Dame Jo leads construction’s honours

Dame Jo da Silva

Dame Jo da Silva, as she now is, joined consulting engineer Arup in 1989 after graduating from the University of Cambridge. She was soon active in Engineers for Disaster Relief (RedR), a charity that sends engineers out on voluntary disaster relief assignments.

In 2007 Jo da Silva founded a not for profit subsidiary of Arup, Arup International Development, to enable Arup’s capabilities to be applied directly to improving human development outcomes.

The 2021 New Year Honours list also shows OBEs (Officers of the Order of the British Empire) for Martin Frobisher, Network Rail’s group safety & engineering director (technical authority), and for architects Tom Emerson and Stephanie Macdonald, who together founded the practice 6a Architects in 2001.

Also getting an OBE is Rick Lee, chief people officer (personnel manager) of construction contractor Willmott Dixon, “for services to business and equality”.

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Rick Lee said: “I am very honoured to receive an OBE, which I feel is also a reflection on how Willmott Dixon and the wider construction industry is making huge progress to becoming a more diverse and inclusive place to work. It’s a real privilege for me to work with a fantastic team at Willmott Dixon and the Women’s Business Council to drive this issue forward and develop ways we can take meaningful actions to ensure more women enjoy a rewarding career in construction. It’s already creating a positive change at Willmott Dixon, highlighted by the fact that 40% of our trainee managers are now women, while the percentage of women in our workforce is up to 27.4%, compared with an industry average of 13.3%.”

Joining the ranks of MBEs (Members of the Order of the British Empire) are Kevin Byrne, managing director of Hartlepool-based Seymour Civil Engineering, and Robert Kilpatrick Rankin, a project manager at Watt’s Improved Safety Headguard in Glasgow ‘for services to civil engineering and to innovation’.

On another level, architect Sir David Chipperfield has been elevated to the prestigious heights of Companion of Honour.

The Order of the Companions of Honour is restricted to no more than 65 members, selected by the monarch personally rather than by the government or the honours commission. David Chipperfield CH joins the likes of Elton John, Melvyn Bragg, Richard Rogers, Judi Dench, Sebastian Coe and JK Rowling as Companions of Honour.

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