Here are the winners from SuperAchievers 2017. Click below to find out more about them.
“WINNER: PA of the Year
We’re delighted to announce the SuperAchievers PA of the Year is Craig Harris! Here is Craig’s entry...
Craig works as EA to the Director of Fundraising at Shelter. Prior to his PA career Craig worked as a Manager within Customer Service. Having always aspired to become a PA seeing the role offer a varied and rewarding career opportunity, Craig decided to take a leap of faith and left his career in Customer Service and, in his words, “has never looked back!” Having no prior PA experience didn’t hold Craig back when he set out to find a PA role. He soon found a role that combined both a Customer Service and PA role. He grabbed the opportunity and dedicated himself to progressing his career and achieving his goals.
Craig readily took on board training and advice that came his way and this is an attitude that continues now. Ever ready to learn, he ensures he stays up to date with developments around the PA industry by reading articles and literature, as well as attending networking events to meet like-minded peers.
Naturally with the EA position comes variety and challenges. In one such instance Craig was tasked with coordinating the approval process for a complex set of legal documents. With over 100 documents to be managed across remote locations all requiring differing signatures and verifications, Craig’s tenacity, accuracy and organisational skills were utilised to ensure a successful completion of this project. Craig ensures he faces all his responsibilities head-on. An ex-colleague who entered him for this award said “Craig used his influence to deliver the best outcomes, quickly prioritising and re-prioritising as needed. He is frank and honest, and demonstrates absolute integrity.”
One of the main challenges Craig faces is that the PA career is still perceived as a female role. Coming across executives who have set opinions about men working in a PA role is a challenge Craig likes to face directly and doesn’t take this personally. By continuing to work hard and exceed expectations Craig hopes to disprove the gender disparity and encourage other men to join the profession.
Craig is also known among the PA community and alongside his busy EA role is determined to help influence and support the next generation of men and women joining the PA profession. He is involved with EPAA’s ‘Not Just a Girls Job’ campaign which is looking at ways to inspire men to join the PA profession and fight against the misconceptions and stereotypes. He also writes regular blogs, contributes to industry articles on various websites and magazines and offers help and mentoring to others. He says “I am an assistant for life.”
When originally asked why they thought Craig should win the award, one of those who put Craig forward for this award commented; “He is one of the most dedicated PAs I know. He is reliable, trustworthy and has his eye on the ball at all times. Winning this award would give Craig (and other men) the confidence needed to take the next step in his career and hopefully take on more of a mentoring role for new PAs (male and female).”
Judge Lucy Brazier commented “Being a male assistant in a 98% female profession is a challenge all on its own. Craig’s obvious determination and commitment to not only his own role and to the profession but also to encouraging diversity shines through. “The feedback on his professionalism from his colleagues is particularly impressive in an industry that thrives on collaboration.”
Judge Jennifer Corcoran also commended Craig and felt he deserved to win this award saying “One of the things I love about Craig is his enthusiasm, generosity and community minded spirit. He is the very definition of a lifelong learner who is committed to giving back, sharing and helping others. This shines through when you meet Craig both in person and in the online world. We need more men like Craig in the profession and I will be following EPAA's 'Not Just a Girls Job' campaign with interest!”
WINNER: Boss of the Year
We’re delighted to introduce the winner of Boss of the Year, Natasha Manota! Read on to find out more about this inspirational leader...
Natasha is Head of Learning & Development at Karma Nirvana. She is a qualified Barrister who has advocated nationally to change policy and practice within the abuse sector of forced marriage/honour abuse, this has led to changes in the law both civil and criminal. Natasha made the decision to make an impact in a different way and that was through education. This led to Natasha entering the field of professional development with a view to embedding learning across multi-agencies.
Asked what they thought Natasha’s greatest achievement was her initiation and development of national police training which led to the first police specialised risk assessment tool and a 3 day training course. Natasha identified national support which led to working in partnership with South Wales Police and survivors so that police and survivors guided the content. The development stages highlighted real policing challenges in a complex area which Natasha brought to the attention of the Home Secretary. After successful lobbying and ensuring a consultation, this led to a national government inspection into all 43 forces by HMIC (Her Majesties Inspection of Constabularies). This was the first inspection of its kind and led to clear recommendations to ensure improvements in policing. Natasha sits at this table and was one of the peer inspectors.
Training for this initiative has now been delivered to 26 national police forces. This equates to 29 courses delivered and over 600 specialist officers using the specialised risk assessment which was used to secure the very first criminal conviction of forced marriage.
A project of such magnitude and importance was met with great challenges and Natasha’s tenacity and personal input ensured the success of the project with over 50% of UK forces implementing the training. Natasha also personally delivered the training and was awarded an Antony Walker Scholarship to undertake legal training as one who was recognised as committed to driving change even when personally challenged.
Natasha was put forward for this award not only just because of her dedication to her work but also because she inspires a team. They said “What makes Natasha a great boss is that she nurtures and develops her team which enables them to perform better; they are retained and happier. Basically Natasha provides a personal investment in her team, with a genuine and strong human conviction but with passion and honesty. This is really appreciated by team members and she does it with great humility and sees potential that in turn changes other for the better.” They continued “Natasha is task focused and works with attention to detail for the good of the team and individuals. It is often commented in our office how Natasha is our 'port in a storm' we can all go to her with any issue and have the confidence that she will provide a considered, knowledgeable, patient and often diplomatic response. These levels of communication in our team whereby we are dealing with demanding and complex issues are so important.”
When asked what keeps her motivated they said “Natasha’s motivation is rooted in the need to shift policy and practice. She has a thirst for knowledge and to pass on that knowledge to others for it to spread like wildflowers!” they continued “When originally asked in her nomination why she should win this award they said “Natasha shines in all that she does and has the ability to take people with her, which is evident in the impact she has made in UK policing. The tactics employed both strategically and politically in tackling the problem, combined with Natasha’s personable approach of listening and remaining open with great patience makes her a Super Achiever”.
Natasha received praise from many of the judges in their deliberations with judge Lucy Brazier saying “What an exceptional candidate!” She continued “It is rare to balance driving the kind of change that Natasha has achieved with being a well-liked and respected boss. This was such an impressive entry. Natasha has changed thousands of lives, impacted communities and challenged established perceptions whilst bringing her team with her every step of the way. Her entry made me want to stand up and cheer. Inspirational doesn’t even start to cover it!”
Jennifer Corcoran also praised Natasha saying “Natasha Manota is not only a boss - it's crystal clear from all of the glowing accolades from her employees that she is a true leader who inspires and motivates all of her team members. I was blown away by her entry. Here is clearly a woman with integrity who has set clear goals, a clear communication style, a good example and is providing a direction and recognition to her team members. Natasha appreciates the power of collaboration and cooperation and is making a well-deserved impact in UK policing. Simon Sinek has said that a good leader makes you feel safe so it was lovely to read that one employee considers Natasha their 'port in a storm'. A true SuperAchiever!”
WINNER: Inspirational Achiever of the Year
We’re delighted to introduce Caroline Balmer, the winner of SuperAchievers Inspirational Achiever of the Year 2017! Read her story and see why our judges felt she deserved this award…
Caroline previously worked in the care sector for over 15 years, first working as a Community Care Worker and progressing through to Care Manager. Through her work she saw first-hand how dementia can affect a person and their family members. She was affected personally too when her Nan developed Alzheimer’s disease. Through her experiences, Caroline was driven to start her own business to provide the high level of service she feels those in need deserve, here began Caremark (Worcester and Malvern Hills).
There were a number of challenges at the beginning of her journey. Of course the care industry is highly regulated so the first challenge was to register with the Care Quality Commission which would then allow her to provide specialist care services. Once registered a solid recruitment drive was put into action to recruit and train the new staff ready for a role caring for the vulnerable. Not only was she tackling the processes and legalities of setting up a new business, Caroline was also studying for a degree in Dementia Studies and of course Caroline and her husband still had the usual bills to pay throughout. Her husband fully supported Caroline in her efforts and maintained his role as a Postman to retain a steady income.
Now the business is more established her husband has joined the business and now manages the recruitment side of things. They are delighted to see the difference their services make to the customer lives. As Caroline says herself “Often you only hear about the negatives in the care industry, but there are thousands of hard working carers out there every day doing an amazing job”. Happily, through hard work and determination, Caroline completed her degree within the first year of training, achieving a 2:1.
Caremark has now been trading for over 12 months and handles over 60 customers and employs over 30 staff members. Plans are already underway for further business growth with hopes to be able to provide a further 40 jobs and expand further afield. As future plans progress Caroline hopes to involve herself with charity fundraising and further her interests in Dementia and to provide a Dementia Specialist Service.
When she entered Caroline was asked why she felt should win this award, she commented “It’s hard to blow your own trumpet but I am very proud of what I have grown in one year of business. I have gone from picking up the keys to an empty office to becoming a thriving business in 12 months, as well as completing a degree. I have created a vibrant, diverse team of 35 lovely people who go out every day and provide care and companionship to people in their own homes. It’s something I am passionate about and it is exciting and rewarding to watch it grow and change people’s lives. It would be amazing to receive an award and would be testament to everyone in the business and the great work they do every day.”
Entrepreneur Claire Barratt chose Caroline as one of her winners and said “Without doubt Caroline is truly an Inspirational Achiever of the Year. Completing a degree, starting and building her own business, employing 30 staff and ambition to involve herself in charity fundraising – her determination to continue to achieve is outstanding.”
Fellow Judge Jennifer Corcoran commented “Caroline is the definition of a true SuperAchiever! Over the course of a year she has completed a degree and set up a thriving business which is serving a real need in her community. Not only is she helping to provide care and companionship to people in their own homes but she is also providing employment to a team of 35 people. This is one lady who truly deserves to toot her own horn!”
WINNER: Working Mum of the Year
We’re delighted to announce Charlotte as the winner of SuperAchievers Working Mum of the Year 2017! Read her story again here...
Charlotte is mum to two children aged 4 and 2 and works as an entrepreneur. She established her own VA coach and online strategist business after looking at a way to balance family life with a career that would utilise the experience gained in a position she’d held for 12 years working as a corporate EA.
Charlotte is now and Online Business Manager and CEO and Co-Founder of VIA VA. Establishing a new business with such a young family has not been easy but with the support of her husband and extended family Charlotte has learnt to overcome her own ‘imposter syndrome’ and is now welcoming each and every opportunity her business is bringing. She states that overcoming that limiting mindset has been one of her biggest successes.
Now Charlotte is busy helping entrepreneurs and business owners who are looking to set up and grow their own businesses. Her dream is to help others achieve their dream. Her children and that “big picture end goal” is what keeps her motivated. She is striving to be the mum that is at every school occasion as well as having a rewarding career. And she wants to prove to her children that they don’t have to fit in a box and that they can follow their career dreams. As she says “Work doesn’t necessarily mean sitting in an office 9-5, you can make your own rules within reason.”
As for future hopes, Charlotte is hoping to be able to grow the number of mums she works with in setting up and growing their online and VA businesses. She would also like to turn VIP VA into a not-for-profit organisation.
In her entry we asked Charlotte why she should win this award, she said “I am on a mission to support other mums like me in creating a lifestyle that means they don’t have to compromise or ‘miss out’ in either their career or in their roles as mothers. I believe that I am a champion for working mums across the UK and I would like to be able to reach out to more and share my experience, to be able to hopefully inspire them to think ‘I can do it too!’”
When asked why she thought Charlotte should win this award, judge Jennifer Corcoran commented: “What stood out for me when reading Charlotte's entry was her genuine desire to help other working mums to follow their career dreams. VIP VA has created a supportive and nurturing platform for other business women and I love the fact that she wants to prove to her children that they also don't have to fit into a 9-5 box to be successful in their careers. I'm certain that Charlotte will continue to motivate and inspire other women to overcome their imposter syndrome and be the CEO of their lives!”
Fellow judge Diane Rose applauded Charlotte for her “awareness of how limiting ‘mindset’ can be in business and overcoming it”.She also commended her for “using her personal experience to assist other Mums in a similar position to follow their dream”.
WINNER: Working Dad of the Year
Congratulations to Han-son, winner of SuperAchievers Working Dad of the Year Award! Read his story here and find out what our judges thought made his entry stand out...
Han-son combines a busy role in marketing alongside founding and running DaddiLife, a website designed to build a community for the modern day dad.
By day Han-Son is a self-confessed passionate marketer and has experience working on projects and programmes for ambitious start-ups and big name brands. Han-son brings this wealth of experience to his work on DaddiLife. He is Dad to son Max, aged 2.5 years, so life is busy but he is passionate about creating more change for dads in the workplace and re-dressing the balance.
Ask any parent and trying to balance home and work life and they’ll tell you it is a battle. Han-son himself says “finding the time to be as involved as I want in Max’s upbringing, whilst holding down a busy job and creating a genuinely useful community and site for modern dads is hard, especially in the beginning when you’re creating something from nothing, with no budget and no additional resource. It’s a constant tension between ‘work’ and ‘family’ that’s a tough mental and physical challenge.”
Han-son has carved out his time and dedicates himself to a specific focus at different times. So, when he needs to focus all his attention on creating and delivering campaigns and strategies to elite brands with complex requirements he can do so. Similarly at certain times or days of the week he completely switches away from work-mode to dedicate himself to giving his son his absolute attention. Giving each area 100% of his attention in their respective moments is how he is ‘present’ for them. He says “Distraction is the enemy of effectiveness.”
DaddiLife was created approximately 12 months ago and has already got an engaged following of around 50,000 dads. Han-son has set in motion initiatives to support fathers feeling the pressure of down weighting their careers in order to spend more quality time at home, that ‘fatherhood penalty’ is something they’re actively looking to address. They have started working with the Working Families Charity recently to do just that and hope to take that to the Parliamentary enquiry on work and dads. Other initiatives include DaddiLifeForce Programme, where a weekly curated set of tips is shared for dads, from dads help inspire, advise and encourage.
The positive feedback received fuels Han-son’s drive and ambition to do even more to do an even better job – both as a father himself but also for other dads wanting to be more involved in their children’s upbringing than ever before
When asked why he should win he said “For me a ‘SuperAchiever’ is someone who has gone above and beyond in doing something that excels at work, and that also has a wider impact beyond the norm. My work is important to me, because I am very passionate about what I do in marketing, but what makes my achievement super-sized is that I’ve been able to learn about myself as a dad, to create a site and community that is genuinely impacting and adding value to modern day dads across the world, and in turn helping them become ‘SuperAchievers’ in their own family.”
SuperAchievers judges Lucy Brazier and Diane Rose felt Han-son would be a worthy winner of this category. Diane commented on Han-son using his personal experience to create a much needed source of information for fellow Dads and was “impressed with his free thinking as young modern day fathers want to be involved in their children’s lives and upbringing.”
John Adams, founder of DadBlogUK also commended Han-son saying “he goes out of his way to help other dads but has seen the value in switching off and dedicating time to his family” He continued “We hear a great deal about the pressures of being a working mum. In the modern age, however, men are increasingly struggling to balance work and family life and this is rarely recognised. Pitman Training has taken a brave step by introducing a Working Dad of the Year category, but it's one that acknowledges the realities of modern fatherhood and the workplace. It's wonderful to see the award sitting alongside the Working Mum of the Year category and some equally deserving women. It was very difficult to make a choice. All of the finalists stood out for very different reasons and each one is clearly doing their very best to balance fatherhood with the responsibilities of work.”
WINNER: Entrepreneur of the Year
Emily was originally nominated for SuperAchievers Working Mum of the Year but as we read her entry, we felt her entrepreneurial spirit shone through and deserved some recognition. We’re now delighted to announce that Emily has won SuperAchievers Entrepreneur of the Year 2017! Here is her story..
Emily is mum to two children aged 11 and 7 years. Since her first child was born Emily used baby carriers. She recognised a need in the market for a wider variety of products for different needs and there began her entrepreneurial career as a babywearing expert and consultant.
After attending various courses to position herself as an Expert in her field, Emily founded the South London Sling Library in 2011. She now employs a handful of other enthusiastic mums to help grow the business. Emily has managed much of the business setup single-handedly and worked tirelessly whenever she could find the time to manage everything. She also embarked on a degree with the Open University focusing on Child Psychology, Child Development and Business Management to support and enhance her work. She has pioneered making Carrying Consultancy a viable and respected career option – taking what was previously a very low paid industry into a more public and recognised profession.
Through her passion and determination to succeed and help others she has now delivered training to businesses and healthcare professionals. She is also regularly invited to talk at seminars and national baby shows to raise awareness of the benefits of carrying, where she can offer professional advice and guidance, and there was still more to come.
Through the knowledge learnt and her experience Emily sought to develop and manufacture her own carrier and bring it to market. She recognised her limitations in launching a new product but with her connections made through her consultancy and training she was able to link up with a national distributor of baby products who have supported her vision and gone into partnership to develop and launch the Izmi brand.
Emily is passionate about helping and supporting other parents as they go through all the struggles of becoming a parent. She has thrived on creating a challenging career that has grown through her own creativity and expertise. The business reputation has grown through word of mouth and all the positive feedback from families she’s helped.
Aside from managing her busy professional and family life Emily has faced personal challenges. She has struggled with her own mental health issues, her son has ADHD and dyslexia and she separated from her husband. When you combine all these factors together; managing family life, offering her consultancy services and launching a new product to market, Emily’s dedication and determination to succeed are inspirational.
Lucy Brazier commented: “Emily has recognised a gap in the market, created new products, educated herself as well as others, has achieved tangible results and has emerged as a thought leader in her field despite considerable adversity. Her story is truly inspirational.”
Emily received many commendations from the judging panel with fellow entrepreneur Claire Barratt commenting “Emily has shown amazing entrepreneurial skills. Not only in developing her business but in developing her own self through a degree, all this while being a mother. As an entrepreneur myself, I know to be “entrepreneurial” is characterised by the taking of financial risks in the hope of profit. The risks Emily has taken much outweigh any financial risk – she’s taken personal risk through taking these leaps while facing personal challenges, all of which to me are inspirational and very entrepreneurial.”
WINNER: Pitman Training Student of the Year
We’re delighted to introduce the Pitman Training Student of the Year, Alex Meredith! Alex was put forward for this award by Pitman Training Newcastle where he studied. Read his story and find out why the judges felt he should win...
Alex studied for a degree in Business and ICT at Sheffield Hallam and then completed a PGCE, his intention was to become an IT teacher. After gaining a position as an IT and Employability Tutor with Access Training in Newcastle, Alex began teaching unemployed learners on how to use IT skills and how to apply for jobs online. His role developed further into delivering social media and digital marketing training for apprenticeships. From here he was approached to focus more on the accounting side of training. Although he had a small amount of accounting experience gained from his degree, this would involve classroom based teaching so he would need to have a full understanding, not only of bookkeeping but also the AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) syllabus.
Alex came to Pitman Training Newcastle and embarked on an Accounting Technician Diploma with AAT. Although the learning bookkeeping aspect was a huge challenge, Alex completed the Diploma in just seven months which is impressive when you consider that whilst training he became a father for the first time so was juggling a busy day job, studying and sleepless nights! What makes Alex’s journey all the more inspiring is that he wasn’t just learning for himself, his ultimate intention was to become an AAT tutor so there was an additional pressure on him to ensure he thoroughly understood every aspect.
One of his biggest fears was that he wouldn’t be able to answer learners questions so at all times he was thinking about how he would translate and teach this to students in the classroom. Even when certain aspects proved more challenging he was taking it all in, repeating sections until he was 100% sure he had a thorough understanding. All the while remembering all aspects of his training that got him through and how he was supported so that he could himself offer support to future students in similar situations.
At the time they nominated him Pitman Training Newcastle were asked why the felt Alex deserved to win. They said “We would like to put Alex forward for Student of the Year not only because of his fantastic results, but because he has used his knowledge to forge a new career in delivering training to apprenticeship students. He has found something he loves to do, and is now working on his AAT Level 3 and wants to move to Level 4 and beyond.”
Alex is rightly incredibly proud of his achievements and his own students what’s more his results speak for themselves. His achievement rate with his apprenticeship students is 97% and pass rate 98%, which is a credit to his understanding and delivery of the material.
Judge Lucy Brazier felt Alex was a worthy winner commenting “Alex’s commitment not only to his own learning in passing his exams in 7 months but then to pass on his knowledge to others made him stand out for me in this category.”
Judge Jennifer Corcoran also commended Alex saying “What I loved about Alex's story was how he consistently embraces self-development and his commitment to empowering others. He bravely availed of an opportunity presented to him and is now using his learning and education for the greater good. Alex's students are already reaping the benefits of this SuperAchiever!”
Our winners will not only gain international recognition of being a SuperAchievers Award Winner, they will also receive a prestigious, engraved award and…
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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.
Find out more about Catherine's business via:
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.