The Open University Skills Award Shortlisted Winners

Helen O' Grady Shortlisted Winners

In association with  Remote Worker Awards in association with BT Business


Remote Employment and The Open University are delighted to announce the short listed winners in the national hunt to find a deserving winner who showed why they should be chosen to train or re-skill for a new career or profession.

The Open University Skills Award appealed to hundreds of keen study enthusiasts across the country, and this was a very popular Award and as such a difficult one to short list. The judges couldn't find the right five short listed winners at first stage of juding and have therefore these 10 people who will now onto the next stage of short listing. 

Winning Ceremony

The Remote Worker Awards will culminate in a winning ceremony at the stunning
Cliveden House in Berkshire on 10th September, where the shortlisted winners will find out if they have won this superb prize that will change their working life!

Nikki Niven
From Irvine, Ayrshire
Having undertaken enjoyable and successful study with the Open University in the past, Nikki NivenNikki is in the running to win The Open University Skills Award entered this award because she knows the life-changing experience that home-study can provide. 

Since her schooldays, Nikki has suppressed an ambition of being a journalist or a writer in favour of a more readily achievable career in low to middle management.  However, it is through her role as Local Editor (and franchise owner) of Mums in Control, a magazine for working mums and mums in business, that she has begun to realise that her teenage dream could finally become a reality. 

Already putting her writing skills to good use through the creation of advertorials, editorial features and product reviews in her magazine, Nikki wholeheartedly believes that study with the Open University would further enhance her writing skills and so result in increased personal development as well as professional advancement for her business.

Nikki said: “I am absolutely thrilled to have been shortlisted for this award. The Open University would provide me with the perfect platform from which to combine running my business with advancing my professional development through home study. This, in turn, would ultimately improve my Mums in Control business as my skillset develops. There’s just no better study solution for working mums than The Open University and so am extremely excited and humbled at even being considered for this prestigious award”.

Jane Hopkins
From Coleshill, North Warwickshire
Jane Hopkins entered this award hoping to further her knowledge and gain additional skills to take herJane is in the running for The Open University Skills Award online business to the next level. Jane already has business experience and a background in Marketing and has single handedly developed mumsclub.co.uk, a unique business club for mums, but she is aware that having an Open University professional qualification would provide the additional skills to further her business success and fulfill her business plan.

Jane said “I’m delighted to have been shortlisted for this award as I’ve always wanted to take my academic development to the next level but time has always been a barrier to actually enrolling on a course. However, the flexibility provided by the Open University means that I would be able to further my professional development while working around my family and business commitments. My son starts school in September so timing is perfect for my academic and business life to run simultaneously – during school hours of course!”

Sharon Bassett
From Pontybodkin, Flintshire
Sharon Bassett entered this award as she has always valued education and its role in opening upSharon is in the running to win a new career from The Open University opportunities and developing her career.   Successful study in the past has given Sharon the confidence to take bold career steps and, ultimately, start her own business.  Both Sharon and her husband are Directors of Enjoy-a-Ball [001] Ltd, a franchise business which focuses on sports coaching for children aged 2½ - 9 years.
 
Having combined work and study in the past to further her personal and professional development, Sharon believes this award could bring a new dimension to her skills and options for the future development of her business and work with children.
 
She said: "I'm delighted to have been shortlisted for this award.  From my own experience, I really believe that education can change lives.  Throughout my career, and especially since being self-employed, I have implemented creative ideas that I would never have had if I hadn't pursued new learning opportunities, met interesting people as a result and explored ideas.  It's really exciting to think of the new and positive challenges ahead."

Glenda Hayes
From Aldershot, Hampshire
Glenda Hayes entered this award as she has been continuously involved in developing her career since leaving school.  Her past achievements include working for two well known blue chip organisations, where she spent a great deal of time training and mentoring others.  Glenda is in the running to win a brand new career with The Open University

After being made redundant, it was the ideal time to return to education as a mature student in order to formalise my teaching with a recognised qualification.

It was all of these experiences that gave her the confidence to become self employed and work mainly from home.  Glenda now runs a successful business from home selling greetings cards and stationery and mentors her own small team who wish to do the same. She also teaches privately on a part-time basis and has recently been contracted to work for her local County Council as a teacher in some of their new family and children's centres.
 
Having previous experience of working whilst studying, Glenda believes that this award could enable her to return to study in order to further develop her skills, her business, and further assist those with whom she has contact through her other teaching work.

Glenda said: "I am exceptionally pleased to have been shortlisted for this award.  I have never previously entered for anything like this and to be shortlisted on my first attempt is truly amazing. As a qualified tutor, I am already a big fan of life-long learning and believe that The Open University offers an excellent way of pursuing this, for those who would otherwise be unable to attend university education."

Justine Curtis
From Winchester, Hampshire
Justine Curtis entered this award as despite having set up and developed several successful businessesJustine is in the running to win a brand new career from The Open University involved in the Virtual Assistant (VA) industry, she has not previously had the opportunity to develop more formal qualifications.

Having previously written a book on the subject, as part of the VA Success Group Justine is currently writing and delivering her own training courses on the topic of starting and developing a virtual assistant business and is also preparing her own VA business, My Virtual Assistant, for the franchising later this year.

Justine is very keen to further her own professional development through the Open University as the flexibility provided by the home study platform would enable her to expand her skills whilst working around other commitments.

Justine said “I am delighted to have been shortlisted for this prestigious award. As a trainer and mentor myself, I cannot advocate enough the importance of investment in your own learning and professional development.”

Helen Western
From Wales
Helen started her OU studies when she was unable to attend a ‘normal’ university, mainly because she was overseas for many of her formative years (her parents were in the armed forces).  The OU offered her a chance to continue her education wherever she was.  When she married, her husband was also a Serviceman and again, she drew upon the OU to complete her formal education. 

Many years later, she went on to teach English Language and Maths within the British prison system, which was probably the most rewarding career move she made.  Helen believes that people learn better when they choose to learn and not when forced upon them.  She has also taught Computer Studies within the community and her oldest learner was 92 years young who wanted to be able to help her great-grand kids with their homework.  Not only did she learn how to ‘turn the darned thing on’, but went on to achieve all the courses and exams the college offered.

Helen said: "As a teacher and mentor, I really do advocate the Open University and Life-Long Learning for all.  It allows so many people access to education that ordinarily would not have the opportunity." 

Wendy French
From Bracknell, Berkshire
This award really appealed to Wendy because, if she wins, it would enable her to study for the versatileWendy is in the running for The Open University Award Open Degree in which she could further her studies in a variety of disciplines; the opportunity to update her design skills using CAD: further her business knowledge including finance to maximise the success of any home business she set up: expand her knowledge of marketing and communications in business: learn web design; find an alternative outlet for her creativity such as writing.

Having embarked on life coaching sessions a few months ago Wendy is clarifying her goals and feels the time is right to start making changes and embark on a new adventure.  Having trained as a textile designer, she is ready to embrace creativity again and utilise her office and administrative skills, gained in her more recent career. Wendy is buzzing with ideas but needs some guidance and help to consolidate them into a successful business.

Being extremely motivated when it comes to learning and coursework Wendy would relish winning the Open University Skills Award and thoroughly enjoy the challenge. Winning this award would give her the appropriate skills and the confidence to set up a successful business of her own, allowing her flexibility in her work and changing her family’s life for the better, with improved work-home balance and increased earning potential.

Wendy said: "I couldn’t believe it when I heard I had been short-listed for this award! My goal is to set up my own successful business and winning the Open University Skills Award would help me consolidate my existing knowledge and skills, by filling in the gaps, and give me in-depth knowledge to maximise success. I would love to win this fabulous prize!"

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