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.

After a final judging process, we identified our amazing top 100 winners and celebrated their awards alongside our sponsors at a ceremony hosted by Barclays.

We spoke to our winners about life after winning a Rising Star award.

We spoke with to Adobea Atsrefi, Senior Internal Auditor, at AIG and a winner in our Rising Stars in Insurance category, Sponsored by Lloyd’s.

Adobea please tell us what has happened in your career since winning the Rising Star awards back in June?

adobea-atsrefi“After the awards I was featured on the AIG internal homepage along with the two other winners from AIG. This article was a celebration of our accomplishments and a thank you to all the employees for their support and votes! This was a great acknowledgement of our achievements and it definitely helped to raise our profiles within the company. We were also invited to a celebratory lunch with the Global CEO which was brilliant. It was nice of him to take time out of his trip to the UK to meet and congratulate us personally.

I was also asked to write an article which was focused on diversity from a millennials perspective. This article was also featured on the AIG intranet. I am still heavily involved in different diversity initiatives and will be helping to run an insight day for penultimate year university students to introduce them to the insurance world.

Finally I have recently been promoted into a Senior Auditor role. This is a role I would have only dreamed of getting but the department saw my potential and so far I love every minute of this new position. The job involves learning about different process within the business, talking to different individuals throughout the company and suggesting improvements if needed, so it plays directly to my skillset (especially the talking part!).”

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

  • “Never be afraid to ask. If you want something, ask the right people and ask the right questions. If you need help, definitely ask! I’ve learnt that fear of asking can definitely hold you back but the worst anyone can ever say is ‘no’ and in my experience, people are always willing to help.
  • Mentors are different to sponsors but both are very important. A mentor will help train and guide you on skills you feel you need to develop, but a sponsor will champion you and help promote you to other individuals.
  • Believe in yourself and know your worth. Never underestimate what you are capable of. This is another thing I did (a lot!) but I have recently realised, I have a lot to offer, I deserve opportunities as much as anyone else and most importantly, I am more than capable! I think once you know that about yourself, the fear of not being good enough goes away (even if only slightly) and you open yourself up to more opportunities.”

Next we spoke to Danielle Ayres, Associate Solicitor, at Gorvins Solicitors and a winner in our Rising Stars in Law, sponsored by Reed Smith.

Danielle please tell us what has happened in your career since winning the Rising Star awards back in June?

danielle-ayres“Since June I have been asked to speak on various BBC Radio stations, across the country and also featured on the National News, discussing pregnancy and maternity leave.

I have been recognised in the Legal 500 for the first time for my maternity discrimination work, with the comment that I fight tirelessly for my clients without losing perspective.

I was asked to be a panel member for The Guardian in a live question and answer session regarding ‘Tips on balancing your career whilst starting a family’ with a follow-up piece featuring some of my advice in the Guardian.

I have continued my volunteer work for Pregnant then Screwed and Working Mums, which continue to assist those suffering pregnancy discrimination.”

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

“Be confident in yourself and have faith that you can achieve even the impossible. You may get knock backs but take time to reflect on them, you will learn from your mistakes.

I suggest making a plan of action, what you want to achieve and the steps you need to take to make that possible. Don’t be scared of deviating from the plan, as you never know what new opportunities this might bring, however check in on it at regular intervals to ensure that you haven’t lost sight of your end goal.”