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We are all incredibly proud of Tanya Datta, our Store Manager of Swiss Cottage, North London, who won the Young Achiever of the Year Award at the recent National Asian Woman Awards. The award recognises the talents of rising stars in the UK, across all sectors and we were delighted that Tanya was won the award in a field of 300 candidates!

Tanya was recognised for her achievements both inside and outside of M&S, including her work as a volunteer for Inspiring the Future, a charity that connects teachers with inspirational people from the world of work. Tanya has volunteered to host more than 50 talks in schools, reaching over 300 young adults and also the Secretary of State for Education.

Tanya has also achieved lots within M&S, notably suggesting an idea to allow all colleagues the opportunity to present their own ideas to improve and strengthen our business to our Board of Directors, with successful ideas implemented business wide. Recently Tanya was awarded the People Engagement Award for making such a strong and powerful impact within her team and was runner up in the Chairman’s Award for her contribution to improving customer service in her area.

Simon Harrison, Head of North London Region, said “Tanya is acknowledged for her innovation and vision, Tanya’s enthusiasm and ability for continuous improvement sets her apart from her peers in a unique way. You know when you have been in her company for even small amounts of time as you feel energised and uplifted with an optimism that is infectious.” 

The Asian Women of Achievement awards were founded by Pinky Lilani, OBE, and celebrate the contribution of Asian women to British business and public life. We had the pleasure of inviting Pinky to speak at our M&S Inspiring Women Network in 2014, after which she has continued to motivate and inspire many of our colleagues. I am delighted that upon request of our colleagues, Tanya will be speaking at the network very soon, showcasing her talent and demonstrating that she is one of many inspirational women that are really making a difference to the business.

I asked Tanya, “What advice would you give to other young women who are hoping to be successful?  She responded, “Whatever path you take there will always be ups and downs. Remain resilient and dream big. Nothing will ever go to plan. Always stay humble, always act with integrity. Inspire and take people with you on the journey.”

Tanya has exciting aspirations for her life and has shared that she would love to one day be on the board of a FTSE 100 company. Let’s hope that Tanya achieves her goal and continues to be a great inspirational role model to lots of people both inside and outside M&S.

I launched the first women’s network at M&S with the support of our Chairman Robert Swannell last year, to give my colleagues access to a range of female role models from both inside and outside the organisation. The main aim was to focus on the career challenges women face and create a forum for discussion to explore and address these.