Rising Star Awards: What happened next for Caroline Rees Williams

Caroline Rees Williams

WeAreTheCity’s Rising Star Awards are now in their tenth year.

The Rising Star Awards are the first to focus on the achievements of women below Senior Management or Director level – representing the female talent pipeline and the next generation of future leaders.

In this ongoing series, we speak to our winners about life after winning a Rising Star award.

We spoke to Caroline Rees Williams, who won a Rising Star EA/PA Award in 2023.

Hi there – my name is Caroline, and I was one of the proud recipients of a Rising Star EA / PA award in 2023.

I have 9 years’ experience in office and operations management and am currently Operations Manager and EA to the CEO at The Valesco Group. Valesco is a real estate investment and asset management company based in Mayfair, London, and I’ve been here since July 2020.

I hold a BSc. (Hons) Economics from the University of Birmingham, and alongside my day job, I also sit on the Board of Trustees of The Valesco Foundation, solely responsible for its operations and administration.

How did winning a Rising Star award influence your perception of your own achievements and potential?

Hearing that I had won a Rising Star award was a genuine “take stock” moment for me – I vividly remember where I was when I received the email and the exclamation that I let out! I am so honoured to have been recognised by an industry powerhouse such as WeAreTheCity and to be in such esteemed company with my fellow category winners Amber, Jackie, Stephanie and Marian.

The Rising Star awards are a sought-after accolade not only in the EA / PA industry, but for junior to mid-level professional women in the UK, and it’s clear from looking at past recipients that only the best-of-the-best win, so to be able to count myself as one of the recipients was admittedly at first a little unbelievable, but once it sunk in, was affirming and really eye-opening for me to acknowledge and pat myself on the back for my achievements to date. I’ve also found it helpful to break my own self-limiting beliefs – had you asked me in 2022 if I thought I would win a Rising Star award I’d have said absolutely not, so to have proven myself wrong has inspired me to back myself more, put my hat in the ring more and to ensure I’m not holding myself back.

Have there been specific opportunities or doors that opened for you as a result of receiving the award?

Since winning a Rising Star award, I have been invited to speak on a panel at The PA Show in London which is arguably the event for assistants in the UK, and have also recently been accepted to be a mentor for junior assistants and office managers in London, and I’m certain that I wouldn’t have had the confidence to even apply for a mentorship scheme prior to winning a Rising Star award, let alone be accepted!

How has winning the award affected your professional network and relationships within your industry?

One of the beauties of winning a Rising Star award is the vast and expansive alumni network that it exposes you to – I now have an open door to hundreds of high-achieving, hungry, inspiring and like-minded women, which is so powerful for those of us who are still at the earlier end of their career.

What advice would you give to someone else thinking of nominating themselves or others for the awards?

Do it! You have nothing to lose and potentially everything to gain.

I think it’s in our nature as women and more specifically as administrative professionals to take a backseat and be modest so it can feel uncomfortable to enter awards. Just do it – you deserve the recognition and the spotlight.

What advice do you have for individuals aspiring to achieve success in their careers?

  • Mentality over ability – skills can be taught, but mentality and mindset cannot. It’s far more important for your growth that you remain committed, hungry, inquisitive and ambitious than knowing how to do everything
  • Ask questions – never be afraid to ask questions, no matter your level, no matter how silly you feel it might be or how busy the person who has the answer appears to be
  • Ask for feedback – it’s not always easy to hear, or deliver, but I strongly believe that you will improve and develop quicker if you are able to ask for and receive constructive feedback from your peers, manager/s and juniors
  • Build your black book – networking admittedly isn’t something that comes naturally to me, but I’ve made a concerted effort in the last year or so to join networks, attend events and enter awards to meet my peers. It’s been so helpful to meet like-minded people who just “get” what I do and are a quick call or text away if I ever need advice or a recommendation, or likewise to help them wherever I can

What is next for you?

I’m keen to take advantage of the professional momentum that I built in 2023 by continuing to build my network, continuing to challenge myself and soak up knowledge and experience whilst doing so, and intentionally make time to help others in the administrative industry.

Where can others follow you?

You can find me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/caroline-rees-williams-32016b112

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