AMEC wins BBF Excellence Award Natalia earns Merit, Lewinton takes Lifetime Achievement awards

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 20: The British Business Forum (BBF), the voice of the British business community in Kuwait, held its 18th Annual BBF Excellence Awards evening at the Holiday Inn Salmiya, Feb 17. This event is the highlight of the BBF business year, recognizing and rewarding business people in the private and public sector for their contribution to British business in 2012. The awards were presented by the Right Honorable Alderman Roger Gifford, Lord Mayor of the City of London who took the opportunity to announce a new Mansion House scholarship to be made available to Kuwaiti citizens to enable them gain experience in the finance sector in the world’s financial capital, the City of London.

The award presentations were made in the presence of Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Kuwait His Excellency Frank Baker and Chairman of BBF, Paul McKay. In his opening speech, McKay made reference to the long history of British international business successes, reflecting on their impact on everyday life and language. McKay thanked the organizers and awards committee for their hard work and commitment in preparing for the event, before voicing the BBF’s gratitude to the event’s sponsors; Wataniya Telecom, Gulf Bank, MENA Holdings and BECS, for their contribution and support, without which the gala event could not have taken place. This year the top award, the Excellence Award, went to AMEC for its outstanding contribution to British business during 2012. AMEC won several major contracts on behalf of UK industry, notably the environmental remediation services contract and the project management contract for the Fourth Refinery, as well as gaining extensions to existing contracts with KOC and KNPC.

As a result of these successes, AMEC’s Kuwait-based personnel will increase from 350 to over 1,000 within 18 months, supporting an annual revenue stream of GBP75 million at peak. The Excellence Award was presented to Alan Armstrong, AMEC’s Kuwait Operations Director on behalf of the company in light of his inspirational leadership, steerage of the corporate vessel and continued commitment to high quality service delivery, without compromising the values of safety, people and the wider business community within the host market. AMEC is a world-leading FTSE-100 engineering, project management and consultancy services company with 29,000 employees worldwide. The Award of Merit was presented to Natalia Vakulenko of Jumbo Tour and Travel Company WLL for her services in supporting trade workshops by the British Embassy, as recognized by governmental body Visit Britain.

Natalia Vakulenko represented Jumbo Travel actively last year and supported several trade workshops, including Destination Britain and Ireland (DEBI) at the British Embassy in Kuwait. Visit Britain recognized the support extended by Jumbo Tour and Travel, and singled out Natalia for her particular contribution. Natalia is a business development manager with a background in both the hotel and travel trade. The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to John Lewinton for his decades of support and service to British business in Kuwait across a number of sectors.Lewinton came to Kuwait in 1983 with the ambition of doing a two-year contract “to get Gulf experience on my CV.” After almost 30 years, he is still enjoying his life here.

Over the years, Lewinton has taken key roles in both Kuwaiti and British companies in Kuwait. Notably, he has developed the systems and processes at several Kuwaiti firms, enabling them to gain ISO 9000 accreditation, including the first Kuwaiti firm to gain such accreditation. Like many among the international community at the time, Lewinton spent over four months in hiding from the Iraqi invaders, before assisting the Kuwaitis’ ‘Free Kuwait Campaign’ after being evacuated to London. One of Lewinton’s homemade videos of Iraqi looting became a key part of that campaign.

A Certificate of Excellence was awarded to Greham Raynham of Bond Bryan Architects, for having the commercial courage and conviction as a UK SME to establish its operations here in Kuwait as the hub for the Gulf region. Bond Bryan Architects are a UK-based architectural practice which has established a studio in Kuwait to develop business opportunities in the MENA region. Bond Bryan Architects have since inception over 20 years ago grown to become a UK top 50 architectural practice with over 80 professional, technical and support staff operating from offices in Sheffield, Westerham and Kuwait. Greham is responsible for MENA operations and is based in Kuwait.

A Certificate of Excellence was awarded to Mary Eckersall of Kuwait English School (KES), for her contribution to British style education whilst serving in Kuwait, ensuring students receive every opportunity to successfully complete their studies in UK universities. Eckersall took up her role at KES in 2002, and her passion to facilitate students of KES to take up places at British universities is unflagging. She has formed excellent links with universities and currently, KES students are represented at over twenty leading UK universities including Oxford, King’s College, University College London and Imperial College London.

A Certificate of Excellence was awarded to Emily Naylor of Ernst and Young, for taking the initiative as a young businesswoman to come to Kuwait early in her working life and establish herself successfully here.
Naylor first came to Kuwait in December 2009 to work for Ernst & Young, shortly after completing her Masters degree in Human Resource Management at Durham University. At Ernst & Young, she is part of the People & Organization team which provides Human Resources consulting services to clients within the public and private sectors across the MENA region. Having completed three years with the firm, she has recently been offered an in-house scholarship to join the UK office for a period of three months. A Certificate of Excellence was awarded to Alghanim Travel for support to UK business over the last 60 years, particularly British Airways, as exemplified by an Excellence in Partnership Award from British Airways in 2012. Alghanim Travel has shown dedication and commitment to both British Airways and its customers, including recognized corporate clients such as AMEC, the British Council and the British community in Kuwait.

Alghanim Travel is the oldest and leading General Sales Agent and Retail Travel Agency in Kuwait and has been the General Sales Agent for British Airways since 1948. The Certificate was presented to General Manager Zaid Al-Kubaizi on behalf of the firm. In addition to the formal awards, a Special Mention was made to Gula Al Sharafi at UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) for excelling at her role as a commercial officer where Gula has, over a period of more than 13 years, represented the interests of UK business. In the healthcare sector, Gula has developed excellent contacts within Kuwait and earned the confidence and respect of UK companies working in the field.

The gala evening was a great success and this high profile promotion of the Award winners, together with an opportunity to promote British business success confirms the BBF Excellence Awards as the premier business awards ceremony of the year in Kuwait. The Excellence Awards were launched in 1997 to celebrate individual successes of men and women in business not just from Britain but the wider Kuwaiti community for their achievements in British business excellence. It is open to organizations of any size and entries are received from those who feel they have made a discernible difference to enhance Britain’s business interests.

By Paul Francis X. Fernandes - Arab Times Staff

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