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Finalists announced for Welsh Contact Centre Awards 2019

A former teaching assistant, travel agent, HGV apprentice, bar manager and waitress are among those nominated for an award after making promising starts to their new careers in contact centres.

The nine nominees are among a range of individuals and companies announced on the shortlist for the 21st Welsh Contact Centre Awards, ahead of March’s event in the iconic Wales Millennium Centre.

Front row (l to r): Sandra Busby, managing director, Welsh Contact Centre Forum; Ellie Clode, The AA; Charlotte Ward, Deloitte; Ashley Davies, HSBC.
Second row: Lewis Quinney, AA Driving School; Michelle Brown, Molson Coors; Jemma Rouch, V12 Finance.
Third row: Aled Duckfield, CGI; Jordan Edwards, BT.
Back row: Shan Parle, Legal & General; Ian Rothwell, RW Training.

The Welsh Contact Centre Forum-led awards, headline sponsored by RW Learning, celebrate outstanding contributions to a sector which has grown to contribute £650m annually to the Welsh economy.

With figures from the Office for National Statistics showing that 85,000 retail jobs disappeared in the first nine months of 2018, and recruitment in many other sectors stalling due to uncertainty around Brexit, managing director of the Welsh Contact Centre Forum, Sandra Busby, believes contact centres continue to provide a good option for people looking to build a rewarding career.

She said: “The economy has gone through several bumps over the past two decades, namely the financial crash of the late 2000s and the uncertainty we’ve seen since the Brexit vote in 2016.  Despite that, over the last 20 years the trend in Welsh contact centres has been growth in the workforce. The sector currently employs 32,000 people, compared to just 10,000 20 years ago.

“New entrants to the industry who excel are recognised early in their contact centre careers and can progress quickly.  Almost every senior manager in a contact centre in Wales started out in a junior role and worked their way through the ranks.  The individuals and companies nominated in this year’s awards represent the very best of the Welsh sector and I can’t wait to celebrate their achievements this March.”

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One of those nominated is Jordan Edwards.  Originally from Haverfordwest, but now based in Penarth, the 21-year-old swapped cocktail shaking for call taking.  Now a Customer Service Advisor & Training Transition Advisor at BT in Cardiff, he said: “From the age of 14, the hospitality industry was everything I’d ever known, making cocktails and serving food and being the first port of call for all of the customer’s needs and demands.  I’ve always enjoyed working in a customer orientated environment, but the thought of working in a contact centre for me was daunting. But I bit the bullet and put in my application, challenged myself with the opportunity to do the same with customers in a contact centre environment and it’s paid off.

“It’s by no means an easy job, especially in service where we can deal with a range of complaints which includes speaking to irate customers. However, it’s a really rewarding career with some great benefits.”

Jemma Rouch, 25, from Cardiff, was a teaching assistant before changing careers and joining V12 Retail Finance as a Customer Services Executive.  Nominated in the best newcomer/apprentice category, she said: “I wanted a change of career and felt this would be the right move for me- it’s turned out to be the best move I ever made.  It’s amazing to be nominated for the award, particularly not having any previous experience.  It proves you can come into this environment, put your all in and get recognised for it.  If someone is considering a career in contact centres, my advice would be to go for it.  It’s a fun environment to work in and you get to meet new people along your journey.”

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Also nominated in the category are Charlotte Ward, 26, a Specialist in Deloitte’s Engagement Management Office in Cardiff;  Aled Duckfield, 23, aService Desk Technical Analyst/Deputy Team Leader at CGI in Bridgend; Michelle Brown, 33, a Sales and Service Advisor at Molson Coors in Cardiff; Shan Parle, 42, a Customer Underwriter at Legal & General in Cardiff; Ellie Clode, 19, a Business Trainer & Claims Advisor at The AA in Cardiff; Ashley Davies, 30, an International Case Management Officer at HSBC in Swansea and Lewis Quinney, at AA Driving School.

The finalists in 17 categories including Contact Centre Manager of the Year and Contact Centre of the Year will be honoured and the winners announced at the Welsh Contact Centre Awards ceremony at the Wales Millennium Centre on Friday 8h March 2019.  The glitzy ceremony for 700 guests has previously been hosted by television celebrities including Jonathan Ross, Claudia Winkleman, Alan Carr, David Walliams and Rob Brydon, but 2019’s star turn is a closely guarded secret.

Ian Rothwell, Managing Director at headline sponsors RW Learning, said:

“RW Learning are delighted to be part of this year’s prestigious Awards as Headline Sponsor.  The quality this year has ‘set the bar higher’ and each and every one of the applicants are winners just to get this far.  The effort, energy and resilience within this industry is second to none and it’s a pleasure to be part of this event and celebrating the successes of some great people.”

Cardiff and Vale College Vice Principal Mary Kent said: “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to support the Welsh Contact Centre Awards, a prestigious event recognising the skills and achievements of the contact centre industry in Wales. The contact centre sector is a massive growth area for Wales, and Cardiff and Vale College has worked closely and successfully with the Welsh Contact Centre Forum for many years, so the College is proud to take part in these awards.”

Other sponsors currently include Cardiff & Vale College, CGI, Premier CX, Yolk Recruitment, Legal & General, Optimum Credit, Firstsource Solutions, Deloitte, Red Recruitment, V12 Retail Finance, Wales & West Utilities, HSBC, TSW Training, Randstad Business Solutions and Ring Central.

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