something he has done for over 20 years now. Alongside this, Nigel is also a blogger on his site DIY Daddy. Which he has been writing for 3½ years now and is where he documents the trials and tribulations of family life.

His blogging career started off as a hobby; somewhere he could write about his life, feelings as well as the ups and downs of a busy family life. He states on his blog that he wanted a place to share his experience of being a Dad so hopefully, his children will read the blog some day and recall happy, fond memories. He also brings his practical experience to the fore and offers DIY help and advice.

We asked Emily what she thinks makes Nigel stand out from the crowd and she said “Nigel is kind, thoughtful, very motivated and will always go the extra mile to help anybody. He is always looking to improve himself, take advice and is always willing to learn. He is very motivated to be the best he can be.”

2017 saw some great success for his blog and he was named number 2 on the list of Top 10 Daddy Bloggers. Similarly, he was named as number 8 on the list of Top 10 UK Parent Bloggers in the UK in the 2017 Vuelio Blog Awards. A fantastic achievement, and great testament to his hard work and dedication.

Emily said “Nigel is an awesome Dad and there are two reasons why. Firstly, he will always be there for his children no matter what. Whether it’s something as simple as a lift or as somebody to listen to their problems, nothing is ever too much trouble. Secondly, he works very hard to ensure his family are financially sound and then works a bit harder so that they can have a few luxuries in life.” She continues, “to achieve this you have to have one simple thing and Nigel has loads of it – it’s called love of family; a rare commodity in today’s world.”

We believe Nigel is a great example of a SuperAchiever Dad who has dedicated his life to making sure his family are happy and secure, while opening his life up through his blog to share, inspire and help others.

Judges comments:

Claire Young: “Nigel really is an awesome father. He’s clearly incredibly dedicated to his job, family and wider impact he can have through DIY Daddy. He is a more than deserving winner.”

Han-Son Lee: “I really admire having 5 children, working full time and stepping out of his comfort zone to start a blog -which has now become really successful! I think he is a brilliant role model whom many people can relate to. Well done!”

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Abbie Coleman

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.

mmbmagazine.co.uk

Twitter: @LeedsWorkingMum

Facebook: MMBMagazine

Catherine Asta Labbett

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.

Find out more about Catherine's business via:

Website: www.bringingsparkleback.co.uk

Twitter: @BringingSparkle

Facebook: @bringingsparklebackpsychotherapy

Instagram: girltribegang

Craig Harris

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

Han-Son Lee

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

Claire Young

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.

Visit www.claireyoung.co.uk

Twitter: @ClaireLYoung