Wednesday 21 September 2016
The WiP National Student Awards Best of Best Dinner must rate as one of the most glamorous on the Claridge's calendar and 2016 didn't disappoint. Two hundred guests arrived to enjoy a champagne reception under the chandeliers, gilt and mirrors of the hotel's art deco banqueting suite, while the ten student finalists gathered for official photos - and selfies - ahead of the Awards dinner itself.
Lisa-Jane Risk, WiP National Chairman, welcomed us and thanked the Awards national sponsors Bouygues UK, Cushman & Wakefield and Linden Homes and our regional sponsors. We enjoyed the first two delicious courses after which Lisa took to the stage again for her address, asking "How can we encourage more girls to consider a career in our industry?". She referred to research by Google who had had a similar problem attracting girls into what was perceived to be a boy-oriented, 'teccy' industry and related some interesting parallels, saying "the built environment shapes every aspect of modern life. Technology does the same". In their case, Google realised that, in order to succeed, they needed to help girls see the bigger picture. Property and construction needs to take a leaf out of their book.
Lisa then introduced Michelle Hicks, who studied Civil Engineering at the University of Surrey and, having been a regional South East winner in 2013, went on to be Highly Commended in the National Final that year. Michelle spoke passionately about her experience of the Awards and what they had done for her in her early career.
It was soon time to hear who had won the National title this year. First, Lisa invited Cathy Stewart to the stage. Cathy was instrumental in launching the Awards ten years ago and, as Awards Champion, has helped shape and grow them. She is now standing down but, after a big thank you on behalf of WiP, she announced the 2016 winner.
This year, the national award went to Sheffield Hallam student Yasmine Lunn, studying Real Estate, who received her award to rapturous applause from the Yorkshire & North East branch table with regional sponsors Christopher Smith Associates, Yasmine's lecturers and one very proud mother! Cathy extended congratulations to Yasmine but reminded us that all the students are winners to have reached this stage but there can only be one top prize.
The evening was rounded off with dessert, more wine and networking and, for some, a trip to the Claridge's bar.