London wine emporium Vinopolis provided the backdrop to a celebration of the brightest and best at Building’s annual QS Awards lunch last week.

Consultancy EC Harris shone out at the QS Awards last week, winning three out of its five categories including Best All-Round QS Firm and QS Champion of the Year.

The industry’s top consultants gathered at Vinopolis wine bar in London Bridge last Friday to celebrate the year’s successes.

The event also raised money for construction and property industry charity CRASH.

Over champagne and cranberry juice, professionals mingled with judges before enjoying a festive lunch. They then watched doctor-turned-comedian Phil Hammond present the awards.

After being called up on stage three times to pick up EC Harris’ trophies (opposite), chief executive Philip Youell declared: “I am most happy for Ian [Cook, QS Champion of the Year], who is a terrific person. To have our international work rewarded is great as well and I think we are doing enough to justify another trophy next year.”

QS Young Achiever of the Year: Suzanne Graham, Turner & Townsend

Suzanne stunned the judges with her track record at 28. She joined Turner & Townsend in 2000 as part of its training programme and is now one of the youngest associate directors at the company. In addition to leading large construction projects, such as Network Rail’s £150m Waverley Station project in Edinburgh, and co-ordinating HR issues in five regional offices, she supports junior members of staff, reviewing RICS Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) submissions and conducting mock interviews. Colleagues speak of her as an “instrumental” part of the company.

QS Employer of the Year: John Rowan and Partners

John Rowan and Partners convinced the judges with its range of initiatives to support employees. The consultancy offers financial support, advice and study leave for staff to complete degrees or postgraduate diplomas. It also provides a training programme and mock interview system for staff undertaking the RICS Assessment of Professional Competence. One judge said: “You could tell by the way their table cheered they have great team spirit.”

Best Innovation: Faithful + Gould

Faithful + Gould’s Whole Life Value toolkit was praised as an important innovation to improve decision-making in project investment. It helps clients understand the relationship between costs, time and quality and takes into account key issues such as the environment and community. The toolkit can be linked to other value management tools, such as BREEAM. F+G has used the toolkit on various school projects and has integrated it into its core project and cost management service offerings.

Best New QS Firm: Sum

The judges were impressed by Sum’s achievement to increase turnover by 55.1% in just four years of existence, exclusively from organic growth. A return business rate of 96% demonstrated the success of the firm’s fresh approach to consultancy services. The judges praised the company’s “approachable yet professional attitude”. Sum also provides full financial support for further education programmes undertaken by its staff, which has enabled 81% of its employees to be enrolled in higher education courses.

Best Training Initiative: Chartered Surveyors Training Trust

According to the judges, the Chartered Surveyors Training Trust stood out in this category for its efforts to open up the surveying profession to individuals from all backgrounds and provide an alternative to graduate recruitment.

CSTT does this by helping young people from underprivileged and under-represented groups enter prestigious apprenticeships and offering financial support for their surveying qualifications.

Its success in recruiting from these groups is reflected in its recruitment figures. Out of its current trainees, 27% come from ethnic minority groups and 5% are disabled – statistics that outstrip the industry norms.

Three of the best: Best All-Round QS Firm, International Achievement Award and QS Champion of the Year

The judges paid tribute to consultancy EC Harris for its ability to adapt to clients’ changing needs. They were particularly impressed by the range of projects in which the company has been involved, particularly its work with car company Lexus Europe. EC Harris’ Ian Cook was also awarded QS Champion award. Cook has managed to resume his career as a lead project manager after losing all his limbs through septicaemia.