Winners revealed in national diversity & inclusion awards

24/11/2023

THE OUTSTANDING winners of the AFBE-UK Awards have been revealed at a glittering ceremony at the P&J Live in Aberdeen.

Last night’s event, sponsored by bp, recognised the exceptional performance and outstanding achievements of individuals and organisations in the engineering sector and the growing diversity within the industry.

Graeme Gordon, bp’s Vice President of Production North Sea, gave the keynote speech at the black-tie occasion, hosted by television presenter Josie D’Arby, and attended by more than 500 people.

The work of AFBE-UK was praised in a video from seven-time F1 champion Sir Lewis Hamilton, while his 2018 car – in 2023 colours – was a popular attraction on the night.

The evening began with a networking session where guests were welcomed into a drinks’ reception. This was followed by a spectacular display of multicultural entertainment that included Bhangra music and dance, The Spirituals, beatboxing phenomenon Ball Zee and an address to the haggis.

The successful winners were:

  • STEM Champion of the Year (sponsored by Wood plc): Dr Urenna Adegbotolu – NextGen Programme Co-ordinator, AFBE-UK
  • Young BME Professional of the Year (sponsored by Leonardo): Mohammad Taher – Aerodrome Systems Specialist, Heathrow Airport
  • Mentor of the Year (sponsored by the Royal Academy of Engineering): Nike Amiaka – Technical Professional Leader – Safety, KBR
  • BME Leader of the Year (sponsored by the Royal Air Force): Amitoj Singh – Operations Director, Ethical Power Connections
  • Company of the Year (sponsored by SSE plc): Bechtel Corporation 
  • Special Appreciation Award (sponsored by RS Components): Sir Geoff Palmer OBE, Professor Emeritus, School of Life Sciences at Heriot-Watt University, and a human rights activist.
  • AFBE Volunteer of the Year (sponsored by Harbour Energy): Mo Oyetunji, Chair of AFBE-UK Awards Committee.

Dr Ollie Folayan, co-chair of AFBE-UK Scotland, said: “What a fantastic night with so many inspirational stories shared around inclusion and diversity. The standard of entries was astounding … congratulations to all our finalists and winners. Our huge appreciation also goes to the organisations who sponsored the event or specific awards – we couldn’t continue our crucial work in diversity without your support.”

Graeme Gordon, Vice President of Production North Sea, bp, said: “At bp we believe embracing diversity and celebrating difference enables us to shine as individuals and progress together. That’s why we are proud to partner with AFBE-UK and sponsor these awards. It was inspiring to be part of the event and help recognise the brilliant accomplishments of talented people from across the UK.”

Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 team were platinum sponsors for the awards. 

Other sponsors include Wood plc; The Royal Air Force (RAF); Royal Academy of Engineering; Harbour Energy; Shell; Serica Energy; Leonardo; Petrofac; SSE; RS Components; ARUP; Kellas Midstream; WSP; EnQuest; the Institution of Engineering and Technology; The Institution of Civil Engineers; Engineering Construction Industry Training Board; Microsoft; Oceaneering; UK Power Networks, Net Zero Technology Centre, SLB, Subsea7 and MatchTech.

Paul Mills, chief people officer at Mercedes AMG Petronas F1, thanked AFBE-UK, and other groups, for their part in helping them develop Accelerate 25, a programme launched in 2020 aiming for at least 25% of its new starts to be female or from other under-represented backgrounds by 2025. 

The gala, which has been held every other year in Scotland since 2012, continues to be the premier networking event for business leaders, government officials, professionals and students of ethnic minority backgrounds, academia and organisations promoting diversity and STEAM careers. 

Entries were open to all individuals and UK-registered companies within the engineering sectors. Bringing an unmatched level of recognition in front of industry peers, the awards provide companies and individuals with a springboard for growth, as well as inspiring the next generation and the industry to keep evolving.

Three charities were showcased on the night, with their challenges and successes both locally and globally highlighted in a bid to fundraise towards their crucial work. These were: The Lydia Wilson Foundation, The Washing Machine Project and The Asthma and Allergy Foundation. To donate, go to: https://www.gofundme.com/f/afbe-gala-awards-2023-seeking-to-raise-funds?utm_campaign=p_lico+share-sheet-first-launch&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_source=customer

Aberdeen-based AFBE-UK Scotland supports all young people, particularly those from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds, with career aspirations in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM). Over the years it has worked with thousands of pupils, students and graduates through online seminars and face-to-face events.

AFBE-UK Scotland provides mentoring programmes including NextGen, where industry leaders and professionals give advice to school pupils; Transition, where industry leaders help aspiring engineering professionals to enter the job market; and Real Projects, where industry professionals share their knowledge and expertise.  

Its Transcend programme is a senior leadership course for ethnic minority business professionals. It is designed for individuals with over 10 years’ experience in senior and lead engineering roles in their organisation to progress to high-level management and executive positions.

For more information on AFBE-UK Scotland, visit: http://www.afbescotland.org/ 

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