08
Mar
  • Holly Parsons
Made in Manchester Awards: Jessica, Cherryanne and Georgia win big for the Growth Company

This year’s Made in Manchester Awards, in partnership with pro-manchester, featured three winners from the Growth Company. Jessica Jackson, Cherryanne Dawson and Georgia Carly all came out on top in their categories, beating talented competitors from across Greater Manchester.

The awards celebrate the best of Manchester’s young business talent, up to the age of 35, and this year focused on how the business community has continued to strive for excellent and push boundaries during this unparalleled time.

It’s fitting then that all three Growth Company winners were women, pushing the boundaries of their industries and challenging the awards to recognise an underrepresented group.

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2021 and recognise the achievements of these brilliant women, we spoke to Jess, Cherryanne and Georgia about their role, what challenges they’ve faced this year, and what winning a MIMA award means to them.

 

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Jessica Jackson – winner of the Finance Professional of the Year

Could you explain your role at GC, and how it has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?

As Head of Angel Investment at GC Angels I specialise in early day investments services, helping businesses raise investment and make transactions on their own behalf. Due to the pandemic this year has seen investment levels drop, and we’ve had to work really hard to maintain our pre-pandemic levels, including a pivot to a digital service and working from home. This has actually been something of a positive, because we’ve managed to reach businesses we never would’ve reached before!

What challenges have you faced during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The main challenge I’ve faced during the COVID-19 pandemic has been the change of pace. Like many of us I’ve found that work has maintained a fast pace of activity whilst the rest of life has felt very static. If anything, my biggest struggle has been finding a way to unwind when I’m not working. What’s helped me is taking up sewing. I’ve been making my own clothes, and since September haven’t had to buy anything – it’s really kept me sane!

Who nominated you for the Finance Professional MIMA award?

The PR and Marketing team at GC Angels were the ones to nominate me. They wanted the MIMA panel to recognise the work I’ve done challenging the investment industry on the lack of investment in underrepresented groups and championing widening access. Our investment figures for women led businesses are currently three times the national average. Last year I was invited to go to a finance lunch for pro-manchester to speak on the importance of investing in women and BAME businesses, and to convince a room full of polished mid-market businesses people, mainly men, that diversifying their teams makes fiscal sense, and is something they really need to do!

How does it feel to be recognised with this award?

It’s been brilliant to have the work I do within my role recognised, but even better to get that recognition for what I do outside of that. The work I’ve done on widening access to investment doesn’t sit within my job role and is something I’ve chosen to take on as an extra task, because I feel passionate about it. It’s also given me a huge boost after a difficult 12 months, and I’m proud to have been able to use my platform and my privilege to help women and BAME led businesses access finance and become successful.

 

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Cherryanne Dawson – winner of the Lockdown Hero award

Could you explain your role at GC, and how it has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?

I’ve worked with MIDAS since March 2020 and was promoted to Operations Manager in August. I work alongside the CEO to implement vision, leadership, and strategic direction for MIDAS, including leading operations meetings, ISO, reporting, HR, improving overall performance and other ad hoc projects. When I started with MIDAS I was returning from maternity leave, so it was straight into working from home with a 10-month-old baby, and a then 7-year-old child.

What challenges have you faced during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The biggest challenge I’ve faced was the closure of nurseries and schools. It was very difficult to juggle the demands of a baby that had just started waking and home-schooling a (very) reluctant 7-year-old with my new role. I’ve also been waiting for the decision on whether my wedding (organised for this June) can go ahead, as well as completing on a new home!

Who nominated you for the Lockdown Hero award?

I was nominated by the MIDAS SMT for my contribution to procuring PPE for key workers across Greater Manchester alongside my day job whilst dealing with childcare restraints. I created an online portal to collect supplier data, liaised with manufacturers of PPE, collected data on demand and supply, and provided GM Mayor Andy Burnham with an up-to-date view of our situation for his press releases.

How does it feel to be recognised with this award?

It felt amazing to be recognised for this award and to accept it on behalf of MIDAS & GC. We all worked extremely hard, long days and late nights in an area that was completely new to us. As we find ourselves in unprecedented times filled with so much sadness and worry, it was amazing to contribute something back to our region that made a difference and I feel truly honoured to of been a part of it.

 

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Georgia Carly – winner of the Apprentice of the Year award

Could you explain your role at GC, and how it has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?

I’m an apprentice with the Growth Company and Greater Manchester Good Employment Charter – a role which utilises my creative skills, alongside my passion to work to enhance people’s lives. I decided on an apprenticeship to help me develop the digital skills I needed to propel myself further within Marketing whilst gaining professional experience. I started my apprenticeship in early March and only had one in-person class before everything was moved online.

What challenges have you faced during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Due to furlough and reduced working hours across the company the level of tuition that was possible to be delivered was understandably decreased. However, the Growth Company supported me throughout this process. By maintaining tuition throughout this time, albeit in a different way, I was able to stay on track and complete additional tasks surrounding the scheduled tuition. My team were similarly supportive throughout the whole process; and stepped up to offer me learning in places where I needed it.  

How does it feel to be recognised with this award?

Winning the Made in Manchester Award for the ‘Apprentice of the Year’ category has been my biggest achievement during my apprenticeship.  I was thrilled that the submission put forward for me by my colleagues made the shortlist of the awards – out of hundreds of nominations! Going forward to the interview stage and being able to speak about my apprenticeship journey with the MIMA judging panel and having them recognise this journey as one worthy of recognition, has been such incredible validation. Despite how difficult this apprenticeship has been within the context of the pandemic it’s been incredibly affirming to have all the work I’ve completed recognised at such a level!

Click here for more information on the Made in Manchester Awards