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Award winner going strong

Names & Faces Nick Chamberlain

As NCE launches its annual Graduate Awards, last year's winner Nick Chamberlain moves on to another level.

NCE's 2005 Graduate Awards winner Nick Chamberlain gets his first real taste of leadership this week, as he takes up a new role with employer Atkins Rail after six months secondment to contractor May Gurney.

As Chamberlain heads up an eight strong multidisciplinary bid team tendering for some £7M worth of rail route upgrade, the 24 year old takes another significant career leap in a meteoric year of achievements since becoming our graduate superstar.

'Winning the award certainly got me noticed within Atkins' 15,000 strong global empire, ' says Chamberlain. 'I would not have expected such responsibility at this still early stage of my career.'

Since winning the award, Chamberlain has barely stopped.

Within a week of receiving the £1,000 prize, he was in front of the then construction minister Alun Michael debating skill shortages, energy policy and the Olympics 2012 construction challenge.

Soon afterwards, Atkins chief executive Keith Clarke wheeled him into meet the main board and, the following day, stood him in front of 50 City bankers as the company's interim results were announced.

'Awesome but invaluable experience, ' is how Chamberlain remembers the week. 'And I was still reeling from the shock of winning the award.'

Yet more variety followed.

He has dabbled in research and development; coordinated, while on secondment with May Gurney, the rail structure work of half a dozen consultants; and, just last week, became vice chairman of an influential ICE regional committee.

'Have a go. You have nothing to lose and could gain a lot, ' is Chamberlain's advice to graduates eligible for this year's awards.

High on his still-to-do list, however, is the promise he made to his civil engineer girlfriend to spend the prize money returning to a Ugandan village where, as students, they had helped fund and build vital community infrastructure.

'Must make time next year, ' he says.

Q&A Nick Chamberlain

Career highlight Winning NCE's 2005 Graduate Awards.

Career lowlight Bitterly cold 3am Sunday morning rail bridge inspections.

Most amazing fact Survived, aged five, drinking the entire contents of my elder brother's chemistry set.

Thing you wouldn't be without A simple notebook and pencil; far more enduring and reliable than electronic gadgets.

Engineering icons Millau Viaduct designer Michel Virlogeux.

Favourite places Uganda, East Africa

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