Pitman SuperAchievers 2018

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Working Mum of the Year Finalists

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Karen Slade

Mum of two transforms her career in the space of one year

Karen is a great example of a mum striving to not only set a great example to her children but achieve personal satisfaction with her career.

Having always worked in marketing roles throughout her 20s, Karen branched out and set up a candle making business. She sold that business shortly before the birth of her first daughter as the nature of her work meant there was a lot of travel involved, which wasn’t feasible with a young child. When the time came to think about her return to work, she knew the traditional 9-5 role wasn’t going to be viable. After looking at other online business opportunities, Karen quickly realised she wanted to interact more with others and wanted to be around the dynamic environment that marketing offers. Knowing social media may offer flexible hours, it was at this point an opportune Facebook advert about social media training prompted a lightbulb moment. It was the perfect way for her family and working life to be brought together.

At the beginning of 2017, Karen started a six month training programme which built on the prior marketing experience she had already gained, specifically focusing around social media. As soon as she successfully completed her training, Karen joined forces with another mum, Kate Cox, and together they founded Social Sense Media. Their business is to help other businesses understand how to utilise social media to their very best, and they immediately started to secure work with a variety of clients.

Kate said, “social media is everywhere, and so it works perfectly into my erratic hours. I love working with such a wide range of inspirational businesses and helping them tell their story through digital. I really enjoy the constantly evolving nature of the market place.”

Karen says “In the space of exactly 1 year, I have transformed my life from ‘stay at home mum’ to ‘social media trainee’ to ‘social media agency owner.”

Clearly extremely determined, when asked what keeps her motivated, Karen replied, “I want to set an example to my girls that hard work and perseverance, focused into something you love will pay dividends. Also, for them to see that taking risks and accepting you might fail is more important than knowing you can before you start – to inspire them to live bolder.”

From the outset, Karen had set clear goals for key milestones. She has committed herself to lifelong learning, vital in a profession that evolves so rapidly and professionally, there are clear paths they want to take to progress the business and achieve success. Her forward thinking has already been paying off as things have gone from strength to strength for Social Sense Media; they have brought 3 freelance social media managers on board to help manage their client accounts and are in the process of hiring their first apprentice.

Karen is a great example of a SuperAchiever Mum. Striving to be the best she can be and taking inspiration from other working mums that are all trying to do their best, not only for their families, but also for their own careers.

Laura Warren

Giving Energy To Other Mums To Make a Change

Laura epitomises everything about SuperAchievers; Mum to two young boys, she is an entrepreneur with an enthusiastic, motivational and fitness edge, trying to help others.

Having relaunched a gym in November 2017 after owning two for 10 years, Laura is the founder of Fitmuma UK, which she launched in September 2016. Fitmuma is a membership-based fitness planning website, aimed at mums struggling to find the time to eat healthily and exercise properly. It offers an all-round, easy guide on how to get maintain a healthy lifestyle with home exercise videos, exercises classes, food plans and more.

Laura started her career as a PE teacher and has been on a journey ever since - gym owner, network marketer, athlete and Fitmuma UK founder, she has a wealth of experience and a genuine enthusiasm to help people become better versions of themselves.

Evidently, Laura is extremely passionate about fitness and it comes as no surprise that she is someone that is heavily involved in sport herself. Laura has played lacrosse at international level for GB and Wales in the last five World Cups. A massive achievement in itself, even more so when you consider that her fourth World Cup was played when her first son was only 8 months old, and by the time the fifth World Cup came around, she’d had her second son.

To maintain the level of dedication, fitness and motivation required to play at international level, whilst also running her businesses and looking after her sons makes it even more impressive. The drive and determination she holds personally, inspires her even more as she understands first-hand the immense struggles that mums have in balancing family demands and personal health.

Of course it’s not always been plain sailing. Like anyone with a young family, juggling everything can sometimes prove to be difficult and Laura states that one of her biggest challenges is time, or lack of. She often ends up working when her sons are asleep, planning and catching up on outstanding work. Laura’s partner is also self-employed which can add another hurdle in their already hectic schedule.

In a family with two people working on a self-employed business, managing the finances can often prove to be one of the toughest aspects of daily life. Laura takes an inspiring view on this and says, “just keep going! Don’t stop as that magic is just around the corner. The joy of making a huge difference to people outweighs income.” Laura has also faced challenges from competitors entering the marketplace with similar ideas. Showing true entrepreneurial flair, this doesn’t upset Laura. Rather, she sees it as a learning opportunity with other likeminded people to work alongside. She says“there’s plenty of space out there in the world for more people to do what you do. Just be yourself as that’s what people buy into.”

Laura has found her calling by creating a “job” from her passion. Her motivation and energy never seems to slip. She truly loves what she does, using her own personal experiences to help others and thrives on seeing the positive changes to how fellow mums feel.

Perhaps most importantly, with her sons now 2½ and 5 years of age, they are growing up immersed in a healthy lifestyle and with inspirational role models.

We asked Laura about her future plans she has a clear vision of what she wants to achieve and they’re by no means small goals! Items on the list include building the busy Mum’s workout academy, planning a charity event, writing a book and setting up Mum and baby retreats.

Laura embodies the SuperAchievers ethos of someone who goes above and beyond. Her job is much more than just a source of income; it’s a passion, a love and a positive impact that Laura thrives in creating. She lives according to her motto; “taking care of yourself, is taking care of the family.”

Judges comments:

Claire Young: “Laura has successfully adapted around her lifestyle, and career, to varying circumstances – having children for example – having spotted a gap in the market which potentially could benefit millions of women.

I admire her courage in moving forwards to a digital platform, reaching a much larger audience whilst having a young family. She has used her passion for fitness to create a business with modern day vision.”

Catherine Asta Labbett: “I love her BIG goals and her empowering ethos that “taking care of yourself, is taking care of the family.”

Lisa Dolman

Mum of two giving her all to achieve success

Lisa has two daughters aged 4 and 2 years. She owns a bridal boutique, Lisa Rose Bridal, in Solihull which she has run for 10 years, since being the age of 21. Prior to that, Lisa worked in the banking industry. However, she very quickly realised she wanted to be her own boss.

Recently, furthering her entrepreneurial efforts, Lisa has branched out and established an online coaching business for brides called ‘The Bride Coach’, which collates Lisa’s vast experience in the wedding industry to help brides-to-be plan their perfect day.

Between herself and her husband, they run four small businesses in total, so life is busy to say the least; Lisa often works late into the night once the children are in bed. She is motivated by her children and the desire to give them the best. She describes how her daughters are surrounded by three generations of male entrepreneurs on both sides of the family and Lisa is now more determined than ever that they will grow up seeing their Mum working equally as hard, letting them know their dreams can come true if they work for them. She says, “I want them to see that females can do it too!”

We asked what challenges Lisa has faced and her reply is one we’re sure many, if not all, working parents can relate to: “My biggest challenge has been running the business and balancing my young family. I found it so hard to remain focused during the first two years of being a Mum and felt so overwhelmed, confused and guilty for wanting to be more than just Mum. However, I strived for a balance. I don’t want to be all of one thing and none of the other.”

Lisa also talked about one of her biggest inspirations, her father. She said, “He is an amazing role model. He worked so hard to provide a good life for myself and my family and was really successful.” One of the key lessons she learnt from him was about balance. Her father worked long hours and Lisa says that he didn’t quite master the balance. Lisa knows now that the quality time she has with her girls is extremely important, as well as being successful. She works hard to provide a good life for her family and is determind to live it with them as well.

Lisa has some clearly defined goals with regards the future, saying, “My hopes for the future are to buy my forever home, travel regularly with my family, grow a successful coaching business to run alongside my bridal boutique.”

On the possibility of winning this SuperAchievers award, Lisa said, “It would be such as honour to win a SuperAchievers award. I am an extremely modest person, sometimes to my detriment, and have never stood up and said ‘I deserve that’ or ‘I have worked hard for that’. However, I truly feel that achieving such an award would be an amazing way for me to show myself that I am a success. As a mum in business, I feel guilty every single day that I’m doing something wrong or that I shouldn’t want more than just being a mum. I work hard to find a balance, I’m not perfect but I’m giving it my absolute all!”

Martine South

Proud daughter nominates hard working Mum for national award

Martine has two children aged 24 and 19. She owns and runs two party supply shops ‘The Party Box’; one in Saffron Walden and a second, opened last year, in Bishop’s Stortford. Martine took over the business a few years ago and has thrown herself into the making a success of the business ever since. She has been put forward for this award by her daughter, Emily.

When Martine originally took over the shop, the business was struggling and Martine threw herself into work to transform and expand the business. She created a website, arranged all new and up-to-date stock for all occasions, expanded their seasonal stock, attended different events and fairs and took the time to market the business more proactively; raising their profile to make the ‘The Party Box’ is firmly on the map.

Martine has thrown herself into every challenge that comes with running a business. One of the busiest times for the business is Halloween and the significant trading period during this time of year is testament and proof to her dedication, hard-work and business acumen. Customers flock to the shop for decorations, costumes and custom designed balloons which have ultimately raised profits year-on-year since Martine took over.

Martine loves to make other people happy and make sure their days or events are special. That energy and enthusiasm has rubbed off on the staff she works with as Emily says, “She is a brilliant manager to her staff and always makes sure they are happy. Because she is so approachable, they feel they can always talk to her about any concerns, work related or not!”

Martine is obviously extremely driven and self-motivated to take over and transform a business in the way she has, especially when that’s done alongside a busy family life.

Emily’s nomination for her Mum is a great testament to Martine’s ambition and pride in her business life. We asked Emily why she felt her Mum is successful at what she does and she said, “My Mum is the most driven, passionate and determined person I have ever met. If she has a goal, she will achieve it no matter what! She gives her business as much of her energy and time as possible and she never gives up or lets people down. She’s friendly, caring and thoughtful towards everyone she meets and has got the business involved in lots more charity work, including donating balloons and decorations for charity events and she will use her social media pages to ensure the charity gets as much recognition as possible. My mum has the attitude where no job is too big or too much to ask for. She is always pushing the boundaries and experimenting with new stock providers, technology and designs so that her customers always get what they want.”

Finally, we asked Emily why she thinks her Mum should win this award, she said, “My mum never gets the recognition she deserves for all her hard work. I would absolutely LOVE for her to win this award. It would mean so much to her, her staff and our family because we all know how much she has earned it. She is a wonderful woman, she inspires me every single day and she makes me feel incredibly proud to be her daughter. Winning this award will hopefully prove to her what she has achieved and allow her to feel proud of herself because I think to be recognised in this light will make her see what she has accomplished so far. Her determination is a quality I really wish I had, because she doesn’t let anything or anyone stop her. She has put her whole heart and soul into ‘The Party Box’ whilst continuing to be a brilliant and supportive mother. My brother and I have never gone without and we owe her so much, this would be a small way of thanking her.”

This is a great nomination from a daughter who is so obviously proud of her Mum’s achievements.

Michelle Gibson

Working mum determined to smash through the barriers

Michelle is mum to a 5 year old daughter and when she met her new partner last year, inherited 3 more, aged 8, 7 and 7 (twins!)

For the past 20 years, Michelle has worked as an Executive Assistant, and the last 14 of those years has been spent working at the Rugby Football League as EA to the Chairman and CEO, a position she loves as she gets to see every aspect of the business in operation. On returning from maternity leave she started to work part-time, 4 days a week, for the Chairman Brian Barwick, a high-profile sports and media personality who ran The FA for some time.

She was able to work flexibly, combining working remotely and being office-based, which meant that she could continue to care for her daughter, who she was raising on her own at the time.

Michelle is extremely driven and dedicated, not just to be the best mum she can be, but also to excel in her career. Two years ago, she began to study for an ICSA Chartered Secretary qualification. She fits this around work and family by studying for an hour every evening after her daughter has gone to bed.

Michelle has a desire to inspire others in her profession to reach their potential and in December 2017, she launched the online business, Exec Angels. This is an online hub for EAs, PAs and Administrators where they can seek advice, access resources and generally feel empowered. In the relatively short time since its launch, she has gained 1,000 Instagram followers, 300 Facebook followers and also has a private Facebook group of around 150 engaged members.

Michelle shows true drive and determination to inspire and be the best she can be. Her thriving career somehow fits around a busy home life. She does acknowledge the challenge she has set herself saying “It’s hard work juggling everything, some days I am tired right down to the bone – but I’m super excited about it, and it’s worth it.” Even more inspirationally, Michelle continued, “Without challenges, there wouldn’t be any sense of achievement.”

When asked what keeps her motivated Michelle said, “My daughter’s smiling face at the beginning and end of each day. I do everything for her so she can be proud of me and know how hard I worked for her.” She continued, “I want her and every other working Mum to know that it is possible to have it all.”

2018 has seen Michelle commence full time hours again, and it has brought with it an exciting opportunity, to work as Company Secretary to the Rugby League World Cup, something she describes as “an exceptional opportunity.” She now dedicates 2 days a week to this exciting new role alongside her EA position and says that her employers are “flexible and brilliant” and let her work from home two days a week so that she is still able to do the school run and be around for her daughter.

As Michelle dedicates herself to fully qualifying as a Company Secretary, continuing with her career and driving Exec Angels to succeed alongside juggling a busy family life, Michelle wants to inspire others in her position.

We asked why she would love to win a SuperAchievers award and Michelle said “Six years ago, I faced life as a single mum and my career was in doubt. I approached it as I always do – I smashed through every barrier put in front of me with sheer grit, hard work and determination, and a healthy dose of self-belief.” She continued, “To win any kind of recognition would be my dream come true.”

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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