The Excellence in Achievement Award for Recent Manufacturing and Materials Graduates: Celebrating early career alumni in the manufacturing industry.

The Excellence in Achievement Award for Recent Manufacturing and Materials Graduates recognises those who have made significant progress in their careers within ten years of graduating from Cranfield. This award recognises those who have the potential to reach the highest levels of success in the future.

Alumni who have won this award will:

  • Have demonstrated technological/engineering leadership.
  • Have national visibility.
  • Had an early career impact on the sector or industry.
  • Demonstrated achievement beyond individual position and company.
  • Have international experience and impact.
  • Role model behaviours/highest standards of business practice.
  • Have a relationship with Cranfield since graduation or potential benefit of a future relationship.

Meet the 2022 Excellence in Achievement Award for Recent Manufacturing and Materials Graduates Winner

Sarah Black-Smith (MSc Operations Excellence 2016)

General Manager Motion Control, Siemens Digital Industries

Sarah Black-SmithSarah Black-Smith is the General Manager Motion Control at Siemens Digital Industries. Before this, Sarah led the Factory Operations at the Siemens Digital Industries factory in Congleton since December 2018, having previously been Head of Manufacturing. Sarah has worked for Siemens for 20 years and held several Operational positions within the Siemens Energy business in Lincoln prior to working in Congleton. Siemens is a technology company focused on industry, infrastructure, transport, and healthcare solutions.

Sarah completed her undergraduate BEng (Hons) Manufacturing Engineering and Management at Loughborough University in 2004, followed by an MSc in Operations Excellence at Cranfield University in 2016, and started a Global MBA at Alliance Manchester Business School in 2021.

She is currently a member of the Industrial Advisory Board of the Sustainable Manufacturing Systems Centre at Cranfield University and Chair of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers for the North Wales area.

Sarah is passionate about helping UK Manufacturers become more productive and believes that diversity is the key to unlocking our potential in Engineering and Manufacturing to drive new ideas and ways of application. Sarah was also listed in The Manufacturer Top 100.

Sarah said: "I am incredibly honoured and proud to win this award, it is lovely to be recognised by Cranfield University. I gained so much from my time at Cranfield and continue to learn from my connections there.  I am incredibly passionate about manufacturing and, in particular, our manufacturing industry in the United Kingdom.  We have amazing people in this industry and ensuring we have strong academic ties is key to ensuring we remain at the cutting edge and remain productive, competitive and sustainable for generations to come."

Meet the 2021 Excellence in Achievement Award for Recent Manufacturing and Materials Graduates Winner

Yewande Mayomi-Akinola MBE FIET (MSc Innovation and Design for Sustainability 2012)

Engineering Designer and Innovator

Yewande Akinola Yewande is a chartered engineer, innovator and speaker. Her engineering experience includes the design and construction, innovation and manufacture of buildings and systems in the built environment. She has worked on projects in the UK, Africa, the Middle East and East Asia, and has been named the UK Young Woman Engineer of the Year by the Institution of Engineering & Technology.

Yewande has also been awarded the Exceptional Achiever Award from the Association for BAME Engineers and the Association of Consultancy and Engineering, UK (ACE).

Yewande is passionate about STEM communication and has presented engineering programmes for television. In the 2020 New Year Honours list, she was awarded an MBE for services to engineering innovation and diversity in STEM.

She is a Visiting Professor at the University of Westminster, and was has recently been appointed the UK's Innovation agency (Innovate UK) Ambassador for Clean Growth and Infrastructure. Yewande is also a Trustee of the Institution of Engineering and Technology.


Meet the 2020 Excellence in Achievement Award for Recent Manufacturing and Materials Graduates Winner

Abdullah Alhuthlul (MSc Knowledge Management for Innovation 2011)

General Manager Branches Affairs - Ministry of Commerce and Investment, Saudi Arabia

Since graduating from Cranfield, Abdullah Alhuthul has demonstrated remarkable career development – being appointed into prestigious positions within the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Commerce and Energy, and the Ministry of Energy, Industry and Material Resource.

Abdullah began his career as a trainee with Aramco – Saudi Arabia’s national oil company. After completing his MSc in Knowledge Management for Innovation, and carrying out group research projects working with Airbus and Visteon, Abdullah decided to return to his home country to build up his career using the skills he had developed during his time at Cranfield. After just four years of working as a Senior Industrial Information Analyst at Saudi Industrial Development Fund, he was appointed into the prestigious position of Director of Business Development at the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Following this, he moved to the Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources as General Manager of the National Industrial Information Centre, before returning to the Ministry of Commerce and Investment in 2018. He is now the General Manager of Branches Affairs and is responsible for all regional investments of Saudi Arabia from the Federal Ministry.

Meet the 2019 Excellence in Achievement Award for Recent Manufacturing and Materials Graduates Winner

Svyatoslav Prokhorov (MSc Knowledge Management for Innovation 2011)

Head of Ecosystem Russia & CIS, Bombardier Transportation GmbH

Svyatoslav is an experienced and highly qualified expert in the transport sector with a proven track-record in developing and setting up new businesses in close cooperation with local partners.

He is Head of Ecosystem of Bombardier Transportation in Russia and CIS, where he leads a local team and a company-owned engineering centre aimed at creating value for major domestic and international projects. Bombardier Transportation is the world’s only manufacturer of planes and trains - from business jets and commercial aircraft, to sleek high speed trains and ‘smart’ public transport.

He is particularly interested in digitalisation, people management, and cognitive flexibility where he is trying to find and implement best practices.

Previous recipients of the Excellence Manufacturing and Materials Alumni Award

  • Alexandra Brintrup (MSc Computational and Software Techniques in Engineering 2003, PhD School of Applied Sciences 2006)
  • Carlotta Rigatti (MSc Global Product Development and Management 2012)