All five shortlisted entrants impressed the judges in this Marshalls-sponsored category, but FaberMaunsell's commitment to its staff and clients made it stand out from the crowd

FaberMaunsell hit the headlines early last year as the only construction business to make it into the league table of the 50 best companies to work for. A glance at its human resources policy is enough to clear up any questions as to how it managed to win the accolade: it lists 16 programmes to make staff feel wanted, from "in-house learning centres" to "real change" weekends. All of which does not mean the firm is too busy being nice to its staff to care about its clients. Customers gave it an 89% satisfaction rating – which goes some way to explaining why its operating profit rose one-third last year. And the project it is most pleased with? The Odyssey complex in Belfast, with its 10,000-seat arena that provided a masterclass in services design.


Wherever you look within Amec, you encounter a switched-on company. Personnel? It helps staff achieve NVQ qualifications and sponsors MBA courses. Customer care? Must be pretty good, because repeat business has risen 5% to 70% in the past year. The environment? It is working towards gaining an BREEAM rating of "excellent" on every appropriate site it works on. The result of all this good practice shows up in the bottom line: income and profit have both risen threefold in the past three years.

Whitby Bird & Partners

The judges' comment hits the nail on the head. This practice scored an unbelievable 96% from clients for its ability to come up with lateral solutions to engineering problems. The second stand-out quality of this firm is its commitment to environment-friendly policies. The USHER scheme aims to produce the world's largest "solar hydrogen energy" facility designed to power green buses and Whitby Bird is responsible for the design of the UK's largest photovoltaic array at Kensal Green in west London.

Has focused on its staff well, and has an excellent set of company values – its training was especially good

WSP Group

The UK's sixth largest consultant, WSP is a player in the world market for consultancy services. Its client list reads like a who's who of global blue-chip businesses, including Ikea, Volvo, BP, Morgan Stanley and Grosvenor. The firm's success is partly explained by its growing reputation in the environmental field, helping BMW to recycle its cars and "greening" B&Q's products. Despite using revenue to launch worldwide growth, it has still managed to clock up a 185% increase in profit over the past three years.