The battle is on to see who will be crowned Birmingham Young Professional of the Year.

A total of 18 young professionals are fighting it out to top the Cobbetts-sponsored event. This year's six category winners and the overall BYPY honour will be announced at the International Convention Centre on Thursday.

Leading lights from some of the city's biggest firms are represented, including Wragge & Co, Eversheds, Ernst & Young, EC Harris and Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander.

The property and construction category will be represented by Joanna Budrey from EC Harris, Emma Whigham of Atkins and Neil Edginton from Birmingham Development Company.

Top professionals from Barclays Wealth, Thapers Chartered Accountants and Kaupthing, Singer and Friedlander battle it out in the Financial category, with Graham Nicoll, Andeep Mangal and Deepak Parekh respectively all making the grade.

In the legal category, Rachel Palmer from Blakemores Solicitors will compete against Anthony McCourt from Wragge & Co and Reshma Sheikh from Eversheds.

In Recruitment and Training, Giles Morrison from PSD will go up against Claudia Santillo from Adlestrop Consulting and Jon Moll from Tirebuck Career Solutions.

It's an all female affair in the Communications category, with Core Marketing's Charlotte Crossley battling it out with Melissa Dickinson from Pertemps and Juliet Bain of Ernst & Young.

Rounding off the nominations, the Entrepreneurial finalists are James Coleman of Supercool Design, Anjum Khan of Basic Training Centre and Nick Morgan from the Big Cat Group.

Roula Samaha, BYPY chairman, said: "The judges deliberated over several extremely high class candidates, so this year's overall winner can be extremely proud to walk away with the top prize. As ever, we have gathered a really good cross section of Birmingham's business community, from top banks and legal firms to small businesses, all showing that our young professionals can thrive in any working environment.

"BYPY gives both nominees and winners the chance to raise their profile in one of the UK's key commercial centres."

Advertising guru Trevor Beattie is the compere.

Mr Beattie has been responsible for some of the highest profile PR campaigns of the past two decades, achieving lasting notoriety in the 1990s via Eva Herzigova and Playtex Wonderbra's Hello Boys poster campaign.

He takes over the mantle from former Dragon's Den star and founder of YO! Sushi, Simon Woodroffe, who compered the 2007 ceremony.

Mr Beattie said he was honoured to be involved in this year's awards. "I may work in London, but my heart – and my new Rotunda apartment – is most definitely in Brum.

"I am sure all the winners will take the indomitable Brum spirit out into the wider world and achieve great things. They are the future, and I am sure it will be bright for all of them."

Mr Beattie co-founded advertising agency Beattie McGuinness Bungay and lists Carling, Ikea, McCain and Selfridges among its clients.

A life long Labour supporter, he masterminded the party's ad campaigns for the 2001 and 2005 general elections. He was also behind French Connection's controversial re-vamp as FCUK in 1997.

Head of judges is Paul Thandi, chief executive of the NEC Group.

Birmingham Future, which runs the BYPY awards, was established in 1993 to represent 25-35 year old employees within Birmingham Forward member firms.

Its mission is to provide networking opportunities and develop the leadership skills of Birmingham's young professionals, and to promote the city as a thriving and dynamic international business centre.