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From printing room at 16 to operations manager at 21, Rising Star nominee Kira on her rapid career growth

ESP Group employee Kira Wishart tells of her pride to be nominated for a Courier Business Award to be decided by readers and subscribers.

Kira Wishart.
Kira Wishart.

Starting out as a young girl folding letters in the printing room, Kira could have scarcely thought she would rise to become operations manager by the age of 21.

And as one of the finalists looking for your votes to win our new Rising Star award at this year’s Courier Business Awards, Kira Wishart can hardly contain her pride.

Nominated for her work at Journeycall, part of the ESP Group, which specialises in delivering bespoke customer care solutions and is one of the largest employers in Angus thanks to its call centre in Arbroath, Kira said: “I am bursting with pride and surprised I am here, shortlisted for my award and this far in my career.”

The Courier Business Awards returns on October 28 to shine a light on the region’s best and brightest, including a brand new category sponsored by Henderson Loggie – the Rising Star Award.

The first Rising Star winner will be a game-changing newcomer with an inspiring vision and determination to succeed in business.

Balancing career and education

Kira said: “I was 16 when I started properly working in the production suite mailing letters.

“From there, I moved into the quality department where I would quality monitor calls for advisors, provide feedback scores, and advise and support leaders in their performance, helping them with what they need to deliver KPIs and deliver excellent customer service.”

Kira then moved into the learning and development department and, at the age of 17, became a trainer working with advisors on new services while quality monitoring and attending school at the same time.

Always finding the perfect balance between her studies at the University of Abertay and her career, Kira continued to steadily develop her skills and experience.

She recalled: “I would commute from Dundee after lectures and any free time I would be working.

“From there I was asked to be the auditor for the business. In this role I reviewed more than 1,000 documents per quarter and completed all the internal audits, covering all relevant personnel from senior management to e-advisors.

“I was studying a law degree at the time, and I enjoyed writing, so it felt like a good first step.”

Kira celebrates on her graduation day.

Stepping up during the pandemic

Then Covid hit, which Kira credits as the make-or-break point in her career.

She described how the all-hands-on-deck approach helped fast-track her development: “You had to learn quickly and make sure that the business and people were supported through a difficult time.

“I learned a lot about how the business operates and how best to support your people when they are struggling both professionally and personally.

“I turned my hand to business planning, resource planning and looking at operational aspects – anything I could help with.”

After that, Kira was promoted to operations manager. She said: “I was in utter disbelief that I could do that at 21 and I was really grateful for it. I like to be thrown into the deep end – it’s the best way I learn.”

Kira is following in the footsteps of her mum, Theresa Lawson, CEO of ESP Group, and who herself is a finalist at The Courier Business Awards in the Business Leader category.

And it promises to be an exciting night for the team who have a third nomination in the Family Business category too.

‘Endless goals’

Throughout her career, Kira has demonstrated she has what it takes to be a star. She explained: “If you keep an open mind, your goals could be endless. Self-doubt is always there, but you’ll never know unless you try. Say yes to everything and give it a go and if it doesn’t work, it’s ok – the best lessons come from your mistakes.”

So what’s ahead for this rising star? Kira said: “I’m always looking to learn new things and to continue to support the business through another successful period. I want to play a part in that.

“I am proud of where the business is now and I want to keep supporting our people through that, whatever it looks like. My goals are endless.”

Vote now for your Courier Business Awards Rising Star

Read about all the nominees for the Rising Star Award, sponsored by Henderson Loggie, at this year’s Courier Business Awards:

Evelin Eros: ‘I cried for half a day’: Archaeologist Evelin hopes to inspire other women

Kira Wishart – From printing room at 16 to operations manager at 21

Rosie Fraser – ‘My team know what I’ve gone through and that’s made us really close’

Shelley Booth – ‘It was a massive risk’: Fitness coach Shelley on the grief that fueled her mission

Your winner will be announced at our glittering awards ceremony at the Apex City Quay Hotel in Dundee next month.

You can vote for The Courier’s Rising Star of 2023 here: