WeAreTheCity’s Rising Star Awards are now in their fourth year.
The Rising Star awards were introduced to showcase the UK pipeline of female talent below management and to create female 100 role models across 20 different industries and professions.
Over the year’s, the awards have recognised 400 women across the UK and India.
In this ongoing series, we speak to our winners about life after winning a Rising Star award.
We spoke with Emily Walker, who won a 2017 Rising Star Award in the EA/PA category.
Tell us a bit about yourself
My name is Emily Walker and I work as an Executive Assistant at Liverpool John Moores University. After school I did a degree in history at Aberystwyth University. I then worked as an assistant language teacher in Japan for two years and upon my return to England I completed a Master’s degree in Historical Research at the University of Sheffield.
I have been at the LJMU for 14 years having originally started here as a temp. I undertook a six month maternity cover and never left! I initially worked as PA to the Director of Biological and Earth Sciences and then PA to the Director of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences. I currently work for the Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research, Scholarship and Knowledge Transfer and have been in my current role for just over three years.
How did you feel when it was announced that you’d won a Rising Star award?
I was really delighted to have been nominated for an award in the first place so to be shortlisted and then go on to win was a really fantastic feeling. It was my first awards evening and it felt so glamorous to travel down to London and walk into the Times offices. It was a wonderful evening and I made some great connections. I was completely ecstatic to have won and the award has pride of place on my office desk.
Please tell us what has happened in your career since winning the Rising Star awards?
LJMU were really supportive of me being nominated for the award. They published a news story on our intranet about the shortlisting and then published an additional story when I won. Following my win I was nominated for an LJMU Professional Services Award. I was also invited by Hays Recruitment to give a talk to their regional PA network about the Impact of Technology on the Role of the PA. This is something that, as an introvert, I would never have had the confidence to do prior to winning. However, since the recognition of the award I have more faith in my own abilities and have reflected on the achievements I have accomplished throughout my career. After meeting Victoria Darragh at the WATC awards last summer I joined and became a Fellow of the Executive & Personal Assistants Association and have benefitted from some great training and knowledge sharing as a result of this organization. I’ve also completed training and CPD to become a Fellow of the Association of University Administrators.
This year I have been shortlisted for North West PA of the Year in the not-for profit category and I’m looking forward to attending the awards evening at Manchester Cathedral at the end of this month.
Also as a result of winning the WATC award I have been trying to give back to the PA community as much as possible I have been nominating PAs for awards. I have volunteered to be part of the LJMU official mentoring scheme and am currently mentoring and coaching two members of staff, helping them to help themselves resolve problems, develop their careers and improve their work environments. I also set up an internal PA and admin network which was signed off by the Vice Chancellor a few months ago. It was a new challenge preparing a business plan to gain his approval and I’m proud that the university sees that the administrative staff are worthy of investment in training and development.
What advice would you give to someone else going through our award’s process?
Don’t be shy about telling the judges what you have achieved. Often in the PA/EA category we are used to being the back room person and can sometimes find it difficult to shout about our achievements but it’s important not to do ourselves a disservice by being too modest.
Use your networks internally and externally to celebrate being nominated for an award. When I was shortlisted my company were great about celebrating with me by putting a story on our news page. I’m sure that this helped me get some votes as I had lots of lovely emails from staff telling me congratulations and saying that they’d voted for me which really made me feel valued and appreciated at work!
I’d also say get on social media and enjoy the Twitter tweets as it gives you such a buzz being part of the whole process and is a great way to connect with other people in your category prior to meeting in London.
What tips would you give to our other members to enhance their careers?
People are your best asset so if there is someone doing what you want to do connect with them on social media and get the conversation started. Social media is making people so much more accessible so use the resources there to help you get where you want to go.
Make time for training and development – if you can schedule it in in advance you will be able to work round it but if you say I’ll do it when I have some free time you will never do it. Prioritise yourself – you deserve it!
Make use of the great resources available to you such as the WATC Careers Club – especially the events and resources that are free. Schedule half an hour in your calendar to login and see what’s happening, watch a webinar or read an article. When I applied to become a Fellow of the Association of University Administrators the Careers Club resources were a big part of my CPD.