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  • Nicola Warwick

Employee Spotlight - Meet Nicola

I first began my journey at S3 Solutions in July 2016 before taking a brief break away and returning in April 2018. Over the last two years I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at the company, here’s why:

My Roles and Responsibilities

My main role at S3 is within the Core Retained Service as a Client Advisor. Working within the Core Retained section of the company involves managing a portfolio of 30 core clients; ranging from local sports clubs in Belfast to mental health support groups in Lurgan and many more. My responsibilities within this role include ongoing support to identify and establish priorities and needs and implement an agreed action plan to achieve these priorities. This is achieved through; developing and submitting funding applications, mentoring and support around capital development projects, club accreditation support and gift aid and fundraising advice.

Managing a third sector organisation can be stressful for many of our clients as they often have full-time jobs alongside running these organisations. My role as a Client Advisor is to ease these pressures and provide monthly support to aid their development and help them be the best organisation they can be.

What has your experience been like to date?

When I first joined S3 Solutions in the summer of 2016, I had just graduated from a degree in Sport and Exercise Science and was lucky enough to secure a job within the company. During my first few weeks I worked alongside other members of staff in gauging an insight into what my role as a Client Advisor would entail. Attending various meetings and helping write grant applications provided a greater understanding of S3 and the work they provide,

I took a brief break from the company (9 months, couldn’t stay away for too long) when I moved to England in August 2017. During this time, I kept in contact with many staff members; checking in on previous clients and helping out behind the scenes with developing applications for existing clients. I started back at S3 in April 2018 and since then, I have slipped straight back into the role and picked up where I left off.

Over the last two years I have gained a wealth of experience, both professionally and personally. I have been exposed to areas of business that I had limited experience in; this developed my confidence in being able to step out of comfort zone and try new things I would never have seen myself do before. S3 continually encourage career development and acknowledge staff achievements, this has pushed me to work hard for my clients to ensure they are being serviced to the best of my ability.

Why did you decide to start working for S3?

Choosing to work at S3 was based primarily on the support they provide for the third sector. I gained an insight into the organisation when company director, Eamonn Seydak delivered lectures during my time at university. Since then, I was always interested in the work the company provided and was keen to learn more about them once I graduated.

Personally, I have always been interested in the community/voluntary sector through my involvement in my own sport Irish-Dancing and other local sports clubs and helping with fundraising initiatives for various charities. When the opportunity arose to secure a position with S3, I jumped at the chance as it was the perfect opportunity to not only develop my career but also continue my interest and support of third sector organisations.

Having such a positive experience before my move to England, made the decision easy to return to S3 Solutions when I arrived back in Belfast. Working alongside people who are passionate about their job and in a fun environment; who wouldn’t want to work here!!

What do you enjoy about S3?

Flexibility: Working at S3 offers a great work life and personal life balance. The typical working day can consist of being in the office 9-5 developing applications and meeting deadlines. Other days I can be travelling to parts of the country leading meetings, assisting with focus groups and attending events for our Clients. However, despite my work being fast-paced I can still enjoy life outside of work. Outside of work I am involved with a local dance school, the work life structure allows me to be fully committed to both my job and Irish-dance school.

As Patricia mentioned in her employee spotlight, the dress down Fridays and Work from Home are a huge bonus too!

The People: Over the last two years I have been given the opportunity to network with a range of people, building new relationships and learning about different organisations and how they are run. I have had a different set of clients from the first time I was at S3; this has been great to hear many stories from different community-based organisations and the impact of their work.

The working environment is great too as everyone around the office are very approachable and are open to share their knowledge, support and ideas on a regular basis.

The Work: Upon graduation, it is often difficult to secure a job relating to my degree; working at S3 has provided great experience for my career. I was very lucky to get a job in an area that is of interest and develops my expertise in supporting the third sector. Every client is different and has different expectations, managing these expectations and providing a service that is specific to them is very rewarding. I enjoy knowing I am supporting a club/organisation in helping them make a difference and having a positive impact on their community.

What have been your biggest highlight since starting at S3?

Picking my biggest highlight would be difficult as managing a portfolio of clients, leading meetings and developing business proposals are all areas that came new to me, but I have noticed a huge improvement in my confidence since I began my role here.

As the purpose of my role within S3 is to provide support for third sector organisations, much of this comes from securing funding for both programme and capital clubs. A career highlight would be securing a GAA club capital funding to develop a training pitch for their Club; not only benefiting their local club but the wider community.

Seeing how thankful clients are when you submit a piece of work that is successful to the development of their organisation, is overwhelming! This is definitely my favourite part of the job, seeing that they work we provide really does help our clients and their local communities.

What’s next?

Professionally - My plan is to continue working at S3 and learn about other aspects of the business. At present, I focus primarily on the core retained services however, the consultancy service is something of interest. Leading on business plans, feasibility studies and economic appraisals are all things our consultancy teams cover, but I would be keen to develop my expertise in these areas and support the company’s business goals.

Personally – As a collective, the company are running the Belfast Half Marathon in September. So, moving forward I really need to start some training!!

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