Graduate award finalists selected

11th November 2013

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The four judges of this year's IEMA graduate award met on 21 October to select the finalists, identifying one winner and two runners-up from a record number of entries

Each year the IEMA graduate award contest (sponsored by Land Securities and supported by and Sustainable Business) seeks to find and celebrate the environment profession’s most outstanding graduate who is achieving remarkable things in their first role.

This year’s call for nominations brought in entries from several well-known consultancies, a number of construction firms, public sector organisations and even the award’s first group nomination.

The judges – Land Securities’ Neil Pennell; chair of the IEMA board, Diana Montgomery; editor of the environmentalist, Paul Suff; and Will Parsons, managing editor of and Sustainable Business magazine – chose the finalists from the list of nominations (see below) and identified the winner. The 2013 winner will be named on 21 November when the graduate award will be presented as part of the Edie Sustainability Leaders Awards in London.

The winner will be presented with a £1,000 cheque and a Sustainability Leaders Awards trophy by Neil Pennell and IEMA’s chief executive, Tim Balcon. All three finalists will also win one year’s Graduate membership to IEMA.

The winner will be announced on and Twitter, via @iemanet, on 21 November, with further details in the December and January issues of the environmentalist.

Lee Collier

Job title: Energy and environment adviser
Organisation: Linklaters LLP
University course: BSc in environmental science, University of Greenwich

An environmental science graduate from the University of Greenwich, Lee Collier completed an internship at Linklaters LLP while studying. He became a full-time member of the team in 2011 as an energy and environment adviser.

Collier was nominated by Linklaters’ global environment manager, Leilani Weier, who said: “Lee is a pleasure to work with. He’s thorough, reliable, practical, personable and really get things done. He is a highly valued member of the team and Linklaters is keen to see him progress.

“Lee brings a level of expertise to the team that can’t be taught – initiative, drive and determination. He has driven the environment agenda of the firm forward and, as we have moved past the easy wins, he’s been able to focus on getting more creative projects up and running.”

Collier was chosen as a finalist by the judges because of his energy and initiative, his ability to take on responsibility for projects and to work at a high level. He was also praised for his technical aptitudes, which have brought about energy efficiencies and cost savings for Linklaters, and his valuable communication skills.

Collier said: “Being nominated for this award was a great compliment, then to find out I’d been chosen as a finalist by the judges really did make me stop and think about what I have achieved. It was also a great reminder of the support and development opportunities Linklaters has made available to me, which has given me a truly excellent start to my career.”

Coco Smits

Job title: Graduate environmental scientist/consultant
Organisation: Royal HaskoningDHV
University course: MSc in environmental sciences, Wageningen University

Coco Smits completed her MSc in environmental sciences from Wageningen University in the Netherlands shortly before joining Royal HaskoningDHV in 2012 as a graduate environmental scientist/consultant.

Smits’ nominator, Charles Haine, director and project specialist, environment industry at Royal HaskoningDHV, said: “Coco has all the attributes of a top-flight junior consultant and is destined for big things. She is a likeable team player and takes advice on board willingly and without complaint.

“She has pursued a wide range of initiatives related to her specialist area of knowledge – development in the Arctic. She is very professional and one of the few graduates who is ready-made to be actively involved in the interface with clients, stakeholders and the public.”

The judges were particularly impressed by Smits’ commitment to her demanding specialism and her exemplary work on the trans-Adriatic pipeline project. They also singled out her ability to demonstrate her knowledge, work on multiple international projects and network at a high level as impressive, as was her undoubted professionalism.

After finding out she had been shortlisted, Smit said: “I was very excited when Charles Haine told me that I was shortlisted for the IEMA graduate award. I feel privileged to belong to the final three nominees. It is a great compliment to my work and what I have accomplished during the past year since I have graduated from my master’s in environmental sciences.”

Hanna Hayward

Job title: Sustainability adviser, London region
Organisation: BAM Construction
University course: BSc in environmental geosciences, Cardiff University

Hanna Hayward gained a gained first class BSc honours in environmental geoscience from Cardiff University in July 2011. She joined BAM Construction as an assistant environmental adviser while she was studying, before quickly being promoted to sustainability adviser for the London region after completing her degree.

Nitesh Magdani, director of sustainability at BAM Construction, said in Hayward’s nomination: “Hanna has proved to be a real find for BAM. She has worked on a wide range of issues, adding real value by helping to improve our environmental monitoring system.

“She has also taken her own initiative to develop new schemes, which are now having a very real and positive impact on the business, both in terms of reducing our impacts and helping us to win new work.”

The judges selected Hayward as a finalist because of her dedication and “above and beyond” attitude, leadership skills, rapid development and her ability to handle and understand complex issues across multimillion-pound operations.

Hayward said that the day she found out she had been shortlisted for the IEMA graduate award was one she wouldn’t soon forget. “I was in an industry workshop that day and when it finished I looked at my phone and had emails, voicemails and texts informing me of the news,” she said. “It’s great to be valued and supported by BAM Construction and being nominated for this award was a nice surprise.”

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