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Why you should enter our Young Leader of the Year Award

09 July 2024

We’re taking entries for the Young Leader of the Year award until 31 July – and if you're 35 or under, here's why you should enter...

The Young Leaders Award is one of the most hotly-contested categories at the annual PFM Awards. Run in conjunction with Emerging Workplace Leaders, it was set up to identify the talent growing up through the facilities management industry – and it’s already had some notable success stories. 

One of these was Andrew Hulbert; he won the Award in 2010, when he was working for Rollright, and went on to found Pareto, aged just 26. Pareto’s success speaks for itself – it’s one of the fastest-growing companies in FM, and itself a winner of several PFM Awards. Hulbert says: “Winning the Young Leader of the Year award transformed my career. At the time I was still establishing myself in FM but I'd been working so hard to build a profile. Winning the award gave me such confidence to be taken seriously as a leader and also really helped build my network.”

He continues: “All of a sudden, I felt that I had something to talk to people about. It also meant I had lots more opportunities to provide comment for the press, write my own articles and generally grow my personal brand. I would not be where I am today without the support of the PFM and this award in particular. I was fortunate enough to lead the judging for the next ten years after winning the award which further helped me build my network and meet the most inspirational talent in FM. I'm delighted to see so many of the finalists we chose in that 10-year period, go on to do incredible things. It changed my life and I'll be forever grateful.”

How it started

Claudia Halabi is one of the co-founders of Emerging Workplace Leaders, as well as the Founder of Lovegreen Health. “Emerging Workplace Leaders is a voluntary group in facilities management that was originally set up as a platform for new leaders in our sector during their early days of leadership,” she explains. “Our goal is to help them build a strong network, gain experience and knowledge, have a voice in the sector and support their overall journey in FM leadership.”

Clearly, running an award specifically for young leaders is a great way of giving recognition to the talent in the sector – particularly as FM as an industry tends to fly under the radar. “We have collaborated with PFM for a number of years, and the Young Leader Award is a truly unique experience for young leaders,” Halabi says. “Those who come through the process, which consists of a judging panel interview and a finalist presentation to an audience at the finalist event, not only accelerates their growth and careers but also is an opportunity to voice their visions and views.”

It’s a journey

She points out that it’s not just about winning, either. “Whether you win the award or just go through part of the process, we have seen magnificent successes. Going through the award process is a meaningful and rewarding challenge that enhances the development of young leaders. We welcome entries from all parts of our sector from individuals who are committed to working in our field and who are emerging leaders.”

Like Andrew Hulbert, Kristian Trend is a former Young Leader winner, picking up the award in 2018. At the time, he was General Manager for Student Living by Sodexo at St George's Tower, Leicester, and he’s gone on to leadership roles within the Sodexo business.  “Winning the YLOTY award was a life-changing event,” he states. “It helped me get recognition within the industry but also massively within my business Sodexo, leading to an instant promotion! Since then, I’ve joined the EWL committee as a member and last year was proud to step up to Co-Chair.”

How to enter

It’s clear that winning or entering the Young Leader Award is a career-enhancing step that can offer a serious performance boost – and the good news is that entries are still open for this year’s competition (up until 31 July). You’ll find everything you need to enter, including a downloadable information pack, at If you’re under 35 (or thereabouts) and see your future in FM, then why not give it a go? You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Meet last year’s winner

Ellie O’Reilly was last year’s winner. She began her FM career with JLL in 2020, working as a reception supervisor in guest services, then was promoted to Colleague Experience Manager, before being promoted again to her current role as Workspace Experience Lead.

She says: “I'm not aspiring to a certain job title, I’m aspiring to bring experience into the facilities industry, I'm really passionate about that journey. So in terms of my career progression, I'd like it to be in leading and promoting experience within facilities.”

“It’s important to me that my team are looked after, have the tools to do their job, and most importantly that they love what they do. It’s not that I’m not results-driven, but I believe if people are happy, they will do their job to the best of their ability.

“Women leaders in FM bring a different lens. That eye for detail, and bringing a community together, that nurturing sense, is something that women are naturally very good at. I’m not saying that men can't do it as well, but those more feminine skills - bringing people together and making people feel passionate about coming to work are what this industry needs.

“The Young Leader Award helped me understand the bigger Industry picture. It’s easy to join a company and get siloed into one way of thinking, and this gives you a new perspective. When you win an award like this, you meet so many people and there’s so much networking, you can really see that we’re stronger together. That’s been the best thing about winning for me – the different stories I’ve been told and the different perspectives I’ve heard.”

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