In an interview with two of last year’s winners, Retail Week reveals what it really means to win a Rising Stars award, once the excitement of the night itself has faded.

Celebrate the rising stars in your business and enter the Retail Week Rising Stars awards in association with Theo Paphitis Retail Group here. The final deadline for applications May 26.

Andrew Bolland, Holland and Barrett 

Rising Star IT or Technology Team Individual of the Year  Andrew Bolland

Andrew Bolland from Holland and Barrett won IT or technology individual of the year

What has winning meant for you and your career?

“Winning the Rising Stars award was a huge honour, and validation of the work I have done both individually and as part of the wider team.

“I was promoted shortly after winning the award and I firmly believe it has helped me to progress within my business.

“It has also given me real confidence and renewed focus to continue to improve and succeed.”

How did you find the whole experience?

“It was a whirlwind. Once I was fortunate enough to be shortlisted, the awards went slightly on the backburner while work took my focus.

“Once the interviews were announced the process took centre stage again, with lots of research and planning to ensure I had the best possible chance on the day.

“The interview itself was nerve-wracking but exciting at the same time. It was great to just talk passionately about retail and what our business was doing to improve the customer experience.

“The night itself was fantastic. I would most certainly recommend it to anyone.”

What’s your advice for those starting out in retail?

“Just go for it. Don’t be scared to ask questions or make mistakes. Everyone does, it’s about how you react to them and learn.

“I have been very fortunate with the progress I have made and the support I have been given, but I firmly believe that if you work hard and remain humble you will succeed.

“Never forget where you have come from and never talk down to people fulfilling positions you previously occupied.”


Abigail Webster, Thomas Cook

Rising Star Store Manager of the Year 5 000 20 000 Sq. ft  Abigail webster

Abigail Webster from Thomas Cook won store manager of the year in the 5,000 sq ft – 20,000 sq ft category

What has winning meant for you and your career?

“Winning meant recognition from the senior management.

“At our annual retail conference in November last year, I won both area and divisional manager of the year, based on my Rising Star award, team feedback, results and contribution to shaping the future for Thomas Cook.

“I was invited to speak at the conference too in front of my peers, bosses and suppliers.

“I have engaged more with key suppliers from various travel brands and have been invited by senior management to take part in focus groups across the network, speaking about our customer experience and ways to progress digitally.”

How did you find the whole experience?

“Just finding out I’d been shortlisted was rewarding. Explaining what that meant to friends, family and colleagues was a very proud moment.

“The interview process took me out of my comfort zone, and I loved the announcements of the awards, where the hosts said a little bit about why each winner had been chosen.

“I will never forget the moment my name was read out.”

What’s your advice for those starting out in retail?

“Don’t be scared about what might happen and go for it.

“Someone told me to be myself and that was the best advice they could have given.”