A mechanical engineer with huge management potential and a warm personality has pulled ahead of the pack this year 

Winner: Obiora Onuora, Hurleypalmerflatt

Since graduating from Brunel University five years ago with a first-class degree in mechanical engineering, Obiora Onuora has proved equal to challenges that are pretty much guaranteed to separate those with the right stuff from those without it. The project that Obiora is working on at the moment is Project Spear, a data centre with a total construction value of £65m, on which he is the principal mechanical engineer, and therefore the bearer of great responsibility, given the importance of mechanical services to computers (and the importance of computers the rest of us). Before that, he tackled the refurbishment of oil company Shell’s 26-storey headquarters on London’s South Bank, an £80m job that involved the replacement of plant, equipment and building services as part of a complete refit of 260,000ft2 of office space and its entourage of restaurants, executive suites and reception areas. The work aimed to cut energy consumption, increase the fresh air available to the staff and install fully automated, interactive building management and lighting control systems.

Obiora struck the judges as a really capable, enthusiastic guy, a good all-round achiever who was likely to be running a firm in a few years.

They liked his warm personality, and considered him a role model for the industry. They also liked the fact that he was active in promoting the industry to potential recruits and his ability to solve problems. One said: “He seems to have a real mastery of the subject. It’s really impressive for one so young to be taking their management responsibility so seriously. He obviously has huge management potential.”


James Weston, design co-ordinator, Fulcro Engineering Services

Neil Hadley, assistant project manager, Mace

Roma Agrawal, design engineer, WSP Group

Thomas Wallbank, cost manager, Turner & Townsend

Andrew Schmidt, founding partner, SUM