A former investment manager who switched to a career in social care when she realised her computer was her only companion is in the running for a top national award.

Cerianne Gratton, from Barry, worked in the financial services sector for 17 years protecting the multimillion pound investments of large corporate firms.

But after years of staring at a computer screen and little – if any – human interaction, the 38-year-old decided she needed a career change and returned to a company she had completed administrative training with at the age of 16.

Now, after working her way to the top to the Registered Manager’s role at domiciliary care provider All Care (S Wales) Ltd, the mum-of-three is celebrating reaching the final of the Wales Care Awards after being shortlised for the Promoting Fulfilled Lives Award.

The national awards, run by Care Forum Wales, acknowledge the hard work and exceptional performances of those in the care sector.

Cerianne will now attend the awards ceremony at City Hall in Cardiff on November 17 which will be hosted by tenor and radio presenter Wynne Evans, best known as Gio Compario from the Go Compare TV adverts.

“I was really surprised about the nomination as I had no idea,” she admitted.

“Keri, my boss, took a huge chance on me coming into the sector when there are so many changes taking place and into a role which entails huge responsibility. I’m honoured and very grateful for the chance she gave me, even though sometimes this job is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life!

“It’s also lovely that so many people wrote testimonies to back up my nomination.”

Cerianne, who lives with her husband Adrian, 43, also in social care, and children, Billy, 21, Callie, 12, and Robbie, 11, left Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School at 16 and was taken on by All Care South Wales Ltd to work as an YTS admin trainee at one of its nursing homes in Barry.

After 12 months, Cerianne moved to the financial services sector with Legal and General, initially working in a Cardiff call centre selling insurance before being promoted as a compliance consultant and lastly as an investments manager.

It was when her youngest child, Robbie, started school full-time that Cerianne decided it was time to try something new.

“It came to the point where my children were at full time school age and didn’t need me around so much anymore,” she said.

“There was little opportunity to build relationships with people in my job. My only colleague was my computer! I really wanted to do something completely different and I felt I had more to give people. I wanted to interact and make a difference to people’s lives.”

Cerianne contacted her former manager at All Care in search of work and discovered the registered manager’s post would soon be available. She applied and was appointed deputy manager three years ago. However, the early days weren’t easy.

“I had to start from the very beginning and learn about care because I had no clue as to what care management was all about,” she said.

“I didn’t come from a care background and I wanted to do everything the carers did to build up their trust and respect.

“Those early days really opened my eyes. I provided care for someone who was in my class at school and the same age as me. It was really emotional and hard.

“There was just no comparison to my old job – I couldn’t image that people needed this level of support. But it’s far more rewarding as hard as it is. It’s not a job it’s a life, it’s not nine to five, it pulls on your heart strings and it makes you realise that things you look on as irrelevant are huge issues for someone else.”

Following the completion of her QCF Level 5 management award, Cerianne became the registered manager of the company, overseeing up to 100 carers and administrative staff across the Vale of Glamorgan and Cardiff from the company’s head office in Barry.

Cerianne says one of the most rewarding aspects of her job now is helping staff develop and recognise their full potential.

“We’ve had care staff who don’t realise their own worth or potential and others who lack in confidence and when they’ve come to us they’ve flourished,” she said.

“I’ve been lucky enough to be in a position to give them that little bit of support and reassurance.”

Cerianne is the third generation care worker in her family and admits it must be “in the blood”.

Her mum, June Farmer, is a district nurse and her grandmother worked as a carer in a nursing home.

“I wouldn’t be able to do this job if it wasn’t for my husband. When I’m meant to be coming home at five and I don’t arrive until ten he’s just amazing,” she said.

“You couldn’t do it alone. You need a good support network yourself.”

Nominating Cerianne for the award, Keri Llewellyn, company director, said: “Cerianne has totally embraced the mission and culture of All Care where we are committed to being the best we can and thinking outside the box to improve people’s lives.”

She added: “Cerianne has become my right arm and a person I can be confident in to manage and guide the company. We are stronger and have developed so much as a company during her time in a management position.”

Mario Kreft MBE, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, said the Wales Care Awards had gone from strength to strength.

He said: “The event is now firmly established as one of the highlights in the Welsh social care calendar.

“The aim is to recognise the unstinting and often remarkable dedication of our unsung heroes and heroines across Wales.

“The care sector is full of wonderful people because it’s not just a job it’s a vocation – these are the people who really do have the X Factor.

“If you don’t recognise the people who do the caring you will never provide the standards that people need and never recognise the value of the people who need the care in society.

“We need to do all we can to raise the profile of the care sector workforce – they deserve to be lauded and applauded.

“It is a pleasure to honour the contribution of all the finalists. Each and every one of them should be very proud of their achievement.”