2011 Winners

Private Sector

Clive Thomas, Managing Partner, Watkins & Gunn Solicitors

Watkins & Gunn Solicitors is an award-winning law firm with offices in Pontypool and Newport and is recommended within the Legal 500 Good Lawyer Guide & Chambers

Over the past five years, under Clive’s leadership, Watkins & Gunn has achieved unprecedented success. It is now not only recognised as a leading law firm in Wales but also UK-wide.

Six years ago Clive and his partners faced a difficult situation with the retirement of several senior partners. They set about changing the culture of the firm to one of outstanding client care and continuous improvement with the ambitious aim of “exceeding clients’ expectations”.
Clive’s biggest challenge has been to ensure the financial viability of the firm during the recession. His sound strategic vision allowed the firm to exceed its fee target by 6% last year.

Clive firmly believes in setting an example and leading from the front. He openly communicates the firm’s vision to all staff. He is passionate about the firm’s success, creating a challenging yet enjoyable environment to work in, and a firm that both staff and clients feel proud to be a part of.
In 2009 Watkins & Gunn was recognised as the best managed law firm in England and Wales when it received the Law Society’s Excellence Awards for Practice Management, the only firm in Wales to win such an award.

The firm has seen an improved cash flow and increase fee income of 10% over the last three years. It has recruited and retained quality staff and in 2010 achieved an overall client satisfaction rating of almost 99% with nearly 90% “very satisfied”.

Clive sets high standards yet realistic goals and ensures that everyone is publically rewarded if these goals are achieved. He is extremely approachable and well respected. The measures that Clive has put in place have undoubtedly put the firm in an excellent position for the future.

What is your top leadership tip?
Look to turn every negative into a positive.

Who inspires you?
My late father & Lance Armstrong.

Public Sector

Kerenza Hood, Director, South East Wales Trials Unit, Cardiff University

Cardiff University is one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities. The South East Wales Trials Unit is part of the infrastructure bringing key NHS links together to support Cardiff’s role to promote health and welfare

In 2006 Professor Kerry Hood helped form the vision and led the development of a new trials unit to meet the needs of established and emerging research leaders in Wales, in the UK, and internationally.

The trials unit would provide an engine for clinical research in Wales. Kerry also developed professional development opportunities for non-medical scientists to conduct academic research and to sustain and promote their careers.

The trials unit is funded by the Welsh Assembly Government and the initial funding was for three years (2006-2009). Under Kerry’s leadership the funding has been renewed by a further five years. The South East Wales Trials Unit now has 62 members of staff, mostly on a full-time basis.

Kerry has also been instrumental in giving the trials unit an international profile, for example, as a key collaborator for the GRACE research network, an £11.5M European Commission-funded initiative which encompasses 13 European countries.

Under her vision, the trials unit has developed a model of working with research partners within the NHS, academia and industry which means that those partners would now not consider anything other than working with the trials unit.

Kerry’s approach to leadership is driven by the value she places upon all people. She is scrupulously principled and equitable in her approach and she is regarded as supportive and fair by those she interacts with. Her impact upon the careers of those around her is immense. She plays a huge role in developing others, to bringing on the next generation of research leaders.

What’s your favourite slogan or mantra?
A fob ben bid bont.
(He who would lead must be a bridge)

Tell us something your colleagues don’t know about you?
I appeared on stage with Michael Ball in his first musical after leaving drama school.

Not for Profit

Tanya Buchanan, Chief Executive Officer, ASH Wales

ASH Wales is a public health charity engaged in a variety of projects including campaigning and lobbying for tobacco control public health policy, research, training, educational workshops, advocacy, and support.

Tanya has been instrumental in ensuring Wales has a strategy that addresses its major public health issue. Through continuous engagement and campaigning activities Tanya has really shaped the tobacco control agenda in Wales.

She recognises the importance of forming partnerships with like-minded organisations and was instrumental in building  the Wales Tobacco Control Alliance (WTCA) into a formidable partnership and fostering relations with organisations not always associated with tobacco control.

Her collaborative approach means she works closely with colleagues in ASH England to lobby Welsh MPs and Peers on non-devolved tobacco control issues. Tanya has also been instrumental in raising the profile of the local health board tobacco forum groups and offering strategic support and advice from ASH Wales.

In 2010 Tanya secured funding to work with Swansea University to quantify the costs of treating smoking related illness to the NHS in Wales. The outcome of this research generated much media and political interest and the results have been widely publicised and quoted by leading Welsh Assembly Government officials, the First Minister, the Chief Medical Officer for Wales and Public Health Wales.

The new Wales Tobacco or Health Network launched in 2011 brings together health professionals, academics, community and business leaders, as well as national and local government officials. Under Tanya’s leadership ASH Wales has delivered successful international tobacco control conferences year on year bringing delegates from all over the world together.

Tanya has an inclusive style of leadership. She empowers people to take things forward. She is highly committed, aligns her own personal values with the organisation and is keen to grow the organisation’s sustainable, environmental and ethical policies.

Tanya has excellent communication and interpersonal skills and is extremely charismatic. She leads from the front. She is a determined character and has the stamina to overcome opposition and obstacles.  Her dedication to the cause is unwavering.


Leadership for the Future

Christina Harrhy, Chief Officer, Neighbourhood Services, Torfaen County Borough Council

Neighbourhood Services is a key department within Torfaen County Borough Council, which provides front line services including; Highways, Transportation, Property, Leisure, Waste, Recycling, Arts, Regeneration, Parks and Libraries. It employs around 1200 employees.

Christina has led the development of a new leadership programme whilst completely transforming her public service department.

Christina instigated the development of a Leadership Programme for Public Services (LiPS) within Torfaen. Influenced by her own experiences at Cardiff Business School and an internship at Harvard, she recognised that a new style of leadership was required to deliver public services across Wales in the 21st century.

LiPS was developed in partnership with University of Wales, Trinity St. David and delivered by if-development. Christina designed the programme and led the accreditation of the programme to Master’s Degree level and it has since attracted wide interest from Welsh Assembly Government Ministers.

Christina also led the development, with her team, of an innovative business plan to address the inherited budget shortfall and the challenges of future budget reductions in line with citizen demands and government policies. This change has also seen that the staff are now empowered to deliver innovative and collaborative public services focussed upon the customer.

Christina demonstrates an adaptive approach to leadership.  She is always tuned to the dynamics of any situation and adjusts her leadership style to suit. She is very innovative in her approach and her tenacity to follow things through to completion, no matter how challenging, has gained her the reputation of being a high quality leader across all sectors. Her entrepreneurial approach to tackling challenges is a key and rare quality.

Through strong and progressive visionary leadership, Christina has enabled a complete transformation to take place.  Neighbourhood Services now has a reputation based upon delivery, innovation and staff who are happy to be part of the exciting journey as it continues.

Tell us something your colleagues don’t know about you?
I’m a speed freak!

What is your top leadership tip?
Don’t underestimate the power of saying ‘thank you’.

Young Leader

Maisey Andrews, Founder and Chair, Goodies in Hoodies

Goodies in Hoodies is a youth action group that creates activities and opportunities for young people through a volunteering reward scheme, reducing relationship barriers and aiming to diminish anti-social behaviour.

At the age of 16, Maisey conceived and founded the youth project Goodies in Hoodies to dispel the negativity associated with teenagers in hoodies on a Fairwater estate. It is now a widely acclaimed project and recognised as an example of best practice across the UK.

Maisey’s original vision was to set out to prove that not all young people wearing hoodies are stereotypically ‘bad’. She also wanted to create the opportunity for volunteers to develop skills, confidence and hands on experience. In two years the project has raised £55,000 which has gone back into funding the charitable and free programme that ‘Goodies in Hoodies’ promote and the figures for anti-social behaviour have gone down by 60% in the Fairwater area.

Maisey now leads a panel of 12 with an additional 100 volunteers. The group has had always tackled the issue of knife crime and she recently met Prime Minister, David Cameron and Brooke Kinsella to discuss the issue, proving that some of the positive programmes out there in local communities are tackling it head on.

Maisey has had to overcome many obstacles yet she is confident in her own abilities and knowledge and has passionately built up a case that disagreed with the current ASBO process which has been acknowledged nationwide.

She has had to make tough decisions to remove members that have operated outside of the project’s vision. But she has always stuck to her guns. Her determination and focus has won the respect of her peers and senior figures alike.

The award-winning project is now moving into namely St Mellons. Maisey has also been invited to discuss with the PM’s aides the possibility of being involved in a similar programme starting up in Miami, Florida, USA.

What’s your favourite slogan or mantra?
Because you’re worth it!

What’s your top leadership tip?
Stretch yourself.

Social Responsibility

Phil Jones, IT Manager, Airbus

Airbus at Broughton produces wings for a wide range of aircraft in the jetliner product line and proudly manufactures the wings for A380, the world’s largest commercial aircraft in service today.

Phil introduced the Charity Challenge programme over twenty years ago to underpin the very first attempt at developing a CSR strategy at Airbus bringing a new, exciting dimension to the organisation and raising in excess of £4million for a wide range of local and national charities.

The role of Charity Challenge Chairman is completely voluntary which makes Phil’s efforts highly commendable as it takes a special person to give up his free time for the benefit of others.

Phil is an active member of the local community and continues to lead by example. 20 years on he still finds the time and enthusiasm to remain the driving force behind the success of Charity Challenge. His organisation skills and eye for detail ensure that the scheme has grown every year as it taps into its many resources and skills to help the local community.

Under his leadership over 4,000 Airbus employees have benefitted from the scheme. His determination and passion for helping others has allowed the vast majority of employees to benefit from the scheme by sharing their skills in a voluntary capacity.

Leadership from the very top is very much in evidence and the team, headed by Phil, is definitely what helps make the scheme such an overwhelming success. The scheme is also designed to have many cross functional fundraising events and community involvement projects are invariably resourced with a wide cross section of the workforce.

The transformation has been consistent year on year and Charity Challenge has been recognised as one of the most successful people programmes in the company. For a twenty year project the achievements Phil has helped to shape are quite incredible.

Tell us something your colleagues don’t know about you…
I was short listed to become the new Chief Executive of the Welsh Football Association but at the last minute withdrew my application due to having such an enjoyable role at Airbus

What is your top leadership tip?

Always give that personal touch and remember face to face communication is best Who inspires you? My father with his wisdom but also my first ever boss who showed me and demonstrated the difference between being a good manager and a good leader.

Leadership in Social Enterprise

Kate Wood, Director, Your Pets Warehouse

Your Pets Warehouse is a social enterprise in the heart of the Rhondda valley that provides work experience and training for local young people with disabilities and mental health issues who are outside the traditional job market.

Kate founded Your Pets Warehouse over three years ago when she saw a gap in the market to provide employment opportunities for disabled and excluded young people.

The 3,000 sq ft quality pet store in Tonypandy now has an annual income figure of over £200,000 from product sales alone and employs 10 full and some part-time staff and a number of trainees and volunteers.

Kate has continually developed the business to be financially viable but not at the cost of keeping her original vision of a social enterprise. Kate has led the business forward and developed the sales strategy to include on-line sales as well as growing the training side of the business to be able to offer more opportunities.

While the business has been eligible for grants, Kate has not simply allowed this funding to dictate the business plans. She has turned a sound enterprise into a viable, commercial entity.

Your Pets Warehouse is now a place for disadvantaged young people to gain skills, be respected and valued. This in turn helps to equip them with skills they can use in their ongoing working and personal life. The store recently appointed a training manager who specialises in designing and delivering bespoke accredited training programmes applicable to individual requirements.

Kate is open, honest and generous by nature and likes to pass on her enthusiasm to everyone she comes into contact with. She has a big smile and quickly puts everyone at ease. She is a natural leader who never ceases to inspire with her endless energy and belief in what it is she does.

With Kate’s support and far sightedness young disabled, disengaged and disadvantaged young people are now experiencing work, as trainees, volunteers and paid employees.

What is your top leadership tip?
Always be honest.

Who inspires you?
People who can take a positive from a negative!

Team Leader

Myfanwy Maguire, Team Coach, Black Horse Finance

Black Horse Finance is based in Cardiff. Its role is to support motor dealers across the UK, dealing with over two thousand calls a day and processing digital paperwork for over one thousand loans.

Myfanwy’s hard work and commitment has successfully contributed to a happier, more confident team which has recorded a reduction in error rate and seen a substantial increase in the levels of customer satisfaction over the last year.

Myfanwy has always believed that to provide an excellent service and achieve the best from an individual, both sides of the working relationship should be understood and improved continuously. She applied this theory into practice when she identified two key areas of the business that needed to be addressed.

She implemented a number of training courses, improved reporting procedures and  introduced a creative reward scheme ‘Agent Green’ all of which allowed the business to cut subsidy costs back by an average of 53% saving £90,000 over six months.

The implementation of ‘Agent Green’ saw the department error rate drop over a three month period and the quality scores for the department rise. Front Line Operators became more competitive in their results and began to take great self pride in the continuous improvement idea that they could take ownership and implementation of.

Myfanwy is always willing to support her colleagues, being well organised and having exemplary planning skills means she has plenty of free time to give to others when it’s needed. Her personable approach has seen the team become much closer. She is full of enthusiasm coupled with great patience which has enabled her to build some great coaching plans with her team and allowed some of them to progress into more senior roles. She takes great pride in her every single member of her team and their collective achievements and the results really do speak for themselves.

What’s your favourite slogan or mantra?
Don’t put off what you can do today until tomorrow.

What’s your favourite book?
Chocolat by Charlotte Harris