2014 Winners and shortlisted

Leadership in the Public Sector sponsored by Academi Wales – Martin Brown (Award Winner)
The Shortlist – click the name for a profile.
Martin Brown – Work Service Director Wales and Employers for the Department for Work and Pensions
Bernard Galton – Director General and HR Head of Profession for Welsh Public Sector in Welsh Government
Kath McGrath – Assistant Director of Operations (Lead for Unscheduled Care) for Cwm Taf University Health Board
Dr Ian Mitchell – Senior Lecturer in Sport Psychology at Cardiff Metropolitan University

All content in these “Leadership Stories” has been provided by the finalist themselves. All information has been accepted in good faith. Any references to individuals or circumstances have been relayed in the finalist’s own words and have not been verified by the Leading Wales Awards Directors or its Consortium. Any views expressed are those of the individual concerned and are not necessarily the views of the Leading Wales Awards Directors or Consortium members.


Martin Brown

Work Service Director Wales and Employers for the Department for Work and Pensions

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
In 1992, I was made redundant; a shattering experience that has been influential in my passion for helping tackle the tragedy of unemployment. That excites me and has influenced my leadership style – passion for what you do; people see it in your eyes and hear it in your voice.  Knowing who you are, what motivates you, having coping strategies and knowing the difference I want to make gets me through tough times. Honest reflection of my leadership each day: “was I at my best?” Recognising my strengths and vulnerabilities helps me to continue to improve, learn and move on.

What have been the main highlights and challenges since taking up your leadership role with the DWP?
Welfare Reform is the most ambitious overhaul of the system since its inception, against a backdrop of financial crisis, austerity and political differences.  Leading the implementation of these changes is a huge challenge.  They affect the communities in which we live.  My team, in 62 locations across Wales, has responded fantastically to these challenges, contributing to growth in employment and Welsh unemployment below UK average. Stepping away from the politics and focusing on high quality service – doing what’s right, making a difference, helping them to believe that what we’re doing is important, with significantly reduced resources in a digital world. Huge challenge – great opportunity!

What have been the most helpful things you have learnt from these highlights and challenges?
The power of collaborative leadership. Inclusion spans all elements of society and requires a step change in leadership; it’s not just being a great leader of your organisation. It requires us to be influential leaders in society. I’ve personally nurtured this approach and seen the rewards it brings to those who most need support.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing leaders in Wales in 2014?
Wales has enormous potential but suffers from poverty of ambition.  We are losing talent and missing opportunities for growth.  With elections looming, political campaigning has the potential to reinforce negative perceptions of citizens and employers. Continued wage restraint requires leaders to be extraordinary in their engagement – engaged teams are more tolerant, more productive and more receptive to change.

Which other leaders in Wales do you admire and why?
A key aspect of leadership for me is the legacy you want to leave. On this basis, the vision and determination of Aneurin Bevan whose legacy is so very obvious to all.  More locally, Sir Terry Matthews for showing what’s possible when you have vision, drive and tenacity.  If only more Welsh people could be like him!

What is one word that sums up leadership for you?
Humility


Bernard Galton

Director General and HR Head of Profession for Welsh Public Sector in Welsh Government

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
Starting my Civil Service Career at the bottom and working through every level to Director General has provided me with invaluable insight into corporate life and behaviours. It has helped to build my credibility to lead others through challenging times and to assist me to influence and persuade people to do more than they thought they were capable of.
In my personal life managing complex family issues has provided me with a greater understanding and empathy o f many of the difficulties and challenges faced by others during their working lives.

What have been the main highlights and challenges since taking up your leadership role in the Welsh Government?
My remit to develop the HR Public Sector community was a daunting prospect. This was not an executive role as public sector organisations are autonomous. There was a risk that I would be seen as a threat rather than someone who could add value. It was vital to build strong relationships and to gain consensus and positive engagement
Particular highlights include: launching the Employee Assistance Programme, which is a large collaborative procurement programme; developing the HR CYMRU brand to provide a focus and ownership for HR professionals across Wales, and winning the CIPD HR working across boundaries national award in 2013.

What have been the most helpful things you have learnt from these highlights and challenges?
They reinforced my belief that great outcomes can come from people working well as a team. They also demonstrated how it is important to be ambitious, to move quickly but not to rush people, and that sometimes those with the quietest voice have the most powerful things to say.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing leaders in Wales in 2014?
All leaders face the significant challenge of how to improve employee engagement at a time of continuing economic uncertainty. The discretionary effort people give, and must continue to give, makes the difference between organisational success and failure. Building strong employee engagement is a key leadership role and is often underestimated.

Which other leaders in Wales do you admire and why?
Leadership is tough and it does not matter whether it is within the Public, Private or Third Sector it all takes time, energy and commitment. I admire those leaders who stand by their values, develop future talent and have the vision to take a longer term view rather than make decisions based on expediency.

What is one word that sums up leadership for you?
Motivator


Kath McGrath

Assistant Director of Operations (Lead for Unscheduled Care)for Cwm Taf University Health Board

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I have worked in clinical roles for many years initially as a registered nurse and then as a midwife. My vast amount of clinical experience has driven me to always look to improve the patient experience and ensure services meet the needs of individuals. I was blessed with parents that always went that extra mile and always put others first, they wanted the best and never gave up on a challenge. They have made me morally what I am today, which is someone who strives for the best and will pursue challenges that will deliver quality care.

What have been the main highlights and challenges since taking up your leadership role with Cwm Taf University Health Board?
Main highlights have been that I believe and have proved, that change can happen on a major scale within organisations, and that these changes can make a considerable positive impact on patient outcomes and experiences. Staff have engaged in the change in such a way that they now own the issues and take personal responsibility for improvement. The main challenge was to create the space for change in such a highly politically sensitive area, where a reactive, non- sustainable approach to change had been the norm. Convincing people to trust and believe in me as a leader was paramount.

What have been the most helpful things you have learnt from these highlights and challenges?
One of the most powerful lessons I have learnt is that given the right environment, support and time, ordinary people can do extra-ordinary things. The evidence that has emerged during this period of change has given me the courage to have belief in myself as a leader.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing leaders in Wales in 2014?
To remain grounded and not always look for the clever/ innovative answer to issues. Going back to the basic principles, holding your nerve and believing that doing the right things well, consistently together as a team is what really makes the difference. Believe in the talents of your team and release their potential.

Which other leaders in Wales do you admire and why?
The Health Minister- Professor Mark Drakeford
The minister has an intelligent appreciation of the service challenges, and displays a genuine commitment to improving services in Wales for the people of Wales. He is prepared to defend services when required and trusts people like me to lead on delivery and improve performance.

What is one word that sums up leadership for you?
Belief


Dr Ian Mitchell

Senior Lecturer in Sport Psychology at Cardiff Metropolitan University

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
Through critical reflection on my personal, sporting and academic experiences I have recognised opportunities to learn and develop as a leader. I have grown through success and failure, both of which have allowed me to appreciate the importance of knowledge, self-awareness and the capacity of influencing behaviour through relationship quality. Experience within developmental and performance related contexts has raised awareness of the dynamics and the situations within which groups develop. Consequently, I lead with a high level of contextual intelligence, focusing on the motivational climate of the group and respective environment.

What have been the main highlights and challenges since taking up your leadership role with the Welsh Football Trust organisation?
The most rewarding aspect of my role has been working with others that are receptive to change. Through reflective processes and evidence-based practice in mentoring and leadership, groups have gained confidence and developed a next action culture. This has resulted in a significant number of voluntary coach mentors and mentoring opportunities across Wales and a considerable shift in the progression through coach education awards. Inevitably there have been challenges that have reinforced the focus and proactive nature of my leadership. Constraints highlighted the importance of recognising shared values in order to link the vision to goals and subsequent operational performance.

What have been the most helpful things you have learnt from these highlights and challenges?
I have learned to move away from my comfort zone and become less fearful of the consequences of my own behaviour. As a result of a heightened awareness of my needs, motives and emotions I have been influential through social awareness and relationship management.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing leaders in Wales in 2014?
Societal changes and economic constraints will mean that leaders will need to think differently and become more innovative in provision. Leading with a more commercial mindset and aligning expectations to respective stakeholders should provide a more pragmatic industry-led approach to leadership.

Which other leaders in Wales do you admire and why?
It would be unfair for me to highlight any one individual as I have admired many over the years. However, those providing me with inspiration have always created a vision enabling others to achieve that vision through a challenging yet healthy climate.

What is one word that sums up leadership for you?
Transformational


Leadership in the Voluntary and Not for Profit Sector sponsored by Fairwood Trust – Karen Dusgate (Award Winner) with Andrew Walker

The Shortlist – click the name for a profile.
Karen Dusgate Chief Executive of Merthyr Tydfil Housing Association
Cathy Davies Chief Executive of Hafan Cymru
Linda James CEO of BulliesOut

All content in these “Leadership Stories” has been provided by the finalist themselves. All information has been accepted in good faith. Any references to individuals or circumstances have been relayed in the finalist’s own words and have not been verified by the Leading Wales Awards Directors or its Consortium. Any views expressed are those of the individual concerned and are not necessarily the views of the Leading Wales Awards Directors or Consortium members.


Karen Dunsgate

Chief Executive of Merthyr Tydfil Housing Association

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
My life experiences could be described as interesting, unconventional, happy, sad, challenging, incredibly fulfilling and at times unique. This has given me many opportunities to meet people and experience situations and circumstances enabling me to empathise with others; to see things from different perspectives; to understand and appreciate the challenges people face in their lives and to work to create an environment, community and organisation that inspires people to achieve their potential – where there is integrity, respect, where we can safely challenge the status quo and work towards creating a more equal, safe, ambitious, successful, caring, passionate organisation and community.

What have been the main highlights and challenges since taking up your leadership role with the MTHA?
Most certainly this was the poor reputation and baggage that the organisation had when I joined. Relationships were strained within the organisation and with our partner organisations – governance was inappropriate and unacceptable and the leadership team (Board and senior managers) were neither engaged nor respected. The highlights have been seeing how everyone has come together to recognise and address this; how everyone has engaged in and taken ownership of their roles; how Board is respected and how strong the relationships are now – built on trust; laughter; accountability and a desire to make the organisation a successful, fulfilling place to work.

What have been the most helpful things you have learnt from these highlights and challenges?
To believe and trust in what you are trying to achieve; that support will come when things are most difficult, from the least expected places; you can achieve so much more in partnership than you can on your own; you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar!

What do you think is the biggest issue facing leaders in Wales in 2014?
Overcoming the negativity associated with the economic downturn; to not focus on how difficult things are but on the opportunities there are to make a real difference. Finding allies and partners and exploring common ground / opportunities and then working together to realise that shared vision and ambition.

Which other leaders in Wales do you admire and why?
Kate Bennett , Director of the EHRC in Wales, for her inclusive and innovative approach to engagement across Wales from government to local community organisations and individuals and every type of organisation in between – she is both innovative and inspirational.

What is one word that sums up leadership for you?
Passion!


Cathy Davies

Chief Executive of Hafan Cymru

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
Having experienced an incidence of sexual violence in my 20s, whilst it in no way marked me in any lasting way, led to a lifetime interest in women’s issues and a desire to tackle violence against women and domestic abuse in our society. The passion this inspired within me has symbolised the way I have led Hafan Cymru over the past 25 years; understanding those we support and managing a staff of 150 has taught me patience, and the need for compassion. I know now when to lead from the front and when to let others take the initiative with my support.

What have been the main highlights and challenges since taking up your leadership role with the Hafan Cymru?
The highlights: Signing the contract for the first housing development felt like a stepping stone to great things to come; developing/ taking forward our flagship schools programme raising awareness of Domestic Abuse since 2001; winning the tender for the first complex needs refuge in Wales; recently receiving almost £1 million from BIG Lottery Fund for a multi-agency centre.
The challenges: The constant challenge of financial stability, including 5 changes of funding regime, three of which led to major losses in revenue income; constant funding cuts; being informed in 1991 that we could not develop the type of housing complex we were established to develop; managing people.

What have been the most helpful things you have learnt from these highlights and challenges?
Tenacity and how to negotiate the best outcome, even if it’s not what you originally planned; the importance of being flexible and adapting to changing circumstances; how everyone is different and enabling people to give of their best requires you to include them in decision making, and recognise and celebrate those differences.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing leaders in Wales in 2014?
Devolution has brought very positive changes to Wales but significant challenges remain. The country is still recognised as one of the poorest regions by Europe, despite these very positive changes. This long-term deprivation, and its attendant effects on health, educational achievement, employment, sustainability, community resilience, and our ability to grow entrepreneurs, is our biggest challenge as leaders today.

Which other leaders in Wales do you admire and why?
Tanni Grey Thompson for her commitment to challenge inequality and get the able-bodied to stop disabling others.
Aneurin Bevan for having the vision to develop the best health service in the world free at the point of delivery.
Kelly of Vi-ability for taking a personal gift and turning it into a business motivating young people.

What is one word that sums up leadership for you?
We


Linda James

is CEO of BulliesOut

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
From a young age I have experienced personal difficulties and challenges in my life – from my own direct experiences of bullying, a difficult home life when I was growing up and experiences during my adult life which have challenged the very core of my strength and resilience. By working through and overcoming each of these difficulties and challenges, I feel my role as a leader is undertaken with empathy and compassion at the forefront of all I do. Aside from that, my experiences have led me to have high expectations of both myself and those I lead in order for us as individuals and for the organisation to achieve its ambitious goals.

What have been the main highlights and challenges since taking up your leadership role with Bullies Out?
My entire experience in the leadership role with BulliesOut has been one of learning and personal development. The main highlights for me have been the ability and privilege of working with some inspirational and hard-working individuals, being able to see direct and tangible results of the work we do and making personal strides and achievements along the way. The main challenges for me have been striving to achieve the finances required to enable us to continue to grow and develop, working unsalaried for the first 7 years and managing the expectations of both our beneficiaries and those involved with the organisation.

What have been the most helpful things you have learnt from these highlights and challenges?
I have discovered my own levels of determination, strength and resilience and developed these along the journey. I have learnt that Leadership is about empowering others to excel. Vision comes first – then when you empower others to excel you build trust, have mutual respect, honour accountability and have success.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing leaders in Wales in 2014?
One of the main themes is how much the world we live in is changing. These changes are hitting us all from every direction meaning leaders must constantly be asking themselves, “What does this change mean to me?”; “How can I navigate myself and my business through this?”

Which other leaders in Wales do you admire and why?
I admire Simon Weston. I believe Simon is inspirational and has overcome adversity to achieve so much. Simon has a positive mental attitude and conveys a determined message – to accept what is but turn it to your advantage.

What is one word that sums up leadership for you?
Empowerment


Leadership in Private Sector sponsored by Hello Starling – Mario Kreft MBE (Award Winner)

The shortlist – click the name for a profile.
Mario Kreft MBE – Managing Director of Pendine Park Care Organisation
Steven Madeley – Centre Director of St David’s Dewi Sant
James Norvill – Chief Executive of GD Environmental Services Ltd

All content in these “Leadership Stories” has been provided by the finalist themselves. All information has been accepted in good faith. Any references to individuals or circumstances have been relayed in the finalist’s own words and have not been verified by the Leading Wales Awards Directors or its Consortium. Any views expressed are those of the individual concerned and are not necessarily the views of the Leading Wales Awards Directors or Consortium members.


James Norvill

Chief Executive of GD Environmental Services Ltd

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I have always had an intrinsic passion to succeed, and to be a market leader within the Waste Management Industry. Throughout my working life, I have learnt from those around me, and have made mistakes along the way, from which I have learnt very valuable lessons.

What have been the main highlights and challenges since taking up your leadership role with with GD Environmental Services Ltd?
Leading the way within the waste management industry brings its own set of highlights and challenges, with my biggest achievement being guiding GD Environmental from a small drainage company into a national provider of all forms of waste management.

The biggest challenges facing the waste management industry are the constant changes within waste policy, strategy and legislation. To overcome these, it is essential that I have recruited, trained and developed experts within the waste management field who are capable of instantly reacting to changes as and when they happen, ensuring that GD Environmental is one step ahead at all times.

What have been the most helpful things you have learnt from these highlights and challenges?
That anything is achievable if you want it bad enough.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing leaders in Wales in 2014?
Maintaining high levels of service and profit during times of rapid growth.

Which other leaders in Wales do you admire and why?
I admire successful friends within business, who despite tough economic climates have continued to thrive off opportunities as and when they arise.

What is one word that sums up leadership for you?
Pleasurable


Mario Kreft MBE

Managing Director of Pendine Park Care Organisation

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I view leadership as a journey not a destination and consider the following life experiences to have had, in different ways, a significant impact:

Values: Major influences were my grandparents who instilled in me the importance of “fairness” and “doing the right things”. Setting values is the easy part – living them is the challenge.

Determination: I quickly learned you have to begin thinking and behaving like a winner – “what the mind can conceive the mind can achieve”.

Courage: (of your convictions) by putting in place strategies that are bold, realistic – underpinned by goals that inspire, cause excitement and perhaps a little fear.

What have been the main highlights and challenges since taking up your leadership role with the Pendine Park Care Organisation?
(1)Based on values and creation of a unique brand / identity seeing the Organisation grow to the size it is today. The challenge throughout has been to adhere to the core ethos that everything must revolve around our residents – enriching their lives and well-being is paramount. Specific challenges have included the building of a loyal team, ensuring the right cultures and goals to motivate people and keeping an eye on the future.

(2) The championing of change within the wider care sector to give voice and status to the independent sector. Highlights have included formation of Care Forum Wales, Wales Care Awards, Academy of Care Practitioners and, on a personal note, an MBE for services to Social Care.

What have been the most helpful things you have learnt from these highlights and challenges?
It is never possible to effect quality improvement into the care system through regulation – you have to build it in.
Treat people as you would expect to be treated.
Listening is at least as important as talking.
Key messages – constant repetition gets the message home.
Remember the little things – a simple thank you goes a long way towards building loyalty.
4 P’s – People, Positive, Professional, Performance.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing leaders in Wales in 2014?
Keeping your team and individuals engaged and energised. Notwithstanding we are more connected than ever, engagement is a real challenge and requires on an on-going basis the building of trust, rapport, loyalty. It requires the leader to champion from the front in terms of dealing with uncertainties, being the visionary, visible, influencer and defender.

Which other leaders in Wales do you admire and why?
For me it has to be Mr Trefor Jones, CVO, CBE former Chairman/Chief Executive of Pilkington Optronics. He started at the bottom serving an apprenticeship with De Havilland’s. He is well known and highly respected having held numerous civic, public and charitable appointments. The reasons for suggesting him are because I believe we shared similar values, and that he is a true professional in the way he gets things across. Everything he does is for the right reasons and he makes a real difference. He is truly inspirational.

What is one word that sums up leadership for you?
Visionary


Steven Madeley

Centre Director of St David’s Dewi Sant

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
In my career I have had many bosses. I have tried to learn and take a skill from everyone I work with. I think the ability to change and be flexible is important. I realised at a young age that I needed to pass my exams to move away from home and broaden my horizons and this developed into being target focused. I also endured some poor managers early in my career and saw the effect this had on morale and even on people’s life outside work. I vowed to make sure that when I led a team I would make sure the culture was supportive, challenging and fun!

What have been the main highlights and challenges since taking up your leadership role with St David’s Dewi Sant?
The job I do now is very different from the one I started, I worked on the development and construction of St David’s and I now work on the day to day management of the Centre. Initially, it was one of agreeing the plan and construction with stakeholders and managing a project plan with a lot at stake! Now my day involves more time with retailers and customers helping to continually improve the experience. The joint highlight and challenge was opening a multi-million pound development in the depths of a recession.

What have been the most helpful things you have learnt from these highlights and challenges?
I have learned to maintain my focus on the overall direction and objectives we need to achieve despite being continually challenged by other issues but also to remain flexible enough to understand when we need to review and refocus.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing leaders in Wales in 2014?
It’s the ability to be bold and make the decisions to grow the business again whilst we start to come out of a recession and to therefore stay ahead of the curve. It’s also about being quick to understand the changing wants and needs of our customers.

Which other leaders in Wales do you admire and why?
Sharon Stephens (Veritas), for setting up and developing a business to a market leader in only 5 years.
Terry Matthews for giving business in Wales a platform on the world stage.
As a cyclist, I would also nominate Dave Brailsford who helped us win Olympic Gold and the Tour de France.

What is one word that sums up leadership for you?
Teamwork


Leadership in Social Enterprise sponsored by Social Firms Wales and The Wales Co-operative Centre – Kelly Davies (Award Winner)

The shortlist – click the name for a profile.
Kelly Davies – Managing Director of Vi-Ability Educational Programme
Anne-Marie Rogan – Chief Executive of Swansea YMCA
Kate Toms – Chief Executive Officer of Menter Fachwen

All content in these “Leadership Stories” has been provided by the finalist themselves. All information has been accepted in good faith. Any references to individuals or circumstances have been relayed in the finalist’s own words and have not been verified by the Leading Wales Awards Directors or its Consortium. Any views expressed are those of the individual concerned and are not necessarily the views of the Leading Wales Awards Directors or Consortium members.


Anne-Marie Rogan

Chief Executive of Swansea YMCA

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
The eldest of 5 children from a humble background, I was brought up to do my best and do the right thing. With a true passion for life, making things happen for the right reason has been my driving force. Watching, learning, experiencing, listening, and not being afraid to ‘have a go’ again and again until you get it right. I have developed my own self belief, passion, caring, resilience and the ability to be humble and magnificent. Surrounded by good people with great ideas with the courage to make things happen has led me to social enterprise. “Great people, doing good business, doing good things – that’s my life”.

What have been the main highlights and challenges since taking up your leadership role with Swansea YMCA?
Leading a 100 year old organisation and making it relevant today by listening to the needs of our communities and making it a reality. Putting peoples’ lives at the heart of a social business to make them healthier, employable and gain skills to have a better life is our ‘fuel’. Increasing our turnover from £150k to £1.5m; increasing employees from 4 to 42; supporting 5,000 people per annum. Developed businesses: Gym, Childcare, Cafe, Arts & conference centre, Community Hub; secured £1.6m asset development & leading projects across Wales. A big plus has been securing a strong Board together with talented and committed staff. The challenges have been cash-flow, leading growth & dealing with the unexpected.

What have been the most helpful things you have learnt from these highlights and challenges?
Listen and look after your ‘people’, customers and staff are key to success. Embrace and learn from mistakes. Keep true to core aims. Listen to your gut. Don’t rush. ‘Vision, ideas, people & information’ Good process is essential. Know your money. Be brave – everything works out in the end.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing leaders in Wales in 2014?
Austerity means less money. This impacts on businesses, families, people, society. It is essential to provide affordable quality services that people want and will pay for. Attracting and keeping good people with a sense of worth and who are wanting and willing to work with you to deliver and move forward. We can do it.

Which other leaders in Wales do you admire and why?
The fabric of society is peppered with great leaders – young people leading their peers, community leaders making a local difference, business leaders driving our economy, political leaders driving change across Wales. We come in all shapes and sizes. Learning from others always inspires and brings insight in terms of what & what not to do.

What is one word that sums up leadership for you?
Vision and belief


Kate Toms

Chief Executive Officer of Menter Fachwen

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
The people I have met in my working life have made me the leader that I am today. My first job as a Nursery Nurse in a mainstream school working with children who had physical and learning disabilities taught me that everyone, regardless of ability, has an important role to play in their own community.
Since then I have enjoyed my own professional development to expand my knowledge and skills, I have used my own experience to encourage others to reach their potential including staff and beneficiaries of our charity; as an organisation we are all extremely positive about staff development.

What have been the main highlights and challenges since taking up your leadership role with Menter Fachwen?
My first business plan led to the purchase of a property in Llanberis, this will be the shop front for all our products and services, making our organisation more sustainable for the future. I delight in a successful grant application.
Our work in India and Europe is a joy and privilege that I will never take for granted, we have helped to train hundreds of professionals in India in the art of Person Centred Practices.
Challenges
Within weeks of becoming CEO I inherited not only an extremely large, unforeseen and outstanding invoice for payment but also a substantial cut in our contract with the Local Authority.

 

What have been the most helpful things you have learnt from these highlights and challenges?
That business plan has been adapted and used in many ways; my confidence grows with each successful funding or grant application. We have learnt from our challenges so much more about budgeting and become more commercially savvy. Our work in other countries has made us focus on the value of networking and staying true to our values.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing leaders in Wales in 2014?
Overcoming the negativity associated with the economic downturn; to not focus on how difficult things are but on the opportunities there are to make a real difference. Finding allies and partners and exploring common ground / opportunities and then working together to realise that shared vision and ambition.

Which other leaders in Wales do you admire and why?
I admire the energy and drive of many leaders in Wales, but Barry Shiers from Vision 21 Cardiff (now retired) was a good influence for me. He worked his way up and developed a thriving Social Enterprise in Cardiff which started in a bike shed in his back garden. Brilliant!

What is one word that sums up leadership for you?
‘Privilege’


Kelly Davies

Managing Director of Vi-Ability Educational Programme

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
Being an ex-Arsenal, Liverpool and Welsh international footballer, and being brought up within a business environment (Father ran a very successful food packaging company) I believe I have gained some specific abilities which have made me the leader I am today: To be discplined; to be optimistic; to be confident; to be decisive; and to support and faciliate a team.

However, the most important one for me is integrity – I’ve been very fortunate to have been coached by the best coaches, and have a supportive family around me who have all said: “Be honest, fair, candid and forthright, and treat everyone in the same way that you yourself would want to be treated Kel and you wont go far wrong”.

What have been the main highlights and challenges since taking up your leadership role with Vi-Ability?
My highlights have been:

  • The social impact achieved: 92 % of participants engaged on our programmes secure employment (lots of case studies but we have changed lives significantly for the better); the clubs we work with are proven to be at least 50% more profitable, and more engaged with the local community.
  • The financial impact achieved: Turnover has tripled, in the first year we posted an income of £83,361 (£15,972) second year £306,926 (£40,747) and third year £385,098 (£7,248). With projections for year end 31 December 2013 nudging over £500k so overall representing a steady increase with a small grant dependency of around 25%.
  • Credibility gained from winning awards such as the Big Society Award from the Prime Minister and the UK Best Social Enterprise Start Up.

My challenges have been:

  • Lack of management experience
  • Staff
  • Personal Wealth Matters
  • Long hours
  • Cash Flow
  • How I am perceived by others

 

What have been the most helpful things you have learnt from these highlights and challenges?
Be prepared to take advice from those with more experience (Mentors)
Under promise and over achieve
Build a strong team
Leverage all your assets
Remain focused on your goals
Allocate time for research
Think outside the box
Learn from failure or set backs

What do you think is the biggest issue facing leaders in Wales in 2014?
How things change so quickly, and constantly keeping ahead or at least in line with these in the light of capacity constraints.

Which other leaders in Wales do you admire and why?
There are an awful lot of inspirational women in Wales, too many to mention, but for the purposes of this question.
Professor Laura McAllister – Sport Wales Chair
Helen Humphries – Former vice president of McDonalds, Board Member of Hockey Wales, and Chair of the Sport Wales Advisory Board.
Liza Kellett – CEO Community Foundation in Wales
All of which are extremely strong minded, and each dares to be different, in order to achieve something really special.

What is one word that sums up leadership for you?
Assurance


Women in Leadership sponsored by Moneypenny – Rachael Flanagan (Award Winner) with Debbie Barton

The shortlist – click the name for a profile.
Rachael Flanagan – Managing Director of Mrs Bucket Cleaning Services
Alison Orrells – Managing Director of The Safety Letterbox Company
Louise White – Head of HR and Deputy HR and Estates Director at the DVLA

All content in these “Leadership Stories” has been provided by the finalist themselves. All information has been accepted in good faith. Any references to individuals or circumstances have been relayed in the finalist’s own words and have not been verified by the Leading Wales Awards Directors or its Consortium. Any views expressed are those of the individual concerned and are not necessarily the views of the Leading Wales Awards Directors or Consortium members.


Rachael Flanagan

Managing Director of Mrs Bucket Cleaning Services

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I set up Mrs Bucket eight years ago when I was just 18 years old with £20 worth of leaflets, a hoover and a staff of one (me). I think starting from the bottom has helped me become a strong leader and I think it’s very important to lead from the front. My experience has helped me understand what clients want and I have been able to share this advice with my team.
As I have grown Mrs Bucket, the team has become a family and we all want to make Mrs Bucket an even bigger success. I’m very hands on as a leader and will always get stuck in if the need requires.

What have been the main highlights and challenges since taking up your leadership role with Mrs Bucket Cleaning Services?
The main highlight has been seeing my business grow. Considering I started with just £20 and an idea, it’s a great feeling to know that I have turned the company into a success as we now have over 250 clients, 160 staff and are on target to turnover £1.4m this year.
A challenge has been financing. As I did not have any investors or loans, I had to grow the business from scratch and work for every single penny. As a result, I had to put in long hours cleaning whilst still trying to secure further clients. However, the business’s success today demonstrates how hard-work really does pay off.

What have been the most helpful things you have learnt from these highlights and challenges?
The company’s success demonstrates that nothing is more important than hard work, drive and commitment in order to achieve your goals. It is through hard work from myself and my staff that has helped us gain our 98% customer retention rate.
Furthermore, motivation and encouragement of staff is key to an effective workforce and a successful business.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing leaders in Wales in 2014?
Continuing to make Wales more competitive is an issue for all Welsh leaders to tackle. To achieve this I think we need to nurture and encourage future entrepreneurs, which is why I am a Dynamo role model. It’s important that they have the support and advice they require in order for them to become successful.

Which other leaders in Wales do you admire and why?
I admire Hayley Parsons founder of Go Compare, as, like me, she left school with few qualifications and took a risk by setting up Go Compare. She is a very committed and hard-working woman – two of the main attributes I think are vital in business. I also think her story has helped inspire other female entrepreneurs.

What is one word that sums up leadership for you?
Attitude


Alison Orrells

Managing Director of The Safety Letterbox Company

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
Having worked in demanding senior management positions in diverse retail and manufacturing sectors has honed my confidence and skills to overcome various challenges presented in what is still a very male-dominated environment.
Understanding all aspects of your industry is vital, I believe, to gain respect as a leader. While I am a focused, determined and tenacious person, I can also empathise with my employees. My team can trust me to make considered decisions and to identify clear and appropriate actions. Having learnt from others’ strengths and weaknesses, it’s important to concentrate on the positives and eliminate the negatives where possible.

What have been the main highlights and challenges since taking up your leadership role with The Safety Letterbox Company??
Securing prestigious supply contracts, such as the Burj Kalifa in Dubai, the world’s tallest building following year-long negotiations; one of Qatar’s largest petrochemical companies with our largest order to date and national agreements with most of the UK’s leading housebuilders; plus our team pulling together with the same vision and focus are all key highlights.

Challenges include the recession – undoubtedly the most difficult and demanding five years of my career; plus successfully integrating a collapsed competitor’s company into ours. Co-ordinating our acquisition by the RENZ Group was both a personal and professional challenge to ensure the transition was as smooth as possible.

What have been the most helpful things you have learnt from these highlights and challenges?
Taking a determined and methodical approach; along with patience, perseverance and tenacity. Open communication – through the highs and lows, encouraging communication and being open with the team was a critical decision. People buy in when they understand the process – it encourages contribution and there are fewer surprises.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing leaders in Wales in 2014?
Lack of Government support for buying British is a key issue and more should be done at higher levels to promote our UK-based manufacturing industries. There needs to be relevant support and funding in key areas – such as skills shortages. Inconsistency and instability in a recovering market is another concern.

Which other leaders in Wales do you admire and why?
No specific leader springs to mind, but as a woman, I do have a particular respect and admiration for those with families juggling high-pressured careers with caring for children and running a home. It takes great determination, drive and organisational ability to combine these successfully.

What is one word that sums up leadership for you?
Perseverance


Louise White

Head of HR and Deputy HR and Estates Director at the DVLA

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I have been fortunate to have a fantastic 30 year career with the Civil Service, with opportunities to work in a wide range of roles, which have all helped to develop my leadership skills, both in terms of observing and learning from good leaders, having good quality leadership training and trying out different approaches in leading others. My current HR leadership role provides not only responsibility for leading my own teams, but also leading on the people agenda for the whole organisation.

What have been the main highlights and challenges since taking up your leadership role with the DVLA?
I am most proud when I hear the frequent great feedback about the excellent services my HR team are providing. The investment in their development and the professional, open culture that we have created as a team has paid off. Developing a clear people strategy and plan to support the transformation of DVLA to a digital business, which is regularly reviewed and reinforced through communication has provided a clear direction and sense of ownership. Introducing a new model for HR delivery was challenging, in particular moving HR to be a trusted partner with the business as was modernising terms and conditions, a large scale office closure programme across 39 sites affecting 1200 people and continuing pressure to do more with less.

What have been the most helpful things you have learnt from these highlights and challenges?
These things cannot be achieved by a few people at the top; success can only be achieved through others. It is important to listen to what people are saying and encourage involvement of all. People respect openness about the “what” and the “why” no matter how difficult the message. Leadership requires courage to see things through, to do what you say and it is also important to keep a sense of perspective when things are tough and help others to do the same.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing leaders in Wales in 2014?
The ability to develop and retain talented people in Wales. Such a large part of the employment market in Wales is in the public sector, but so few of the opportunities for senior leadership are here. This can result in a drain of talent to London and the South East. Wales would benefit from a more joined up approach to creating opportunities for high quality leadership roles and developing/sharing talent.

Which other leaders in Wales do you admire and why?
All the Welsh ‘Mams’ who, through drive, enthusiasm and sheer determination, have balanced bringing up their families with a successful career. They have led the way for all those talented women to come.

What is one word that sums up leadership for you?
Authenticity


Team Leader supported by Chwarae Teg Agile Nation – Alan Gray (Award Winner)

Shortlist – click the name for a profile.
Alan Gray – Production Supervisor at Monwel Limited
Guy Jones – Director Commercial Banking with RBS / NatWest

All content in these “Leadership Stories” has been provided by the finalist themselves. All information has been accepted in good faith. Any references to individuals or circumstances have been relayed in the finalist’s own words and have not been verified by the Leading Wales Awards Directors or its Consortium. Any views expressed are those of the individual concerned and are not necessarily the views of the Leading Wales Awards Directors or Consortium members.


Alan Gray

Production Supervisor at Monwel Limited

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
It began when I was about 10 just before I moved into Senior School; my mother was a much focused individual she encouraged her own positive can-do attitude into me, from learning and listening to sports and team involvement, I could achieve anything.
I played many sports but mainly team sport and through that I learnt about communication, motivation, development, team building, listening winning and losing. I have been lucky to have worked with excellent managers, who have supported me throughout my career by helping me understand how to get the best out of people with positive leadership.
I have read many books about management, but the one that stands out for me is “The Goal” by Eli Goldratt. The theories I have learnt through this book and his other titles I have applied into business.
I like to think I have passed on that knowledge to others, helping them to succeed.

What have been the main highlights and challenges since taking up your leadership role with Monwel Ltd?
My highlights have been creating a team spirit; heading projects that have included various team members; knowing our destination and achieving our goals through planning and organisation.
Raising the bar of team members’ thinking, into new modern manufacturing methods and techniques as well as challenging behaviours in order to get the best out of people.
Creating operational systems that allow us to produce products “on-time-in-full” to our customers, in a manner that is safe and of the high quality standard expected by our customers.
My challenges have been changing some individual attitudes to work, and the business; changing mindset from a can’t-do negative approach to a positive can-do and in this way building increased confidence self-esteem in team members.

What have been the most helpful things you have learnt from these highlights and challenges?
Listen to others: Even though I am the team leader and I make the decisions, I will always ask people what their opinion is.
Take in others suggestions: When someone gives me an idea, I work on it with them.
Include everyone: I always try to include as many individuals as possible.
Encourage my team: You have to encourage your team mates and show them that the task is possible, even if difficult; Show them the positive results of their work.
Pay attention to morale: I set the positive spirit; I make the goals clear, and show how the job is feasible and possible.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing leaders in Wales in 2014?

  • Remaining cost competitive in business
  • Leaders must know what their business is good at, and follow up on this through implementing the appropriate strategy to remain competitive.
  • Low cost strategies are effective, where companies manage to produce a product or service at the lowest possible price point to stay competitive.

Which other leaders in Wales do you admire and why?
My biggest influence is Jon Gagg who was Managing Director of Senior Flexonics 1977-1989.
He is a results driven, self-motivated and resourceful managing director with a proven ability to develop and strengthen management teams in order to maximise company profitability and efficiency.
Possessing excellent communication skills and able to establish sustainable and profitable relationships with customers, suppliers and stakeholders across the world.

What is one word that sums up leadership for you?
Direction


Guy Jones

Director Commercial Banking with RBS / NatWest

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
From an early age I was encouraged to follow my goals and embrace the power of belief. Having followed this philosophy throughout my Leadership career and I have an unwavering opinion that individuals have immense ability restricted only by attitude, confidence and personal beliefs.
Key events during my career have embedded these views. I have seen the amalgam of strategic planning, discipline in execution, recruiting for attitude and effective staff development result in focused and high performing teams.
Leadership demands the ability to nurture talent and unlock potential. I aim to continue to support others as I have been supported myself.

What have been the main highlights and challenges since taking up your leadership role with NatWest?
The financial crises of 2008 created my biggest leadership challenge. My beliefs and those of my team were challenged alongside a realisation that many of the corporate ideals we had followed were flawed. My challenge was to address these concerns but also to embed a culture that properly puts customers at the heart of everything we do, instil belief in our customer promise and synergise people toward outstanding teamwork.

My personal highlights have been:
1. development of individuals to ‘best in class’
2. the creation of a highly collaborative and empowered team ethos
3. customer feedback scores: now market leading.

What have been the most helpful things you have learnt from these highlights and challenges?
During times of significant change clear business goals, an unrelenting focus on the customer and a culture based on integrity and trust are critical.

Operational efficiencies achieved through clear and simple strategic thinking must be embedded to secure the breathing space for teams to focus and deliver on their wildly important goals.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing leaders in Wales in 2014?
The ability to manage change on many different fronts remains the biggest leadership issue for Leaders in Wales. Competition from a globalised economy, increasing energy and inflationary costs, a migrant workforce pressurising skills gaps, ever increasing regulation, technology developments and a consumer demanding value differentiation all bring significant challenge.

Which other leaders in Wales do you admire and why?
Sir Terry Matthews for his vision and drive in attracting The Ryder Cup to Wales and creation of the Alacrity foundation in Newport.

Warren Gatland for leading Wales to three Championships and two Grand Slams and despite huge criticism for his team selection in the final 2013 British Lions match maintaining his belief to deliver a record victory.

What is one word that sums up leadership for you?
Belief


Leadership for the Future sponsored by Cynnal Cymru – Sustain Wales – Adrian Morgan (Award Winner) and Tom Wood (Award Winner)

The shortlist – click the name for a profile.
Adrian Morgan – Chief Executive Officer of Cornelly & District Development Trust
Emma Northcote – Principal Officer, Consultation & Research at South Wales Police Board
Richard Watkins – is Principal Statistician for South Wales Police
Tom Wood – Operations Director at RWA Ltd

All content in these “Leadership Stories” has been provided by the finalist themselves. All information has been accepted in good faith. Any references to individuals or circumstances have been relayed in the finalist’s own words and have not been verified by the Leading Wales Awards Directors or its Consortium. Any views expressed are those of the individual concerned and are not necessarily the views of the Leading Wales Awards Directors or Consortium members.


Adrian Morgan

Chief Executive Officer of Cornelly & District Development Trust

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
Having worked in a voluntary capacity for various organisations, I’ve seen poverty and depression first hand. It has driven me to work harder to help those who are being downtrodden and overlooked by “the system”. I try to be fair and equitable at all times, focussing on how to better the lives of staff and volunteers while leading with a firm hand so that the team makes the right decisions. My life experiences have led to a willingness to take a chance, thinking of original ideas to deal with persistent issues, and keeping an eye on long term sustainability

What have been the main highlights and challenges since taking up your leadership role with the Cornelly & District Development Trust?
Highlights have included creating employment for 6 new staff members in the last 8 months, and creating several social enterprises that are now providing invaluable work experience, volunteer opportunities and paid employment for local people. Also, seeing the development trust become a vibrant and active part of the community once again has been a privilege.
Challenges have surrounded the lack of funding available to carry out the projects and activities detailed above.

What have been the most helpful things you have learnt from these highlights and challenges?
It has taught me to take considered risks, to build a network of complimentary enterprises that support one another, and more importantly it has given me the confidence to run and expand a business on a shoestring!

What do you think is the biggest issue facing leaders in Wales in 2014?
I feel that the skills shortage is probably the biggest issue. The number of unemployed people lacking basic literacy, numeracy and IT skills is preventing them from becoming active members of the workforce, and this is without considering the industry specific qualifications that are required.

Which other leaders in Wales do you admire and why?
Henry Engelhardt: His transformation of the selling process for insurance products is indicative of how business should consider future working in Wales. Admiral’s success in recent years is testament to his “inclusive” manner, treating staff with respect, rewarding them properly and making them feel part of the organisation.

What is one word that sums up leadership for you?
Inclusivity


Tom Wood

Operations Director at RWA Ltd

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I’ve always been interested in people. I studied Psychology from A-Level through to degree, and was always interested in the business and management side of it rather than the clinical side. After my degree I worked in a number of team leader roles with much success, before joining RWA in 2007. I am a facilitator who is naturally interested in developing people and ideas and I enjoy problem solving and getting the best out of people’s strengths. I like to get involved in supporting the community and I am a volunteer chairman at a local children’s nursery with 25 staff, a board member for the Torfaen Council Wisdom Bank project and work with several local businesses and community groups. This culture of community engagement is one I encourage with my staff as well.

What have been the main highlights and challenges since taking up your leadership role with RWA?
At RWA, we have worked extremely hard to deliver consultancy services that are of high value to our clients. The biggest challenge we faced was growing the company during the economic downturn when many of our clients were not in a position to spend a lot of money on our services. We planned for the challenge and invested in the right people to support the business and we have achieved a significant amount of growth during this time. The highlight has been winning key contracts with companies such as Aviva and establishing a new Head Office in Blaenavon, where we have employed local talent. I enrolled on a Post Graduate qualification at Cardiff Metropolitan University in Sustainable Leadership and following that we are now embarking on a major brand relaunch and growth plan.

What have been the most helpful things you have learnt from these highlights and challenges?
Communication is vital now as the business world is changing at such a fast pace. My role is to develop strategy for the business and ensure that our vision is communicated across to staff and stakeholders at all levels. Listening to my team and my professional network and getting their input helps me form those strategies and allows us to be proactive in periods of change.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing leaders in Wales in 2014?
There are still a lot of people out there who don’t like communicating with other businesses and industries. Talking and listening to each other about challenges and new approaches and technologies stimulates creativity, innovation and ultimately growth. My work takes me around the UK and I always find that those businesses and leaders who are open to meeting new people, are willing to innovate and talk openly about their businesses are the ones that tend to be more successful.

Which other leaders in Wales do you admire and why?
Henry Englehardt. I’ve not met him, but I’ve studied with some of his senior management and heard how they all talk passionately about their roles at Admiral and him as a leader. I’ve learned that he inspires those who work for him to follow his vision. His commitment to the Moondance Foundation shows how business leaders can also invest in their communities.

What is one word that sums up leadership for you?
Communication


Emma Northcote

Principal Officer, Consultation & Research at South Wales Police

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I feel I have had a lot of trust and belief put in me at different stages throughout my life to date and, have had it instilled in me that challenges are good and are something to grapple with and not something to be scared of. I hope that others around me see my leadership as being a big reassuring cwtch, with an ever-so gentle nudge, making people believe that they can achieve whatever they want, but are not alone in getting there.

What have been the main highlights and challenges since taking up your leadership role with South Wales Police?
I work within a very strategic department; one which is often seen as being far removed from the day-to-day job of policing in South Wales. Getting others to see the value in what we do and, why this is relevant to them is one of the main challenges I face. Translating strategic, future-focused work into something applicable to the here and now, and of use to the fast-time world others around us are working in can be difficult. It’s hugely rewarding though when we get it right and people hook in to something we’ve worked on – fortunately these highlights are becoming more frequent!

What have been the most helpful things you have learnt from these highlights and challenges?
Keep things simple. Don’t isolate people through language or presentation. There’s no value in anything we do if our work can’t be understood by the people who we expect to act on it. Speak to as many people as you can; a five minute chat can achieve wonders!

What do you think is the biggest issue facing leaders in Wales in 2014?
I think the biggest issue, particularly in the public sector, is maintaining motivation when there is little opportunity to offer people tangible reward for their efforts. The financial situation has brought a lot of uncertainty, but we are starting to think and behave differently, which is also very liberating.

Which other leaders in Wales do you admire and why?
I think community leaders are really coming to the fore. I’m seeing this where I live and it’s really powerful. The ability of these few people to gather others together and cut through any ‘politics’ and old alliances to get jobs done is exciting and can make a real difference.

What is one word that sums up leadership for you?
Courage


Richard Watkins

Principal Statistician for South Wales Police

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I am no different from most people in that I have experienced notable highs and lows throughout both my personal and work life. I have found that it’s not these events, in isolation, that shape you as a person but rather how you choose to respond to them. Accepting the status quo is always an option and often the easiest but it inevitably holds you back and yields little reward for you, or those around you. I feel you should always strive to overcome obstacles, want for better and lead by example.

What have been the main highlights and challenges since taking up your leadership role with South Wales Police?
Since joining the Force in 2004 I feel privileged to have worked in a role that allows me to influence and develop the service provided to the communities of South Wales. I am particularly proud of the contributions of my team in helping to improve service delivery to victims of crime, with the Force moving from 43rd nationally (last) to sitting 6th at this time. I am also currently highly enthused and motivated by our work to uncover the issues faced by a deprived valleys community and co-ordinate partners to improve quality of life for residents but particularly young people.

What have been the most helpful things you have learnt from these highlights and challenges?
The importance of engagement, communication and teamwork has come to the fore for me from these experiences. It is easy to choose what you believe is the most appropriate course of action but unless you engage stakeholders, share collective knowledge and play to your strengths success will always be jeopardised.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing leaders in Wales in 2014?
There are a range of historical and current challenges impacting our most deprived communities that I feel will be amplified throughout the next year and beyond due to budgetary cuts across the public sector. Leaders in Wales will need to innovate and collaborate efficiently to meet these challenges head on.

Which other leaders in Wales do you admire and why?
As a keen rugby follower I greatly admire the captain of the national side, Sam Warburton. There is nowhere to hide on a rugby field and under the gaze of thousands of spectators he always leads by example and is required to both make and live by crucial tactical decisions.

What is one word that sums up leadership for you?
Dedication


Young Leader sponsored by NatWest Cymru – Jade Emment (Award Winner)
The shortlist – click the name for a profile.
Jade Emment – Owner of Serenity Beauty Suite
Laura Moore – Project and Placement Co-ordinator at Grow Enterprise Wales (GrEW)

All content in these “Leadership Stories” has been provided by the finalist themselves. All information has been accepted in good faith. Any references to individuals or circumstances have been relayed in the finalist’s own words and have not been verified by the Leading Wales Awards Directors or its Consortium. Any views expressed are those of the individual concerned and are not necessarily the views of the Leading Wales Awards Directors or Consortium members.


Jade Emment


Owner of Serenity Beauty Suite

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I dropped out of mainstream education in my teens and I think most people had given up on me except for one of my teachers at the special school I then attended. It was the faith that this individual gave to me then that set me on my career. Today I want to give young people who have had similar life experiences as me similar levels of support. I am achieving this by offering job opportunities and work placements to these young people and encouraging them, as I was encouraged, to follow a positive career path.

What have been the main highlights and challenges since taking up your leadership role with the Serenity Beauty Suite?
Getting the business off the ground, from scratch has been the main challenge but I have been fortunate enough to have had support from business professionals to help me on my way. The main highlight was the day that Serenity opened – my very first business. As with any business, gaining new customers on a regular basis is also a challenge (particularly as I have never had to do this before). So I have undergone additional training so that I can offer exclusive treatments and beauty training courses to expand my client base.

What have been the most helpful things you have learnt from these highlights and challenges?
Don’t be afraid to ask. When I first went to the gym where the salon is based the owners there gave me good advice. They told me to do my figures, get business support and then come back. I still achieved my goal of opening my own salon but with a business plan, budget and marketing plan already in place.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing leaders in Wales in 2014?
Knowing that there is support available is an issue. I had no idea that I could get free advice and support and probably wouldn’t have such a successful business if I hadn’t. But there is little funding support for start up businesses and the banks are still reluctant to offer loans or overdrafts to small businesses.

Which other leaders in Wales do you admire and why?
Gemma Richards, who is owner of SA Flyers and La Vita Hair Salon. She was a winner of a Leading Wales Award in 2013. She is only 30 years old and I so admire how she has developed both her businesses. We work closely together and I have already benefitted from her knowledge and guidance.

What is one word that sums up leadership for you?
Challenging


Laura Moore

Project and Placement Co-ordinator at Grow Enterprise Wales (GrEW)

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
My family always ran businesses, therefore when leaving school I was lucky to undertake paid work. However, I was aware not many people have that opportunity. I have always liked helping someone in need, so I decided to put something I love in to a career. When I started at GrEW, I lacked in confidence and feared talking within groups. After many weeks of observing, I came to realise that the volunteers need support, and also help to overcome their fears. Determined, I overcame my own fears and held meetings with volunteers, allowing them a voice, and also began to lead their inductions. Seeing volunteers with major confidence issues overcome their fears is when I know my job is complete.

What have been the main highlights and challenges since taking up your leadership role with Grow Enterprise Wales (GrEW)?
The highlight of my role is helping people change their lives. I have worked closely with an ex-offender since June 2013, visiting him prior to his release to help plan what he aimed to achieve. I worked with him to bond with his family, including his two young children, who visited our workplace to see what their father would be doing. Upon release we secured him a paid job, and also his own flat where his children could visit. He stayed for four months and has now moved on to future employment.
Working with ex offenders is a challenge, as we have to change their mind-set to prevent them from re-offending. Not only did we change his life, but also his children’s.

What have been the most helpful things you have learnt from these highlights and challenges?
The most helpful things I have learnt is that every single person lives a different life to the next person you meet. Being part of helping them change their lives is overwhelming, and I feel honoured to be able to be part of helping individuals aspire to what they want to achieve.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing leaders in Wales in 2014?
I feel the biggest issue is tackling people’s preconceived ideas in what makes a good leader and what good leadership involves. In my own experience, my age has proved to be something people may struggle to see past – within my job people have not valued or recognised my skills, abilities and qualities because of my young age, as they have an idea that leaders should be older and more experienced in order to be successful in their role.

Which other leaders in Wales do you admire and why?
Other leaders I admire in Wales include Tanni Grey Thompson, whose dedication to overcome her disabilities and achieve what she has achieved is inspirational.
I admire Tom Jones, who has stuck to his Welsh roots and background, which is also very important to me, and I feel ties in with the community regeneration aims we work towards at GrEW.

What is one word that sums up leadership for you?
Inspiration