Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Alumnus credits SELA for Graduate Awards Shortlisting

James Featherstone, graduate of SELA Cohort 2014, has been shortlisted for multiple graduate awards following his outstanding achievements and progression since embarking on the Network Rail Graduate Scheme in 2017.

RailStaff Awards, and Construction News Talent Awards, have both recognised James’s ‘exceptional focus and dedication throughout the delivery of the [Fast Trackers] project’. Fast Trackers has seen James working alongside CEOs, directors, clients, teachers, students, and volunteers on a demanding project that inspires young students of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects to continue their passion into through a career in STEM. James’s Fast Trackers team is also up for the RailStaff Awards Charitable Team of the Year, a Construction News Talent Award, and Graduate Initiative of the Year.

James’s nomination for the RailStaff Graduate of the Year Award was supported by SELA, after James mentored new recruits at SELA Bootcamp 2018. 

Gary Wood, Head of SELA, commented: ‘James’s willingness to honestly discuss the benefits and challenges of his own first-hand experience, combined with his network of contacts, and his ability to relate to students about to make the transition he has successfully made over the last year, make him an outstanding ambassador for his industry and his company.’

James has credited SELA with providing skills which have contributed towards his nomination for these awards, highlighting, in particular, flexibility, agility, inspiration, responsibility and communication. Whilst on the Fast Trackers Programme, James had to meet tight deadlines and as such had to be agile to get the job done. Often his team would face obstacles and flexibility was required to overcome them. SELA helped James develop his communication skills, which has been crucial to the completion of tasks whilst under pressure on the Fast Trackers Programme. James says that SELA gave him a sense of inspiration, which he has projected onto the upcoming generation of engineers, and which he still uses to influence senior figures within the industry to lend their support. As James remarked, ‘I can think back to particular sessions and lessons from my two years with SELA which I have implemented since and have contributed to my success to this point’.

Asked what advice he has for students who have joined the SELA programme, James said, ‘Take every opportunity which SELA presents: it’s rare you’ll be surrounded by such inspirational peers’. He remarked that it was not until after he finished the SELA programme that he realised how valuable and extraordinary his experience was. The fundamental piece of advice offered from James was to learn from your peers; everyone on the SELA programme has great potential and the inspiration that helps you gain a treasure of skills and the programme that aids you throughout your life’s career. Finally, James recommends that students on the SELA programme should take full advantage of the network it provides, which includes critical advice from mentors and speakers.

The prestigious award ceremonies are due to take place soon, with the RailStaff Awards on 29 November. SELA wishes James the best of luck for the awards, and continued success in his career.

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