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 Kim Opszala, associate at Dentons and a winner in our Rising Stars in Law category, Sponsored by Reed Smith.

Kim please tell us what has happened in your career since winning the Rising Star awards back in June?kim-opszala

“Since winning the Rising Star in Law earlier this year my career has moved forward in a number of ways.  Firstly, in July 2016 I was promoted internally to the next level of associate.  Second, as a result of the awards, I met Funke Ambimbola who has since mentored me.  Following my initial meeting with Funke I have become involved with Generation Success and Aspiring Solicitors and have recently been appointed as a school governor at Lord Grey, a local secondary school.

I am also in the process of being appointed as a trustee of St Francis’ Children’s Society, an independent adoption agency which places vulnerable children with new families and offers extensive adoption support.  Without meeting Funke I would not have known that such opportunities would be available to me!

I have also continued to volunteer for Worktree, an employability education charity on a mission to help young people succeed in work by broadening their career awareness, stimulating their aspirations and requiring their communication skills.”

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

“My two top tips to enhance your career:

  1. Find a mentor – As a result of winning the award I was introduced to an award-winning lawyer who has helped me to broaden my skills set by making me aware of opportunities outside work.  Having an experienced person to advise and support is essential for your personal  and career development.
  1. Volunteer and give your time to help others – Volunteering is a great way to meet new people, gain new or use existing skills as well as make a big difference in your community.  As a result of my volunteering work, I met a local charity in Milton Keynes which specialises in re-settling refugees.  I was able to advise and assist them, on a pro-bono basis, on setting up their charity.”

Next we spoke to Babs Ofori-Acquah, Founder of Working Girl London and a winner in our Rising Stars in Technology category, sponsored by Morgan Stanley.

Babs please tell us what has happened in your career since winning the Rising Star awards back in June?
Babs Ofori-Acquah

“My company was extremely supportive, publishing an article on my win on their website and sharing it across social media. This has certainly helped to raise my profile within the business, especially among more senior staff. I have been allowed to take on more responsibility by training the new starters within our team and I am now on track for a promotion despite having only been at the company for eight months!

Being shortlisted as Scale Up of the Year in the National Business Awards, my company had to pitch to the judges. I was chosen to pitch alongside our CEO and Head of PR, which was an excellent opportunity. I am confident that my win at the Rising Star awards has played a huge part in these successes and I’m sure it will continue to open doors!”

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

“My number one top tip in getting ahead at work is – don’t be afraid to ask. Whether it is being part of a project, getting a promotion/pay rise or improving an internal process, you will get a lot further if you simply ask. rather than waiting for things to be handed to you. The worst possible thing that can happen is hearing the word ‘No’ and even in this case, no usually just means ‘not right now’.

“My other top tip is to tell people about your successes. Similarly to the point above, others won’t always notice your achievements. While you don’t want to come across as arrogant, it is still important to let others know how you contribute to the team and organisation as a whole.”

Source: WeAreTheCity Information and jobs portal for business women