Rising Stars 2015 - What happened next for our winners?

In 2015, thanks to the help of a number of amazing supporters and sponsors, WeAreTheCity ran the first of its Rising Star awards programmes. The aim of the awards was to identify 50 future leaders and role models under a management level across 10 different industries. After a staggering amount of nominations and an intensive judging period, we finally arrived at our shortlist and opened the public vote. The public vote resulted in over 15,000 votes from across 112 different countries and galvanized amazing support from our nominees networks, their companies, the press, as well as our own sponsors and supporters. After a final judging process, we identified our amazing top 50 winners and celebrated their awards alongside our sponsors, friends and supporters at the House of Commons in September.

Over the next few weeks we will be featuring all of our winners to find out what happened next after collecting their Top 50 Rising Star Awards.

Firstly, we speak to Dara Kirton of PwC who was one of our winners in the Rising Stars in Consultancy category, sponsored by EY

Dara Kirton ©John Cassidy The Headshot Guy®www.theheadshotguy.co.uk07768 401009Dara, please tell us what has happened since winning your Rising Star award in September?

Firstly, I'm beyond grateful for the WeAreTheCity Rising Star award and really wanted to summarise how much the visibility I have gained from the award.

My employer PwC have been massive supporters of my progress. They shared the success with my team and beyond. They also posted my picture on the intranet and wrote an article on the day in the life of me!  Because of the rising star award the people partner for consulting is also sponsoring me to attend a young leadership summit called” One Young World” in Thailand next week. The summit brings together global leaders aged 18-30 to discuss big global challenges. Please look it up as previous speakers have been epic! It's an opportunity for me to learn how I can continue to make a lasting impact in my organisation and community, but also on a global platform! I couldn't be more excited!

I also got to meet Gaenor Baegley who sits on the PwC board and is responsible for the people agenda.  As a result, I'm going to be work-shadowing her for a day next month.

Last week I received another award from my team for in their words "being a rising star."

Alongside the recognition internally, there has been a great increase in my profile externally. Although I was doing a good job before, clients are now more aware of my achievements. I was extended on my project and have continued to build a great client relationship with key contacts.

A major newspaper called The Voice covered the Rising Star awards and I was mentioned. The Guardian also asked me to join a panel for young women looking for careers advice. Dream Nation are also currently doing a write up of my career journey so far for their readers (predominantly ethnic minorities).

I was also nominated for another award (Precious - celebrating women of colour) last month.

In summary, I used to think just doing a great job was good enough. However, the awards have helped me to realise how valuable visibility and sponsorship are and how one door can open so many others.

So what top tips would you give to our other members to enhance their careers?
  1. Network,
  2. Find people you aspire to
  3. Build a team of people you trust

Next, we talk to Lucy Brooker of RBS, one of our winners of our Rising Stars in Banking, which was sponsored by Societe Generale.

Lucy BrookerLucy, please tell us what has happened in your careers since winning the Rising Star awards back in September?  

I am pleased to announce that since the awards I have just received a double promotion! I will be shortly moving from my existing role in Learning and Development to a new role where I will be now be coaching senior leaders of the bank and leading a team of 3-4 people. This is a massive and exciting opportunity for me and totally unexpected.

Since the awards, I have also run and developed a ‘bio’ workshop alongside the Focused Women Network. This session was created to help others to create a powerful and interesting biography, which will help them promote themselves both internally and externally. It also gives our network a bank of bio’s that we can use in the future to nominate others for future awards.

So what top tips would you give to our other members to enhance their careers?
  • Get involved with the ‘other stuff’ – the extra curricula activity. Volunteer to get involved with networks, volunteers to help on the charity day, volunteer to lead a team project! It all helps with the networking, experience and profile.
  • Get a mentor and become a mentor – so many great opportunities have come from this, and also the feel good factor
  • Look for a new job opportunity every 18 months, side ways or upwards.

Finally, we speak with Olivia (Liv) Cooke of Liv Cooke Freestyle, who was one of our winners of Rising Stars in Sport, sponsored by Ladbrokes.

Liv CookeLiv, please tell us what has happened in your careers since winning the Rising Star awards back in September?  

Since the awards I've filmed with Adidas for an upcoming commercial. I've done several workshops teaching children freestyle football tricks whilst aiming to inspire them to try to get active and have fun and at the same time implementing the message that stereotypes will be broken in the near future (i.e. a 16 year old girl teaching little boys and girls football tricks).

I had a meeting with Tracey Crouch the minister of sport to discuss how we can work together to get girls more in to sports. I've filmed as part of a channel 4 documentary for young entrepreneurs.

I've performed at half time for Everton football club. I also performed on the Jordanian stand at the world travel market in London where I had the honour of performing to the prince of Jordan. I also became the ambassador for football in Jordan. I'm now in partnership with TheSportBible (a Facebook page that have over 7.2million likes). I've been on euro sports TV showcasing my skills. Furthermore I've received lots of bookings for shows etc... For instance this weekend I'm flying out to Amsterdam to do a show and then to meet with an Dutch ex-professional footballer to help kick start her platform for female athletes.

So what top tips would you give to our other members to enhance their careers?

I seem to answer this question quite frequently now. My first big tip is: passion. There must be passion. If you love something and are passionate about it then you'll enjoy it and that's the most important thing in my opinion. This will give you energy and fuel your hard work, you'll love your job and you won't lose motivation. My second tip, is be driven. Obstacles will appear and problems will fly at you but you must be determined. You must keep pushing and working hard. My third and final tip is direction. You must know where you want to go, you must have a plan. Something may pop up tomorrow that changes everything however without knowing your out come, goals and destination you can't possibly reach it. If you're passionate, driven and know what you want then nothing will stop you. Love what you do and implement strategies to reach your goals. Good luck.

WeAreTheCity would like to extend our sincere thanks to all of our Rising Stars for sharing their successes with us. I am sure you will agree they are all achieving amazing things and offering sound advice to future Rising Stars.

We look forward to featuring another three of our rising stars next week. Please note our Rising Star Awards programme for 2016 opens on February 1st - click here for more details and to register your interest in our awards

Alessandra Villa | Arup

Alessandra VillaAlessandra is a driven and ambitious engineer. She graduated from the Politecnico di Milano University and has been working as a Bridge Engineer for Arup for the last 6 years, from offices in Birmingham, Amsterdam, London and Singapore.

She has a real passion about bridges and succeeded, through her daily job, to work on World record projects all around the World as well as in the UK. Together with being a hard worker and a bright engineer, Alessandra is passionate about mentoring young engineers, as well as increasing the visibility of the construction industry.

Alessandra is a guide for graduates within her company and students from both British and Italian universities.

Alessandra is deeply involved with the charity Bridges to Prosperity, working with them for over two years developing a tool for the design of suspension bridges in rural isolated areas. In 2014 she was part of a team who designed and built a bridge in the Panamanian jungle, which has since won the prestigious ICE Designed in London Award.

When she went to Panama she also championed and delivered a University programme that involved her teaching at a local university close to the bridge location and hosting the students on site for a day.