Engineering role models inspire future talent

Annabel Davis, section engineer at Costain Group
Diego Padilla Phillips, structural engineer at WSP
Sally Walters, associate director at Pell Frischmann

Talented people working in building engineering are to be recognised as part of a campaign to encourage others to follow a career in construction.

Launched in March 2018, UK Construction Week (UKCW) established its Role Models campaign, with help from the Construction Youth Trust, to inspire others and raise awareness of the breadth of roles available in the construction industry. The winner will be announced on 10 October on the UKCW Stage at the NEC, followed by a champagne reception and a meet and greet with keynote speaker, Barbara Res.

After much consideration, the judges put together a shortlist of 36 people from more than 130 high-quality entries. Six people on the shortlist are engineers:Annabel Davis from Costain Ltd; Daniel Sullivan from Ridge & Partners LLP; Diego Padilla Phillips from WSP; Sally Walters from Pell Frischmann; and Christina Riley from Kier Group, who is also a member of the UKCW Diversity and Skills Panel and founder of LGBT Construct.

The judges were impressed with the role models’ passion for improving the image and culture of construction; breaking paradigms and changing stereotypes; promoting the possibilities of learning while working; sharing their personal experiences with young people; and championing LGBT in the engineering sector and wider construction industry.

Nathan Garnett, UKCW event director, said: “As part of being shortlisted, role models will take part in an outreach programme to help build connections with local schools and colleges. It’s about sharing their construction career journeys and inspiring the next generation by dispelling the myths surrounding the construction industry.

“It’s an amazing opportunity for people to be celebrated in an industry that often gets negative press. It’s also an opportunity to celebrate the work the role models are doing, not just on a day to day basis, but the work they’ve personally taken on to make this industry better.”

The role models will share their thoughts on key industry issues as guest bloggers for the Construction Matters Blog. They will have VIP access to UKCW, which takes place on 9-11 October, and will be available to talk to others about their careers in construction and their visions for the future of the industry.

Ahead of the presentation for UKCW Role Model of the Year, a discussion will take place on the UKCW Stage about creating the new generation of construction professionals. Shortlisted role models Emma Ferguson-Gould and Ryan Williams will join architect Elsie Owusu and BBC presenter, Steph McGovern, will be the host.

UKCW will be an event that inspires, with speakers such as Barbara Res – an engineer, lawyer and the project manager behind Trump Tower, the first BMF Young Merchants’ Conference at the BMF Pavilion, and a timber structure project by Manja van de Worp and students from the school of architecture at the Royal School of Art.

Other highlights for aspiring construction professionals include:

  • Design your home of the future, with George Clarke’s MOBIE; and
  • The Institute of Civil Engineers’ ‘Save Civil City’ challenge.

Free tickets are available from

Keep up with UKCW Role Models activities on Twitter at @UK_CW and using the hash tag #UKCW2018 and read guest blog posts at

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