Pitman SuperAchievers 2018

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PA of the Year Finalists

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Chris Rutherford

PA committed to first class, quality service shortlisted for top award

Chris has been nominated for this award by his Line Manager, Hannah Gough. Currently, Chris works as an Executive Secretary at KPMG, where he has been for two years now. We asked Hannah what makes Chris suited to his role and she said, “A positive, can-do attitude, super organised, efficient, and personable. Chris is a great person to have on the team, nothing is too much trouble for him, he's always willing to help out a colleague in need, and is committed to providing a first class, quality service.”

In her nomination, Hannah outlined just a few of Chris’ many key achievements. As part of his role, he is required to organise events, such as team building which take place over several days and require everything from transport and accommodation, to the programme of events being carefully planned. He has also worked on many high-profile occasions over the last year, including one for Northern Power Women which is a campaign to accelerate gender diversity from the North of England. Chris received exceptional feedback from Simone Roche and the Senior Female Leaders Brexit dinner, which included several the Northern Power Women group in attendance. The event was successful and was well reported on Twitter/social media. Hannah said, “Chris is charming and personable, and senior colleagues feel comfortable putting him in front of clients when hosting events.” She continued, “Chris will often stay right to the end of an event to ensure all goes well and to be on hand for any issues, which does result in a number of late nights. However, he is always back in work the next day with a smile on his face!”

Hannah described how Chris has a willingness to help which goes above and beyond what you see in most people. He is committed to quality, not just in the service he provides but in all aspects of the organisation. He is a great team player, offering to step in and cover for holidays or illness where he can, despite being busy himself and he makes sure to take the time to get to know his key stakeholders and understand their key motivators and aspirations. This means he can then work with them in partnership, enabling them to succeed in their own roles. Chris also appreciates the benefits industry networking can have on his own success. He regularly attends external events in the Manchester area where he has built a thriving, professional network with peers and suppliers alike. Not only does this help him in his role but also enables him to help others in making solid recommendations to colleagues.

When we asked Hannah why Chris should win this award, she said, “Chris is an asset to the secretarial team at KPMG and is a delight to work with. He is goal-oriented and keen to progress further in his career at KPMG. I would see winning an award as giving him a boost towards his goal by recognising all the hard work and effort put in to get to this point. Chris was shortlisted at the Manchester PA Awards last year, narrowly missing out on the award. He genuinely deserves one this year!”

In his nomination, Hannah perfectly describes the key attributes of an Executive PA when talking about Chris. A great role model for his profession and a deserved SuperAchievers finalist.

Jennifer Smith

Inspirational PA helping to drive success

Jennifer is currently an Executive Assistant to the Chief Executive at ‘Teens and Toddlers.’ She has been in this role since June 2017 but has been a PA since 2006. She said she always knew she wanted to work within an office, but not specifically as a PA until she was already in the role. Soon after, she realised it was the perfect job for her as she enjoyed the challenges and opportunities the role offered.

Alongside Jennifer’s entry for this award, she has also been nominated by her CEO and Commercial Director. Jennifer knew her CEO, Joanne Hay, from when they both worked at the NSPCC. This is where Joanne got to see Jennifer’s capabilities first-hand, describing her as “incredibly impressive, managing a heavy workload and building great working relationships across the organisation.” Nearly three years later, Joanne was delighted when she applied to be her Executive Assistant at Teens and Toddlers.

Jennifer was very quick to make an impact on the organisation with Joanne saying that within the first month, Jennifer had reorganised senior management and board meetings, meaning they get more done as a result. Her positive influence didn’t stop there - she improved their e-training, took on the management of several complex and critical projects, and improved the HR function – all within 6 months! Joanne says she has no doubt the work Jennifer has done, helped achieve their 2017 goals.

We asked Commercial Director, Matthew Freeman, why he thinks Jennifer is so successful at what she does. He said, “Jennifer is successful because she absolutely believes in the aims and vision of the charity, and she is deeply committed to enabling the CEO to achieve their goal. She is incredibly diligent and simply works harder than anyone else to ensure she completes her work to the highest possible standard. She is also very responsible and will always find a way to achieve whatever needs to be done.”

Jennifer herself says she feels the role of a PA is limitless. The options and ability to continue to develop and grow keeps her motivated. She feels that it is easy to remain motivated when each day holds something different. She remains ambitious and driven with her career progression; she wants to continue as a PA, but with an expanding remit. She is also working towards achieving Practitioner status through the EPAA CPD Programme. Over the last few years, Jennifer has done a lot of work to support the job role and profession of a PA by trying to change people's perception of what a PA is and can be. To this end, Jennifer has contributed to the Proud PA blogs run by Eventopedia. Some of the topics she has covered include ‘Challenging bosses’ and ‘Coping with ghost days’. She also actively supports EPAA and is a fellow member.

When it comes to why she should win this award, her colleagues offered their views with Joanne saying, “Jennifer really understands how to add value to an organisation through the work she does and knows how to bring that to life. Setting a high bar from which others learn, Jennifer is a major team player and a joy to work with. Definitely a SuperAchiever!”

Matthew said, “I think Jennifer should win this award as it would be a great recognition for who she is and all that she does. She has achieved so much in such a short period of time and yet never seeks endorsement or praise for her work. She gets on with her work to the best of her ability and is much loved and admired by everyone in the organisation. She is someone who helps other people to be better and is committed to ensuring the organisation achieves its goals. She always puts the needs of everyone else above her own and works tirelessly to ensure the success of others. Jennifer is very much a self-made person, who has encountered and overcome considerable challenges and who I believe is truly deserving of the wider recognition the SuperAchievers award would provide. I know that this recognition would mean so much to her and it would be absolutely fitting for all that she does for our charity.”

Jennifer’s entry is extremely inspirational; she is a great representation of today’s PA, demonstrating the value and positive impact that such a role can have on a business’s success. When you combine that dedication and ambition alongside her desire to support and influence others in the profession, it makes Jennifer a great candidate for SuperAchiever’s PA of the Year.

Judges comments:

Craig Harris: “For me this has been the hardest category. These assistants are amazing but for Jen stands out. She has not only built an amazingly successful career for herself, she also goes out of her way to educate and inspire other assistants! She is the ultimate EA!”

Catherine Asta Labbett: “Her ambition and commitment and drive to make a difference really stands out.”

Linsey Hulley

Inspirational ‘go-to’ EA shortlisted for global award.

Linsey is currently working as an Executive Assistant to a Managing Director for a medium size IT company, providing software solutions in Gauteng, South Africa. She has worked as a PA/EA for 25 years.

She decided to pursue a career as a Personal Assistant after having had the opportunity to stand in as a ‘relief’ PA in her very first job where she was originally working as the receptionist. She knew that she wanted to become that ‘go to’ person and assist her Executive in achieving their goals and objectives, whilst also contributing to the success of the company.

She always knew she wanted to work in a career that offered variety and where she could make a positive impact, use her initiative, resourcefulness, communication skills, self-motivation and determination. Working as a PA provided her with this opportunity, as well as offering her the chance to learn important strategic operations of a business, and vital business and leadership skills. She believes this career offers many opportunities to grow and develop both personally and professionally.

When Linsey describes her current role, it’s obviously a busy and thriving role which draws on all the key skills a high-level PA is required to possess; roles such as these come with multiple challenges that must be overcome but Linsey says, “I enjoy working for my boss who is the MD of the company, as I attend and take minutes for the EXCO and board meetings, allowing me to understand the goals, direction and sometimes the struggles of the company. This insight into the company makes me feel involved and also at the position where I can offer advice that has added value in the past. As a PA you are ‘the eyes and ears’, proven to be a very valuable source of information.”

Linsey is obviously very self-motivated and finds her inspiration from family and fellow peers, whom she feels are perfect role models of their dedication and passion for their careers, and how they tirelessly motivate and uplift others.

Her love of the job fuels her desire to progress and learn. She is a staunch advocate for the profession. She describes how she has encountered some with the view that ‘anybody can be just a PA’ – something she strongly refutes and will often respond by giving examples of her conquests and the work she’s done. Unsurprisingly, she’s often found they can be shocked and their view quickly changes.

Linsey has been recognised for her achievements in the industry in a variety of ways. In 2015, she was selected a semi-finalist for the PAFSA Secretary of the year competition South Africa. More recently in 2017, she was nominated as the Finalist in the global ‘PA of the Year Africa’ competition through Executive PA Media – UK. In the same year she was also selected as a Top Candidate for the PAFSA (Professional Association for Secretaries and Administrative Assistants) Secretary of the year competition in South Africa.

She has opened herself to new opportunities and this has paid dividends. 2017 also saw her approached by a magazine in the USA to participate in an interview on her career. She describes this as a great highlight that afforded her the global platform she needed to increase her network visibility and mentorship whilst she continued promoting her career. 2018 looks set to continue in the same way with this SuperAchievers Finalist entry. She has also agreed to volunteer as the IMA Secretary and assist with the launch of IMA in South Africa – an exciting opportunity!

We asked Linsey what her hopes and goals are for the future are and why she would like to win this award and she said, “My greatest hope and goal is to be a wonderful role model to my beautiful children. I also wish to be a successful guide to the ladies I am currently mentoring, to make a positive difference in their careers and personal development, to encourage them to share the same passion I have for my career and to enjoy all the opportunities and rewards it has to offer.

“I would love to win this prestigious award; it would be a tremendous personal achievement for me. I have worked very hard to leave a legacy in my former and current roles. An award of this high calibre will provide me with the credibility needed to empower me to be within closer reach to my next goal which is to work as the EA to the President of SA, the most senior leader in the country! I believe that in this position I can learn dynamic leadership skills, and the experience I would gain would be priceless.”

Luise Schoenmann

University graduate strikes out on new career.

Luise is currently working as a Legal Personal Assistant and is relatively new to this profession having been working in this role for 7 months. She was in the middle of studying for a Secretarial Diploma with Pitman Training when the opportunity to gain work experience for a woman opening her own legal firm arose.

Luise admits it wasn't a field that she had previously considered but after experiencing and learning so many new skills, she realised that she enjoyed it. At the end of her initial 3 weeks work experience, she was offered a full time position and decided that taking the job would be a great way to continue the learning experience and further her career.

Luise had studied English and Classics at University College Cork and wanted to do a masters and PhD to pursue a career in academia. After finishing her degree she was unsure about which Masters to do as she was interested in such a wide variety of topics. She took a job waitressing to save for future courses but was unsatisfied and wanted a greater challenge. She sought guidance from her Mother and friends, who encouraged her to look at part-time courses. She decided to challenge herself and utilise the skills she had developed by completing her undergraduate degree and signed up for the Secretarial Diploma at Pitman. She really enjoyed the training and soon decided to upgrade it to a Personal Assistant Diploma.

When she first started her career, one of her biggest challenges was learning how to be professional. Changing from the busy and frantic restaurant workplace to a quieter and more professional work environment was tough at the start. The legal practice touches on a number of sensitive and emotionally challenging issues for clients. A huge part of her role is to present a professional setting for current and new clients as they walk into the office; aiming to envelope a feeling of confidence and security in the practice. Through effective business communication training alongside the guidance from her boss, she was able to adapt, communicate and present herself more professionally.

Another challenge that she faced was learning how to balance work and furthering her knowledge and professional development. Working in the legal firm also allows her to help others, something that can be challenging but is rewarding and Luise gets great enjoyment out of it, feeling that it brings real value to the work she does. Within one year, Luise has successfully completed her two diplomas while working full-time, a great achievement.

Luise is obviously incredibly self-motivated but she also praises her Mother as someone who has inspired her. Having seen her Mum create and run her own business, Luise says, “Her endurance and versatility is something that I feel I have inherited and I bring that to work with me every day.”

Luise has a clear long-term goal for her career and would love to be a Personal Assistant in the Film Industry. It’s an industry she is captivated by and one that she hopes may offer opportunities to travel the world which will help her grow both personally and professionally. She has taken the initial steps to realise this goal and we’re sure she’ll achieve success.

When asked why she should win this award Luise said, “Mentally I have found it challenging to put myself out there in a new work environment and risk failure. I have supported myself throughout this transition in my career and would love to receive a SuperAchiever award in recognition of this work. This award would further inspire me to work hard, knowing that I have been successful and that I can achieve my goals.”

Luise was shortlisted as she has shown great courage at the beginning of her career and thrown herself wholeheartedly into this unique, challenging profession. This, together with her commitment to her professional development, means we think Luise is a great example of a SuperAchiever.

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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.


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