The future of the industry is in safe hands, judging by the determination and forward-thinking shown by the five finalists for this award, sponsored by the Construction Industry Training Board
Winner Georgia Elliott-Smith
A driven and energetic young woman, Georgia had studied environmental engineering at Portsmouth, trekked to the Antarctic and acted as a junior envoy for UNESCO before founding Young Entrepreneurs in Property (YEP). As a networking forum for young people in the building industry, YEP has been extremely successful. Held bi-monthly, the forum's events are described as fantastically lively and enthusiastic, attracting up to 120 attendees and many well-known guest speakers in the industry. Georgia's first job was as a dedicated environmental manager at Bovis Lend Lease, who sponsored her Antarctic expedition. She moved to QS Franklin + Andrews two years ago to build up clients for their property services and help develop its environmental policies and services. Georgia is very optimistic about the role of environmental issues in the building industry and sees her future in exploring the opportunities in environmental consulting.

'Young Entrepreneurs in Property is a fantastically lively and enthusiastic group; the property industry has a great future'

2nd - Highly Commended Alpha Jalloh
At the tender age of 18, Laing trainee Alpha's life story sounds like a movie script. Originally from Sierra Leone, he was forced into slavery by rebel soldiers aged 14. When he escaped three years later to look for his family, he was locked up again and beaten by the police. When he came to England in 2001 as an asylum seeker, he was at rock bottom: unable to speak English, with no money, no home and no idea whether his family were alive or dead. After eight months of English courses, he chose to study for an NVQ in drylining with Laing Training. His tutors in both his trade and basic skills training have been amazed with his progress and determination. According to his teacher, he has wholeheartedly committed himself to becoming a skilled craftsman. Alpha's English is now virtually fluent and his work is of a high standard.

'At only 18, and without any family, he has shown himself to be a strong and resilient young man'

John O'Kane
The son of an electrician, John started to work on sites as early as 16. He studied construction management and technology at Manchester University and joined Mace as a graduate trainee.

A serious back injury in 2001 did not dent his ambition. On the contrary, he set himself the incredible goal of running the 2003 New York Marathon this November after several major operations. Currently an assistant construction manager working on the building of a baggage hall at Heathrow's Terminal 1, he has his sights set on joining Mace's top management in the next 10 years.

'He's got a can-do attitude and people have a lot of confidence in him. Without doubt he'll be a manager in the future'

Natalie Silver
With her creative vision and customer empathy, Natalie has brought a fresh breeze to property marketing. She studied visual merchandising at college and went on to work as a window dresser in Harrods. Seeking greater challenges, she moved to Laing Homes and worked her way up to assistant marketing manager. Her first project, "Fabrik", assigned an individual identity to each flat and created maximum product differentiation in the market. Her promotion method was to put herself in her customers' shoes, and it was so successful that she ended up buying one flat herself.

'Natalie has brought an unprecedented level of energy both to the role and the business'

Fiona Milnes
Fiona hadn't considered a job in construction until she was offered a place studying commercial management and quantity surveying at Loughborough University – a marking error in her A-level paper prevented her from pursuing business studies as she had planned. Four years later, she had a first-class degree, and during her first few months as a graduate trainee at Costain she was put on its fast track programme. She has given presentations in schools to encourage students, especially girls, to consider construction careers, believing women have advantages over men in some jobs.

'She has a very cerebral approach, with lots of motivation. If she comes across a problem, she always finds a way around it'