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6 inspirational men and women in Essex

PUBLISHED: 16:45 11 September 2018 | UPDATED: 16:45 11 September 2018

Inspirational men and women in Essex

Inspirational men and women in Essex

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We’ve spoken to 6 of Essex’s most inspirational businesspeople to find out their secrets to success, how they achieve a work-life balance and who they are inspired by

Alex Rayner | Braxted Park Estate

Braxted Park, Braxted Park Road, Witham, Essex CM6 3JF | 01621 892 305

What’s the secret of your success?

Lead from the front. Never be afraid to fail. Win business by being creative and always answer a business objective in the process. I tend to get up ridiculously early and catch up when it’s quiet.

Alongside Braxted Park - which is definitely my main job and one which keeps me busy seven days-a-week (a company, Chairman and team I am beyond proud to work for) - I am a Director of the Captive Minds Communications Group and also Connected Technology Group, both provide software services in smart city and healthcare tech. I am a Board Director alongside ‘greats’ such as music impresario Harvey Goldsmith and others - they don’t mince their words.

How do you achieve a work-life balance?

Since leaving the city in 2015, working at Braxted has been a joy in comparison. I try to collect my children from school each day, all four are at Felsted (as long as they pass their exams - take note!) and we have a family dinner as many days of the week as possible.

My wife Kirsty keeps me grounded along with our six dogs and two housetrained Kune Kune pigs, Willow and Wilbur who are just the sweetest animals ever. My favourite is my little pug “Ming”.

Who inspires you the most?

Everything I do is for my family. I love being part of the Felsted ‘gang’ and I have some wonderful, levelling friends there. I’ve always been inspired by my father Andrew, but I learned quite early on to focus on where I am going to, not where I am coming from.

Alex Rayner | Braxted Park EstateAlex Rayner | Braxted Park Estate

Claire Bannister | House of Colour, Upminster & Brentwood

07825698695 | claire.bannister@houseofcolour.co.uk

Claire Bannister switched her successful Financial Services career four years ago and retrained as a House of Colour Stylist. She has recently been awarded the status of Triple Star Consultant 2018 which means she is the leading consultant in the UK, along with being recognised for having the fastest growing franchise in the first year of business.

Claire regularly works with her Corporate clients by hosting talks or workshops for their staff to help them understand the impact of clothes on their career and wellbeing along with hosting her private clients in her studio in Upminster.

How do you achieve a work-life balance?

This is something I have to really work at. I put my phone and my PC upstairs away when I am finished for the day. If it kept buzzing I would not mentally switch off and I schedule ‘keep free’ in my diary. It doesn’t always work but it helps me focus.

Who inspires you the most, either in work or at home?

Sounds cheesy but my husband inspires me as he has that amazing ability to get that total work life balance (although it can be frustrating for me) which I struggle sometimes to get. Also my colleague, who I trained with, Karen Blanc who is the leading stylist in the USA – she is creative, passionate and has boundless energy.

What’s the secret of your success?

I need to be able to resonate with my clients, to be empathetic but to energise them and I tend to do that naturally for some reason! I love watching people grow in confidence and because I am so passionate about how wearing the right tone of colour and style of clothes improves your wellbeing and the way people see you, I think it is just infectious.

I also draw on my past experiences in my corporate world and follow EVERY business lead - every one. You never know what it will turn into.

Claire Bannister | House of Colour, Upminster & BrentwoodClaire Bannister | House of Colour, Upminster & Brentwood

Steve Andrews | The Blue Group

What’s the secret of your success?

I don’t think there is a secret. I think hard work is a given, tenaciousness is a must, tunnel vision for a goal and a pinch of good luck.

How do you achieve a work-life balance?

Funny enough it seems to get easier as the kids get older (I have three girls 19, 15 & 12). We travel a lot and this is when we spend quality time together.

Who inspires you the most, either in work or at home?

Ok, let’s start with work: the workforce behind any company is what makes your business. My team are fantastic. At home, of course my wife. Anyone who can put up with me for over 20 years must be special.

Steve Andrews | The Blue GroupSteve Andrews | The Blue Group

Damian Markham | Markham Automatic Gates Ltd | London Road, Bowers Gifford, Basildon, Essex SS13 2DT | 01268 583676

What’s the secret of your success?

Having confidence to try new things and don’t be afraid to ask questions, we are never to old to learn.

How do you achieve a work-life balance?

To ensure you can let your work life stay in work and always make sure your family comes first. Try to find the time to relax and enjoy life.

Who inspires you the most?

My father Vic Markham has been a good role model and given me advice throughout my life and career.

Damian Markham | Markham Automatic Gates LtdDamian Markham | Markham Automatic Gates Ltd

Sara Thakkar | Chief Executive, Colne Housing Association

Twitter @sara_thakkar | 01206 244700

Everyone has the human right to have a roof over their heads, whatever their circumstances. It provides the stability we need to aspire to be the best we can be and to lead fulfilling lives. I am proud to be the leader of one of Essex’s front-running non-profit housing associations - making a difference to people across the county who desperately need an affordable home.

Since 1973 Colchester-based Colne Housing has been at the heart of the Essex community – growing and modernising to meet the changing needs of residents aged 18 to 101.

What is the secret of your success?

My father was told as a young person that he was not bright enough to succeed in school. He went on to become internationally recognised as a Professor of Education. As a young person I was the 3rd of two super bright siblings and there was an unspoken assumption that my lot in life may not be as the most ambitious. It sealed my future as a leader and I became the next “late developer” of the family.

As a woman in what might still be seen as a man’s world of property development, construction and senior leadership, the secret to my success lies in my constant desire to drive up standards, to provide opportunity to those that need it and to challenge the status quo.

How do you achieve a work-life balance?

I am not sure I actually do! Climbing to the highest peak of the Atlas Mountains in North Africa to raise money for Children with Cancer has made me leave the office by 6.30pm every day to train!

Who inspires you most either at work or home?

There are amazing people in every community who continually put others first and make an incredible difference to individual lives. It’s those unsung heroes that inspire me to be the best I can be for the communities that I serve.

Sara Thakkar | Chief Executive, Colne Housing AssociationSara Thakkar | Chief Executive, Colne Housing Association

Cameron Marshall | Dedham Boathouse | Dedham Boathouse, Boat House, Mill Lane, Dedham, Colchester, Essex CO7 6DH | 01206323153

What’s the secret of your success?

I think the secret of my success really is just downright hard work and willingness to change with the times. At all of my restaurants we have had to make changes almost on a daily basis and some things that worked last year won’t this year. I think keeping up with current trends has kept us where we are today.

How do you achieve a work-life balance?

When I first started my career the balance was completely different, I would think nothing of putting in straight shifts of 90 hours a week, taking holidays when we could. But that all changed four years ago when our little boy came along. I started to want to be at home more and try the family life. It’s taken nearly 3 years to find the right team for all our restaurants we now have a fantastic team from managers to chefs to pot washers and we employ a team of nearly 60 in the summer months. My role has changed from a chef role to operations role overseeing the business and new start ups. We have a lot of exciting new ventures happening in 2018/19.

Who inspires you the most?

I think that my company is the thing that most inspires me and pushes me forward. We have highs and lows: we had snow this winter and it hit us hard. But then we also won destination dinning award which is a fantastic boost for the team. Seeing our restaurants full and successful inspires me and pushes me to do different things, like ‘Chef’s Humm’, a toiletry designed for chefs I started two years ago and has become a real success story.

Cameron Marshall | Dedham BoathouseCameron Marshall | Dedham Boathouse


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