BCS Awards: Honouring individual excellence

The BCS Individual Excellence Awards recognise notable achievements and high levels of professionalism across seven categories


The BCS Individual Excellence Awards recognise notable achievements and high levels of professionalism across seven categories

The BCS Individual Excellence Awards are not for the shy and retiring, as chair of the judges Mike Kearsley explains: "You have to be in it to win. Each medallist is interviewed by a panel of judges, and applicants have to make sure to boast to the judges about everything there is no room for modesty about their achievements."

This year's awards involved seven individual categories where judges were looking for professionalism and highly successful contributions made by the IT professional to their business.

"This year has been an excellent year in both quantity and quality of candidates, and it is good to see so many new organisations putting their staff forward," says Kearsley.

Ensuring that fresh fruit and vegetable produce is correctly labelled literally in the field where it is picked and packed was the challenge that one award winner overcame. This year's IT Developer of the Year Award, sponsored by InterSystems, was won by Richard Jones, development director of Anglia Business Solutions.

In managing the project, Jones showed great understanding of and empathy with the level of end-users' IT skills, and introduced a highly innovative IT system to an environment that was previously entirely paper based.

The challenges included implementing .net tools to provide a label checking system across several languages and geographic boundaries, in order to meet the needs of the diverse nationalities.

Jones also solved the problem of making vast amounts of data stored on a central database available offline on a mobile device, through his innovative idea of "store and forward". This allows data to be collected on an offline mobile device and then synchronised with the central database when back online.

The medallists for IT developer of the year were: Mark O'Farrell of Farrellsoft, Jason Cole of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group and Meeraj Kunnumpurath of Voca.

For Saqib Shaikh, this year's winner of the Young IT Practitioner of the Year Award, starting his first job with Vodafone simply was not enough of a challenge. Shaikh also set up MacVisionaries, a company specialising in products and services to help the blind use Mac computers.

The judges selected Shaikh, a technical graduate now working for Microsoft, in recognition of his professionalism, enthusiasm and determination to succeed.

Shaikh, who is blind, gained a first-class honours degree at Essex University, earning the highest mark in his class and going on to complete a master of science before seeking employment.

Shaikh's ambition is to gain a senior management role or start his own business. He has already begun investigating how to gain BCS Chartered IT status and is keen to progress his career further.

The medallists for young IT practitioner of the year were: Paul Cheek of TeamSpirit Software, Mark Alexander of Graham Technology and Iain McGinniss of Graham Technology.

Delivering learning to meet clients' needs, and having a good understanding of how to make it relevant to non-IT specialists by including everyday solutions, helped Dave Britt, a principal technologist with QA-IQ, win this year's IT Trainer of the Year Award sponsored by Training Synergy.

The judges were impressed by Britt's dedication to delivering training services using a wide variety of methods, incorporating traditional classroom-based techniques, as well as using technology to deliver e-learning and distance learning opportunities.

To ensure course material is relevant to the real world experience of his clients, Britt has taken an active part in supporting the IT community through a blog and contributes to forums and discussion groups.

The medallists for IT trainer of the year were: Michelle Mook of Matrix FortyTwo, Edmund Lepre of Happy Computers and Nick Noble of LogicaCMG.

This year's IT Service Manager of the Year Award was a close contest, but Paul James, a customer service manager with Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council, was eventually nominated as winner.

James manages the customer services department within the corporate IT unit in the borough, including the service desk, datacentre, IT training and the e-government project teams.

Over the past 12 months James has successfully project managed an IT Infrastructure Library-based service improvement project implemented service level management and incident management processes restructured the service desk, resulting in a 9% increase in first-time resolution, and has improved customer satisfaction by 13%. James was also responsible for delivering the e-government agenda one month ahead of schedule.

The medallists for IT service manager of the year were: Simon Wright of Rail Settlement Plan, Dave Roberts of Retail Assist and Richard Godbolt of Lloyds TSB Group.

A project to automate the 125-year-old postal order and ensure that the Post Office did not face a significant business loss has won Ray Jackson, programme manager of IT for the Post Office, the PMR Project Manager of the Year Award.

Jackson was selected for his delivery of the Post Office S90 release, which was key to enabling branches to accept debit and credit cards for Bureau de Change transactions. In addition, the project automated the inventory management process for the 72 currencies it offers, enabling branches to be part of the back-end track and trace services, and providing improved communications resilience for the network of more than 14,500 Post Office branches.

The judges felt Jackson demonstrated excellence in project management by ensuring error-free support systems and applications, as well as demonstrating management and communications skills, systematic support of staff and a good understanding of the needs of non-IT staff.

The medallists for project manager of the year were: Lachlan Macdonald of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, Rob Wetherill of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group and Mike Moore of Calibrand.

Scottish Water has faced a major four-year business transformation programme, which included achieving challenging regulatory targets and the completion of a £1.8bn capital programme designed to create significant improvements in the national water infrastructure.

For his work on the programme David Brown, general manager of IT for Scottish Water, has been awarded the Deloitte IT Director of the Year Award (for large organisations), presented in association with the Institute of Directors.

Brown's work involved managing the £66m IT development programme that underpinned the business transformation. This required either the redevelopment or re-implementation of every legacy system and every aspect of the legacy technology infrastructure all of which was completed within the required timescale and £1.2m under budget. The project also reduced IT running costs in line with the four-year target of 40%.

The judges were seeking someone who could demonstrate a thorough understanding of IT issues, excellent people management skills, commitment to training and development, planning ability, financial acumen and a substantial contribution to the strategy and general management of the organisation.

The medallists for IT director of the year for large organisations were: Simon Kosminsky of SJ Berwin, David Matthewman of Norwich and Peterborough Building Society and Al-Noor Ramji of BT Exact.

The IT Director of the Year Award (for SMEs), sponsored by Claranet and in association with the Institute of Directors, was awarded to Neil Pearson, chief technology officer at educational publishers Hotcourses.

The judges were impressed by Pearson's determination and vision on a project that was initially met with some scepticism by colleagues. Pearson created an offshore capability for Hotcourses that has enabled it to continue to innovate while keeping costs under control.

Pearson has enabled Hotcourses to compete against the largest of the systems integrators for education sector IT and data processing contracts - both in terms of price and quality. This is now a fundamental part of its business strategy going forward.

The medallists for IT director of the year for SMEs were: Tony Pearson of Proteus Software, Paul Broome of i-CD Publishing and Chris Thorn of Chameleon Net.

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