The winners of the 2019 Barclaycard everywoman in Retail Awards were announced last week at a ceremony in London attended by hundreds of business leaders from UK’s leading retail brands.
Seven inspirational winners were selected by a judging panel of industry heavyweights including senior women from Barclaycard, Specsavers, John Lewis and Hotel Chocolat.
Choosing from 23 impressive finalists, the judges recognised outstanding women and men whose roles and businesses reflect the changing face of today’s retail industry and the ways it has evolved to encompass a wider range of career opportunities than ever before. The uncertainty of the high street, the rise of the digital economy, ecommerce and ever-changing customer expectations has created both challenges and opportunities within retail. Consequently, it is one of the most exciting careers out there today and this was reflected in the winners’ passion and enthusiasm towards this dynamic and important industry.
In the course of their deliberations, the judges discovered individuals who are making the connections between customer experiences and employee engagements, entrepreneurs channeling the power of social media to grow their businesses, and those who go above and beyond to engage others in retail careers, becoming influential role models within the sector. Whilst women currently make up the majority of the three million people employed by the retail industry, only 26% of director-level roles are filled by women*, which is why shining a light on women pushing boundaries and forging successful careers is more important than ever before.
The overall Woman of the Year was awarded to Alice Boaten, Regional Manager at Sainsbury’s Argos, London. Alice joined Argos in 2002 as a temporary colleague recruited for Christmas and, over the course of her career, has at some stage undertaken the vast majority of retail roles giving her a deep understanding of the business. Her drive and ambition for change and career enhancement was spotted by the judges, and she stood out for her commitment to diversifying the work force and for her success despite a less than traditional career path.
Alice’s determination has brought the company’s vision to life by putting the customer at the heart of everything it does. She is a powerful listener and coach, and her passion and energy has filtered down through her team enabling them to deliver outstanding results in a region which previously never hit its customer metrics. Her story enabled her to be a role model for other women who want to take a less traditional route into retail.
Other category winners for this year include the founder of a fast-growing fashion brand, as well as women who spearheaded the most complex operations at some of the country’s largest retailers, such as Sainsbury’s Argos and Gap. Also celebrated was a Rising Star at the beginning of her career who has already contributed to unprecedented increases in sales, and a Male Mentor who was honoured for his work in actively supporting the advancement of women in the sector.
The 2019 Barclaycard everywoman in Retail Awards category winners are:
Above & Beyond Award – sponsored by SSE
- Tracey Gilbert, Women’s Store Manager, Gap, London. Tracey’s long-term and inspiring commitment to The Prince’s Trust stood out to the judges for the dedication she showed to young people. She leads life changing programmes across London to support over 205 young people entering a career at Gap and the world of retail. Tracey has changed the recruitment process at GAP and used her energy, enthusiasm and passion to develop how store managers interact with customers.
Customer Experience Excellence Award
- Helen Flaxman, Senior Customer & Communications Manager, Superdrug, London. Helen was responsible for the creation of the first Superdrug Vegan Pop Up, with the objective to reassure customers that they could purchase beauty regimes that are 100% vegan and cruelty free. Helen was responsible for developing the Modern Muse charity partnership, to support girls in finding the right career path, through a mentoring scheme.
Entrepreneur Award – Sponsored by Amazon
- Marisa Horden, Founder and Creative Director, Missoma Jewellery, London. Missoma was born out of Marisa’s childhood passion for gemstones which developed into something far more than just a childhood hobby. Marisa seeks to empower the next generation to work hard through collaboration and inspirational leadership. The judges were impressed by how she went from making jewellery at the kitchen table with a full-time job to creating a profitable business.
- Amber Kelly, People and Culture Director, Post Office, London. Amber started her career teaching IT before developing her skills further by becoming an accredited skills and business advisor with Business Link working with SMEs. Amber launched the Engagement Champion Network in 2016 to promote engagement throughout the business, and to encourage a proactive approach within teams when taking action. There are currently over 150 champions across each business area.
Male Mentor Award – sponsored by Specsavers
- Gary Pickering, Director of Sales and Retention, SSE, Cheltenham. Gary wanted individuals showing potential in their career to benefit from his past experiences and created a talent management and succession planning platform called Brilliant Minds. Designed to be a two-year long mentoring programme, it was open to both women and men, but had a significant female representation. What resonated with the judges was Gary’s business achievements and his impact on retaining staff in a company with a historically high turn-over rate.
Rising Star Award – Sponsored by Tesco
- Philippa Haigh, Senior Sales Executive, Farnell Land Rover Guiseley, Leeds. Philippa started at Guiseley Land Rover at 19 years old and has been identified as a Rising Star within the business for her fundamental work in helping the company achieve a higher than average CSI nationally. In an industry traditionally dominated by men, Pippa’s achievements at only 23 years old are outstanding. The judges admired her ability to turn down previous jobs that didn’t align with her values and her laser-like focus on what she wants to do.
Maxine Benson MBE, co-founder of everywoman, comments: “This year’s winners showcase the inspiring female talent within the UK retail sector and the individuals that are changing the face of retail. It is clear to me that as the industry evolves, so must the role models we celebrate and this year’s winners are from some of the most diverse businesses, roles and career paths that we have ever seen. With an uncertain future for the high street and the evolution of new retail platforms and business models, the future of retail is a no doubt a challenging one, but also an exciting one to be a part of. Both everywoman and Barclaycard were impressed with the dynamism and passion for the industry displayed by each and every winner during the judging process. We are confident that the stories for this year’s winners will inspire the next generation of female talent into a career within retail, while continuing to act as inspiring role models for their peers.”
Nicole Olbe, managing director of Partnerships at Barclaycard, added: “Congratulations to the winners as well as the other nominees – all of whom have made a positive impact this year. It’s fantastic to be able to celebrate the huge level of talent across the industry as we navigate through new challenges and complexities within the retail sector. Each individual has shown true innovation and sheer determination in their roles and are truly worthy winners. Barclaycard is honoured to partner with everywoman and we look forward to showcasing the success of next year’s finalists.”