The road to winning Construction Manager of the Year



The road to winning Construction Manager of the Year


Securing the industry’s premier construction management award is no easy process.

On April 9, the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) gathered in London to announce the winner of the Construction Manager of the Year Awards (CMYA). The evening is more than just a celebration of the skill and innovation of the country’s project managers, but also the culmination of a months-long process that assesses the applicant’s skill, knowledge and experience.

With entries now open for the 2025 Construction Manager of the Year Awards, project managers around England are preparing their submissions.

The process begins with the call for applications, with applicants submitting a package of documents including a description of the project, cash flows, programmes and photos. The applications are then checked to ensure they meet the entry criteria before being shortlisted and sorted by category, to ensure they are competing against similar projects, including:

  • High Rise Accommodation
  • Low Rise Accommodation
  • Education
  • Public
  • Leisure & Healthcare
  • Commercial
  • Restoration

The projects also compete for a number of other categories, including Rising Star, Team, Client, Sustainability and EDI Individual and Team.

Each section for the CMYA award is judged by a panel comprising a chair and judge, who together grade the entries, and either Gordon Harker or Stephen Bradbury as administrator. Before the project is presented to the panel, a judge will conduct an hour-long site visit to examine the work and discuss the project with the project manager.

“Going in and seeing it with your own eyes is a massive thing,” Gordon says. “You really get a feel for a project and a project manager.”

The project manager is then interviewed by the panel.

“It’s a very hard interview,” Gordon says. “But if you’ve done the job, you know it inside and out. [The judges] who understand how to build those kinds of projects will ask you the most technical questions … and you’ve got to know it.”

The interview covers a wide range of topics, ranging from technical and management skills through to health and safety and their understanding and use of modern technology, as well as other areas such as how they care for their staff’s mental health. The interview process needs to be robust, Gordon says, as CMYA finalists are offered membership of the CIOB.

“But with CMYA, it’s like a membership route-plus-plus because it’s a project visit, interview, and a dissertation, and that’s an awful lot,” he says. “That’s much, much more than you have to do if you want to become a member.”

Following the interview and review process, the judging panel then choose the category winners before the chairs of each panel meet for a “chair of chairs” meeting to decide the overall CMYA winner. The category chairs will present each category winner before each project is discussed in detail. The chairs then vote for the overall winner of the CMYA “gold of golds” award.

“It really is a robust system, probably the hardest to win in the industry,” Gordon says. “They’ve done a report, they’ve had a project visit, they’ve been interviewed by three of us for an hour and given a 10-minute presentation on the project as well. To win that, you really can’t pull the wool over the eyes of anybody. You’ve really got to be on point with everything.”

But winning the award it can be career-changing, and Gordon says that many past winners have since gone on to become regional managers or directors of their companies, while the CMYA winner’s badge can also boost the prospects of a tender bid.

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