A major new business win and the launch of a city centre project to get people out and about have made it an eventful year for Katie Kershaw since she was crowned Birmingham Young Professional of the Year last May.
With nominations for 2016 now closed, Mrs Kershaw, a director with urban planning consultancy Node, explains what she has gained from entering and winning the business competition.
Firstly, how have you enjoyed your year as winner of BYPY15?
The year has been nothing short of incredible. To give you an insight, some of the highlights have included being interviewed on the radio, in a podcast, in magazines and newspapers, being invited to speak at a hugely varied range of events and taking part in the fantastic Common Purpose Navigator course.
The 2016 winner will again be lucky enough to have a place on that course. Not least of all to mention, I was featured on a Big Hoot owl.
In the time since winning the award, a number of major professional milestones have been reached which I am certain have at least in some part been influenced by BYPY.
Of particular note, my company Node won our first major city centre masterplan in Birmingham for an area to be known as the Knowledge Hub, including parts of Eastside and the universities.
The project is due to be launched at MIPIM, an international property conference in the south of France next week, and was also featured on the front page of the Birmingham Post earlier this month.
This is huge news for a business that is just approaching its fifth birthday. I was contacted about the project specifically due to the coverage of BYPY - so both my colleagues and I have a lot to be grateful to BYPY for.
On a personal note, I have also become a director of the business since winning the award.
I know, from my own experience and through speaking to previous winners, there are many other examples of direct benefits that come from winning the award, such as increased exposure in the press and a vastly widened network.
But the intangible benefits are almost as significant. The added confidence I have felt from winning and taking part in the Navigator programme has been an incredible asset.
In short, it has been a whirlwind year and it has flown by.
Could you tell us a little more about OneLifeOneCity?
I set up OneLifeOneCity after winning BYPY as a way of making some impact in an area I am passionate about.
OneLifeOneCity is about two things: celebrating Birmingham and consciously making an effort to embrace the opportunity that every day brings.
I recognised from my professional life and voluntary roles there was a wealth of great existing places, organisations and people in this city that deserve far greater recognition than they currently receive.
Their energy, passion and dedication to the city is inspirational. That's why a key aim of the project was to celebrate and share the work and events of community and cultural groups via our social media pages.
Beyond the 'one city' element of celebrating Birmingham, the 'one life' message of the project is about the importance of quality of life and the recognition of the potential for every day to be special.
That's why my key goal for this project was to convince people who work in the city to join me in a pledge to spend at least one lunchtime a week away from their desk.
Many people believe they need to work through lunch but is it really worth it?
There is extensive research demonstrating that people who leave the office at lunchtime, have a screen break, get some fresh air and return refreshed and are in fact more productive than those spending the equivalent time at their desk.
There is also a demonstrable reduction in sick days and improved staff morale associated with taking a lunch break.
So, while you may not think it, there are real benefits for your employer when you get away from your desk.
There are also benefits for the city - for the shops, cafés, museums, galleries and sports clubs you visit, obviously.
But, more subtly, how much more vibrant a city could we have with these greater levels of meaningful engagement?
The final and, to my mind, most important benefit is its impact on personal happiness.
In the modern world, happiness is a seriously undervalued and often entirely overlooked commodity.
I believe our time is the most valuable resource we possess and prioritising making time for ourselves to escape the routine and experience new things is key to achieving this.
We suggested many ideas for people to try individually during their lunch breaks.
But, beyond this, our 'Gone in 60 minutes' monthly events have provided a wide range of activities for people to try in the city at lunchtime, from the Birmingham Weekender festival, being taken on a guided tour of the Enchanted Dreams exhibition with BM&G's curator, making lanterns with the Hippodrome, rowing with Sport Birmingham, photographing the city from the top of the Rotunda, cycling on the city's canals to Edgbaston Reservoir, singing at the Coffin Works and even giving blood.
Each event has shown what is possible in a lunch hour and the possibilities this could have played out over the course of weeks, months and years in creating a more fulfilled, inspired and happy person - not to mention a great way to support our city.
What is the best thing about Birmingham to you?
You will find few people more passionate about this city than I am. It is ever changing - for better and for worse - and with that comes great opportunities, particularly for someone working in my field.
The potential to leave a positive lasting mark on the city I love has always been a key motivator to me.
On the physical environment, for public space, I love the Jewellery Quarter, Cannon Hill and Highbury parks and my favourite (remaining) buildings are Alpha Tower and New Street Signal Box.
But, what I love most, is Birmingham is and always will be my home - from Moseley where I was born, grew up and live today, to the canals that played host to months of marathon training and Villa Park where I have spent some of the best (and worst) moments of my life.
What does BYPY mean to you?
BYPY is an opportunity for people to come together to celebrate the passion, talent and drive on show in abundance in this city.
But beyond just rewarding the achievements of a series of individuals, BYPY is really a celebration of Birmingham. Show me another city that does anything like this.
From a personal perspective, winning BYPY was a night I will never forget. It is my greatest professional achievement to date, which has set me on a career and personal development trajectory that is beyond anything I could have hoped for.
BYPY is organised by business networking group BPS Birmingham Future and will take place at the ICC on Thursday May 12.
The event will recognise and reward the most talented individuals within Birmingham's professional services community across six categories:
- HR, Recruitment & Training
- Marketing & Communications
- Property & Construction
An overall BYPY will be chosen from these six winners. There will also be an Aspiring Talent winner, for this aged 16 to 24 and in training or education, and an Inspiring Leader award.
Tickets and tables for BYPY16 are available at the BPS Birmingham website.
In partnership with BYPY