Warm words and high praise in a historic secret garden

Celebrating staff achievements in six separate categories, the Charter Day Awards 2017 cast a warm glow over an intimate Bloomsbury garden
Winners of the Charter Day Awards 2017
The winners of the Charter Day Awards 2017
I’m flattered and privileged to be able to work for an organisation that really values its staff

Our second Charter Day Awards took place last week in the beautiful surroundings of Montague Street Garden. Unlike last year's biblical deluge, the rain – thankfully – held off.

Entering this historic secret garden through the impressive wrought iron gates facing the British Museum, guests were greeted by a refreshing glass of Pimm's, appetising canapés, and sweet-sounding music courtesy of the Aldwych String Quartet.

Craig O’Callaghan, Director of Operations, welcomed staff, invited guests from other parts of the University, and other friends of the International Programmes. In a scene-setting opening speech, he said: It’s been a year of fantastic achievements, both individually and collectively. The launch of the Global MBA this year has been fantastic. We’ve recently launched our second programme with SAS, which we think is going to be wonderfully successful. A lot of new initiatives have taken place, whether in programme development or services, and it’s a testament to the work you do.”

Mary Stiasny, Pro-Vice Chancellor (International), then took to the stage to announce the awards.

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

International Programmes staff pictured at Charter Day

Reading an excerpt from their nomination form, Mary described the winner as being: “quite simply an outstanding colleague who goes above and beyond her role on a daily basis. She put together the business case for a new online events platform in almost record speed, has overseen initial implementation in an eye-wateringly short space of time, and has already hosted two highly successful events through the platform with colleagues. UoLIA's ability to successfully recruit and convert prospective students has been significantly enhanced by her amazing work. Aside from this she is an absolute joy to work with, always brimming with new ideas and eager to help in any way possible. The winner is Sophie Camfield.”

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

As the panel felt that two nominees were equally worthy of the Sustained Excellence award, there were two winners in this category.

Announcing this award, Mary described the first winner as follows: “The quality of the output of his work is second to none across the University. There is not one aspect of our services to students for which he is not an expert. He is the font of all knowledge, the person who has the answer for all student matters. His skills are manifold yet he sits in the background, quietly, and his reserved and calm manner provides reassurance across the whole of UoLIA. It is, of course, Jonathan Seddon.”

The second winner was described as being “a large part of the reason that we now have a very strong, very impressive visual identity with her work with design agencies on the world-class theme. She puts 100 percent into everything she does. A huge amount of work goes into producing prospectuses, reports, magazines and leaflets every year. She is the one who takes all of that information and turns it into colourful, well-designed, engaging publications that catch the eye of prospective students, inform our stakeholders, and promote our 'World Class' University. She deserves the Sustained Excellence award for her continued effort to make our University beautiful inside and out. The second winner is Toni Bailey.”

"Whenever a student gets in contact regarding their examinations, she deals with them sensitively, thoroughly and accurately, and always with the student's best interests at heart."

The Lifetime 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 colleague,” Mary said, “was described as being a loyal and hardworking employee in more or less the same team for over 20 years now whose experience is vital in the running of what is a very important team within the Academy. Whenever a student gets in contact regarding their examinations, or anything to do with their programme, she deals with them sensitively, thoroughly and accurately, and always with the student's best interests at heart. She is Rachel Monksfield.”

The Engagement Award recognised an individual who has gone the extra mile in delivering excellent support service for external stakeholders.

Charter Day 2017

“This person, it was said by nominators, has delivered a persistent commitment to quality and collaborative work” Mary noted. “Nominators mentioned how he was instrumental in creating, implementing and producing the Academic Achievement Awards for our students who excel at their various examinations and also created the template for academic references for students who need it for further studies. He always goes that extra mile to help and be supportive of his team and colleagues in general, as well as other stakeholders. He is the most collegiate team leader one could wish for. This award goes to Jackson Mbilinyi.”

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

In fact, this year’s Innovation award went to not one, but two colleagues, whose contribution was described as follows:

“Their joint efforts have improved the provision for students in a variety of ways and to a very significant extent. The student experience in 2017 is entirely different and greatly improved to that which existed a few years ago. To list some of these initiatives: the new methods of assessment; new regulations which provide flexibility whilst maintaining standards; new structures, at degree level and at module level, which students have engaged with and responded well to; the MOOC, which acts as an introductory taster; the improvements across the VLE and additional study support. All of these endeavours have been warmly received by students. This award goes to Patricia McKellar and Tracey Varnava.”

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: “One nominator said of the winner: calm, knowledgeable and well prepared at all times and continually produces work of an exceptionally high quality. Her cheerful and professional example drives and inspires other colleagues to go the extra mile to succeed on her behalf.

“Another said: she has been a fantastic informal mentor who has gone over and above to help support not only me but my other colleagues. Despite a hugely busy schedule of developments, she always has time to help work through problems and share her experience. Her hard work, dedication and sense of humour carried the team through a difficult year where she managed new responsibilities and established a new team. Colleague of the Year goes to Caroline Tutty.”

Staff at Charter Day 2017The prize winners each received gift vouchers to the value of £200, plus lunch at the award-winning Berners Tavern with Craig and Mary.

Commenting on their respective awards, Sophie Camfield said: "I feel shocked to have won. There are so many colleagues that would be deserving of this award, so I feel really touched. It's lovely to hear that our fellow colleagues value our work, and that we're able to celebrate together at a wonderful event."

Jonathan Seddon said: "It’s such a pleasure to be recognised for work that isn’t necessarily eye-catching, but contributes to the running of the organisation. I’m flattered and privileged to be able to work for an organisation that really values its staff.”

"To think that the people you work with on a daily basis appreciate and respect you is a nice feeling."

Antonia Bailey added: “It means a lot. I was quite shocked and embarrassed, but then it makes you feel really proud and that you are appreciated. To think that the people you work with on a daily basis appreciate and respect you is a nice feeling.”

Rachel Monksfield commented: “I didn’t expect it at all. It means a lot that my colleagues nominated me. I’ve worked here for 23 years, it was my first job – I started when I was 18. I work in a fantastic team, I think it’s one of the best teams at the University. They’re lovely colleagues and we work together so well, so I’m very lucky.”

Colleague of the Year, Caroline Tutty

Jackson Mbilinyi said: “I would like to thank the Senior Leadership Team for making this occasion possible every year. A big thanks goes to Lisa Pierre for all the hard work she puts into organising this event, as always, faultless. The continual support and guidance of my Director, Tim Wade, has helped me to be at the level that I am today, so thank you. My final thanks goes out to my team, who work very hard under challenging circumstances but always remain professional. My award is their award because we are all of the same family – the International Programmes. Receiving an award for something that I enjoy doing is indeed a bonus. A final, final thank you goes out to those who nominated me for the award.”

Tracey Varnava added: "It’s a great honour and a privilege. I’ve worked with my colleague Patricia for a number of years, even before the University of London, so it’s particularly nice to share it with her. This really is a team effort, so while I’m very honoured to receive the recognition it really is an award for my whole team.”   

Caroline Tutty (pictured above left) commented: “I was really surprised, completely touched, and very honoured, but I really do think that the past year has been a complete team effort with my immediate Directorate team but also my Global MBA colleagues. It’s an award for them as well, for all of our achievements.”

The full list of winners:

Rising Star Award: Sophie Camfield (Marketing and Events Coordinator).

Sustained Excellence Award: Jonathan Seddon (Senior Assessment Manager: Policy/SITS Maintenance), Antonia Bailey (Design and Print Manager).

Lifetime Award: Rachel Monksfield (Deputy Head of Section, EMFSS Assessment).

Engagement Award: Jackson Mbilinyi (Head of Transcripts).

Innovation Award: Patricia McKellar (Associate Director: Undergraduate Laws Programme) and Tracey Varnava (Deputy Director, Undergraduate Laws Programme).

Colleague of the Year: Caroline Tutty (Academic Project Manager).