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Tom Henderson, 1986, aged 26

Now: Director, Geotechnical Consulting Group (Asia).

Qualifications: BSc, MSc, AMICE.

Winning paper: Field tests with the piezocone penetrometer to investigate the effects of scale and pore pressure measurement location.

Then: A research assistant at University of Oxford, Department of Engineering Science. Before that I had studied civil engineering at Heriot Watt in Edinburgh, worked as a site engineer for Taylor Woodrow Construction and done a masters in engineering geology at Durham.

Afterwards: Joined Fugro-McClelland in 1987 and worked on offshore site investigation works and foundation design. Three years later I moved to Geotechnical Consulting Group in London which acted as specialist adviser to the Jubilee Line Extension and CrossRail project teams on geotechnical issues during site investigation works, the Parliamentary Bill process and early design stages.

I then spent five years in Hong Kong working for Mass Transit Railway Corporation (MTRC Lantau and Airport Railway which connects Hong Kong Island to the new airport at Chek Lap Kok. Last year I moved to Gammon Construction Hong Kong as chief geotechnical engineer, and this year joined Geotechnical Consulting Group Asia (GCG Asia), Hong Kong, as director, where I manage a specialist geotechnical consultancy servicing the construction industry in South East Asia.

Professional highs: I'm far too young for that sort of thing! I suppose I have been quite fortunate to work on several high profile infrastructure projects where geotechnics has played a prominent role. I have also been lucky enough to work with some very talented and committed people.

On the downside: Every job has its moments - good, bad and indifferent. I cannot (and at this stage a number of my former colleagues are shouting 'liar!') think of anything that constitutes a 'career low' - but I suppose there is still time.

Did winning have an impact on your career? Possibly only in the short term. I believe the experience of preparing and delivering the presentation and participating in a live question and answer session in front of 200 of your professional peers and elders cannot be anything but character building.

How did you spend the prize money? What prize money? Seriously, as the paper represented the efforts of not only myself, but several others in the research team at Oxford managed by Gillian Sills, I bought several bottles of champagne, some nice cakes and we had a long lunch. I cannot recall seeing much change from that - but it was money well spent.

Anecdotes: At the formal prizegiving, I made my way to the stage to receive the prize of a crystal decanter. As I approached I could see a flurry of panic-fuelled activity among the committee members. What I certainly couldn't see was the decanter, as no-one had remembered to retrieve it from a safe in the secretary's office. Steve Brown, who was BGS chairman at the time, grabbed a half-full water pitcher which was by the lectern, thrust it into my hand, shook my other hand, led the bemused audience in a hearty round of applause and moved swiftly on to the next item on the agenda. I made my way back to my seat slightly shell-shocked, trying not to drip water on the people in my row.

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