A business is guided by its decisions and convictions. As it grows the values become a shining light.

 

Having values means an empowered workforce.

 

When it comes to instilling a belief in empowerment, this is echoed by packaging and design company Avec UK. A Dorset based business that has seen substantial growth since its origins in 2012 and led by owner Becks Beere and a team of nearly 40 people.

 

Rise MD, Angela Piromalli and Becks both discussed the importance of building and promoting a culture that is real and has the ability to attract new team members where everyone has a unified voice.

 

How Do You Build A Company Culture?

 

It is a well-used term when a company promotes the virtues of ‘building a culture,’ but how does a business leader instill this? Becks explained, “When it comes to recruitment, I want people to buy into the business. I genuinely research people and see if they are the right fit from the outset. I will never outsource the recruitment to someone else on the team. This is a company I have built with my own hands. It is my responsibility to nurture and grow this close-knit family.

 

“I have to sell the business to others, just as much as a candidate wants to work with Avec. I want people to buy into me and my company.

 

“Avec is about getting people on board this rocket ship that we are all building. I want people to be a part of it, not a cog in a faceless business.”

 

Angela highlighted the importance of both candidate and employer having a mutual understanding. “Companies find strong talent by not sitting on their laurels. Both sides have to sell themselves. When candidates and clients are both on the same side of the road, not heading in opposite directions, it comes down to one simple trait, open communication.”

 

The Charter That Everyone Dances To

 

The importance of communication is something that is part of Avec. They have a charter that each member of the company refers to and comes back to. Becks says, “Whilst we all know what the business feels like, can we put it into words?

 

“It is important to communicate what we will succeed in and what challenges lie ahead. The team all have an active role to play. As well as the grander vision, the smaller things matter too, such as no one is allowed to huff in the workplace and everyone puts their empty plates, bowls and cups in the dishwasher. It is something we expect from each other.

“Any company that is attracting new employees need to stand up and say, ‘this is us, is this you?’”

 

The Avec charter is used as a tool for performance measurement. It is there to inform decisions and for the entirety of the team to recognise what they signed up to.

 

Trust In The Employer

 

According to the Association of Accounting Technician’s (AAT), the average UK employee will spend 3,515 full days at work over the course of their lifetime. Angela stated, “People spend a huge proportion of their lives at work. Businesses having transparency means that everyone needs to know what they are signing up to. Having something such as the Avec charter means there is alignment between the business, its responsibility and its values.”

 

Building a base for development, support and growth is a key part of a business that has longevity. People are now looking more than ever at businesses to lead and create a sense of place.

 

According to the annual Edelman Trust Barometer, this report looks at how much the public trust government, media and business. The latest 2019 report points to the vital role that companies play.

Within the study, people place more trust in their companies than in political leaders. There is a notable shift in trust to the relationships people have within their control, most notably UK employers.

When it comes to mutual trust, this is something that Avec has in abundance. Becks highlights, “Business owners need to put the emphasis on their team to discover and find their own answers. Perfection is not the only solution. I want people to succeed they need to be supported.

 

“We found out that people are not necessarily motivated by money. Every two years we profile the business and the team. From our own studies, we can see that people are motivated by security, a sense of validation and encouragement to be creative. It is the responsibility for a business owner to have a responsibility for others, this is how trust is earned. We also could see what demotivates the team. The majority do not like public recognition.”

 

What about the future of an expanding company? Becks concludes, “I will give everything away for others to provide direction. However, I will not give away the customer relationship and the most precious resource, finding the right people. The company culture is one that has to be protected and championed.

 

Conclusion

 

If a company has values, they truly have to live them. This is something that Avec UK truly believe in.

 

It all comes down to the behaviour of how a company presents itself to the outside world and the obligation it has to those who work within the business.

 

Having values is more than a buzzword and something that you shout loudly on LinkedIn. It is the groundwork for a robust company culture that stands the test of time and to remain continually relevant to those that have a continual touch point with a company.

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.

Winning awards is not just about being in the moment, but providing the momentum for the future.

What happens after the cameraman has stopped taking photos and the occasion of a celebratory night outcomes to an end?

The Rock Star Awards return in Spring 2019 to celebrate young people who have reached out, succeeded on the path they are currently on and deserve to be recognised.

The awards have been in place since 2012. This means that the alumni of award winners grow every year. This now represents people who have taken the initiative on a personal and professional capacity and their own journeys taking them to new places and providing a framework for their own development.

We caught up with three former winners on how their lives changed after winning a Rock Star Award.

We spent some time with Nat Hawley, Kamron Arasteh and Molly Brown on where their lives are now and a chance to look back on when they won an award.

 

Nat’s Journey Afterwards

Nat is now based in London as the Partnership and Community Manager for Exceptional Individuals, which is the first employment partnership for neurodivergent people. He won the Inspirational Star of the Future in
2014 and his current position reflects that.

Nat’s progression has been significant, he explains, “I have a degree from Bournemouth University in Television Production. However, my calling was to use my life experience to support others. Having adversity in your life and overcoming it inspires you to empower and support others. I have Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and autism, and use this unique positive experience to make the world a more inclusive place, one person, one day at a time.”

“It was a huge step to move to the city from my familiar surroundings in Bournemouth. The recognition and championing from Rise gave me the encouragement to take my passion a step further and be a campaigner for others with learning differences on a global scale. I became a supervisor for The Princes Trust, training others from challenging backgrounds to become youth workers, I have taught people with disabilities in multiple countries and currently celebrating one year in my current role at Exceptional Individuals with the launch of my very own Academy for people with Dyslexia.”

Looking back on the award win in 2014, can Nat recall what it felt? Nat looks back as a sense of recognition. He says, “I had always been a spokesperson for charitable organisations. Winning a Rock Star Award was acknowledgement for me as an individual. It provided me with added credibility and the recognition allowed me to reach a bigger audience and dedicate myself to supporting even more people as my full time job.”

“I found that after the awards this presented the ‘foot in the door’ moment. It started a conversation with others. To have one person believe in you is an achievement but to have an entire county is empowerment for a life time.”

 

Kamron’s Progression

Kamron Arasteh was recognised as a Student Rock Star in 2013 whilst in his final year at Bournemouth University, studying IT. Kamron now works for Europe’s leading home improvement retailer, Kingfisher, as a programme manager.

Kamron started the process believing it was an internal award by the University. “I originally thought this was an award that had a focus on my faculty and run by the University. To be a winner means a lot. I can remember taking my mum to the awards evening and watching the nominee video from one of the other finalists who had created a fantastic piece of software and had completed their Masters. Degree. I thought, ‘there’s no way, I’m going to win this.’ It was great to be recognised.”

Since winning the student award, Kamron has progressed his IT career with a variety of roles within Kingfisher that began as part of the company graduate scheme. Kamron continues, “I started in an admin support role and that has quickly changed over the past few years. I have worked on a £250m project to replace all B&Q IT systems and some considerable European wide projects. My working week is between offices in Southampton and Yeovil. I am currently running six large projects for Screwfix in adapting their HR and finance function.”

Whilst Kamron’s professional development has seen a sharp rise, he still looks back to his Rock Star Award win as providing a foundation. “When many people come out of University, our CV’s are very sparse and many look the same as there is limited experience, let alone award accolades! Everyone needs a magnet to draw people to. Being a Rock Star Award winner did this.”

 

Molly’s Development

One of the most recent award winners Molly Brown saw her award win recognised on a much wider level within her company.

Molly won the Shooting Star of the Future award in 2017 and made her way to the stage on crutches whilst recovering from an injury. Molly said, “It was an amazing feeling to win the award. Whilst I would not consider myself someone with an academic background, to have this award makes you believe in yourself.”

Molly is now Team Manager at wealth management company, Old Mutual Wealth. “I started with a six-month contract as an administrator and then became team manager. Winning a Rock Star Award isn’t just about recognition on a personal level, but something to be celebrated with colleagues and those we love.”

“My company reveled in it with me. We all enjoyed it. When others recognise these types of achievements you understand the contribution you make. It gives you a sense of place within the companies that we are part of.”

 

Time To Conclude

Winning a Rock Star Award is more than being part of an occasion. It is a way to encourage a conversation, celebrate on a wider scale and to have that first sense of recognition beyond studies and early years of full-time employment.

Spending time with those who have won an award in previous years gives perspective to consider what a long way they have come from.

From campaigning to managing wider teams to having qualities of leadership and drive, represents the whole ethos of what the awards wanted to be when it started in 2012. The journeys continue for all of us.