From education to employment

James Pearce, project controller at Rolls Royce PLC wins Apprentice of the Year at APM Festival of Education & Research Awards

@APMProjectMgmt announces winners of Festival of Education and Research Awards 

Association for Project Management (APM), the chartered body for the project profession, is delighted to announce the winners of its inaugural Festival of Education and Research Awards – showcasing some of the best and brightest new talent among career starters, education and research in project management today. The winners were announced at APM’s live virtual award ceremony on 21st October.

Celebrating the achievements of new talent within the project management profession

  • James Pearce, Rolls Royce PLC – Apprentice of the Year
  • Bessie Ashton-Melia, BAE Systems – Graduate of the Year
  • Emma Huckerby, Leeds Beckett University – Student of the Year

There were eight award categories, including Project Management Apprentice of the Year, Student of the Year, Graduate of the Year, Research Paper of the Year, Postgraduate of the Year, PhD Doctoral of the Year, Lecturer of the Year and Developmental programme of the Year.

The Festival of Education and Research virtual event also featured interactive workshops led by academics and project management professionals, and a careers zone to provide a link between employers and new talent in the profession.

Debbie Dore, chief executive of APM said: “This event shines a light on APM’s ongoing commitment to the crucial role of education and research in the project profession. The awards recognise new talent, as well as research excellence, and the contribution of academics to the development of the profession.   I would like to congratulate all the winners and finalists for their outstanding achievements.”

Project Management Apprentice of the Year – James Pearce, Project Controller (Product Development & Technology) at Rolls Royce PLC

This category aims to recognise excellence in a higher or degree Apprentice undertaking a project management standard within the UK.

James Pearce, aged 22 from Derby, joined the Rolls-Royce PLC Apprenticeship programme in 2016. The Rolls-Royce Apprenticeship programme enabled him to build strong foundations in project management, in a complex project environment. His high performance was recognised by Rate My Apprenticeship, winning their ‘Outstanding Level 4/5 Apprentice’ award. These credentials have created a platform for James to promote apprenticeships, create social media content and deliver early careers events talks. He hopes to continue driving project management forward, advocating a career in the profession.

James said “I am honoured to have won this award. I have learnt so much during my time at Rolls Royce and winning this award will help me to further my influence in driving the Project Management profession forward, advocating apprenticeships and careers.”

Project Management Student of the Year – Emma Huckerby, Leeds Beckett University

 This category is designed to celebrate and reward project management students who have recently completed a project or programme during their time in an industrial placement or whilst studying at a Higher Education Institution. It’s a fiercely contested award that takes place at APM branch level.

 Whilst completing a placement year within the rail industry Emma gained valuable skills to enhance and develop her future in the project management profession. She was able to see first-hand the results that are achieved by bringing together specialist skills sets, ensuring clear communication and teamwork. Emma was part of an alliance working on the project of upgrading the rail link from York to Manchester.

Emma said: “I am so happy that all my hard work has paid off and delighted to have won APM’s Student of the Year 2020. It means so much!”

Project Management Graduate of the Year – Bessie Ashton-Melia, project engineer at BAE Systems (Hawk UK)

This category recognises excellence in achievement for someone who has completed a degree in project management. Bessie has been sponsored by BAE Systems and the Blackpool and Fylde College (B&FC) as a Project Management Degree Apprentice for the past five years. Through this programme, she has achieved a 1st Class Honours, completed her APM project management qualification and gained an extensive range of personal and technical skill experience across multiple contracts and locations.

Bessie has also represented the University and her employer on numerous occasions; including but not limited to presenting her dissertation at the British Conference for Undergraduate Research and acting as Master of Ceremonies for the Blackpool and the Fylde College project management conference.

Bessie said: “Trying to balance working full time, a degree and other personal challenges over the past five years has been tough, however being recognised for my hard work and winning this award makes it all worthwhile. It has truly inspired me to continue my commitments to my education and professional development.”

The winners across all eight categories at the APM Festival of Education and Research Awards include:


Project Management Graduate of the year

Bessie Ashton-Melia (BAE Systems)

Project Management Postgraduate of the year

Georgio Forlini (University of Westminster/Inside Ideas Group)

Project Management PhD Doctoral of the year

Katherine Bloomfield (University of Hull)

Project Management Apprentice of the year

James Pearce (Rolls-Royce PLC)

Project Management Lecturer of the year

Andy Smith (Blackpool and The Fylde College)

Project Management Research paper of the year

Johan Ninan (University College London)

Project Management Developmental programme of the year

Susie Kentell (BAE Systems) and Yash Kotak (Blackpool and The Fylde College)

Project Management Student of the year

Emma Huckerby, Leeds Beckett University


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