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Project management success for apprentice and graduate at Sellafield Ltd and University of Cumbria

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Association for Project Management (APM), the chartered body for the project profession, has today announced the winners of its Festival of Education and Research –an educational conference and celebratory awards ceremony showcasingsome of the best and brightest new talent among career starters, education and research.  

The virtual event and award ceremony took place on Wednesday 9 February, and included interactive workshops led by academics and leading project management professionals.

Charlotte Bethell, 23, from Cumbria, a project management degree apprentice at Sellafield Ltd and University of Cumbria (which she completed in September 2021) was awarded Project Management Apprentice of the Year, a category which recognises excellence in a Higher or Degree Apprentice undertaking a project management standard within the UK, as well as those who completed the programme in 2020 or 2021. 

APM’s panel of judges, were impressed with the development opportunities which Charlotte embraced during her degree apprenticeship, working tirelessly to promote STEM careers and recruitment into the nuclear industry, as well as leading on Sellafield Ltd’s response to a national charity appeal to fill shoeboxes with toys and gifts for underprivileged children at Christmas. Within Sellafield Ltd, she is recognised as a committed professional who can always be relied upon.

On receiving her award, Charlotte said: “I’m extremely grateful to have received this award. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the last four years of my apprenticeship. I want to give special thanks to my apprenticeship coordinator, placement manager and the University of Cumbria.

“For me, the great thing about the apprenticeship programme at Sellafield is that you get to try so many different things, like project controls, risk and planning. Doing that while being able to continue at university and get a degree has been fantastic.”

Further success came with Erika Graham-Jones, who won the Project Management Graduate of the Year award.  Erika, currently a project support at Sellafield Ltd, received a First-Class Bachelor of Science (Hons) Degree in project management at the University of Cumbria in 2021.  Erika is an outstanding graduate and future project manager who works on complex projects in the nuclear industry.

Whilst at university, Erika, 25, from Cumbria, saw an opportunity to focus on an area which had not been researched before – dyslexia and neurodiversity in project management. After being tested for dyslexia during her apprenticeship programme and subsequently diagnosed, Erika worked with colleagues to create a support network for neurodiverse people in the workplace, introduce processes to help people be tested for neurodiverse conditions, and facilitate access to assistive technology.

Reacting to her award, she said: “I really wasn’t expecting to win. I’m thrilled. I’m over the moon.

“I started my career path doing reception work for an organisation that did engineering project management and I picked up on it there. I then applied to do the apprenticeship programme with Sellafield. I finished that in 2021. I was working at Sellafield and studying at the University of Cumbria at the same time. I went to university one day a week and to work four days a week. It was a really good experience. I moved around the business every few months doing planning, cost management, risk management and placements in construction. You get experience of all the different project management elements.

“There are really good career pathways at Sellafield. I’m now working on becoming a project sub-manager.”

The Festival of Education and Research puts a spotlight on APM’s ongoing commitment to education and research, which has become an increasingly important part of its work. The event helps to support career development within the project profession, to recognise research excellence in project management and related fields, and the contribution of academics to the development of the profession.

Professor Adam Boddison, chief executive of APM said:

“APM is committed to recognising and rewarding achievement within project management, which is why we created the Festival of Education and Research in 2020. It’s a fantastic opportunity for students, academics and early career project professionals to meet prospective employers, network with each other and develop skills and knowledge.  I would like to congratulate all the award winners, speakers and everyone involved in making the event such a success, a great way to start the year!”

Awards were also presented in seven further project management related categories to the following: 

  • Student of the Year – Anujan Metheus Anandarajan, Coventry University
  • Post Graduate Dissertation of the Year – Jennifer Piehlmaier, University of Sussex
  • Educator of the Year – Luca Sabini, University of Hertfordshire
  • Doctorate of the Year – Marcos Fuentes,  University College London
  • Research Paper of the YearWhat are the causes and cures of poor megaproject performance? A systematic literature review and research agenda – Juliano Denicol, Andrew Davies & Ilias Krystalli, University College London
  • Developmental Programme of the Year – Project Controls Solutions | Academic Certificate in Project Controls
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