Congratulations to all our inspirational winners for SuperAchievers 2018. Below are their award entries and some of the comments from our judging panel on why they chose them as their winners. Read on to find out more!
Jennifer is an EA to the Chief Executive at ‘Teens and Toddlers’ and enjoys the challenges.
Nigel is a 'DIY Dad' who has five children, aged 22, 20, 18 and 6 year old twins. Nigel has been nominated for this award by his wife, Emily.
Mum to two young boys, Laura is an entrepreneur with an enthusiastic, motivational and fitness edge.
Samantha is a secondary school teacher by trade and has been teaching for seven years.
Abigail is an entrepreneurial Mum, described as “Powerhouse and heart on legs.”
Rodica studied the Foundation Diploma in Accounting with AAT and achieved a Distinction in all of the subjects.
Here are the winners of the Community Awards, chosen by our judges from the national and international nominations.
Provides inclusive arts events, activities and groups for all living within Aireborough, Leeds.
HHR offer all ability, all-inclusive running for their local community.
Heart of Priors Park was put together to improve their local play park for the children of the estate.
Working towards a future where people in the Northern Scotland live free from hardship.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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!”
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.”
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.”
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.
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!”
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.
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.”
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.”
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!”
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.
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.”
Mum sets out to prove her doubters wrong
Dianah has been nominated for this award by the team in Pitman Training Manchester.
Having worked as a Personal Assistant for a family run business for seven and a half years, Dianah decided that she would like to progress and improve her skills in her role. Having spoken to her sister about this she suggested that Dianah speak to a friend of hers who worked for a successful PA company in London. She advised her that Pitman Training were who she should do her training with. She knew that it would be hard work, but worth it.
Dianah applied through her work for financial help with the cost of the training as it would allow her to enhance her skills in her current role and benefit the company. Initially, they were happy to look into it and so she started making further enquiries, and after discussions with the centre, Dianah was able to go back to her company with a possible solution that they might be happy with. However, her work declined the offer to assist her. She was told by them that it would be too much for her and that she wouldn’t cope. Dianah was determined to prove them wrong.
She was devastated that they had decided to not support her and showed openly that they didn’t believe in her capabilities. However, after speaking with her dad, who fully supported her dreams, he encouraged her to continue working towards her goals. With his help and support, she was able to finance the course herself and was excited to get started. Her place of work were shocked that she’d decided to go for it on her own, still believing that she wasn’t up for the challenge.
Dianah’s partner frequently works away from home for long periods of time throughout the year which was an additional challenge, meaning that she is solely responsible for running the household and family life. She admits it was a struggle at times to fit her studies around her other commitments. However, she was determined to complete it and regularly attended the centre to concentrate on her course.
Her motivation to succeed came from a few places; partly to prove her work wrong, but mainly from her son Will (14) and daughter Jessica (16). She says, “Both work incredibly hard in school and seeing how hard they worked spurred me on. They even kept on nagging me to do my studies and inspired me to keep going even when I felt I couldn’t do it. They both would remind me of what I wanted to achieve at the end and encouraged me the whole way.” Every time Dianah gained a Distinction grade, it boosted her confidence more and more. Despite this, her place of work still didn’t seem impressed
On successful completion of her training, Dianah had the confidence to apply for positions outside of her role. She was even head hunted by an agency who thought she’d be perfect for their role. They told her that all of her skills were transferable and knowing she had her Pitman diploma behind her gave her the confidence to go for it. She went for the interview and got the job!
Dianah now works as a Project Assistant for a medical communications company as part of the events planning team. She is responsible for the logistics of staff and print materials. It’s a role she has only been in a few weeks but already, they can see her potential and want to help her work towards becoming an Accounts Executive. Dianah said, “I’m so pleased to now be able to work for a company who support me, my career and my progress. I couldn’t be happier. I feel so proud of my achievements, and what I’ve overcome to reach my goals.”
The team at Pitman Training Manchester said, “Dianah is fantastic! She is kind and caring and would do anything for anyone. She has such a bubbly nature and I think all of these things makes her successful at what she does as she always makes such an effort to do the best she possibly can do for others. Over the time she has studied with us her confidence has grown dramatically. She has that belief in herself now, which has allowed her to branch out and change her career.”
Dianah has obviously worked incredibly hard on her studies and her inspirational story shows that if you have that dream, and you really put your mind to it, you can achieve it, even if others don’t believe in you!
Young Achiever Striving to Progress
Hayley works for Coventry University as Senior Commercial and Enterprise Administrator and has been nominated for this award by Helena Bassett, a business contact that has got to know Hayley through various business and networking events.
Helena feels that the dedication, commitment and ambition Hayley has demonstrated so far in her career deserved some recognition, and through this nomination, she takes the time to tell Hayley’s story.
Hayley left school at 16 and found a part-time job working as a Barista that she juggled alongside an intensive course at college. She excelled in her part-time role, working her way up to a team management position.
Motivated to progress further, Hayley went on to gain an administration position at an engineering firm. This role enabled her to gain additional, transferable skills and her next career move was to take a position as a Personal Assistant at a leading accountancy firm where she remained for 3 years before taking her current role.
Helena detailed many qualities that Hayley possesses – adaptability, the ability to remain calm in all situations, reactive under pressure. She also commented that Hayley is a naturally optimistic person and has the ability to see the bright side of whatever situation is ahead.
Helena comments, “Hayley can always be relied upon to make sure an event or project that she is working on is always successful. Her time management and organisational skills are impeccable. She has a natural empathy with clients and businesses, putting new and old delegates at ease. Hayley is always willing to take on new experiences and challenges, where her supporting, positive attitude and skills thrive and enable her to become successful.”
Hayley is obviously an extremely motivated person, with a strong ambition to grab every opportunity that comes her way. It is inspirational to see someone in their early 20s strive to progress with such determination.
We asked Helena why she felt Hayley deserves to win this award and she said, “I would class Hayley as a role model for other young people around the same age group that are unsure of their routes for achievement and success. Her achievements need to be acknowledged and celebrated as society is quick to judge the younger generation.
“Should Hayley win this award, it would be a great moral booster, not only for Hayley, but for all her family and work colleagues that have made her the person she is today. This achievement will be great for her CV, professional profile and the career progression that she intends to strive for. This would be something that she would be very proud to achieve at such a young age.”
An impressive testimony of someone dedicated to progress her career through continuing professional development and hard work. Hayley clearly has an attitude that is everything SuperAchievers is designed to recognise and reward.
Encouraging others to see the art of the possible
Leighton has been nominated for this award by his wife Chantal. They met at work, at PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) in Southampton – on the stairs between floors! They have been married for two years now.
Leighton is a Senior Associate in PO (People and Operations) personal Tax at PwC, he has been with the firm for circa 7 years. Chantal describes Leighton as very diligent, patient, intelligent, dedicated, determined, and perhaps most importantly, a caring person with great leadership skills. This is borne out of the feedback he regularly receives from those he works with at PwC. In his every day tax role, he regularly works with individuals facing challenges and on occasion, upsetting difficulties relating to their personal tax. Leighton is able to calmly manage those situations and quickly build rapport as a trusted advisor to them. It’s not just about his technical knowledge and abilities, these people are often far more senior than himself and the difficulties they are facing can involve hundreds of thousands, if not millions of pounds, so this is no mean feat.
We asked Chantal what she felt were Leighton’s inspirational achievements and she said, “Coming up with the idea for Ride the Nation. #PwCRtN is PwC UK's iconic charity cycle challenge taking place in June 2017 and the inaugural event, was held in May 2015. The event aims to physically connect all 30 offices in the UK PwC network, a cycling relay in only a month, including offices in the Channel Islands & NI.” She continued saying, “Ride the Nation remains the single largest event of its kind the UK firm has embarked upon, raising over £300,000 for The PwC Foundation and charities local to each and every office in the UK network. Over 1,000 staff take part at each event. The Ride the Nation event demonstrates PwC’s ethos of doing the right thing in our communities, what can be achieved when we work together as one firm and it physically connects our staff in a way that, before May 2015, had never been done before.”
Organising an event of such a scale (PwC has 30 offices across the UK) is no mean feat. Leighton was tasked to work with a minimal budget of around £40k for each event. When you consider that they initially received quotes of £150k upwards from events companies, his achievement is remarkable. In the inaugural 2015 event, Leighton rode the entire length of the country covering around 2,500 miles in only one month, supporting the events riders out on the road every day; a feat of endurance as well as mental and physical strength.
He obviously has a high level of self-motivation and we asked Chantal what traits about Leighton makes him stand out and succeed. She said, “Leighton could be seen as stubborn but actually this shows in work as tenacity and determination; an ability to keep going when others would give up. When he was told that he couldn’t possibly run a charity event the size of Ride the Nation at PwC, at his grade, he saw that as an opportunity to prove what he could do rather than being stopped in his tracks. All the while conducting himself professionally with those who doubted him, and in a way that made others think he was far more senior than he was. He is honest and has an openness about him that makes him an ambassador for leadership at all levels.”
Leighton has encouraged others to see the art of the possible within PwC in relation to Ride the Nation, where so often, due to red tape and the size of the company, taking an idea and getting support for it could seem impossible. He has paved the way for others to put their head above the parapet, fight for what they are passionate about and make a difference in the communities we work in every day.
Chantal then continued to say, “What makes Leighton’s achievement's even more astonishing is that the 2017 event was completed against a backdrop of personal challenges, which resulted in him having a nervous breakdown and being out of the business for some considerable time. Leighton is now using this difficult episode in his life to propose even greater opportunities for how PwC as a business can increase options for our staff to take part in physical activity to support their mental health, something that for others who have suffered too, are encouraged by.”
For over three years Leighton has worked tirelessly to make a difference, fought with passion and desire to demonstrate what he believes in. He has put in a huge amount of overtime; working evenings and weekends for months on end, well into the early hours, then getting up for work again at 5am. He’s made great personal sacrifices to help raise a huge amount of money for an enormous range of charities across the UK. Ride the Nation 2015 & 2017 has raised £302,008.08 supporting over 80 charities nationwide. Leighton’s achievements are truly inspirational and he thoroughly deserves to be one of our SuperAchievers finalists.
Using personal experience to help others
Samantha is a secondary school teacher by trade and has been teaching for seven years, as well as being a Head of Year for four years. Around a year ago, Samantha also launched an anxiety coaching business, ‘A Happy Mind’. She is currently doing both of these jobs full time.
Her initial passion in life was for every single child to know that they are loved, accepted, supported and could do and be anything they put their mind to. That passion never died, it is something she still loves about her job and is a philosophy she carries across to her coaching business.
Throughout her teaching career she has had to learn a lot about herself and her emotions. Samantha found that anxiety caused a lot of stumbling blocks early on in her career and this was very hard to cope with at the time. When she didn’t get her first ever promotion, she says that it nearly broke her - until a better opportunity came along. Samantha says, “It is funny how things work out and how the hardest of times, can become the best lessons we have ever learnt.”
Samantha is open about her own mental health struggles saying that she has experienced anxiety for over 10 years, and has been through some very traumatic experiences as a teenager and young adult from the divorce of her parents, her Mum and brother moving away and sadly, the unexpected passing of her Dad, who she lived with at the time. Samantha says that following these events “anxiety, abandonment and panic were very common worries and emotions in my life.”
Samantha says her biggest challenges were learning how to be emotional within her job, but in a way that helped - not hindered. Something so many people feel and question - Can I say I am struggling? Can I ask for help? Am I doing a good job? Samantha recognises that these internal struggles and challenges can be the reason we don't find happiness at work, and she is working hard to change that.
Her coaching business helps her to follow one of her biggest passions. She carries out public speaking engagements, coaching and one-to-one sessions. She goes into companies and delivers coaching and workshops to staff, designed to help make a difference to their mental wellbeing. She has three key messages to deliver to anyone suffering similar struggles;
Samantha also shares her solutions and journey in podcast interviews, writing for a mental health magazine, and in a Facebook group and with 1:1 clients all over the world. Samantha says, “Anxiety is something so many people experience and feel burdened by and I LOVE being able to shed light, love and support on this topic for people in a human, realistic and genuine way.”
Aside from her own self-motivation, Samantha has the support of her husband whom she says is her rock. However, her Dad remains her biggest inspiration of all. She said, “He went through a lot of struggles in his life and always taught me as a child to never give up. Never lose faith in yourself and what you are capable of and he also taught me what unconditional love really is. He made me the strong minded, passionate and determined young women I am today.”
Samantha has many highlights in her career so far. She clearly loves her job and is proud to be able to live her passion and help others. Knowing she is changing lives and helping others to find their own happiness, success and contentment spurs her on.
Samantha continues to push herself out of her comfort zone and works hard to create a life that not only can she be happy and proud of, but one that inspires others to do the same themselves. Samantha says, “We are all capable of anything we put our mind to and this last year has taught me more about this than I ever knew.”
Claire Young: “Through her role as a teacher Samantha has seen first-hand the need for students to receive help on mental health and wellbeing. I applaud her for taking action and starting A Happy Mind. There is no doubt that this organisation will be helping young people. Inspirational!”
Han-Son Lee: “It takes a lot to be a great secondary school teacher, and even more to deal with one of the most important issues of our day, anxiety, which can be caused by so many areas. Setting up her own coaching business show’s incredible dedication to an area where Samantha is clearly making great impact.”
Entrepreneurial Mum described as “Powerhouse and heart on legs”
For ten years, Abigail worked as a Department Manager for a global energy company. After a decade in the corporate world, Abbie said “I just felt trapped in my reality. I had a baby and the hours no longer worked for me as a mother, but the company I worked for basically told me that I had to choose my career or time with my son. I made it my mission to not only leave my job but help any other woman facing similar dilemmas.” She left the corporate world with a clear vision and set out to pursue her dream of online coaching, networking and marketing, while also wanting to prove a point!
Abigail wanted to prove to her old employer, that you can be a mum and have it all. She decided to invest in her own energy company, www.theenergydeal.com. After making a success of that company, she set up Female Success Network and Authors and Co., to help other women achieve their ambitions.
Female Success Network offers monthly learning bundles for women looking to start and grow a self-employed business. It also offers 1:1 strategy sessions and coaching programmes.
Authors and Co takes this one step further and helps women become “best-selling authors” in their chosen industries. In the last year, Abigail herself became a number 1 bestselling author with her own success story.
Of course, there has been challenges along the way and, for Abigail, these have tested her to the extreme. She has battled with depression, online bullying and a subsequent breakdown as well as other debilitating health issues. Every time she has fought back and, most importantly, been open about everything she has been through. Now, not only does she inspire others who may be struggling, she is more determined than ever to use her experiences to help others.
Abigail has a 6 year old son, Ted and it is him that keeps her going through the tough times. She says, “Giving up would only teach that following your dreams isn’t worth it, so I will never give up. I will always show him that we are limitless and can achieve anything we want to in life.”
In true entrepreneurial spirit, when asked who inspires her, Abigail said, “I inspire myself. I am committed to self-development and lifelong learning, to always keep pushing forward. I don’t need any one else to inspire, my own story blows my mind.”
As for her hopes and goals for the future, Abigail has set the bar high and said, “To help a million women achieve their version of success through my teachings.”
Abigail entered Entrepreneur of the year but also received several other nominations from her husband, colleagues, associates, and women that she has mentored and coached to achieve their own success. We asked each of them why they thought she should win this award and here are a few snippets of their responses… “Abigail has achieved more in her 31 years than some people have ever achieved. Ultimately, she has helped so many people and their businesses and just wants to help others to succeed. Now that is a SuperAchiever”.
“Abi has built a legacy from the ground up... she oozes what the entrepreneur stands for - integrity, honesty, alignment, respect and drive. Her work ethic is incredible, her clients are always her priority and she is a woman of her word. The trust she builds is phenomenal, I’ve never come across such a beautiful heart on such a mission to enrich so many other women’s lives.”
“Because she is selfless, she has created businesses from nothing and she puts so much time into helping others be successful.”
Abigail clearly has a monumental impact on those she meets and is quite rightly proud of her achievements so far. She has turned a £23,000 a year job into a £230,000 per year passion – incredible. Her entrepreneurial journey began when she was pushed to choose between her career and her family - no contest there. Since that pivotal moment, her achievements so far showcase someone who is a true SuperAchiever.
Craig Harris: “When reading Abigail’s story I was inspired by the amazing work she does and all she has overcome, what a power house?! Abigail is definitely a deserving winner!”
Claire Young: “I was blown away by Abigail’s entrepreneurial drive and impressed by the 3 ventures she has established. As a woman she is proactively inspiring, and helping, other women to succeed. She faces challenges head on and I like her ‘can-do’ attitude. She has really shown that anything is possible!”
Han-Son Lee: “Being a true entrepreneur is to overcome hurdles and barriers that would break a normal human, while still building something special. Abigail is, in short, an inspiration, and you just know there’s more to come.”
Beauty Entrepreneur Nailing Success
Abra (shown on the right) is co-founder of Pastille Beauty Bar, a business she launched in 2013 with a long-time friend, and now sister-in-law, Erene. They recognised that there was a real need for an upmarket, yet personal, beauty experience in Leeds city centre.
Before she launched the business, Abra was on route to a career in law as she is a law graduate. However, she decided that a career in business would better suit her. She did consider doing a masters but realised it would be far better to simply launch a business rather than study the subject.
Now, five years since its launch, Abra and Pastille has won several awards and accolades including regional ‘Young Entrepreneur of the Year’ in the Forward Ladies 2015 Women in Business Awards. What makes Abra’s story all the more impressive is that neither she, nor Erene, are qualified beauty therapists.
Early 2018 saw the launch of sister salon, Lashed Leeds. There had been an increasing market demand for specialised lash treatments, and after trying to include this within Pastille’s treatment list, they quickly realised that to create a sustainable business they needed to launch a sister salon to bridge the gap in the lash market, in the same way they had with Pastille for nails.
Within its first week of trading, Lashed Leeds Instagram account had amassed an incredible 1,500 followers and was fully booked on several days – showing that Abra’s intuition and attention to detail with what their customers want is spot on.
Not only has she created two thriving business, Abra is keen to support other women in their business careers. To do this, Pastille Beauty Bar has an in-house project that provides support and opportunities for local business women, independent businesses and organisations.
In her nomination, Erene said, “Abra lives and breathes what she does to the extent that it seems effortless - although as her business partner, I know this is not the case. She stands out from the crowd in the way she carries herself confidently for such a young woman. She is inspirational not only for her achievements, but also in readily encouraging others to walk their own paths.”
When asked why she thought Abra should win this award, Erene said, “Although we have shared success in Pastille, Abra has stepped into the role as an entrepreneur in business and beauty in her own way. It is extremely rare for a young woman to be self-made in the way she has achieved, and I feel it is time to have her success celebrated and recognised. She has set up her own agenda for life and work, which is an enviable and inspirational position. Abra is also using one profitable business as a launchpad for another, and the success of this is already obvious. I think she will continue to do amazing things.”
Abra was 21 when Pastille launched and 26 when Lashed Leeds opened. She is clearly a very motivated young entrepreneur determined to achieve success; a genuine SuperAchiever.
IT entrepreneur following lifelong passion
David is the Technical Director at Click Enterprise, an IT support and infrastructure management company.
When asked why he decided to work in the IT industry, David described that when he was a child, he used to open up VCR’s and toys to understand how they worked, and instead of putting them back together, he loved creating something new with the components. He developed an early passion for computers, and by the age of 13 he was building corporate networks, client/server environments and a BBS.
It’s clear that David was destined for a career in IT. It’s an industry he finds interesting and challenging. He didn’t set out as an Entrepreneur initially; he always had a job within other businesses. However, he has always lived by this great saying, “A fish in a small tank will only grow a bit; the same fish in a bigger tank grows more.” So, with that in mind David worked for big companies, starting his career with an internship at Oracle and moving on to big Microsoft partners as a Consultant. In recent years he decided to work for an ‘end customer’ and joined Metro Bank as a Technology Specialist and was quickly appointed Head of IT. A few months later, he knew he was ready to leave the big tanks and swim in the open water. Click Enterprise launched eight months ago and they now employ 5 people, plus 2 other external sales resources. David said, “Being an entrepreneur with solid technical and corporate leadership skills was the right move. My company is still a sprout, but the soil is very fertile due to the experience I’ve accumulated over the years.”
Of course, with any business there are challenges. One of the main tasks for his business is making sure that knowledge and skills are kept up to date across the team, and that’s something he takes seriously. He invests time every week to develop different skills within the team. He has also invested a lot of time giving back to the technical communities. This work was mostly done after hours and resulted in 7 “Microsoft Most Valuable Professional” awards. David also received a Microsoft Community Contributor award, specifically for mentoring young IT Professionals.
David is inspired by big name, innovative businessmen Bill Gates and Elon Musk. We asked him what keeps him motivated and he said, “There’s no secret here, my motto was ‘Do things with passion, or not at all’. Find what you enjoy doing and go for it.”
As for the future, David wants to expand his business further, but in the right way. He wants to take the time to partner with the right customers, take care of his team and help them grow as people and professionals.
We’re sure with the energy, enthusiasm and commitment he conveys, he will be extremely successful. David displays some admirable SuperAchievers qualities, particularly his attitude to helping others to grow professionally and mentoring others.
Yorkshire businesswoman finds success across the globe
Marion has been nominated for this award by friend and colleague Matthew Want.
Marion has just celebrated her 5th year of self-employment, running The PA Hub; a business set up to support PAs across the North of England.
Marion had her children at a young age and was a working mum for many years. Her last role before becoming self-employed was working as PA, supporting the CEO of Yorkshire Universities and secretariat to the Yorkshire Universities Board of Directors, a role she held for 9 years.
Such was Marion’s dedication to the PA profession, she was recognised for her achievements on a couple of occasions winning Yorkshire PA of the Year in 2011, and she was also crowned SuperAchiever’s PA of the Year back in 2013. It was this that gave her the inspiration to share the motivational spur of awards and networking, specifically in the Yorkshire region.
The PA Hub launched initially in Leeds and has now expanded across the York and Liverpool regions. Marion has spent a vast amount of time supporting UK Assistants by attending national conferences, networks and events which challenged the role of the profession and assisted in taking the training element outside of London in an attempt to make the networking and learning experience accessible to all.
Marion has taken hold of all opportunities within her reach - including covering for a speaker in Moscow, Russia, when there was an urgent replacement required. This was one of her very first speaking engagements, and she received a standing ovation! She has since gone on to speak at events for Administrative Professionals across the world, including Sydney!
Marion now also works alongside the Executive Secretary team helping them to manage events on site and working as a ‘virtual arm’ of the business.
Matthew describes Marion as a connector saying, “She is a go to person; for work, business, and support in most areas. Her personality shines through her business, which no doubt makes all of the members feel like they are not just part of a network, but they are part of a family.” He continued, “She has a robust sense of business acumen, and with her experience in managing several directors, can share first hand advice and knowledge with Assistants.”
Personally, Marion married the love of her life, Jon, in later life. Jon has always wholeheartedly supported Marion in her business development, and he now works alongside Marion in the business. He himself is well-known in the PA industry due to his cheeky nature and photography skills, but most importantly, his charming networking skills!
We asked Matthew why he thinks Marion is so successful at what she does, he said “Marion is adept at multi-tasking. From being a mother, to managing several directors, to running a business with global speaking engagements - she can juggle life, work and play, and always with a smile. Her positive attitude radiates, not just in networking meetings and events, but in day-to-day life. When faced with a struggle, Marion is best known for pulling out a pen and paper and saying "right, how can we fix this?” He continued, “Supporting the PA profession is key to Marion, it is a role she takes very seriously, which motivates and inspires the day-to-day running of her business.”
Again, we asked Matthew why he thought Marion deserved to win this award and he said, “Marion stepped into the unknown. Having had a well-established, long-term career as an Assistant at Leeds Universities, she took the plunge and launched a PA network to support the development and growth of her peers - with no financial backing, but a serious business plan.
“Marion has just celebrated the 5th Birthday of the PA Hub, and has grown the business to include annual conferences, development days, social events, awards, and industry specific showcases - including venue and travel shows.
“Her tenacity and drive is inspirational, and based on her background as an Assistant, shows the potentials that can be achieved - however you choose to drive your career. Marion supports Assistants not just in Yorkshire, but across the world. She is a well known name in the industry.”
Leeds student studying to reach her dream career
Alina moved to England seven years ago with her husband, while she was 8 months pregnant with her daughter. They already had two children, so moving overseas was never going to be easy. However, Alina had a dream to become a Maths teacher, so despite having to making various applications and live for three months without any income, she started studying an ESOL English language and numeracy course. In this time, she had her daughter in what she describes as a time where she and her husband had to make “tremendous sacrifices to survive financially and mentally.”
Once she was able, Alina started to work three jobs per day. The day started at 4am in a cleaning role, before heading to Invinio Academy in Scunthorpe to work as a TA between the hours of 9am – 3pm. In the evenings, Alina then worked at Vion factory on the production line until 10pm. Also, during the school holidays, Alina worked as a carer and kitchen assistant in order to not only support her family here in the UK, but pay off debts back in Romania. In just three years, Alina and her husband managed to move to the UK, work, study, raise their 3 children and buy their own house. Alina even set up her own cleaning business which gave her more flexibility to look after and provide for her growing family.
Last year, Alina made the decision that she wanted to take a step forward and qualify to become an accountant. This was going to be a challenge as she was pregnant with her fourth child (her children are now between the ages of 10 months and 9 years old) and still needed to manage her cleaning business. At this time, they were also carrying out renovations on their home, but always one to follow her dreams, Alina embarked on an AAT Diploma with Pitman Training in February 2017. Despite juggling work and family, Alina came into the Leeds centre to study on a regular basis and has made amazing progress with her course. A year on, she has completed her Bookkeeping modules, Excel 2013 which she passed with Distinction and passed her first AAT exam, Bookkeeping Transactions. Considering that during this time, she has had her fourth child and run her business, this in an incredible achievement.
Alina has just 2 exams left to complete and they are both scheduled for March 2018, having completed the courses and now working through some revision topics. Alina now has a job working at JN Bentley as an Accounts Payable Clerk – this role has allowed her to realise her dream of now having a career in a Finance Department.
Speaking about her experiences over the last 7 years, Alina said, “Getting this new job was when I realised that I overcame a limiting mind-set and it was the beginning of something called ‘the marvellous experience’ of my life. I wanted to prove to my children how important it is to have your dreams and to realise them. Being constantly helped by my husband and extended family, I am striving to be the mum that is at every school occasion as well as having a rewarding career. I want my children to understand that there is no need to follow a specific pattern in this life to succeed and they don’t necessarily have to fit in a box. They have to work really hard to make things happen and then the reward will come with the time. I have created myself a lifestyle that I absolutely adore and I don’t have to compromise myself or ‘miss out’ in either my career or my role as mother.”
The team at the Leeds centre said, “Alina is an inspirational student. Coming in to the centre each week, we see what an incredibly positive person she is – everything is met as an opportunity and she sees the best in everyone and everything.”
Finally, Alina has said that “The most important thing is that I have been given a chance; people have trusted me and helped me in every circumstance, even if sometimes I disappointed them. All the people I have met so far have been teaching me different lessons about life, failure and success, whether they are family, friends or colleagues. I am so grateful to live my life the way it is - it is so entertaining and so rewarding at the same time! How amazing people are and how good it is to be given the chance to open your eyes and realise that you are free to be what you want to be. I am sure that is only the beginning of what I want to achieve. I will carry on my hard work and I will learn all my life because we live this life only once and we have to make it bloody wonderful.”
We’re sure you’ll agree, Alina has shown a real grit and determination to achieve her goals.
Determined student battling through the life’s ups and down to achieve her goal
Deborah is studying with our London City EC2 centre, who have nominated her for this award. She is studying the Secretarial Diploma and has so far successfully completed all but 3 modules.
She has taken a little while longer than anticipated to complete her training as Deborah has faced a rather bumpy road whilst studying. Initially, she was juggling work, home life and her studies but was unhappy in her job as a teaching assistant at a local school. However, she managed to change roles in the same area within a neighbouring borough.
Her Mum had already been diagnosed with dementia and not long after Deborah changed jobs, the condition accelerated and she was forced to quit work to look after her full time. The tough times didn’t let up, whilst she was continuing with her studies and caring for her Mum, her daughter-in-law was diagnosed with cancer. In these awfully challenging circumstances, Deborah stepped up to help look after her grandchildren during this testing time. Deborah is described by the team in the centre as enthusiastic and jovial. They said, “She has had to deal with much stress at home and she still completes her studies, just at a slower pace than when she started. Nevertheless, Deborah retains her enthusiastic disposition for someone who has had to manage a lot of stress and grief quite recently.” Deborah says that Pitman has helped her to keep herself together and focus on her studies.
When asked why they thought she should win this award, the team in the City EC2 centre said, “Deborah started her diploma with a need to change careers. She was on a great track and has hit a few hard bumps in the road. Through it all though, she has stayed positive and dedicated to achieving her diploma and moving on with her career. She is a very strong woman and we believe she is a very worth winner.”
Deborah is a great example of someone who is striving to achieve a better career for themselves and battling through life’s ups and downs to get there. Perseverance and dedication are definitely great attributes for a SuperAchiever.
Young student on her way to career success
Holly has been nominated for this award by the team in our Bishop’s Stortford centre.
She studied the Advanced Diploma in Accounting with AAT Level 3 over a period of 6 months and achieved a Distinction in all the subjects and overall.
Holly was just 16 when she first went into the Bishop’s Stortford centre. She went in with her mum, Karen, to talk about the options Pitman Training had available in the accounting world. Both Holly and Karen knew that a career in finance was the right path to follow as Holly is great with numbers and had a real interest in the opportunities that this career could offer.
She initially started out studying for the AAT Level 2 Certificate in Accounting which she completed in June 2017 – this made her the youngest student in Bishop’s Stortford centre to have gained an accounting qualification! Holly then went on to complete the Advanced Diploma in Accounting with AAT Level 3.
One of the main challenges Holly faced was time. As Holly is just 17, it was essential for her to complete the course by the AQ2013 deadline set by AAT. If she did not complete her exams in time and transfer over to the AQ2016, she would have had to wait until her 18th birthday to be able to take an exam due to the change in the AAT regulations.
However, Holly was extremely self-disciplined and motivated; she did not let this worry her! In the end, she completed all of her exams with ease and with 6 weeks to spare! A massive achievement for Holly, especially at such a young age!
She also received some fantastic feedback from her tutor, who was as impressed with Holly as the centre team was. His feedback stated, “I can’t remember seeing a Professional Ethics Practice Exam of such a high standard. Holly really does have a gift for this subject. Quite exceptional!”
With her ambition and determination, Holly really stood out to the team in centre. She knows what she wants to achieve and is now determined to build on her success and positive experience at Pitman Training, and turn her aspiration to be a Chartered Accountant into her next achievement.
Holly is now working as a Trainee Accountant in a firm of Chartered Accountants and will be commencing studies for the ACA qualification in Spring 2018. She believes had she not attained her Level 3 AAT qualification with Pitman, she would not have been considered for this opportunity.
The team at the centre said, “For such a young lady Holly is extremely self-motivated and inspiring, a great role model for the younger generation. She really is our SuperAchiever!”
Changing career while learning how to learn
Nicki was nominated for a SuperAchievers award by the High Holborn centre Course Supervisor, Hanna Craig. He started as a student in centre in January 2017 doing an Office IT Diploma.
Nicki worked in horticulture when he left school and started out as a groundsman, a role he held for 23 years. After this long period Nicki decided he wanted a career change. The thought of changing your career can often feel overwhelming but Nicki threw himself into the challenge saying, “I have taken a huge, financially draining risk: leaving my job means I have no income; and I am a self-funding student. While it would have been so easy to say I had bitten off more than I could chew and go back to manual work, I was determined to succeed.”
Hanna was told by the Course Advisor that he may need some extra support as he was nervous about joining Pitman Training, so they worked closely with him as he began his diploma. The team describe Nicki as a warm, friendly and patient person with a strong work ethic. As he progressed, Hanna noticed that Nicki was struggling with the reading side of the learning which seemed to be holding him back from the course.
Nicki made the decision to look into this and found out he had Dyslexia, Dysgraphia and Dyscalculia. This diagnoses helped him to understand why he found school so difficult. He said, "I was delighted as I finally understood why everything was so difficult; and devastated too, as I was now labelled as someone with a learning difficulty.” He didn’t let this deter him and if anything, it made him more determined than ever to get through his course and complete his studies.
The team at the centre worked closely with Nicki to support him as much as they could. They read out the questions in his test, discussed his CV/job opportunities and upgraded him to a two-day touch typing seminar. Although at times Nicki felt embarrassed about asking for help when he saw other students being more self-sufficient, he has actually hugely inspired those around him, with Hanna saying, “I have witnessed him speak to other students and they seem to be inspired by him, listening to how hard he is working for his Diploma.”
When Nicki initially met with the centre staff, they discussed how getting work experience alongside his training would help put his office skills to use. Nicki successfully gained a volunteering position within the Housing Association where he is learning basic office administration while he looks for a new job. He said, “It is great to be able to give something back while I learn what it is like to work in an office.” He has witnessed that people are willing to support him and he wants to give back to other people.
Nicki has put his heart and soul into his Diploma, explaining how “I have shed tears of anger, pain and joy. I am very proud of what I have achieved, especially that I have learnt how to learn. Winning this would mean the world to me - it would validate that I have made the right choices, and of course, it would look great on my CV when I apply for jobs. Most importantly, it would increase my confidence further and prove to me that I am an achiever!”
Hanna said, “As a Course Advisor, I have worked with many students and seeing how hard it is to change your career. I have seen Nicki take this on board with a fantastic attitude. Just being nominated has touched him and being his usual humble self has responded “that is just enough”
Nicki is due to complete his Diploma in March 2018 and has been offered other support roles within the company he works for and will be applying for a full time position soon.
A truly inspirational SuperAchiever and everyone wishes all the best for his future career.
Canterbury student transforms her career from farming to accounts
Rodica has been nominated for this award by Sally Miles, our Canterbury centre owner.
She studied the Foundation Diploma in Accounting with AAT over a period of 9 months and achieved a Distinction in all of the subjects.
Rodica is from Romania. She and her husband worked, and still live on, a local fruit farm with their 14 month old daughter. Rodica was determined to progress her career beyond farming so, whilst working, she saved up to pay for her training. This enabled her to pay for and start training while she was on maternity leave.
Not only was Rodica juggling childcare, she was having to work hard to overcome a language barrier. Sally said that these factors, alongside her positive attitude were just some of the qualities that made her stand out the most, explaining how “she trained with a young baby whilst also improving her English, yet never seemed to struggle with anything...She is committed to her career and making a better life for herself and her family.”
Sally continued and said, “She put her daughter into nursery every morning and studied in the centre pretty much every day for 9 months without fail. She was a model student, gained distinctions in everything first time round and was a real ray of sunshine in the office!
As it happens, she completed her training just before the company above our centre mentioned they were looking for a new accounts person - I put them in touch and Rodica has recently completed her 3 months’ probation there. The company adore her! Rodica is now working out when she can start her level 3 training with us - there's just no stopping her!”
This is a great story of someone determined to change their lives and careers through training, a real story of success and perseverance that has resulted in her finding a good job. Rodica has worked extremely hard to put herself in the best position possible to provide a solid future for her family, a great SuperAchiever!
Judges comments: (Our Judges had differing opinions about the students, but Rodica received an overwhelming 40% of the public vote, which made her the clear winner!)
Catherine Asta Labbett: “I have a lot of admiration for Rodica – she is one determined woman on a mission to change her life for the better.”
North East Award
Tell us about your group/community interest company
Codswallop CIC provides inclusive arts events, activities and groups (drama, singing, music, art) for all living within Aireborough, Leeds, as well as festivals and education programmes across the Yorkshire region.
Our overarching aim is to bring people together and make the arts accessible to all, whilst recreating a lost sense of community.
We achieve this by bridging inter-generational gaps, increasing communication, and a greater sense of community cohesion. We deal with 120 participants week, with hundreds more during events.
Formerly JP Productions we formed in 2013, and became Codswallop CIC Feb 2017. The founder of the organisation, Jacob, set up the groups upon leaving school in 2013, using his experience gained through volunteering at the West Yorkshire Playhouse and partaking in amateur dramatics to create a new artistic buzz around Guiseley. From graphic design to website creation, he has learnt to do it all himself with no degrees or training! He now teaches around 70 kids a week through Codswallop groups, and even more being employed as a freelance drama teacher at a school. From a small club for 11-16's, we now engage with thousands on a monthly basis and truly are at the heart of the community.
What keeps you motivated?
Even when the going gets tough, it is easy to stay motivated when you can see the impact you are having on the daily lives of people. Every week, we share in the lives of both young and old in our community, taking time to find out about their week before getting on with the serious arty stuff! We thrive off positive feedback and always ask the public to tell us about their experiences with us so we can keep growing and evolving in the way that the community want us to.
Who inspires you?
Our participants! They are constantly coming up with inspirational ideas and stories to tell us, and we are continuously learning from them. Whether it is hidden skills that come up in conversation or ideas for new performances- the best source of inspiration comes from collaboration, and when you work with such a wide age group, you learn to look past age barriers and see every individual for who they are.
What are the hopes and goals for the future of your community group?
We want to instigate positive change and be an advocate for accessibility; rekindling a sense of community for all which has ‘eroded’ over the years. We aim to help those leaving education to find purpose, to reignite an individual’s passion for the arts and to assist those who are retired in finding a new purpose.
Through our events and sessions, by exposing people to the arts, we seek to create a buzz that gets people talking about their common ground and shared experiences- irrespective of background- on which a greater sense of community can be built. We want to be a creative hub at the heart of all things Aireborough!
Tell us why you this you should win this award and how you would use the prize?
We think we should win the SuperAchievers award because when we reflect on our growth over the last 5 years, we are so astonished with what we have achieved. These achievements are often overshadowed by a lack of funding and help and it would be incredible to have some official recognition and backing for the community work that we do. Winning this award would reassure and inspire us that we are doing good work, and help us along the way to gaining training that we would be otherwise unable to afford.
If we win this award, the training prize would be provided to staff members/volunteers to help us run our Community Interest Company more effectively! Whilst we are very passionate about all things creative, we really struggle with the day to day running of the business in particular keeping on top of our finances. At the minute we have a voluntary bookkeeper but we think it would be of great value for a team member to have training so that we can sustainably manage this in the future. We have also had no formal training in marketing and are really interested in blogging. We would love to have some more knowledge in this area and think it is such a necessary skill for businesses now.
South East, Folkestone, Kent Region
Tell us about your group/community interest company
Hawkinge Hurricanes Running Club (HHRC) was formed in February 2016 by a small group of dedicated volunteers. Our aim was to offer all ability, all-inclusive running for our local community. We aim to provide a relaxed atmosphere, where fun and fitness go side by side.
The club is run completely by volunteers and is a non-profit making club. We also achieved Clubmark status in 2017 proving to all that our club is run to the best it can be and in the interest of its athletes.
HHRC support all ability of runner and offer twice yearly beginner course, social and charity events. We are proud to support two disabled runners.
What keeps you motivated?
We just love it! It's great seeing people from all walks of life and all abilities achieving their personal goals, be that a first 5k or losing weight. We just enjoy seeing smiling faces at the end of our sessions.
Who inspires you?
Our athletes inspire us to be the best we can be!
What are the hopes and goals for the future of your community group?
We really hope we are nominated for Club of the Year again this year - fingers crossed we win this year. We are hoping to continue our charity events and raising money for others in our community. We want to continue to help out at local schools to educate children in fitness and health.
Tell us why you this you should win this award and how you would use the prize?
We would love to win because we provide a great club supporting our local community and over 100 amazing athletes. If we win this award, the training prize would be used for our amazing volunteer team. If we had some learning opportunities we can fit around our full time jobs as we are all volunteers, it would help our club be the best it can be and give us and our members confidence in how things are run behind the scenes. We would look at finance training, Photoshop, marketing or Excel courses – all to help run the club more effectively. You’re never too old to learn new tricks!
South West, Tewkesbury Region
Tell us about your group/community interest company
Heart of Priors Park was formed on 7th June 2016. Heart of Priors Park has 11 members, all of whom are residents of our estate.
Heart of Priors Park was put together to improve our local play park for the children of the estate. We have worked for two years to get plans put together and have the backing of our local parish council. We have had the agreement that the Park can go ahead and are now fundraising. We give out used school uniform, food bank vouchers and support and guide families. We organise three events a year for our estate and day trips.
Heart of Priors Park main achievement is getting the plans together for our new play park and getting the go ahead by the parish council.
What keeps you motivated?
We have been motivated from the support we get from residents, other projects and being able to be heard and getting the residents heard about issues or problems on our estate and making a change.
Who inspires you?
We inspire ourselves because with our heart of Priors Park we wouldn't have anything to do on our estate and we are very much community spirited.
What are the hopes and goals for the future of your community group?
Our hope for our community group is to grow and support other locals in different areas to do the same as what we have done over the last two years.
Our goal is to get the play park in place by the end of 2018 and to support a youth group to get there skatepark improved.
Tell us why you this you should win this award and how you would use the prize?
I think we should win because we are a group of residents who have come together to improve a area which we love and think a lot off. Over the last two years we have grown from strength to strength and done a lot for our estate. Without heart of Priors Park the estate wouldn't be heard.
If we win this award, the training prize will be used by the Chairman and other members of the group to grow our community group by training in areas such as accounts, marketing, project planning and event planning.
WINNER: East Anglia, Bishops Stortford (1)
Tell us about your group
Castle Park parkrun provides free, timed, 5k runs for all abilities on a weekly basis in Bishop's Stortford. Participants can choose to run, walk, jog or volunteer with us.
Castle Park parkrun launched in September 2017 but had been established in March 2015 as Hatfield Forest parkrun. We were the first parkrun in the UK to successfully move to a new permanent location without their being any interruption in weekly events.
On average, just over 250 people participate on a weekly basis, supported by approximately 30 volunteers. Once registered, a parkrunner can take part at any parkrun event across the world.
Since relocating to Castle Park, over 250 people have volunteered their time to the event, with many more becoming aware of other community initiatives being run by the various council bodies operating within the grounds of where the parkrun takes place.
Nearly 1,700 different people have participated, many completely new to parkrun, finding a new way to become active on a weekly basis.
The event has also been held on Christmas Day to provide a community to those who might not necessarily have company on Christmas Day & has participated in local ventures such as contributing to the local food bank and litter sweeps of the park.
What keeps you motivated?
When having to find a location to move the parkrun to during 2017, it would have been easy for the core team to lose motivation. But seeing the enjoyment brought to those that participate on a weekly basis provided the motivation to carry on & attempt to find an alternative venue for the parkrun.
Parkrun also provides many teenagers with their first exposure to volunteering, with many completing their Duke of Edinburgh with parkrun. The 9am Saturday start doesn't always appeal, but many have remained involved in parkrun well after their required volunteering has finished.
Who inspires you?
Inspiration is easy to find because volunteering at parkrun is so enjoyable. It is hard to define, the experience of seeing someone complete their first, 50th, 250th parkrun, to be part of something that creates a sense of community, a sense of belonging.
What are the hopes and goals for the future of your community group?
To continue to provide an open and welcoming community for all those who want to enjoy being active on a weekly basis. To inspire further local events to be setup, including bringing a junior event to Bishop's Stortford
Tell us why you this you should win this award.
In a short space of time, Castle Park parkrun has established an open and friendly community for a wide range of people both local to Bishop's Stortford and those that want to venture further as a parkrun tourist.
Parkrun welcomes anyone to join, participate and/or volunteer. Throughout my time with both Hatfield Forest parkrun beforehand and now Castle Park parkrun I have felt a sense of belonging. Belonging to a community of like-minded people that is warm and encouraging, that has no barriers to participation. The only thing anyone needs to do in order to take part is to register & print a barcode.
If we win this award, the training prize will be used towards training such as event management.
Tell us about your group/community interest company
At New Start Highland we are working towards a future where people in the Northern Scotland live free from hardship and crisis and are equipped to realise their potential. It is our mission to create opportunities for people to experience the right support, at the right time in the right environment in order for them to transform their lives.
A vital area of our work is our housing support service, which is accessible to adults who are homeless, or at risk of being homeless. Our team delivers individually tailored support to specific housing needs, and works to enable people to develop the life skills required to manage their tenancy.
What keeps you motivated?
We all need help at some point in our lives. We may fall ill, lose our jobs or suffer a breakdown in a key relationship. Sometimes the support we rely on when times are hard fails. We can become overwhelmed by our difficulties, trapped in poverty or fall on hard times. New start highland exists to fill this gap. With the right intervention at the right time people can be supported out of difficulty.
Who inspires you?
James Dunbar is the founding Chief Executive of New Start Highland and has spearheaded its growth from a single employee in 2000 to an organisation with 70 employees and a multi-million pound turnover. Under James’ leadership, New Start Highland has built a range of services including furniture recycling, housing support, community integration, a retail chain and a commercial removals business. James leads a team with a shared vision for creating opportunities to transform Highland lives.
What are the hopes and goals for the future of your community group?
Help as many people as possible, providing new services and opportunities to all the highland residents that need them.
Tell us why you this you should win this award and how you would use the prize?
This was answered by Pitman Training Highland “We think that New Start Highland should win this award due to their sheer dedication and their effort to provide vital support and services to those who need it. The scope of the services they provide i.e. employability training/furniture Provision/housing Support makes their efforts even more effective by supporting these three key areas of development.”
New Start Scotland said “If we win this award, the training prize would be provided to group members and we would look at Finance and/or admin – skills that are always needed for the sector!”
WINNER: East Anglia Region (2)
Note: The judges were not able to choose between 'Castle Park parkrun' and 'The Welbeloved Club' - both from the East Anglia region, so we have decided to split the prize between these two worthy causes.
Tell us about your group
The Welbeloved Club is a monthly Sunday lunch club for people aged 65 and over who are feeling lonely and/or socially isolated. We cater for 48 people per month, plus a team of volunteers. The group was established in August 2017, but launched in February 2018.
We are still very new, so other than being awarded small grants we do not have any significant achievements as of yet. We won £447 from Waitrose in their monthly charity community fund. Our members have reported since attending our lunch, they have made more friends and have been able to connect with these people on the days they are feeling lonely.
What keeps you motivated?
Our motivation is the people that come for lunch. They all say how lonely they feel, and how having lunch on the loneliest day of the week can really break it up for them and set them up for a good week.
Who inspires you?
The club is named after my great grandma, Doris Welbeloved. She spent the last few years of her life very lonely, so she inspired me to name it in her name. My volunteers inspire me as I couldn’t run it without them! And those who attend on their own. Many have not made friends in a long time and find attending on their own very daunting.
What are the hopes and goals for the future of your community group?
My hopes are that the club continues to run, and we continue to be able to successfully finance it. I hope to expand the group, and maybe run more than one and recruit a bigger team of volunteers. I want to be able to cater for more, which ultimately will mean we are helping more people.
Tell us why you this you should win this award
I’ve set this club up purely on a wish to improve the lives of lonely people. Loneliness has always struck a chord with me, and if providing a lunch once a month will make life a little easier for older people, I will continue to do it. I feel I have achieved so much in so little time and I would benefit hugely from training opportunities for both myself and my volunteers.
Tell us about your group
The World Administrators Summit (WASummit), Advisory Council was established in 2003 and is the co-ordinating body for the WASummit which has been held three yearly (9 times) since formation in 1992.
The WASummit is a working event, not a conference. It is non-profit and managed by volunteers. It has been hosted in a number of different countries (USA, UK, SA, NZ, Australia, Trinidad & Tobago, Papua New Guinea).
The Advisory Council has a Chairman and representatives from 12 regions in the world who work together. The Advisory Council focuses on progressing discussion on matters of importance to administrative professionals to, as written in their Purpose Statement, “guide, influence and positively develop the profession”.
The Chairman is myself, Eth Lloyd. I worked at an administrative professional for 35 years. I am a Life Member of the Association of Administrative Professionals New Zealand Inc (AAPNZ) and a former National President of AAPNZ when I developed their Certification programme. In 2010 I completed my Masters Thesis titled “Administrative professionals in New Zealand; their professional development opportunities and career pathways.” This was the first academic writing in New Zealand and perhaps only the 10th in the world on this topic. I have spoken at Lucy Brazier’s Executive Secretary LIVE conferences in London, Dubai, Johannesburg, Auckland and Washington DC. My involvement in the WASummit as a Delegate or Co-Convenor has been since 2000 in Wellington New Zealand and I have attended all events since, except 2015 in Papua New Guinea due to health and family reasons.
What keeps you motivated?
Motivation for me has been the deep desire to see administrative work accepted as a recognised profession as is teaching, nursing, accountancy, etc. The administrative professional catch cries today of; “Speaking with one voice”, “Having your voice heard” and “We are in this together” all contribute to having the voices of administrative professionals around the world being heard - a major factor in my research of giving this part of the workforce a voice.
My first presentation at WASummit 2003 was titled ‘Value ourselves so others value us’ which is now a phrase I am hearing a lot. To me this demonstrates administrative professionals have some control over our outcomes - we can make changes in ourselves to be valued. Social media and the internet is the single most valuable and motivational tool for the WASummit and the Advisory Council to enable working across the world and to sharing the outcomes internationally.
Who inspires you?
The people who inspire me are people like Lucy Brazier, with her continuing enthusiasm and support for administrative professionals around the world and therefore for the WASummit. Others say, I inspire them, I am honoured by that. However, I do know that in today’s world where everyone is busy, I was perfectly placed at the edge of retirement, to take up this role of Chairman through to 2021 and to take the WASummit on a more proactive, research based and challenging pathway. Our aim is to ensure that ‘Administra’ (the World Action Plan held on our website) is a useful tool for administrative professionals and their associations; to ensure the outcomes from the WASummit are on topics that are relevant to administrative professionals around the world and that the voices of individual administrative professionals are heard.
What are the hopes and goals for the future of your community group?
Our Purpose Statement is “A global meeting of administrative and office professionals and Associations; to guide, influence, and positively develop the profession”. The members of the Advisory Council are focused on gathering research to provide valuable and credible information for the administrative professionals in the world. The WASummit itself will work to provide credible outcomes that can be shared throughout the world by the delegates (only three per country) with; their own administrative professionals, their employers, their educators, their HR departments, recruitment organisations and their governments, to advance the case for recognition of this part of the work force as a valuable, essential profession within their workplaces.
Tell us why you this you should win this award and how you would use the prize?
The WASummit Advisory Council is working to guide, influence and positively develop the administrative profession. This group of twelve people from around the world have given of their time, skills and expertise to ensure that the three topics (International Credentialing, International Position Titles and International Networking) from the 2015 WASummit have been researched and will provide outcomes to the 2018 10th WASummit event. They have all given what they can, they have learned to collaborate across time zones and with different cultures, all while working at their full-time paid work and their family demands. Working as a volunteer within an international informal structure (as the Advisory Council is) is both challenging and fulfilling. While I may be the driver, I could not do it without my team and they deserve recognition.
If we win this award, the prize fund would be used as a ‘scholarship’ for an administrative professional(s) somewhere in the world. This is a new idea but is something tangible that the Advisory Council could offer however, it would need discussion and agreement on its distribution.
One of the topics that is being researched by the Advisory Council is International Credentialing. This research is going to take at least another three years through to the 2021 WASummit. However, this prize fund would demonstrate the value a qualification (be it academic or professional) makes to being seen as working in a recognised profession.
The name of Pitman is synonymous with administrative work and so a diploma or certificate from Pitman Training would be of immense value to the administrative professional.
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.