Meet the Chartered Managers of the Year 2020

Written by Mark Rowland Tuesday 07 July 2020
Outstanding Chartered Managers making real impact

Every year, CMI recognises the achievements and contributions that Chartered Managers (CMgrs) bring to their workplaces, their teams and the wider economy through its Chartered Manager of the Year award.

There are lessons to learn from the experiences of everyone on the shortlist – you can read more in the next issue of CMI’s magazine – but as a sneak preview, here are just some of the stand-outs from the 2020 cohort of outstanding CMgrs.


Winner: Manisha Mistry turned Rolls-Royce digital

Manisha Mistry has been instrumental in delivering significant culture change across Rolls Royce, helping to accelerate it into a ‘digital first’ business. She established and empowered three global digital community networks that utilised digital champions across the organisation to push through the digital agenda and enable employees to learn and develop new digital skills. Manisha smashed her targets when it came to employee engagement and learning delivery – 151% and 173% of her target, respectively.

Communication was crucial for this initiative, she explains – her team used all internal communication channels to deliver focussed campaigns to employees. “Our comms strategy was developed with Rolls Royce’s corporate communications team to ensure our campaigns linked to business drivers,” she says, “Doing this ensured events, good news stories, case studies and opportunities were targeted to the right audiences.”


Honourable mention: how Dalton Leong brought the children’s trust into the modern age

Dalton Leong had to make some tough decisions when he came on board as CEO of The Children’s Trust. Its finances were not looking good. The Care Quality Commission and Ofsted Care had rated it ‘requires improvement’. The charity was in need of a shake-up; it needed to modernise. That’s where Dalton came in.

One of the biggest challenges was finding a finance director that was the right fit for the organisation – Dalton describes it as the biggest hiring challenge of his career. While he met with some resistance from some corners of the charity, he stuck to his guns. “When I look back on the situation, what was particularly pleasing was my resilience in the face of pressure; knowing I hadn’t got it right yet, but not giving up. Now, we are reaping the rewards.”

Now meet the other candidates on this year’s outstanding shortlist of CMgrs...


Grant Campbell applied science to chemical engineering

Grant Campbell was tasked with creating a new chemical engineering department at Huddersfield University. The market for university courses on the subject is extremely competitive. To counter that, Grant created a course that stands out by having the strongest chemistry content of any chemical engineering programme in the country.

To achieve this, Grant utilised his deep knowledge of the subject, having practiced and studied chemical engineering and what makes it important throughout his career. He cites reading as vital in constructing his vision for the programme: “I was aware that the power of chemical engineering arises from its unique coupling of three themes: chemical and biochemical transformations, mathematics applied at different scales, and systems thinking. I therefore resolved to structure our new programme around these three themes, with a distinctive strength in chemistry, leveraging our unique context within the School of Applied Sciences at Huddersfield.”


Sarah Gardener is driven by a desire to help people

Sarah Gardner likes to be busy. Alongside her day job at Coalo, a private sector property management company owned by the London Borough of Hounslow, she is actively involved with several charities and community initiatives. At Coalo, she helped to create its corporate strategy and managed its rebranding, with particular focus on mental health, wellbeing and social value – topics she feels incredibly passionate about. This is a sliver of the activities she’s involved in.

“I’m often asked how I find the time to do all of the things that I do. It’s down to good time management and passion for my work. I am very driven and it’s important for me to find the time to do what I believe is important. I like to help others and improve things where I can, which is why I also volunteer in whatever spare time I have.”


Ricky Massey took a bad rep school and turned it into the most in-demand in the region

When Ricky Massey was in the process of applying for the role of principal of Glengormley High School in NewtownAbbey, Northern Ireland, the school made the Belfast Telegraph after a damning report put the spotlight on its bullying issues and low exam results. He put together a three-year plan to turn the school around. Now, 18 months later, the school is in high demand from parents.

Ricky’s results come down to maintaining integrity, he says. He describes his first meeting with the staff, when he laid out in no uncertain terms the school’s poor financial performance, falling enrolment, toxic brand and sub-par results. He then set out his vision for the school, and what everyone could do to make it happen.

“The staff didn’t know the truth about the school. They thought that things were alright. When you’re honest with them and trust them with the truth, and give them a vision of improvement, they will come with you.”


Jenny Taylor created a college inside IBM

Jenny Taylor realised that she needed to change the approach of IBM’s graduate training and apprenticeship programmes when the Apprenticeship Levy came in in 2017. It needed to become an Apprentice Employer Provider within IBM UK. It would mean relying less on external learning providers, delivering more programmes itself. It meant creating a new governance structure in order to comply with Ofsted requirements. It wasn’t an easy task. But under Jenny’s leadership, the programme has been a runaway success, with a 100% distinction rate for junior management consultants coming out of the scheme.

“I don’t think we realised how much work it was going to be. Although we prepared thoroughly, there were still new requirements which we previously hadn't considered. It was a huge amount of work and a steep learning curve for everyone involved.”


Debbie Carless dragged estates management into the digital age

Estates management isn’t often celebrated, but it’s a crucial function, particularly at universities, where it deals with issues across the main university buildings and halls of residence. Debbie Carless has transformed the estates management at Solent University, embracing technology, joining up different functions, streamlining processes and making it easier for issues to be reported by students.

“My strongest instinct is always to fix a problem; that’s always right at the front of my mind. But my experience has taught me that I should never assume I had the answer to fixing it. That needs to be drawn out from a good bit of understanding, which comes to listening to all the people that are involved.”


Paul Hughes’ 90-day plan of revigoration

Paul Hughes moved to Australia in 2013. A few years later, his time as a Royal Airforce instructor led him to a role with the Australian Air Force Cadets, as an officer commanding 3 Wing. Although it was a volunteer role that he did alongside his day job as a client relationship manager for Converge International, it became a bigger management challenge.

There had been little leadership before Paul joined. Morale was low, staff were directionless, and there was little-to-no handover when he took over the role. He also had the challenge of managing 400 volunteer staff and 220 cadets over an area five times the size of the UK. He set out a 90-day action plan to turn things around.

Since then, 3 Wing has more structure and clearer leadership. Staff and cadets are more motivated, and Paul and his team won the coveted Air Force Trophy for demonstrating superior standards and outcomes of administrative acumen, leadership development, training, recruiting & retention and community engagement.

“For a period of time, the Air Force Cadets took up more time than my day job,” he says. “You have to start with a vision, and determine how you win over the hearts and minds and get everybody to buy into it. You need to win around the senior leadership team and create a roadmap for what the next five years would look like. You need to be flexible – the vision you have at the start is not necessarily the same as the one you have in five years, or even 12 months.”

Find out more about the Chartered Manager of the Year award here. You can even start your own Chartered journey today!

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