IEMA presents £1k prize to best graduate

6th December 2012


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Lorna Pilbin an environmental assistant at British Gypsum has won £1,000 and been named as IEMA's environmental graduate of the year

Pilbin was presented with the 2012 IEMA Graduate Award by the Institute’s chief executive Jan Chmiel and Neil Pennell from Land Securities at the sustainability leaders awards ceremony in London last night (5 December).

Hayley Jewitt from Laing O’Rourke and Lucy Barrett of Stockport Homes were each named at runners up, receiving a £500 prize and one year’s IEMA Graduate membership.

The judges were particularly impressed with Pilbin’s work to develop and implement a sustainable water-use policy, and share best practice across the Saint-Gobain group, which owns British Gypsum.

“Lorna’s nomination and supporting evidence clearly demonstrates not only her passion for the environment, but also her professionalism and ability to innovate and lead projects,” said the judges.

“Her range of skills is impressive, enabling her company to achieve its targets and, by working at a strategic level, she has effectively engaged colleagues and stakeholders to make change happen.”

The prize came as a surprise to Pilbin, who initially hadn’t been aware that she’d been nominated for the award.

“I am in shock! To now win this is huge for me,” she said. “I have always wanted to work in the environment so to get this recognition for the work I’ve done feels great.”

Allen Gorringe, head of environment at Saint-Gobain, who put Pilbin forward for the award, said: “Lorna personifies the type of young people we need to encourage into the organisation.

“Her professionalism in her conduct and in the way she communicates with her colleagues at all levels of the business bring a level of respect and credibility both to her personally and the subject area, allowing both her and ourselves to make real progress against our environmental targets.”

Over the last 2012 months, Pilbin has led work on developing Saint-Gobain’s water policy, developing tools to gauge usage across several operational sites, and pioneering a highly-successful pilot study. Pilbin’s evaluations have since been rolled out across all priority sites in the UK and she has presented her work at Saint-Gobain’s global safety, health, environment and risk forum in Germany.

Candidates for the 2012 award were of a particularly high standard with the judges heaping praise on runners up Jewitt and Barrett, and finalists Joseph Clark and Agnieszka Chuchla.

Barrett, an environment management assistant, was singled out for her achievements in tackling waste on housing estates in Stockport, which should see the organisation’s waste costs cut in half.

“The amount she has achieved in just six months, particularly in a first role, is commendable,” said the judges. “Her methods for engaging residents in Stockport Homes’ waste segregation and reduction scheme are remarkable and she is evidently an asset to the organisation.”

Meanwhile, Jewitt was chosen as a run up due to the dedication she has shown to her studies, work and professional development following her graduation from her Laing O’Rourke-sponsored degree in environmental management and placement with Manchester Metrolink.

“Her leadership – not only during the placement, but in chairing focus groups and in mentoring undergraduates – is inspiring,” commented the judges.

The IEMA Graduate Award aims to find, nurture and promote the best emerging environmental talent each year and bolster understanding of the roles environment professionals.

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