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Let’s hear it for our G4C winners - celebrating our leaders of tomorrow

We catch up with our inspirational Generation for Change (G4C) Award winners, Sophie Smith who won the Future Leader award, Stacey Smith, winner of New Professional of the Year, and Adam Sullivan – Apprentice of the Year!

G4C is the young professional voice of the UK built environment industry. It’s also an integral part of Constructing Excellence, the one organisation charged with driving the change agenda in construction. G4C champions and drives the transformation of our industry by harnessing the power of the next generation. With a goal to create an industry that’s world-leading in a collaborative, inclusive, sustainable and innovative way, winners of G4C awards are the UK’s new provocateurs, disrupters and innovators. Read on to discover more about our rising stars, where their talent and determination is taking them and where they want to be.

First off congratulations to you all on winning these prestigious awards – what does your award mean to you?

SOPHIE: Thank you! To even be nominated for the G4C ‘Future Leader Award’, is alone an incredible honour, especially amongst such strong and inspiring men and women. Finding out I had been selected as a finalist was simply incredible. When they called out my name and I discovered I had won the award, it was a dream come true and it means everything to me. I’m very proud to have been recognised in this way by industry leaders as a Future Leader. When I first started in the industry, as an 18-year-old apprentice who didn’t quite fit in, I would never have dreamt of this honour. It felt like many years of hard work and passion had come together, and to be honest, I haven’t stopped smiling since.
 
STACEY: To even be considered by my senior directors within the category of ‘New Professional of the Year’ was an absolute honour, let alone to be shortlisted and to win. To me the award is an element of recognition that allows me to continue to develop in addressing the bigger picture. I’m an advocate within the Built Environment with a specific interest and focus on shaping the minds of future generations on the importance of design in the sector. I enjoy engaging with peers, university students and school children on these issues.

ADAM: To be nominated by our regional practice managers is a real honour and privilege. I’m only three years into my engineering career and to reach a milestone like this is a huge achievement. Winning this award has proven that the industry recognises me for what I’m doing. It makes me want to encourage more people into this ever growing industry. I will reflect on this reward throughout my career and always look back at the routes I’ve taken to become a chartered engineer.
 
Do you think it’s necessary to be a competitive person to succeed?

SOPHIE: I don’t think so. It shouldn’t have to feel like a constant battle to achieve success. Instead to succeed I believe you need to have a creative, positive and hardworking attitude, and most of all have resilience. I also think that it’s not just about the strengths and weaknesses of the individual which leads to success, but in fact it is a joint effort of positive role models and support around an individual which helps pave a bright future. Our positive, creative and inclusive culture at SNC-Lavalin's Atkins business plays a big role in all of our successes.
 
STACEY: I believe a certain element of competitiveness is healthy and allows an individual to strive to achieve her goals, whilst pushing the boundaries. I feel it’s important to point out that in the field of construction and architecture, we always work as part of a team across various multiple disciplines with the main aim of ensuring that anything we do gets delivered to the best of our ability, together.

ADAM: I don’t believe it’s necessary to be competitive to succeed – but if you are it drives you to constantly give your all to every task. The construction industry is very competitive, which encourages engineers to always push the boundaries to find new and innovative ways to solve problems.
 
What is your next challenge going to be?

SOPHIE: I’ve been working hard to reach the final stages of chartership and aspire to be a Chartered Building Surveyor. In my personal life, my next big challenge is to run a marathon after the success of running several half marathons!
 
STACEY: I want to continue to build on the foundations of the work that I do with university students and school children. It’s my quest to transform talented young people’s perceptions about engineering, because they are the future of our industry. My future goals are to become an ever-present design influence within the field, so that my work will always make a positive difference to our world. It’s immensely important to me that we successfully shape the environment in a respectful and considerate way.

ADAM: My next chapter will take me to university to do a degree in Building Services Engineering. This will be a massive challenge. It’s going to push me to my limits to become a self motivated learner who can find innovative ways to design different systems for the projects we’re working on. I’ll also be studying part time whilst working, so I need to find ways to make sure I manage my time to suit the needs of project work whilst also allowing time to study.

How would you say SNC-Lavalin's Atkins business has contributed to your successes?

SOPHIE: Very strongly! I started working here in 2016 after eight previous years in the industry. Since the beginning of my Atkins career journey I’ve felt supported, encouraged and challenged which has contributed to my successes as well as others around me. In return, as a dedicated Building Surveyor, I would also like to pave the way for many others to enjoy rich, creative and rewarding careers.
 
STACEY: The business has been supportive at every stage of my career. There is a conscious notion that we, as active practitioners within the construction industry, have a duty to future generations, and Atkins have supported me by allowing me the time and space to address these interests. To have support from your employer (directors) is so important, as a professional. I feel you need to have a niche, a personal interest that you are passionate about, this paired with the support from your employer allows you to get up every day and feel motivated that you are really making a positive impact on the world.

ADAM: Over the past three years I’ve had so many opportunities to work on a variety of different projects. These have increased my engineering capabilities and technical knowledge in electrical building services. This is down to SNC-Lavalin’s Atkins business winning a variety of different projects over such a diverse set of markets. Since day one everyone has found ways to support my development, giving me advice and guidance on all my tasks. The team has also helped me immensely with my studies. Senior engineers are happy to sit down and go through the tasks which I need to complete for engineering qualifications. They’ve also gone through some of the more complex calculations with me. And given me guidance with time management, report writing and presentation skills. SNC-Lavalin’s Atkins business has also allowed me to represent them at multiple STEM events across the South West Region where I’ve been able to give other young engineers guidance on how to get into the industry whilst showing them our apprenticeships, graduate and work experience opportunities.
 
Looking at the challenges our region (UK & Europe) is facing today, what would be your dream project? And why?

SOPHIE: Our region is not short of challenges, from political and sustainability agendas to responding to huge and expediential developments in technology which affect the world around us! So my dream task would be to project-manage a refurbishment of a large, redundant or poorly performing building into a sustainable, highly performing and efficient building for the future. When asked the question of a dream project, often it can be easy to picture a new build, an extravagant architectural masterpiece, but actually many cities are over developed and have many poorly performing and redundant buildings which I think should not be overlooked. From a technical perspective it excites me to tackle the practical challenges of working on an existing structure and work together in a multidisciplinary practice to deliver solutions.
 
STACEY: My ‘Dream Project’? An education centre where we are able to teach and be pioneers influencing children of various ages on the construction industry. A centre where we can learn together with future generations on how to create a greater environment.

ADAM: I’d love to help design a secondary/sixth form education facility which specialises in STEM related subjects. These would be a great technical challenge for me, as there will be a number of facilities within the school which can be used to enhance the students learning and allow them to learn about the variety of different STEM related subjects in the industry. I also believe it would be a great way to enhance the way in which all of the disciplines on a project collaborate to produce a final design for the project.

On behalf of everyone at the Atkins business – well done Sophie, Stacey and Adam, we look forward to hearing more from you in the future.