Charter Day 2016

It rained, it poured, but nothing could dampen the collective good cheer at the inaugural Charter Day Awards
The winners of the inaugural Charter Day Awards
The winners of the inaugural Charter Day Awards, pictured with Craig O’Callaghan and Dr Mary Stiasny
I am really proud to work with you all – we’re a team which is diverse, talented and inclusive. The judging panel agreed that it was one of, if not the most, heart-warming mornings ever spent at work

It would be fair to say that the weather wasn’t kind. And when we say not kind, we’re not talking about a light summer shower – complete with ominous thunderclaps and flashes of lightning, this was a deluge of biblical proportions.

Did it put a dampener on our second Charter Day? Absolutely not. The venue, the Montague Street Garden, was fabulous, the canapés were delicious and this year there was the added frisson of excitement as the winners of the inaugural Charter Day Awards were announced.

Craig O’Callaghan, Director of Operations, welcomed staff, Lead College and Senate House colleagues, members of the Board of Trustees, and other friends of the International Programmes.

Mary Stiasny, Pro-Vice Chancellor (International), then took to the stage to announce the awards. “This is a real celebration. I am really proud to work with you all – we’re a team which is diverse, talented and inclusive. Last week, a panel met to select today’s award winners. There were 150 nominations, which shows just how proud you all are of each other. The judging panel agreed that was one of, if not the most, heart-warming mornings ever spent at work.”

Will Eames, Jo Harris and Craig O'Callaghan

Mary and Craig then presented the awards. The first, the Rising Star Award, recognised an individual member of staff who has grown in their role – having initiated and/or accomplished a complex activity – within a relatively short period of time.

Reading an excerpt from their nomination form, Mary said: “This person has been with the University for just under two years, shows dedication to developing his role, is training new staff, and when asked for advice always responds calmly and in a considered way. It is Gregory Allman.

The Sustained Excellence Award recognised the performance of an individual over a number of years which has led to a sustained contribution that has significantly benefited the University.

Announcing this award, Mary said: “Without her leading a small core team, supplemented annually by a number of temporary staff that she has to train diligently in examination distribution, the University could not continue to function. And she does this work so tirelessly, without any plaudits. We take for granted the smooth efficiency that ensures thousands of our students are examined every year. It is a worldwide logistics operation and it goes on quietly, without any fuss, year after year. Her excellence in managing this amazing operation should be recognised and rewarded – the winner of our Sustained Excellence Award goes to Catherine Kojcinovic.”

Nominated by members of the Senior Leadership Team, the Lifetime Achievement Award recognised the contribution made by an individual that has led to accomplishments that may have significantly shaped the University, its reputation or the wider community.

“This person,” Mary said, “is one of those people who makes complex tasks look very simple. Her commitment, attention to detail, flexibility, pride in her work, and contribution to the smooth running of the International Programmes should be recognised – especially because she does this without fuss, flash or publicity, quietly in the background. She is Catherine Skelton.”

The Engagement Award recognised an individual who has gone the extra mile in delivering excellent support service for external stakeholders. “This person, it was said by nominators, has delivered exceptionally high quality events worldwide that have considerably enhanced the profile and brand of the University of London, both in general and in the area of alumni relations and engagement,” Mary noted. “Nominators mentioned how she goes above and beyond at work, whether it is in the delivery of successful events, creating and nurturing relationships with alumni, or communicating with staff and stakeholders. This award goes to Lisa Pierre.”

The Innovation Award recognised an individual who has noticed new opportunities and has demonstrated flexibility and adaptability in enhancing services for the University.

Charter Day balloons

“The person to whom this award goes is said to be a huge influence on his entire team. He is able to bring solutions to problems in a calm, succinct way, and his experience in different areas of the student life cycle has enabled him to bring real value to the work he does today as a SITS Technical Developer and Business Analyst. This award goes to Andy Rowlett.”

The final award, the Colleague of the Year Award, recognised an individual who has consistently, and to an exceptionally high level, reflected the University’s guiding principles through their work.

Announcing this award, Mary said: “We read some wonderful nominations and decided we simply had to nominate two people as Colleagues of the Year. The first is said to be just the best colleague one could wish for. Not only does he go over and above in all his work commitments, but he is involved in much wider activities – from bee keeping to the Staff Association which he revived and brought back to life. He is, of course, Tim Hall.”

Tim was, sadly, not present as he was on holiday (“we’ve told him,” Mary noted, “and he is thrilled. So is his mum”).

“But there is one more Colleague of the Year – last, but by no means least,” Mary continued. “What was said about her was: from my first day she has been a constant friendly face, always interested, positive and supportive. She works quietly and conscientiously – but her role as unofficial card keeper, as photographer for our social and charity events, and her commitment to the wider activities of the staff mean she is known by everyone. And her dedication to our wonderful office plants means, as the nominator said, that she literally brightens up the office. I am sure you must have guessed it – just as I am sure she herself did not see this coming. Colleague of the Year goes to Fay Bennett.”

"Everybody in my office is fantastic – they’re like a second family to me.” 

The prize winners each received a beautiful framed print of Senate House by Richard Walker, a certificate, gift vouchers to the value of £200, plus lunch at one of London's most iconic restaurants, Le Pont de la Tour, with Craig and Mary.

Commenting on their respective awards, Gregory Allman said: “It’s something special. It’s great to be recognised by your peers and colleagues as well. I think the award should go to the whole Admissions Department – we’re all special in our own way, and we work great together as a team!”

“I came here as a temp for three months and I’ve been here for 29 years," Catherine Kojcinovic said. "Everybody in my office is fantastic – they’re like a second family to me.” 

Charter Day rainCatherine Skelton noted: “It gives you a really lovely feeling, to be recognised for the work that you do. I’ll always remember my first day in 1987. I arrived, looked at the Senate House tower, and I’m thinking ‘oh my God, am I really going to be working here. And after 30 years I’m still here – it must be a good thing!”

Lisa Pierre added: "I’m really happy to have won the Engagement Award. I love what I do and to have your colleagues think you do a good job is a great feeling. It makes all the early mornings, late nights and jet lag feel worth it. I feel truly humbled.” 

"I am very pleased to have won the award," Andy Rowlett said. "This is an organisation that always appreciates its employees’ contribution, but for someone to have gone the extra mile in nominating me is a bit humbling. To then win, in what I am sure was august company, is a little surprising but something I am very proud of.” 

Fay Bennett commented: "We all braved the inclement weather to attend the Charter Day celebrations and it didn’t dampen the spirits of colleagues and friends who were present. I am delighted, elated and proud to be awarded the Charter Day ‘Colleague of the Year’. I feel privileged to work with such wonderful people, and am still a little shocked! Many thanks to all involved for such a prestigious award."

Emailing from Cape Cod in southeastern Massachusetts, Tim Hall said: “My heartfelt thanks to all of our colleagues across UoLIA. I'm honoured to be recognised for this award by such an amazing group of people. People who make work interesting, exciting, and fun. I've received so much support during my time here and all I can try to do is reciprocate by supporting my colleagues in any way I can. Thank you again.”

The full list of winners:

Rising Star Award: Gregory Allman, Senior Admissions Officer

Sustained Excellence Award: Catherine Kojcinovic, Head of Exams Distribution

Lifetime Award: Catherine Skelton, Contracts and Central Services Manager

Engagement Award: Lisa Pierre, Head of Global Events and Alumni Engagement

Innovation Award: Andy Rowlett, SITS Technical Developer and Business Analyst

Colleague of the Year Award: Fay Bennett, Senior Administration Officer, and Tim Hall, Quality Review and Testing Manager