Rae Brayden, winner of Manager of the Year in last year’s Retail and Leisure Awards, was shocked to find her team had nominated her in secret.
Rae, who manages popular retail store Joules at Gunwharf Quays, recalled: ‘I was so flattered and very excited. I just do my job and we’re a close-knit team, so it was a lovely surprise. They told me just before the nominees were announced.’
Rae has worked at Joules for three years and has a long career in retail management.
She said: ‘I enjoy working in retail, especially in outlets because they’re entirely different. You get different challenges every day. It’s always busy, very much all hands on deck, but it’s also really rewarding.’
The award came at a good time for Rae, who explained: ‘My dad passed away and my husband Craig, who many people know as the Pompey Pirate, is being treated for incurable cancer.
‘Joules and the team were really supportive. They offered me a five-month sabbatical and my husband and I went travelling for the duration, so I couldn’t make it to the awards.
‘But some of the girls went on my behalf and had a great time, sending me Snapchats when they found out I’d won! I was so pleased.’
Recognising the hard work put in by retail staff is something that Rae is passionate about. She said: ‘Retail as an industry doesn’t get recognised for how difficult it can be. The awards give us that recognition. It’s a great advertisement for the vital people keeping these companies in business.’
Rae explained that awards help staff morale.
‘Our staff are on their feet all day, constantly working. We need to celebrate them. You listen to somebody on the radio announce “thank God it’s Friday!”, but not for us lot! We’re coming in to work on the weekend.’
Finally, Rae wanted to thank her team. She said: ‘I love the team I have, but it is all luck. You never know who you will end up working with and you get to know people on a personal level.
‘They all have unique personalities but we support each other. As managers, we need to be recognising our teams and thanking them for their work every day. Awards such as these do wonders for their morale.’