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I’m Lucy Sherburn, Graduate Engineer at FairHeat, and I recently won the CIBSE ASHRAE Graduate of the Year Award 2021. The CIBSE Young Engineers Awards recognise and reward the innovative thinking, hard work and skills of graduate engineers.

Why did you enter the awards?

I was nearly one year into my graduate scheme; I had settled into my new role and knew I wanted to get involved in the wider external industry. I was aware of the CIBSE Young Engineer Awards through previous shortlisted colleagues in my company, and thought it sounded like an exciting thing to get involved in. To be in with a chance of being shortlisted I knew I would need to not only be successful in my working role, but also be a great ambassador for the industry. So, I used the potential award submission as an opportunity get involved in the wider industry and push myself out of my comfort zone! In the year leading up to the award submission I jointed CIBSE YEPG, did university outreach, became a STEM Ambassador and lead on initiatives for women in the industry.

How did #WeChampion webinars benefit your application?

Prior to entering the awards, I often participated in the CIBSE #WeChampion webinars. The #WeChampion webinars are a series of webinars supported by the YEAs to showcase popular topics and thought-provoking content to assist with your applications.

One of the most useful webinars I attended was the ‘Presentation Skills’ webinar, in which the judging panel of the awards provided their top tips and advice on how to give successful presentations. I then put my presentation together on the basis of the advice they gave, so this is definitely one to watch out for if you are applying for this year’s awards!

What new and exciting projects are you working on?

I work within the heat network industry, which is currently going through a really exciting and transformative period. As a result, my company FairHeat are undertaking lots of interesting projects across a wide range of new and proposed heat networks, as well as working on optimising existing networks.

Some of the most exciting work I am doing at the moment is the design of a city wide district heating network, to serve residential and commercial buildings within a large UK city. This project will provide an accessible and cost-effective way for many existing buildings, colleges, and the university within the city to decarbonise their heat!

Exciting opportunities since winning the YEAs

Since winning the YEA’s I have had some amazing opportunities offered to me. The most obvious and most exciting one was the winner’s trip to the ASHRAE conference in Las Vegas, which was an incredible experience!

I have also had the opportunity to attend the CIBSE Building Performance Awards, speak on various panels and webinars, and be invited to be part of an advisory board.
One of the most exciting opportunities I have had since winning the YEAs it to take part in the Stemazing inspiration academy, which is a programme that supports women in STEM to shine as visible role models and inspire young people.

Why you should enter?

Regardless of whether you are shortlisted, I think it’s a really great opportunity to feel proud and showcase all your achievements in your education and career so far. And regardless of whether you win, reaching the finals provides you with an incredible experience, a platform to further achieve great things and an opportunity to meet some other phenomenal engineers in the industry!

I entered the awards to set myself a personal challenge, showcasing what I had undertaken during my apprenticeship. Personally, the whole experience was a great learning curve. Whilst having the ability to evaluate on what I had achieved during my apprenticeship so far, was a positive reflection of how apprentices can make an impact within the industry. If there are any apprentices who are considering applying, I believe you should push yourself and strive for it. There is so much to learn and gain from the experience which you can use and implement for the future.

“We are delighted to have won the mid-size category and overall CIBSE Young Engineers 2021 Employer of the Year Award particularly when up against so many excellent nominees. Winning the award was a wonderful way to reflect on a highly challenging year for everyone due to the pandemic. These achievements have enabled us to continue with our Mental Health and Wellbeing initiatives.”
Kathryn Cox, HR Director - chapmanbdsp

Entering CIBSE YEA was an excellent way for the chapmanbdsp to benchmark ourselves against other organisations in our industry. The process of entering the award forced us to look at our business from a fresh perspective and helped identify areas for improvement and ways in which we might be able to do things better. This process was as valuable and beneficial as winning the award (although we were delighted to win!) as it helped us identify ways to improve our business.

Our employees and clients recognise the CIBSE YEA Awards and having won has helped us to continue to attract talented individuals to the company where they can develop their skills and continue their career development journey in the Building Services Industry with us.

We are committed to raising the profile of our industry and have recently joined “The 5% Club”, We are also currently undergoing accreditation with Investors in People for our Apprenticeship Training Programme, both these initiatives have gained momentum by our participation over the last few years with CIBSE YEA. 

The win has also been an inspiration to all our employees across the company and prompted many more ideas internally which we can explore and develop further in 2022. For example, as part of National Apprenticeship Week our apprentices highlighted the projects they have been working on since joining chapmanbdsp. 

While recognising the above, entering awards can be daunting and there is a tendency to talk yourselves out of it believing you are not good enough, cannot win, do not have enough time to complete the process etc. I would encourage any organisations who are considering entering to do so. The process is often quite straightforward with most of the content already available within your organisation and can be easily pulled together in advance to submit for an award. CIBSE are aware of this and have streamlined their process accordingly.

There are so many benefits from entering awards from increasing brand awareness, benchmarking, networking, boosting morale, raising credibility, and attracting talent. Employees want to work for the best companies and winning an industry award helps to validate your company’s reputation and values not only among new employees but also by increasing motivation and retention amongst existing staff. Something that is increasingly important after the last two years.

Winning or even being shortlisted for an award can improve brand awareness and assist with an organisations long-term promotion opening new business opportunities. Awards recognise achievements for the whole company and can act as a huge motivator as they present an opportunity to acknowledge all employees for contributing towards the company’s overall success. 

Entering awards is an effective way to help differentiate your company from competitors and will send a positive message to clients and potential clients by highlighting the strengths within your business. It also allows you to network and forge relationships with like-minded individuals.

Celebrating the hard work and success of your business and including the award logo on email footers and sales material is important PR exposure which you can maximise at nomination and hopefully after you are successful.

Apprentices should enter the CIBSE Apprentice of the Year as it is an amazing opportunity to create and to show your passion for your work. It is awesome to meet like-minded people, and to be given a platform, especially at a young age. The professional opportunities that can come from winning an award like this, could be career changing.

I entered the awards because I wanted to have the chance to show the world the benefits of an apprenticeship but also to challenge myself and improve my career prospects.



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