Engineer of the Year

This Award is designed to recognise, reward and inspire management talent in the engineering disciplines of the UK bus industry. The award is sponsored by the Institute of Road Transport Engineers (IRTE).

The IRTE logo

Who could be nominated?

This Award was open to all people employed at or above the supervisory grade in the engineering function of bus operating, maintenance or manufacturing companies or organisations for a continuous period of not less than 12 months at 31 May 2015.

… and by whom?

We welcomed nominations from all eligible organisations, both of their own employees and of outstanding engineers with whom they work in partnership or as stakeholders. Self-nomination was not appropriate for this category.

Winner, Gold Award

Anthony Lowe - Arriva Yorkshire

Anthony Lowe is valued not just as an exceptional engineer, but as a transformational leader who inspires and motivates his team. He joined Arriva Yorkshire in October 2011 as engineering manager of its Castleford Depot. At the time he arrived, the depot was experiencing instability and a new management structure had been implemented to improve the overall performance of the business. Anthony's managerial skills proved outstanding as he led the team to achieve some of the best engineering KPIs Castleford had ever seen; this includes MOT performance in 2011 of 88.71% to 98.3% in 2013 and 100% in the first six months of 2015. Lost mileage was 0.47% in 2011 and 0.14% in the first six months of 2015. The engineering department at Castleford delivered on every level, which is testament to Anthony's dedication and passion to innovate and do things differently. Three apprentices have benefited from his commitment and passion to develop others and one of them is now a permanent member of the Castleford team. It is no surprise that Anthony won Team of the Year at the Regional MAD Awards in 2013 and the Castleford Team won the Arri-Va-Va-Voom awards and Engineering Manager of the Year at the MAD awards in 2014.

The judges were bowled over by the pure enthusiasm, the attention to detail and the consummate leadership shown by Anthony and were impressed by his regular toolbox talks as a way to educate, discuss and improve on engineering issues. He has driven impressive achievements such securing ú65,000 investment and implementation of an Authorised Testing Facility covering all sites in Yorkshire. Getting his staff to paint the facility means they take pride in keeping it clean. The judges were impressed by his tenacity and drive.

Winner, Silver Award

Daren Coppin - Stagecoach London

Engineering Manager Daren Coppin has, in nearly four years, turned one of the biggest depots in the country from previously poor engineering performance to one that is measured amongst the top engineering depots in London. Daren took full control of Stagecoach's West Ham garage in 2011 when there was a lack of a clear engineering strategy, direction and control. He focused on getting the simple things right - day in, day out - and set out which standards were acceptable and which weren't; the key was to hold the line over time so the standard became the norm. Daren was also keen to identify the technical needs of his staff and also analysed data for vehicle breakdowns and defects in order to develop a technical strategy and a training matrix. Regular briefings and updates in the canteen and building relationships with driving and operational staff were key, and Daren set up regular review meetings with the unions and published all KPI data in the engineering canteen. Daren has nominated more of his staff than any other depot for Stagecoach's upskilling program and has a focused approach to apprentice learning, with regular one-to-one meetings with each apprentice. MoT first time pass rate is 98% and lost mileage has improved from 0.97% in 2009 to 0.13% in 2014. Daren's star quality is his tenacity and never giving in and keeping the faith, and living and breathing his strategy has earned him respect from staff and senior management.

The judges were impressed by Daren's achievements given the degree of difficulty at West Ham garage in previous days and welcomed his tenacious perseverance throughout a long and challenging period of transforming West Ham's engineering department.

Winner, Bronze Award

Frank Clasen - Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company

Frank Clasen started out life at Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company as an apprentice body shop fitter 26 years ago and is now able to lead his former colleagues with the natural ease of a man who knows how to deliver consistently strong results across a spectrum of outputs ranging from the ordinary to the downright extraordinary, earning himself a prestigious in-house award. He anticipates the needs of a job within the expectations of the business and the skills and resources of his team. Frank juggles his team's scheduled business and refurbishing buses with unscheduled and unpredictable need to repair buses damaged in serious accidents. One of Frank's greatest assets is his gift for communication; he breaks down a tasks, no matter how complex, into deliverable chunks he knows his team can understand. His natural style is empathetic and he motivates staff to enthuse and engage them in a project as much as he is. For example, the much-praised project of stripping a bus and refurbishing in it into a striking creative art project to celebrate the city's annual Fringe Festival. Over the last year, Frank led his team of 11 staff to achieve a redesign of three buses to include bike racks and two vehicles to accommodate disabled passengers and converting ramps from electronic to manual on six. It is no surprise that Go-Ahead's CEO David Brown recently presented Frank with Engineer of the Year award for 2014/15.

The judges were impressed by the remarkable level of achievement demonstrated by Frank and his modus operandi of communicating with, and motivating his team, while having to deal with some technically very challenging and wacky refurbishments.

Finalists

Dave Foot - First Solent

Dave has followed in his Grandfather's footsteps as Engineering Manager for First Solent. He is valued for being a very diligent manager, he has gained respect from staff and colleagues alike for his 'can do' work ethic and commitment to moving the business forward. In particular colleagues point out that while he is quiet and unassuming, the impact he has made on the business cannot be underestimated. For example, working alongside the finance team, Dave creates his own budget and every quarter adjusts the forecasting process accordingly. He and his team have delivered some impressive results and for the financial year ending 2014/15, the engineering material spend was ú210,000 better than budget and building cost ú89,000 better than budget which, considering one of the two depots he manages is over 100 years old, is an achievement. His dedication ensures the 100 plus buses across the Fareham/Gosport area go out in top working order. His greatest attribute is his total reliability and calm, unflappable attitude. His General Manager at First Solent comments: "I'd have 10 of him on my team if I could".

The judges were impressed by Dave's interaction with staff, such as with 'meet the manager' sessions in the canteen and his keenness to introduce and encourage apprentices as well as improve the skill-set of his existing staff.

Ian Chadwick - First Manchester

With over 20 years in the bus industry, Ian Chadwick is rated as an outstanding engineering leader, valued member of the team and a genuine asset to First Manchester by his employer. He oversees the engineering function of a large city centre depot and supports the wider business across Greater Manchester. Colleagues describe Ian as having excellent leadership skills and delivering great performance without a smile leaving his face. He is also praised for his methodical working and considering all options and listening to the ideas of his team and peers. Ian has become more and more involved in all elements of safety, not just within engineering. He has enabled his depot to reduce lost mileage to 0.28% - lower than across the six First Manchester depots. As well as focusing on his depot, Ian is able to 'think big' and his perspective includes the entire Greater Manchester business, good engineering performance, assisting colleagues when he can and willingness to accept extra responsibility.

The judges were impressed by Ian's twin approach of considering both his depot and First Manchester as a whole, and also praised his keenness for feedback from stakeholders including Optare, Siemens and TfGM.

Criteria and Entry Requirements

The judges based their decision on a short-list of finalists selected on the quality of the submissions made by the nominating organisation. Short-listed entrants were then required to make a presentation to the judges and be interviewed by them.

Nominating organisations were required to demonstrate that the nominees have shown excellence in management and leadership and that this has been recognised by them.

Nominees had to be able to demonstrate:

  • An ability to manage complex tasks, people, processes and the environment in which their organisation operates
  • Effective communication skills with both staff and colleagues
  • A commitment to mentoring or other leadership activities
  • Demonstrable ability to perform to a budget and to deliver measurable outputs and other outputs, which could include:
    • Specified vehicle availability targets
    • Specified PSV test targets

Short-listed finalists were required to make a 10-minute presentation either:

        • on the role of their function in their organisation or wider industry, or
        • on a subject of their own choosing relevant to engineering in the bus industry

And to answer questions from the judging panel (also 10 minutes).