At Rise we are truly lucky to be immersed within a community of experts. Each individual has their own talent, opinion and knowledge. We decided that instead of writing what we thought of the world and the industries we all work in, why don’t we ask them?

This has part of our series of Q&A style articles that we hope will inspire you, educate you, and or empower you.

raina summerson CEO
Raina Summerson, Agincare Group CEO

 

 

We spoke with Raina Summerson the Group CEO at Agincare UK about the care industry, the highs, the lows and moving through the ranks.

 

 

 

 

RISE: What is your title and could you give us a short summary of what your day to day looks like at Agincare?

Raina: Group Chief Executive – covering all businesses within the group of Agincare companies. Due to the number of and diversity of services we provide, no two days are the same really but essentially my days will cover: looking at current business, considering where we are against budgeted and planned performance and looking to future business development. This activity is all set in the context of our vision, mission and values that underpin the business plan and core objectives. All of it involves a lot of liaison with people inside the business and external partners, such as local authorities, the NHS, our teams and other partners. Also, due to our national presence and scope of business, linking in with regional and national policy work in the sector, for example with professional associations, other large providers and organisations such as the Department of Health and Social Care, Skills for Care, Association of Directors of Social Services and the Local Government Association.

RISE: What do you love most about your job?

Raina: The purpose, the people and the variety. Above all the fact that what Agincare and our teams do makes a real difference to peoples’ lives at critical times and the fact that I get to support and influence that and the wider sector in some way. Also, the feeling of satisfaction of being part of a fantastic team building an increasingly successful and sustainable business that gives employment, development, networks and a sense of place and friendship to around 4,000 people. Small moments of interaction with people who use our services or on talking with our teams are often the highlights of my week.

RISE: How did you get to where you are today?

Raina: I started as a frontline care worker when I was 19, working in a variety of roles covering hospitals, care homes and community. This led me to work for Social services where I was seconded to do my social work training, which I completed in 1997; following further development in this role and achievement of my MA in the evenings, I became a social care regulator for what is now the Care Quality Commission. In 2004, I had the opportunity to join a small but growing family business – Agincare – and the rest is history!

RISE: What is it like working within care? Are there highs and lows?

Raina: I have always been passionate about social care and supporting people, challenging injustice and it’s all I know as a career. There are certainly challenges and resilience is needed both in a personal and business capacity. There is a lot of frustration over the lack of understanding, funding and support of the workforce from government and therefore wider society. Fundamental issues that are causing critical shortfalls in care are simply not addressed and there are consequences that everyone in the sector – workforce and people receiving support services and their families alike – are feeling. That can be hard for people and off-putting. As a care provider or an individual within the sector (in any role), there is a great sense of responsibility. Feeling that you have let anyone down on a personal or professional level, even if not your ‘fault’ is the most difficult part of working in this sector. Offset though by those moments of interaction with people where you can see ‘I/we made a difference’ and the fun, camaraderie and commitment shared in daily work. You can always do something right, do what you do well and always make a difference even within such a difficult system. Overall, I feel amazingly lucky to love what I do and still have such an interest in it after all these years.

RISE: If you were going to give advice to someone that was thinking of starting a career in care, what would you say?

Raina: Go for it and don’t let people put you off! The world is your oyster. There are so many wonderful jobs in the sector, so many different paths for development and something for everyone – values, kindness, compassion and personality are key, the rest might be complex at times but can be learned. Some excel at frontline care work and want to remind providing an essential role there but others develop into team leader, manager roles, head office support roles, nurses, OTs, Social workers or into policy or Directorships. As the current Department of Health and Social Care campaign says ‘every day is different’. People don’t tend to come into it for the glamour or recognition or the money and working conditions, though despite what people believe there are actually many well paid career options in the sector.

So many people hate their jobs, it’s a chore and a way to earn a living. Most people in social care don’t feel that, even though their jobs are tough and they may be tired and want to work different hours or earn more money. If they are still there after a few weeks, they usually love what they do and feel rewarded by it. That’s a great charm of the sector!

RISE: When you made the decision to be a sponsor of the Rock Star Awards (our awards show that celebrates young people across Dorset and Hampshire) this year what was your main reason for this?

Raina: Having attended the last awards, I was blown away by the whole event and stories told. It was a brilliant concept, well organised and a great platform to showcase young people and celebrate what they do – sometimes despite very adverse conditions. This aligned with my own personal and professional experience and awareness of many young people in caring roles doing amazing work or personal caring, who simply get no recognition for this. So, Agincare sponsoring this new ‘Young Carer’ category felt right for us, for the Rock Star Awards and to help raise awareness of care and the stories of caring that are around us all every day.

At Rise we are truly lucky to be immersed within a community of experts. Each individual has their own talent, opinion and knowledge. We decided that instead of writing what we thought of the world and the industries we all work in, why don’t we ask them?

This has part of our series of Q&A style articles that we hope will inspire you, educate you, and or empower you.

 

We spoke with Maria Seabright the Finance and HR Director of Greendale Construction to ask her a little bit about how she got into what she is doing now and how they are shaping the world of construction for young people in our area.

 

RISE: What is your name and what is your role at Greendale Construction?

Maria: My name is Maria Seabright and I am the Finance & HR Director.

RISE: How did you get into the construction industry? Did you work your way up to the role you are in today?

Maria: Previously to joining Greendale Construction I was working in the waste disposal industry which worked alongside the Construction industry.  I wanted to change careers and answered an advert in the Bournemouth Echo for an Admin Assistant / Receptionist (I still have the original advert in my personnel file!).  So on the 1st October 1997 I joined Greendale Construction.  My role was to answer the phone, and to provide admin and secretarial support.  When I joined the company their turnover was £1m.  As the company grew my role within the organisation grew.  I started doing the accounts (which were originally outsourced) so also became Accounts Manager.  In 2000 We moved into larger premises and engaged more staff so again my role changed to Office Manager.  In 2009 we moved to Old Generator House where we now have 19 admin/senior managers based in the office and the number of staff that we employ grew to 50.  On the 1st January 2013 I was promoted to Finance & HR Director at the same time Andy Musselwhite was promoted to Contracts Director.  This now meant that the company had 4 directors on the board.  I was so honoured and privileged to be asked to become a Director of this great company that I had seen go from strength to strength.  I have now been with the company 22 years this year.

RISE: As great sponsors (and believers!) of the Rock Star Awards, how do you make your workplace inclusive for young people starting out?

Maria: We strongly believe that we have a responsibility as an organisation to train for the future of the industry – this means that we are very active in recruiting apprentices.  Apprentices can be for various trades; site carpentry, bricklaying or Painting & Decorating.  We also engage Graduates where the company financially support any university fees, meaning that they can study for a degree without having to get into debt, and ensure that every apprentice / graduate has a 1-1 mentor that helps them with their training.  We also offer work experience placements for students (majority being of school age) – this gives them an insight into what actually happens on a construction site or within a construction office if it is a career that they wish to embark on.  We interview every student that applies for works experience as we believe that this gives them valuable experience in attending an interview with an employer.  It also allows us to see what the student wants to gain out of their works experience so we tailor their training to reflect this.   Because of the number of graduates / apprentices that have trained / qualified with us over the years we know that they make great mentors for the other young people coming through the company and we encourage ex apprentices and ex graduates to actually mentor some of these young employees.   In 2018 we won the Dorset Business Award for “Developing Talent”.  It was wonderful to be recognised for the great work that we do with developing talent within our organisation.

RISE: From what we know of you, you are a very charitable company and truly believe in giving back to your community – do you think that makes you all more effective as a workforce?

Maria: We do an awful lot of charity work and also working with schools & colleges to promote the industry.  Again we feel it is important to give something back to the community.  We have a nominated charity every year that we raise money for – this charity is voted for by the employees and this is really important as they are contributing / giving something back to who they have chosen to support.  We are also currently looking to introduce some volunteer days within the company – this will be where an employee can volunteer within the community one day a year.  This volunteer day encompasses  our mental health & wellbeing in the workplace policy.  By allowing our employees to give something back and volunteering to help other for a day makes them feel good.

RISE: Do you think the construction industry is slowly becoming more approachable for both men and women?

Maria: More women are becoming more interested in working within the construction industry.  This is very evident when I am attending careers events at schools & colleges as more young ladies approach me to ask about working in the industry, be it becoming an architect, or working on site, or learning a trade.  I do think that employers within the construction industry are now more open to engaging women within the industry.

RISE: What advice would you give to a young person looking to get into directorship one day?

Maria: Being a director to any company is a massive responsibility. It has its good days and its bad days however it is wonderful to be in a position where you can see the company grow and the people around you excel in their chosen profession.  It is hard work and requires total dedication to the business.  It can be stressful but it is how you manage that stress – it is essential to get your work life balance right.  Do things away from the office that help you re-charge your batteries so that you have the strength the tackle each day head on.  A business is only as good as the team around you to make sure that you employ the right people that will embrace the company ethos and who all work in the same direction to make the company bigger and better.  Be a director that is approachable – always have an open door policy for your staff to talk to you if they have any concerns or problems.  Share your business plan with all your staff, that way they all know what you are trying to achieve as a business and they will be working towards the same goal.