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Revealed: Winners of the first APM Festival of Education and Research Awards

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Association for Project Management (APM) showcased some of the best and brightest talent among career starters, educators and academics at the inaugural Festival of Education and Research Awards.

The virtual event, which took place on 21 October, saw awards presented in eight categories that celebrated the contribution of research and education to the project profession.

The winners were:

Project Management Apprentice of the Year – James Pearce, project controller (Product Development & Technology), Rolls Royce PLC

The Rolls-Royce Apprenticeship programme enabled James to build strong foundations in Project Management, in a complex project environment. His high performance was recognised by Rate My Apprenticeship, winning their ‘Outstanding Level 4 or 5 Apprentice’ award.

“I’m honoured to have won this award. I’ve learned so much during my time at Rolls-Royce and winning this award will help me to further my influence in driving the project management profession forward, advocating apprenticeships and careers.” – James Pearce


Project Management Graduate of the Year – Bessie Ashton-Melia, project engineer, BAE Systems

Through this programme, Bessie has achieved a First Class Honours degree, completed her APM Project Management Qualification and gained an extensive range of personal and technical skill experience across multiple contracts and locations.

“Trying to balance working full time, a degree and other personal challenges over the past five years has been tough, however being recognised for my hard work and winning this award makes it all worthwhile.” - Bessie Ashton-Melia


Project Management Student of the Year – Emma Huckerby, Emma Huckerby, Leeds Beckett University/PL Projects

Whilst completing a placement year within the rail industry, Emma gained valuable skills and saw first-hand the results that are achieved by bringing together specialist skills sets, ensuring clear communication and teamwork.

“I am so happy that all my hard work has paid off and delighted to have won APM’s Student of the Year 2020. It means so much!” – Emma Huckerby


Project Management Postgraduate of the Year – Giorgio Forlini, University of Westminster/Inside Ideas Group

Giorgio’s Master’s Degree dissertation – entitled How can projects be managed effectively in an evolving environment characterised by disruptive technologies? – analyses the subject of innovation in the context of project management.

“I’m very happy to have won. I wasn’t expecting it. I’ve always been interested in project management. I knew what a challenging environment it can be and I’m very interested in the topics of technology and innovation.” – Giorgio Forlini


Project Management PhD Doctoral of the Year – Dr Katherine Bloomfield, University of Hull

Katherine’s doctoral thesis – entitled Systemic Risk in Public Sector Outsourcing Contracts – draws on a sample of public projects commissioned by the UK’s Ministry of Defence and found that that public sector project managers would benefit from the development of more sophisticated practices that are capable of dealing with the systemic properties of risk.

“The award came as a pleasant surprise. The competition was tough, so I’m ecstatic. It feels like the cherry on top after three years of hard work.” – Dr Katherine Bloomfield


Project Management Lecturer of the Year – Andy Smith, Blackpool and The Fylde College

Andy is described as an exceptional lecturer; a dedicated educator who thrives in the learning environment. Working in partnership with BAE Systems, he co-created a world-class project management degree programme.

“I’m extremely pleased. This award shows that college-based higher education, when it’s done well, can make a big difference to the profession and the people coming through.” – Andy Smith


Project Management Research Paper of the Year – Dr Johan Ninan, University College London

Johan’s research paper entitled – Branding and Governmentality for Infrastructure Megaprojects: The role of social media – analyses social media activity of a metro rail megaproject in India to highlight effects on the project community. Strategies such as promoting the project, giving progress updates, appealing to community sentiments, and targeting sections of population resulted in support for project activities, a positive brand image, and community brand advocates.

“I’m delighted with the award. It’s such an honour coming from an organisation like APM. For me, it’s absolutely critical to acknowledge the contribution of research and academics  who support project delivery.” – Dr Johan Ninan


Project Management Developmental Programme of the Year – Susie Kentell, BAE Systems and Dr Yash Kotak, Blackpool and The Fylde College

This apprenticeship programme, which has been running since 2007, is uniquely tailored to offer a combination of industry-based placements and academic learning to develop the world class skills that are required to be a project management professional.

“It’s fantastic to have won. When I look at the other finalists, they’re a stellar bunch. It’s really nice to have won among such a set of people.” – Susie Kentell, project management skills coach

“It has been a tremendous effort on the programme from everyone involved. Programmes like this are what bring something new to the profession.” – Dr Yash Kotak, programme leader

View the winners and watch the awards ceremony


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