Following the success of last year’s awards, 2012’s entries were equally as impressive and really do capture the essence of the Super Achievers spirit. All the entries showed a common theme of improving the lives of their families through hard work and determination to succeed in their chosen careers.

The three ladies shortlisted epitomised the grit and dedication which really does deserve some recognition. Read on to find out about our final three nominees for Working Mum of the Year…

 Helen Straw

Helen is a 44 year old mum of one, Charlie, who has successfully run her own HR consultancy, The Personnel Partnership since 2001.

She has over 18 years’ HR experience, having discovered a skill for communication and dealing with people while covering for a colleague on payroll and HR admin. This led her to find a new, purely HR related job, and study for her CIPD qualification on a part-time basis.

Helen’s biggest challenge to date was establishing her business 11 years ago. Knowing that she had to stretch herself and follow her dream of being her own boss, she left a secure, well paid job in the public sector and “jumped off the cliff” into the unknown! Her biggest challenge has, however, also been her biggest achievement.

When she had her son in 2009, she faced her second biggest challenge to date; juggling her business with motherhood. Having stopped work just four days before he was born, Helen kept things running smoothly by contracting two HR colleagues to manage her clients while she was on maternity leave. This allowed her to have 4 ½ months off, returning initially just one day a week and gradually increasing to four days a week just over a year ago.

Other challenges have included developing and growing the business, seeking new clients, keeping existing ones and keeping the plates spinning on her own.

Achieving a good work life balance isn’t always easy but Helen has put a strong support network of family and friends in place and outsources what she can from cleaning and ironing to having a PA to manage her admin. Giving practical advice to help clients make informed choices is what keeps Helen motivated. She thrives on difficult HR issues and helping businesses ‘see the light’ when it comes to dealing with employees.

Her hopes for the future are that The Personnel Partnership continues to grow and remains as successful as it is now. She plans to increase turnover by 20% and gain one more key client by the end of 2012.


Sabrina Dawe

Four years ago Sabrina was a solicitor, working long hours and trying to juggle her work around her baby son. Until the world she knew was turned upside down when her son ended up in Intensive Care fighting for his life with DKA (Diabetic Ketoacidosis).

He was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and Sabrina spent much of the next few months in and out of hospital. One of the consequences of this stressful unforeseen diagnosis was that she had to give up her career in law as she had to be around for her son 24 hours a day.

A few months after her son was diagnosed, he was placed on an insulin pump – a device which is attached to him 24 hours a day.She was determined to try and make the clinical situation more child-friendly, and in January 2011 she launched “Funky Pumpers” through a basic website she made herself. With a phenomenal response she instantly sold out of her initial stock.

Sabrina said: “The main challenge I faced when starting the business, as with many other businesses, was the lack of capital. I didn’t want to get into debt starting the business as I had already given up quite a highly paid profession and wasn’t in a position to take out a loan.

“I started my business from my kitchen table with £200 which I saved from selling old clothes on eBay! This paid for a seamstress to take my design ideas and bring them to life with some stock. With each sale I made I invested the money back into the business buying larger quantities of stock and increasing our range of products month after month.

“Twenty one months after starting the business we are turning over £100,000 p/a, which we expect to double in a year as our database of customers increases worldwide. We also now have our own premises and we anticipate needing to expand further in the coming months.

“Our biggest achievement is growing so much in a short space of time with no funding. Another big challenge has been juggling childcare with work – I am on constant call for my son who cannot be left with an untrained person, as well as looking after my two year old daughter. I can only work in the office during school hours so I catch up on work during the evenings and weekends too.

“The motivation that we are helping children with a serious medical condition to feel slightly better about being attached to a device 24 hours a day is all that we need to work hard.”

Laura Rigney

Laura, mum to 3 boys, co-founded Mumpreneur UK, a non-profit organisation, in September 2010 along with her then business partner Amanda.

The idea came from a lack of practical, straight talking advice and support for parents running businesses around their families or from their homes. After almost a year of planning, Mumpreneur UK officially launched on 18th September 2010 at the 2nd annual Mumpreneur Conference and Awards.

The biggest hurdle in the building of the organisation, is its lack of funding. Laura is very clear that she wants to run the organisation as non-profit, enabling the brand to remain impartial at all times. The organisation is quite literally run on a shoe string budget, so much so that Laura is yet to take any salary. Every penny being generated goes towards the upkeep, overheads and staffing of the business.

Laura works an average of 15 hours per day, always putting the needs of everyone else before her own. She is totally and utterly addicted to ensuring that the parents of the UK running home based or small businesses are taken as seriously within the business world as the large multi nationals. All this, whilst also juggling her family life, shows Laura is a dedicated mother, with a firm belief in supporting the working lives of parents across the UK and further afield.

Well done to all three nominees. To find out the overall winning Working Mum of the Year, which will be announced on Monday 19th November,click here.