In 2016, thanks to the help of a number of amazing supporters and sponsors, WeAreTheCity ran its Rising Star awards programme for a second year.
The aim of the awards was to identify 100 future leaders and role models under, management level, across 20 different industries. After more than 800 nominations and an intensive judging period, we finally arrived at our shortlist and opened the public vote.
The public vote resulted in over 27,000 votes from across 110 different countries and galvanized amazing support from our nominees’ networks, their companies, the press, as well as our own sponsors and supporters.
We spoke to our winners about life after winning a Rising Star award.
First we spoke with Karen Glenn, EA to Robin Brown VP Portfolio & Marketing & Kevin Kearns CFO at Colt Data Centre Services and a winner in our Rising Stars in EA/PA category, sponsored by Executive & Personal Assistants Association.
Karen, tell us what has happened in your career since winning the Rising Star awards back in June?
“When it was announced that I was a winner of one to the PA/EA Rising Stars, I had just been 1 week into a new role in the City of London. So, I here I was the new girl working hard to establish myself in a new company and then announced to them that they had hired a 2016 We are the City Rising Star EA award winner. I felt that I would have to set the bar high and felt I should ensure that I transitioned into the new company and role as quickly as possible. I have since been told that it was a pretty gutsy thing to do 1 week into a new job – the Execs I support would now expect an exceptional EA.
On the afternoon of the night of the award presentation, I was called into a meeting, my bosses came into the room followed by HR, I then thought, “hello – I hope this isn’t going to be bad..” Then they presented with some champagne to celebrate the award and told me how proud they were to have me working for them. Since then I like to think that I haven’t disappointed them and conversations and passing the usual probation period indicate that they more than happy.
When I am not working, I have been pulling together the 2nd networking event for NESS “Essex PA Network”, with my co-founder. Even though I work in London, I live in Essex and feel that it is important that the PAs of Essex have a regional network as not everyone wants to travel into London after work to attend events. Although it is time consuming with my working week and daily commute, NESS, is something that I am extremely proud and passionate about and with my co-founder, we aim to continue to grow this local network which then allows me to “pay it forward” to our “Nessies”.
I have also had some approaches via twitter and Linkedin from other PAs in my network, asking me for some careers advice. It is a real compliment to think that they value my opinion, experience and guidance to help them advance further.”
What top tips would you give to our other members to enhance their careers?
“Don’t let yourself stagnate, if you don’t see any opportunities for you to develop your career internally, then it may be time to take the bull by the horns and move on. We are creatures of habit and sometimes just the thought of change is scary, but, there really are loads of opportunities out there for you, and if you work hard you can achieve your goals. It may take baby steps to get there but it will happen if you have the ambition and desire.
Networking (both via social media and in person) and it is a great way to get your profile/personal brand out there, I believe that for PAs/EAs networking is really important. The PA community on social media is fantastic and so supportive to each other.
It is important to make sure that you take every development opportunity you can, technology changes so quickly, you can also learn from your own networks that you are part of. Development isn’t always about having to spend money on training courses, although they are great, but don’t rule out any free training opportunities that may come your way. If you can get a mentor they can also help you in terms of development both professionally and personally.
Remember that you will never know what you are capable of until you take that first step and go for it.”
Next we spoke to Squadron Leader Sherry McBain, an RAF Nursing Officer, a team leader on the Critical Care Air Support Team (CCAST) and a winner in the Rising Stars in Defence category, sponsored by PA Consulting Group.
Sherry, tell us what has happened in your career since winning the Rising Star awards?
“Since the awards, my fellow Defence category winners and I have been celebrated across Defence Media platforms.
Life continues to be busy, In my day job, I continue to be the Lead Staff Officer responsible for the preparation, mobilisation and recovery of all Unit personnel sent on exercises, Operations or Defence Tasks. I am also responsible for the preparation, facilitation and delivery of all military mandatory training and the physical development of approx. 400 Unit Personnel.
In my role as Deputy Chair of the RAF Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Network I co-organised a Defence LGBT Pride in Defence Conference which focused on Leadership, Culture and Outreach and was held at Ministry of Defence Main Building, Whitehall . The aim of the conference was to look at how Defence embraces the LGBT community, recognises the value of LGBT personnel, and how this continues to require strong leadership from both inside and outside the LGBT community in order to remain an employer of choice. We had 140 Attendee’s from all ranks and grades. Our VIP guest included the Permanent Secretary, the Minister of State for the Armed Forces, Chief of Defence People alongside Ruth Hunt (CEO Stonewall) and Senior leaders from all Services. The conference evaluated exceptionally well and the Chief Of Defence People has agreed to sponsor this event going forward.
Since the awards I was invited and participated in the ‘Authenticity in Leadership’ panel at the GE Aviation UK Diversity Conference. I also had the honor of leading the RAF marching contingent at this years’ London Pride in front of 80,000 spectators – one of my proudest career moments to date.
I was also very surprised to be notified recently that I have been selected to attend the Women of the Year Lunch on 17 October and I am humbled to be regarded as a ‘Woman of Achievement’ amongst 400 extraordinary women, one of whom I am delighted to announce, is my wife Mandy.”
What top tips would you give to our other members to enhance their careers?
“Believe in yourself; even on those days when your brain is telling you ‘you can’t do it’. Take a deep breath and give it your best shot… you will never be able to do something unless you try. For all those people watching you – you set the standard and they will try to overcome their inner voice too remembering what you were able to achieve when you tried.
As a nurse I find helping others exceptionally rewarding whether that is in a nursing capacity, as an Officer in the RAF or as a friend/colleague. Nothing is more rewarding than seeing someone you have helped or mentored achieve their goals, whether that be promotion or acceptance onto a professional course or an improvement in their confidence. Time is a valuable commodity but try to make time for those who need it. Try and take on something challenging that stretches you – you only truly know what your capacity is when you put yourself into stretch.
Find a good role model and observe what they do and how they do – take the bits you admire and emulate them. It helps build your confidence and enables you to become the very best ‘you’.”
WeAreTheCity would like to extend our sincere thanks to all of our Rising Stars for sharing their successes with us. We are sure you will agree that they are all achieving amazing things and offering sound advice to future Rising Stars.
We look forward to featuring more of our Rising Stars next week. Please note our Rising Star programme for 2017 opens on 1st February 2017. More details will be posted to the site during January – click here for more information and to register your interest in our awards.