Entry Guidelines Current Winner Past Winners Experiences

The Tonkin & Taylor/ACENZ Future Leader Award is designed to recognise future industry leaders within ACENZ member firms. Entrants can apply themselves but need to gain the support of their firms as potential future and business leaders. 

Entrants must be:

  • under the age of 35 at the entry deadline
  • be competent managers (or demonstrate equivalent level of training and experience)
  • provide evidence of continued professional development
  • offer valued contributions to the wider consulting team and
  • have established strong and successful working relationships with clients and the community

They need not be an engineer to apply, however must be professionals in the built and natural environment.
ACENZ present this award which includes a framed certificate, $1,500 (to the winner) and registration to the FIDIC Young Professional's Management Training Programme. This programme was initiated by FIDIC in 2003/04 which allowed firms to put young professionals forward to a Management Training Programme. The ACENZ Board has elected to include registration in this international programme as part of the prize for the Tonkin Taylor / ACENZ Future Leader Award. 

 Some commitment is required from the individual, and to a certain extent the nominating firm in terms of time.  However, with the addition of this element, the award becomes both quite substantial and indeed an honour.

This prestigious award is made available in part to generous support from Tonkin & Taylor as the Principal Sponsor of this award. You can learn more about Tonkin & Taylor here.


The guidelines for the 2017 Tonkin & Taylor/ACENZ Future Leader Award will be posted below when finalised (est. before Christmas 2016), as well as under the Events Page (ACENZ Awards) and entries due to the ACENZ offices no later than Friday, 26th May 2017.

START HERE - Helpful Guidelines 2017 (PDF) G62-2 Guidelines 2017 (Word) 2017 Entry Form Only (PDF)





Jenson Varghese is the New Zealand Regional Manager for transport and planning consultants MRCagney. In this role, Jenson is responsible for managing MRCagney’s New Zealand operations and business development, as well as leading a team of fifteen consultants who work across New Zealand, Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. He is part of MRCagney’s management team and contributes to the management of the overall company operations.

In addition to his management responsibilities, Jenson is a Principal Consultant with over ten years’ experience in a range of consulting roles with a particular focus on sustainable transport and urban outcomes. Jenson has qualifications in engineering, transport planning and economics, all of which give him a broad range of skills to manage and deliver complex and diverse projects. Jenson has worked on and led several high-profile and influential transport studies in New Zealand and Australia. Jenson is currently the chair of the IPENZ Transportation Group Auckland Branch and is a member of the IPENZ Transportation Group National Committee and South Pacific Professional Engineering Excellence. He is committed to promoting careers in science, engineering and particularly transport to students


Future Leader Winner 2015

Kat is a Certified Environmental Practitioner with 10 years’ experience in environmental management, environmental science and sustainability. Kat achieved her accreditation as an Environmental Practitioner in 2012 and is a member of the Environmental Institute of Australia and New Zealand (MEIANZ). Kat has two distinct leadership roles within Opus. In 2013 she was appointed as Chair of the Sustainability Professional Interest Network, a role that oversees the technical wellbeing of over 200 professionals worldwide. In 2014 she was appointed as the Company Sustainability Leader, a global role with a strong strategic focus involving policy development, strategy and planning, and sustainability reporting.  

Kat is committed to developing her leadership skills outside the organisation with participation in the Sustainable Business Council Future Leaders Program in 2013, the Sustainability Business Network Authentic Leadership Program in 2014 and also in her role as the Auckland Branch Coordinator for the Environmental Institute of Australia and New Zealand.


Future Leader Winner 2014

Emily is  a chartered geotechnical engineer with 8 years of experience in geotechnical and roading engineering, based in Queenstown. She specialises in geotechnical site investigation & design; contract management and construction supervision. Emily achieved her chartership in February 2013. A large part of Emily’s role is the leadership of teams composed of contractors in high risk situations following slip and rockfall events on the state highways in Central Otago. Her clear and calm manner is known to provide reassurance in times of stress, earning her significant respect on-site.
Since mid-2013, Emily has taken on the leadership of the Geotechnical Professional Interest Network within Opus as PIN chair, a role that oversees the technical well-being of around 200 professionals worldwide. Being a strong community supporter, she is involved as the current Central Otago representative for IPENZ and is particularly passionate about seeing women in engineering reach management roles. 

Future Leader Winner 2013

Jamie Lester is a structural engineer, working for Opus International Consultants for the past eight years. A graduate from the University of Canterbury in 2004 with a Bachelor in Civil Engineering, Jamie remains living and working in Christchurch with his wife and three young children. Jamie has been heavily involved in the response to the Canterbury earthquakes, being instrumental in evaluations of some key buildings including theseverely damaged Catholic Cathedral. Recently involved in the design of the innovative Trimble Building using Pres-Lam construction, he has contributed to the development of Pres-Lam as a feasible construction form. He has been successful in raising the profile of the structural engineering profession through a TV documentary, news stories and radio/print interviews.
Jamie enjoys volunteer work, by offering services for a local church, helping them with initial post-earthquake inspections and engineering advice. In addition to enjoying family time, Jamie is an avid tramper.


Future Leader Winner 2012

Shamus is an Engineering Geologist and Project Manager for Tonkin & Taylor in Christchurch and is actively involved in the management structure of the Tonkin & Taylor Christchurch office and is a Team Leader of the Tonkin & Taylor Earthquake Commission Field office. Shamus’ role includes providing support to the Christchurch Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA). Shamus is coordinating the workload of a diverse team of up to 130 people each day, including world renowned experts, new graduates, administration staff and contractors. He is responsible for the training and up-skilling of these staff and provides technical support to them on a daily basis.
Having a varied career, Shamus’ rise to his current position from a graduate has given him valuable insight into what makes people perform well, he endeavours to get the best from his staff and ensuring they are enjoying their work. Shamus is a leader by example, treating others as he would like to be treated. Clients and work colleagues have consistently high praise for Shamus’ work ethic and commitment. 

Here is a summary of our 2014 winner, Emily Stevens, and what she has to say about her recent experience at the 2015 FIDIC Conference and Young Professional Management Training Programme; Full Write up here

I was thrilled to win the Tonkin & Taylor/ACENZ Future Leader Award in 2014. I am surrounded by many talented young professionals in this industry, so to be selected as the winner of this award was a true honour that I really appreciated...The most valuable part of the prize by far was enrolment in the Young Professionals Management Training Programme (YPMTP) and sponsorship to attend the FIDIC Conference 2015 in Dubai. Wow what a prize! The first part of the YPMTP was an online course beginning in February and involving monthly meetings with the other young engineering professionals from your ‘team’. 

I really enjoyed the online course, which took us through the various steps and pitfalls of starting your own consultancy in the industry. There were various ethical considerations to comment on and we were educated about the business elements of the industry. It was a well structured and interesting course, and we learned from both the course tutor and fellow course participants, who came from range of backgrounds and experience. 
The FIDIC Conference in Dubai had many excellent speakers presenting on broad general industry topics that appealed to everyone in the audience, including looking at global markets, financing, managing remote workforces and sustainable urbanisation. It was a real privilege to be able to attend and hear world experts sharing their knowledge and opinions in their field of expertise. 

I have always believed it is important to contribute to your wider community outside of your immediate career focus. As New Zealanders we should not limit our engineering influence to just our country and immediate industry issues but widen our view where possible to how we can influence worldwide. ACENZ’s involvement in FIDIC is in my opinion an important way of doing this and ACENZ member firms should look to see how we can be involved in this link.

The final part of the prize is one year as a member of the ACENZ Board. I am currently half way through this term and it is proving to be a fantastic learning experience and valuable exposure to many of the overarching issues the Board tackles on behalf of the industry and member firms. I would like to sincerely thank Tonkin and Taylor for their sponsorship of this award and hence making this amazing experience possible. I would also like to thank my company, Opus International Consultants Ltd, for the excellent training and mentoring that has enabled me to succeed to date in my career, and for their financial support to enable me to attend the conference. And finally of course, thank you to ACENZ for organising and supporting the award.



Here is a summary of our 2012 winner, Shamus Wallace, and what he has to say about his recent experience at the 2013 FIDIC Conference and Young Professional Management Training Programme;

"The YPMTP aims to develop management and leadership skills in participants that are drawn from all member countries around the world.  This year more than 60 countries were represented. I’d have to say that, for me, the real benefit comes when the participants get together, to meet for the first time and to engage in discussions with each other, and the course facilitators, face to face. Keynote Presentations were delivered by David Coulthard (former F1 driver), Randall Pinkett (winner of The Apprentice USA) and last but certainly not least, Sir Bob Geldof, who laid it out in his opening remarks; 'So, 100 years ago engineering was ‘the profession’, here to make the world a better place. What have you achieved, and where will you go in the next 100 years?' He followed this up with '…talking about sustainability on a planet with finite resources is a waste of time'.  Certainly food for thought…
When I started this course I knew little about FIDIC. I think we now have a greater appreciation for what both FIDIC, and our national associations can offer to professionals, young and old. I am looking forward to my time on the ACENZ Board (co-opted for the year following completion of the training) and hope to build my technical and professional understanding and skills and help other YP’s, in particular, to become more aware of common themes intentionally and the sources of support that are available."

 ACENZ highly recommends any potential leaders take the time to enter this year. Should you have any questions about the process, please email Holly Morchat.


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