DEB O’Donnell has been the centre manager of Vangarde Shopping Park at Monks Cross, which includes York’s first John Lewis department store and the region’s largest Marks & Spencer department store, since its gates opened in April 2014.

Born and raised in York, she was educated at Hempland Primary School and Huntington Secondary before entering into the world of credit control and bought ledger.

Eventually her career took her to the Coppergate Shopping Centre, where she started out as administrator before being promoted to shopping centre manager.

She said: “When the opportunity arose to manage Vangarde I jumped at the chance. Its opening had been so highly anticipated for years, it was fantastic to be a part of it and I’m extremely proud of what our dedicated team has achieved so far.”

Earlier this year she was handed the Centre Manager of the Year Award by managing agents Workman LLP, an impressive accolade strived for managers on a national basis.

Since her appointment, the eco-friendly shopping park has scooped the British Council of Shopping Centres ACE Award in the retail/shopping park category, and the customer service team has achieved WorldHost accreditation, regarded as one of the highest customer service accolades in the world.

Ms O’Donnell said: “I was absolutely delighted when they announced my name as the winner of centre manager of the year. The last year has been incredible for Vangarde, to have such a run of success is fantastic, not just for me but the shopping park as a whole.

“To be recognised as a person that works hard to run a successful shopping park really means a lot, but to me I am just doing my job.”

What job would you like to have other than your own and why?

A detective or something to do with (criminal) psychology – I enjoy solving problems and find the subject of how people’s minds work quite fascinating. If it was a sporting role, I wish I could have been a hockey player (I was very good when I was younger – but would be classed as a veteran now).

Greatest achievement?

Professional – gaining a diploma in SCM (Shopping Centre Management), it took two years of studying on evenings and weekends but well worth it. Personal – passing my driving test first time at 30 years old (for some reason I always thought it was something I would never manage to get the hang of, hence me putting it off for so long).

Biggest mistake?

I try to learn from any I’ve made and not to dwell on them, just move on. What’s done is done. First time is a mistake, the second time you do it, it’s a choice.

What makes you most angry?

Noisy eaters drive me insane, customer facing staff who are just rude, and cancer, as it takes too many good people far too early.

What do you need to make life complete?

At the moment, I’m content with myself and my family being happy and healthy. I would like to be able to travel more in the near future and start working my way through the bucket list of places I’d like to see around the world.

Why do you make a difference?

I hope I do a good job of motivating people at work to want to get more out of their lives and to want to progress to something bigger and better.