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The winners of the 2022 AUDE Awards were announced on Tuesday 5 April at our annual conference at the University of Birmingham. Thankyou to everyone nominated and shortlisted for the awards. Amazing work has happened in every case and those involved should feel proud, just as we are at AUDE. Here are the winners and their stories.
WINNER – Estates and Facilities Directorate at Sheffield Hallam University
AUDE’s Estates/Facilities Team of the Year Award has gone to Sheffield Hallam University, and speaking to Group Director of Estates and Facilities Daniel Ladbury, he is keen for every single individual in that team to take credit. “We are really grateful to AUDE for this award. I am immensely proud of the entire team for the great work that has been done during an exceptionally tough period. The team has really come together to support each other, to make sure that our crisis response to the developing pandemic situation was as robust as possible, to make sure business-as-usual functioned to a high standard, and also to respond to and shape emerging opportunities for the university. Every member of the team can be rightly proud that they have contributed to this award".
The award is made for a combination of activities across the full remit of the directorate, including the Hallam Alliance, which combines university and providers in a pioneering, transparent and collaborative partnership approach to delivery of a transformational new campus masterplan. Together, representatives from the university as client, the designer, contractor and FM partners are working as a team from the very start, challenging and questioning together in a spirit of partnership, with open contractual relationships. Decisions are made on a “best for project” basis under a clear governance structure (missing from most traditional delivery methods) with formal co-operative boards which require unanimous agreement. Student involvement through placements brings an important perspective. Sheffield Hallam have worked together with suppliers including BAM, BDP and Arup, CBRE and Mace on this initiative.
There has been a strong emphasis on wellbeing and supporting colleagues in the team as they have sought to overcome significant change and turmoil by the pandemic whilst also leading on major organisational change. The university was keen to live up to its aspirations as a civic university and was able to provide free space to the voluntary and community sector, which is measured as an organisational KPI. The teams’ work to reshape university practice in the light of Covid allowed them to improve space utilisation by 12% in a year, enabling new business opportunities to be rapidly delivered from existing spaces. Creating new interface boards with student and college leaders has created channels for integrated strategic planning and issue resolution that have been considered best practice by colleagues and welcomed as a new opportunity to work in an aligned way.
Speaking on behalf of the judges, AUDE’s Executive Director Jane White noted “The team has driven significant organisational change, leading on changes to the use of the estate and supporting a return to the workplace. The improved space utilisation is a concrete gain and obviously allows a multitude of new opportunities to develop in the coming period. Sheffield Hallam have been very willing to share learnings from the Hallam Alliance across the sector which AUDE really appreciates. This is a really well-deserved award which points to useful approaches for all of us.”
WINNER – Green Rewards, Nottingham Trent University
The Green Rewards programme from Nottingham Trent University (NTU) is an app/platform designed to reward, incentivise and engage staff and student users around more sustainable and wellbeing actions they can take in their own lives and at work, across a wide range of themes - from travel to food to nature to responsible consumption and more - that will collectively contribute significantly to acting on the climate change challenges we face. As NTU’s Head of Sustainability Charmaine Morrell explained, Green Rewards was launched at NTU in 2019, but in the last year its reach has expanded dramatically, as Green Rewards has been rolled out at the University of Nottingham but also to all local authorities within Nottinghamshire. This means that collectively the Nottinghamshire county can report, not only on the number of positive actions that are taken, but on combined carbon savings too.
“The Universities for Nottingham civic agreement was instrumental in making that happen,” Charmaine said. “It’s a format that we can use to collaborate on high-level projects like this, and it has really worked to give momentum to a county-wide roll-out. There’s no equivalent response anywhere else at county level in the UK. The app itself helps steer participants towards sustainable lifestyle choices, and there’s a gamification aspect whereby rewards are available – everyone involved can capture their positive actions and involvement level and translate that to carbon savings. You can work out your own carbon footprint and get signposted to advice on those themes that most interest you whether that be recycling, FairTrade or fast fashion. With Nottingham City Council’s known and ambitious carbon neutral target year of 2028, the very progressive Council is keen to engage the public with initiatives like this, and that knocks on to those developers wanting to work with us being keen to show leadership in this area too.”
Simon Smith, Interim Director of Estates at NTU, pointed out that by March 2022 the Green Rewards programme at NTU was responsible for carbon savings of 432,860 kg through 217,000 positive actions that staff and students have made. “We’d really like to thank NTU’s staff and students for getting behind the programme with such enthusiasm – that in turn has helped us influence across the local authorities across Nottinghamshire. The entire University, estates and sustainability teams are right behind this project and have given it fantastic support, and the platform provider, Jump, and our colleagues in the local authorities and at the University of Nottingham deserve a huge share of the credit for this AUDE Award too.”
On behalf of the judges, Jane White (AUDE Executive Director) said: “Increasing public understanding of the issues around climate change and environmental sustainability is increasingly turning into pressure to make visible and meaningful change – but the public also needs to be shown easy and realistic ways for them to make their own impact. The Green Rewards app does that. This is the second year in a row that the NTU team has won the Impact Initiative award – that’s a fantastic achievement and whether it spurs them on to a golden treble next year we will have to wait and see. Many congratulations to all concerned.”
WINNER – Edge Hill University, school fire response
On 17 June 2021 Edge Hill University’s neighbouring Asmall primary school experienced a serious fire which destroyed significant parts of the school and threatened to disrupt once more the education of children only recently returned to school from lockdown. Within 24 hours, plans were being laid at Edge Hill to accommodate the school and pupils on their own site, and less than a week later, the school was up and running in a new temporary home on the Edge Hill campus.
“There’s a well-developed sense of civic responsibility at the university,” said Adrian McGillion (Director of Facilities Management at Edge Hill University). “It’s a close-knit community here, many of our own staff had children at the school, and people worked hard from the very next day, rallying round, with an attitude of ‘anything we can do, we will do’. There were so many aspects to the work that was needed – identifying buildings that could be used, repurposing them, finding furniture that worked for children, the IT aspect, insurance, safeguarding. But there was a real willingness to make it happen. This was a fantastic joint effort between the school, our estates and facilities team, and the Faculty of Education here.”
The aim became to turn an awful negative into a positive, if that could be achieved. The temporary school kept cohorts together, outdoor play areas and a cinema were created, after school clubs ran as usual, and a ‘graduation ceremony’ was arranged for the pupils. More than one parent commented that a taste of university education at a young age could only help their child’s aspirations for the future.
“The work definitely made a difference,” explained Adrian – “and to us as well as to them. To have the children on campus, to see that we’d been able to help gave us an immense sense of pride. We really respect the way that everyone pulled together, stepping in and finding solutions wherever it was needed. To have won the AUDE Award feels like a real achievement after a tough year for everyone working on this project. We’re very grateful and pleased for the external recognition, the peer recognition, that this AUDE Award brings.”
Speaking on behalf of the judges, AUDE Executive Director Jane White said “To turn a campus into a school within a week is a massive effort. We all know the degree of disruption our children have faced during Covid, and on the day of the fire it must have seemed the very worst luck on top of an already awful period. The extent to which the university community set out to fix this really speaks of strong civic pride, but also of the ability to roll sleeves up and practically deliver whatever is necessary, something we’ve seen more than ever from our estates and facilities teams during the pandemic. Adrian’s team can feel justly proud of their efforts.”
JOINT WINNER – Kelly Baker, University of Warwick
JOINT WINNER – Ryan Wheeler, University of Derby
“The nomination alone was a lovely surprise, let alone the win,” says Kelly Baker, Grounds and Gardens Manager at the University of Warwick. “I have so many people I would like to thank - that includes my line manager Alan Warwood who has provided me with trust, freedom and support to get on with developing our campus. I would also like to thank the Landscape Working Group who are the internal body that I’ve worked with in bidding for funds to support landscaping and renovation projects I’ve wanted to make. We’ve carried out some bold projects together and I am grateful and surprised that they haven’t turned down any of my adventurous ideas yet. I am also very grateful for a highly supportive team which, under my direction, has taken ownership of projects and executed them to the highest standards.”
Kelly’s horticultural training included periods at Royal Horticultural Society gardens including Kew, where she has also lectured.
“Curating the University of Warwick Campus is like looking after lots of different spaces all of which have their own identity. It means we can be creative and experimental in places and play it safe in others. We can transform some areas into wildlife havens, whilst maintaining others in a more formal, even corporate style, but using sustainable practices.”
James Breckon, Director Estates at Warwick, details impacts big and small since Kelly’s arrival at the university two years ago. “Kelly is really championing the development of her team, including taking on two apprentices. They’ve planted over 1000 trees on campus, established pollinator-friendly wildlife corridors between buildings, sown wildflower meadow areas, and taken over maintenance of roundabouts and hedgerows that enable us to make a much better impact on arrival to students, staff and visitors. There is new drainage, new balancing ponds and new wet habitats. Her extensive knowledge hasenabled a very substantial saving to be made on planting plans and the quality of landscaping around new buildings has been dramatically improved. For Kelly to win the AUDE Award caps a fantastic start to Kelly’s career at Warwick.”
AUDE Executive Director Jane White spoke on behalf of the judges and commended a great nomination. “Kelly’s work is having a real impact on the university campus – not only in terms of the joy great surroundings can bring to students and staff, and the wellbeing benefits of that, but also in terms of the environmental and sustainability challenges so many of our campuses face. There is a great mix of the imaginative and the technically able in the projects demonstrated in this nomination and the judges were very pleased to be able to give this AUDE Award to someone with this increasingly vital specialism.”
Together with Kelly Baker, our other joint award winner of the AUDE Award for Emerging Talent is Ryan Wheeler (Assistant Project Manager at the University of Derby) who at just 25 is rapidly climbing the ranks after making a huge impact in a placement year during his studies at the university – an opportunity that led to a paid role and a snowballing move into project management.
Ryan described his AUDE Award win as “Very warming! It comes at a point where I can see my career in estates is gaining momentum, and it is great to have recognition for the hard work and to feel valued in this unexpected way. The team is lean, it’s a tight-knit group of people, and the help I’ve had from managers including Dan Illsley and Andrew Bevan has been fantastic, they’ve been crucial in shaping my development.”
Ryan’s degree discipline of Architectural Technology meant his efforts during the placement year were focused on fixing CAD protocols and an out-of-date drawings database, but his aptitude for project management and the people side of pulling together successful projects were quickly spotted. Ryan was asked to manage a lab refurbishment project, and found he loved the responsibility and opportunity to learn as he was “here, there and everywhere resolving whatever problems emerged.” In his current role he is managing a host of minor works including a recent re-purposing of a Student Union bar space. But he is keen to stretch the envelope of what is expected from the role, for instance by volunteering to be one of the university’s Change Champions, and to work with the Disability Awareness and Wellbeing Network. “It’s a hands-on role but a hybrid role too and I love that,” Ryan said.
Speaking about Ryan’s emergence as an important member of the team with a very promising future, Derby’s Director of Estates Carl Longworth describes the impact Ryan has had across the university. “What sets Ryan apart is the fact that with less than two years in this role, he has demonstrated a level of competence and maturity far above his age and experience. He has built up a formidable network of contacts across the organisation as a direct result of him being willing to move outside his comfort zone.”
AUDE Executive Director Jane White, speaking for the awards judges, said: “Ryan’s willingness to engage in issues around cultural change on behalf of the estates team mean he is grappling with management issues in his 20s that many far older colleagues are wary of. The whole team is benefiting from a fresh take. He’s challenging perceived wisdoms, building his technical skills and project management knowledge, but it’s the knack of developing broad and deep relationships across the university and adding real value to the estates team by doing so, that really stands out in this nomination. Congratulations!”
WINNER – Janis Pich, formerly Director of Estates at the University of Reading
“When I left Reading just before Christmas 2021 I took some photos to help remind me,” says Janis Pich, recently retired from the estates frontline. “Thinking back now at my 19 years at the university there was a staggering amount of change, most obviously in terms of the condition of the estate which was frankly really poor back then, as well as in our focus on sustainability and carbon reduction targets.”
Looking back at her career Janis is proudest of the opportunities to promote colleagues internally, and she felt privileged to be able to bring people into the sector for the first time. “People are always the most important thing, and it’s important to be able to look at the full leadership role and not just the most obvious tasks, so for instance on EDI - where I’ve been able to act as an LGBT+ ally, and on the gender pay gap. It isn’t just about big new construction or visible crisis management. I’ve had brilliant teams running the campus maintenance, security, cleaning and the rest, day in day out, and that makes a huge difference.
“I’m so grateful to Stephen, Umesh, Jane, Sean and my colleagues on the EMR steering group, and the AUDE team for this award. But I’m most grateful for the fellowship of colleagues over the years. AUDE gives us an opportunity to discuss challenges openly, to share solutions and learnings, and to talk on a level playing field – we’re all blessed to have that professional support. As for the EMR itself, well we know it isn’t perfect, but we do need to be careful that in simplifying the data we don’t lose a rich vein of information. The effort to understand and learn from the data is hugely worthwhile.”
“I know Janis has described herself as ‘astounded’ by this award,” said AUDE Chair Stephen Wells. “But she shouldn’t be. Janis has done fantastic work for the organisation particularly in recent years when she has taken on the task of leading the annual production of our Estates Management Report. She’s been a powerful advocate throughout her career for the importance of good data in good decision-making and goal-setting and I know this has been a strong thread through 30 years in the sector. Many colleagues across many universities will join with me in thanking Janis, congratulating her on this AUDE Award, and wishing her the very, very best for her (early!) retirement.”
WINNERS – Nicola Duffy (Lancaster University), Wayne Jones (Bangor University) and Brett Plant (University of Warwick)
Our top project team for Summer School 2021 and AUDE Award winners are Nicola Duffy, Wayne Jones and Brett Plant. Explaining the project work that has led to this award, Nicola Duffy said “The main aim of the project was to draw together the learning experiences from the Summer School programme and to collaborate as a project group to deliver an output that has relevance across the sector. So the topic for the project was to capture sector learning from our Covid responses and think about how this will shape future refurbishment, and/or new developments for the workplace and teaching and learning spaces.”
Wayne Jones spoke about the potential for impact of the project work. “We aimed to ensure our recommendations were high level so that they were relevant across the sector. We chose to do this as our research reflected similar challenges across our respective universities, but the solutions we each required would differ, based on the make-up of our campuses and student demographic. This moulded our vision, to ensure both our short term suggestions and long term vision could be considered and implemented within all HE Estates departments.
“We believe that in undertaking some of our short term recommendations, the outputs will have a key impact in influencing our Estates strategies and decision making, with a view to achieving the long term challenges such as Net Zero Carbon, Digital Twins and downsizing our campuses and buildings. Alongside this, our suggested HE Sector Hybrid Working Toolkit could act as a point of guidance for anybody in higher education implementing hybrid or agile working schemes, ensuring effective use of space across our buildings.”
Speaking for the team, Brett Plant offered “A ‘Thank You’ to all the colleagues within our respective organisations who gave up their time to be interviewed and discuss the challenges around post-pandemic design, as well as the Summer School group members who contributed to our findings and ideas but were unable to commit to the full project. We would also like to say ‘Thank You’ to AUDE for providing us with some insightful sessions as part of the Summer School programme that gave us a great basis for our thinking for this project, as well as all the delegates who attended and contributed to some great conversations across the programme.”
Speaking on behalf of the judges, AUDE Executive Director Jane White thanked all of the Summer School project teams for their commitment over several months to the projects that emerged from the residential programme. “The winning project certainly built on some of the discussions at Summer School, there was a tangible sense of the programme having influenced an outcome, and most importantly there was a clear signpost towards outcomes that could benefit the entire AUDE membership in the future. Congratulations and thanks to Nicola, Wayne and Brett for all their hard work and initiative.”
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