James Summers

Want to know what a sponsor experiences when invited to go on stage at a 1000 person awards dinner, next to Steph McGovern and give out awards to finalists?

Then take a walk with me as I show you behind the scenes, courtesy of the CIOB.

My names is James and I’m the CEO of Conker, an official CIOB Partner and one of the sponsors at the CMYA 2017 dinner. I had the pleasure of giving Ger Hayes of Sisk his winners medal. My job was simple; arrive on stage, on time, announce the winners name, hand out the medal, stand for pics (along with Steph McGovern) and try not trip over anywhere along the way.

The CIOB don’t leave anything to chance – help came in the form of the Partnership Team, Event Director and from some fellow sponsors for whom this was not their first time sponsoring. I felt confident, at rehearsal.

Arriving at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Piccadilly is an event in itself. The doors are opened for you by liveried staff and basically it feels as 5 star as it is. Swish.

The Great Room where the awards dinner was held is not over-stated. It’s huge.

Us sponsors arrive early and have a ‘run through’, basically a loose rehearsal, and are given directions about where we go before we go on stage and do our Oscars moment, and tear open the envelope and announce the winner.

There are bits of tape on the floor showing you where to stand for the post-award pics. Before the pics, there’s the small matter of speaking to a room full of 1000 people. Handily, what we say when we announce the winner is written down in full, inside the envelope. It’s also on the autocue (the funky glass panels on sticks).

The autocue is helpful if you’re Steph’s height. I’m not. Here’s a pic of us sitting together – I am already shorter and that’s before we stand up and Steph’s on heels!

Something only the people on stage get to see, is Steph has an iPad, out of view on the podium, (just in case everything else fails)….the CIOB think of everything!

The Event Director basically told all us sponsors to just copy the person before you. That’s great I thought. I’m the first guy and this is my first time. Oh well, fortune favours the brave!

Once we’ve had our run through, we leave and attend VIP drinks with the other sponsors, sponsors guests and VIPs, including CIOB CEO Chris Blythe OBE, and Rebecca Thompson, CIOB President. A glass of fizz and and bar snacks and a chance to socialise. This was a fab opportunity to talk informally and listen to some of the finalists and their stories. I met one of the Judges (whose identity will remain secret) and was fascinated to hear how high the standard is to become a finalist. He also wouldn’t tell me who’d won…not even in the category we sponsored.

The judge’s integrity intact, we made our way back to The Great Room. Our table was close to the stage, which gave an impressive view of the proceedings and the entertainment, provided by Ember this year.

After I’d given out the silver and gold medals, I was escorted upstairs, along with Ger Hayes, the gold medal winner in our category, by a delightful assistant, who just magically appeared from the shadows to make sure I didn’t wander off. There was the all important winners interview to be done after all.

We heard from and celebrated some genuinely inspirational people. Silver medallist, Mike Castle was on our table. He won his medal in the Refurbishment and Fitout category. Mike Site Managed the refurb of Henry Cort Community College in Fareham. Before Mike and his team did their magic, the school was a leaky, depressing piece of quite unlovely 1960’s architecture and was impacting the ability of students to study effectively.

Once Mike had finished, the students had a warm, secure place, conducive to study. Whilst Mike is much too modest to blow his own trumpet, (and I am sure the teachers had their part to play), the exam results improved. Winston Churchill said “We shape our buildings, and afterwards, our buildings shape us.” That’s powerful when you think about educating young people. An inspirational story from an inspirational winner at our dinner table.

The food was delicious (it’s the Grosvenor House, so to be expected) and a thoroughly enjoyable time was had by all. The CIOB made sure we were well looked after and the opportunity to celebrate the exceptional capabilities of our clients can not be passed up.

To top it all, I didn’t fluff my lines or trip up!
Congratulations to all the winners and no doubt see you all again in 2018, when it’s the CMYA 40th anniversary.


CEO Conker

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