Thursday 16 September 2021
The Student Awards programme is a formidable feat of organisation and planning, involving a team of amazing member volunteers from each of our branches who invite the Universities to nominate their best female students and then support them as they progress through the Awards process. The regional judging days are coordinated by the National Executive, culminating in the national judging morning, followed by a Mentoring training session for the students and, finally, the fabulous ‘Best of the Best’ Awards dinner. And of course, none of this would be possible without our national sponsors Bougyues UK and Savills, and our regional sponsors Amazon, Curtins, Ecus, HBD, Hydrock, ISG, JMW, Pinsent Masons and Willmott Dixon.
This year we were delighted to be back ‘in person’ to enjoy networking in the Deco glitter and glamour of the newly refurbished Claridge’s ballroom suite. In her welcoming address, National Chair Rachel Bell recommended the concept of ‘White Space’, as discussed by Adrienne Herbert on her Power Hour podcast, “…the slot in your diary which enables you to better manage your own time, set boundaries, avoid burnout and remind yourself that free time is not a licence to say yes to more things!
“This is where having a clear view of your values can help you to question what is worth saying yes to…and what to say no to. I often remind myself and others that by saying no to something, you are actually enabling yourself to do something else, which could be a better and more fulfilling opportunity.”
Our keynote speaker was the inspiring Virginia Gardiner, founder of Loowatt who explained how a number of realisations and experiences in her early twenties, notably the trauma of 9/11 and the destruction of those buildings as symbols of investment, made her realise how powerful the built environment is and the impact it has on all of us. However, it was a visit to a trade show, where she saw decadent systems for running washing machines and hot tubs, knowing that 70% of people in the world don’t have access to toilets, that motivated her to transform an idea into something tangible. The result was a waterless flush system, based on anaerobic digestion, that converts natural waste into gas. This is ultimately used to power communities, particularly in remote and disadvantaged areas and, closer to home, at Festivals. This, Virginia said, was an idea that became a sustaining passion, asking us “What sustains you?”
Throughout the speeches we enjoyed a delicious three course dinner, which was nothing less than you would expect from Claridge’s. Finally, Rachel Bell, with national sponsors Carole Ditty of Bouygues UK and Richard Rees of Savills, announced this year’s national winner, Charity Zawadi Mwambeyu, studying Civil Engineering at the University of Bristol.
Congratulations to Charity and to the other 12 national finalists all of whom embody the Women in Property ethos ‘aspire, succeed, inspire’. As the judges said, “the future of the industry is in safe hands”.