Alumni Achievement Awards Winners 2022

We are thrilled to announce our Alumni Achievement Award winners for 2022! Nominated by fellow alumni, staff and students, these 9 exceptional Salford alum have had incredible success professionally, huge positive social impact, and in some cases overcome tremendous adversity to achieve these things. Read more about this year's winners below: 

Alan Price

Alan Price portrait - Alumni Achievement Award winner 2022

PG Diploma Human Resource Management, 2008 

Alan Price is Chief Operations Officer at Peninsula, where he supervises more than 100,000 monthly interactions with clients. He’s also the CEO of BrightHR, the most popular HR software service for small and medium enterprises in the UK. 

Alan’s 18 years in employee relations have made him a well-recognised figure in the industry with achievements including: a Chartered Fellowship of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and a Fellowship of the Royal Society of Arts—having demonstrated a significant contribution to business and society, as well as being one of the youngest judicial appointments to the Employment Tribunal Service and being named ‘HR Hero of The Year’. 

Alan volunteers his time to support future leaders in his role as an Honorary Industry Fellow at the University of Salford and gives time to charity as an ambassador for the North West Air Ambulance.

Charmaine O’Connor

Charmaine O'Connor portrait

BSc Quantity Surveying, 2001 

Family-owned and run PP O’Connor is a well-known force in the region’s construction sector. It is a demolition, earthworks, remediation and civil engineering specialist, employing 250 skilled workers from its headquarters in Irlam, Salford and offices in Liverpool and Leeds. At its helm as chief executive is Charmaine O’Connor, who was named on Insider’s Ones to Watch list last year. She is also North West regional chairman for the National Federation of Demolition Contractors.

In September 2018, PP O’Connor announced the acquisition of Galvac, a provider of vacuum excavation equipment for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition provides PP O’Connor with a fleet of vacuum excavation trucks that can service a national footprint supporting major infrastructure contracts, utilities and the broader industry with the latest innovation in safe dig techniques.

Chris Hurley

Photograph of Alumni Achivement Award Winner Chris Hurley

BSc Business Economics, 1995 

Chris Hurley is the founding director of Dealspan, Birmingham and Manchester, and a chartered accountant. His area of expertise is private equity after becoming a successful investor in the UK mid-market with Murray Johnstone and LDC, the UK’s largest volume MBO house.  

Chris led LDC between 2014 and 2020 – the most successful and active period in its 40-year history. There, he was co-chairman of the investment committee, investing over £3.2 billion in MBO’s and other deals, generating upper quartile returns. 

Chris is a board member of the ICAEW Corporate Finance Faculty, which shapes the technical development of the sector. 

Ed Thompson

Photograph of Ed Thompson

BSc Computer Science, 2005 

Ed Thompson is the Chief Technology Officer and co-founder of Matillion. Before he launched his own company he worked as an IBM software consultant and spent 11 years consulting for some of the premier blue-chip companies across the UK. 

Along with CEO Matthew Scullion, Ed launched Matillion in 2011 and set about building a crack team of data integration experts and software engineers. He and his team launched Matillion’s flagship ETL product in 2014, which has driven the company’s growth ever since. Ed’s strength is his ability to bring together best-in-class technologies from across the software ecosystem and apply them to solving the deep and complex requirements of modern businesses in new and disruptive ways.  

As well as dreaming up problem solving tech solutions, Ed is also a father of three and has recently begun training assistance-dog puppies for blind people.  

James Paul Watson

A photograph of James Paul Watson in action in Army Uniform

BA Contemporary Military and International History, 2018 

James Paul Watson joined the British Army straight from school but was medically discharged after a distinguished 20-year career. He deployed on six operational tours of duty to Northern Ireland and Afghanistan and was one of the first soldiers into Kosovo in 1999, and later Iraq in the 2003 War. 

Afterwards and as a civilian, and whilst studying at the University of Salford, Paul was diagnosed with PTSD and is currently elected as a Local Councillor for Wigan Council, where he uses his influence to help and support other veterans.  

He has recently published his first book, a no holds barred account of his time in the British Army and his experience of their mental health policies. Paul’s story continues to educate and inspire, bringing much needed visibility to the issue of male mental health.  

Justin Kelly

Phogograph of Alumni Achievement Award Winner Justin Kelly

BEng Computers, Management and Electronics, 1994 

Justin was appointed Director of Communications and Business Development for Siemens plc and to the Siemens UK Executive Management Board on 1 October 2017.  

A Chartered Engineer, Justin joined Siemens in 1994. He worked in engineering, product and project management roles before taking on senior marketing, strategy and business development positions within the organisation.  

Justin has a passion for education, leading Siemens’ university engagement in the UK. He is passionate about furthering the UK’s engineering, digital and technology skills pipeline and champions greater diversity.  

As well as being a dad of two children, Justin is a member of Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the Northern Powerhouse Partnership Board. 

Martin Hewitt

Photograph of Martin Hewitt in ski gear, face covered in snow.

BSc Business Studies with Marketing Management, 2003 

Martin served as a commissioned officer in HM Parachute Regiment with operational experience in the Middle East. He was injured whilst leading his men in combat, receiving gunshot wounds to the chest and foot.  

Martin then turned to elite sport and represented GB in the Paralympic World Championships    competing in Downhill Ski racing.  

On leaving the military, Martin founded the Adaptive Grand Slam project, leading disabled teams climbing the highest peak on the each of the 7 continents and walking unsupported to the North and South poles. The Adaptive grand slam project also organises guided physical challenge events in the UK and Europe.  

He’s appeared in a number of televised expeditions including BBC1’s Harry’s Arctic Heroes alongside Prince Harry, and Adaptive Everest, which documents his team’s Everest summit attempt, available to watch on Amazon Prime Video. 

Suzann Harrison

Suzann Harrison portrait

BSc Nursing: Adult, 2012 

Suzann Harrison is an Advanced Clinical Practitioner within the NHS, having served as an Intensive Care nurse in Salford, a staff nurse in Wythenshawe, a district nurse serving the community of South Manchester and a Senior Practitioner for North West Ambulance Service. 

However, it is in the Crisis Response area of community nursing where Suzann has led the biggest transformation. Following the completion of her master’s programme at Salford, Suzann led on initiatives to improve links with North West Ambulance Service and refine the Manchester Triage System for Crisis Response across Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust and Manchester Local Care Organisation.  

As a result of this work, Suzann was awarded the title of Queens Nurse in 2021, a title only awarded to a tiny number of nurses in Greater Manchester.  

Suzann is also engaged in charity work. Following the loss of their son Declan during pregnancy in 2013, Suzann co-founded the support group Stockport Sands and serves on the committee. Through the group, Suzann has raised thousands of pounds for Stepping Hill Hospital Sandalwood bereavement suite. She also provides voluntary support for local support groups for bereaved parents.  

Weng Keong Kong

Photograph of Weng Keong Kong

BEng Civil Engineering, 2000 

Weng Keong Kong founded Telford Engineering at the age of 27 with just £3,000 in 2006. Today, Telford has grown into a group of companies with specialised architectural, construction and engineering businesses largely spread across medical facilities, education institutions, high value industries, chemical plants as well as corporate office design and fit-out projects in Malaysia. 

A strong believer of education, Weng Keong studied Civil Engineering at Salford and then went on to continue his education in Malaysia, before turning his hand to academic development. Weng is a regular guest speaker at Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman, Taylor’s University and Infrastructure University Kuala Lumpur, as well as spearheading innovative construction programmes, which aim to educate future construction professionals in the region.  

Weng Keong is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Building and a Fellow of Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors respectively. At present, he serves as the President of Johor Master Builders Association and the Council Member at CIOB Malaysia Hub. In 2016, he received the honorary title from the London City Council as the “Freeman of London” in recognition of his professional and entrepreneurial achievements in the construction industry. 

Rising Star Awards 2022

Our Rising Star Awards recognise the achievements of alumni who have already accomplished great things, and are on the way to achieve even more within the first ten years of graduating.

Nick Ransom

Photograph of Nick Ransom holding a video camera on his shoulder

BA Television and Radio, 2018 

Nick, who studied a BA (Hons) in Television and Radio, is now an assistant producer in documentaries. He is currently working on Inside the Autistic Mind, a two-part BBC documentary series on autism presented by Chris Packham.  

He said: “Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to make TV. It’s a real honour and responsibility to be making a programme that’s so close to my heart.” 

Nick graduated in 2018, after which he started working for BBC Children in Need. He then progressed in a number of digital roles before moving into documentaries.  

Outside the BBC, Nick runs the Neurodiverse Media Community which aims to connect, support and engage those with neurological conditions in the industry. He hopes his work will help improve the representation of those who are autistic, have ADHD, dyslexia and dyspraxia in the media. 

Charlotte France

Photograph of Charlotte France outdoors

BSc Building Surveying, 2013 

PG Certificate Construction Law and Practice, 2020 

Charlotte France studied Building Surveying at Salford and began her career at Faithful + Gould, a project and programme and management consultancy, and was placed on a secondment opportunity back at the University where she studied. The secondment at the University of Salford was extended with the Estates team recognising Charlotte’s outstanding work by offering her a permanent role. 

Charlotte’s most recent project at the University of Salford included being the project manager of the newly opened £65 million School of Science, Engineering and Environment (SEE) Building, a milestone moment in her career so far. The five-year project saw Charlotte successfully navigating the challenges posed by the pandemic and delivering a new building that was not only on-budget but completed on schedule.  

Azeem Amir

A photograph of Azeem Amir in a sports field.

BSc Business Management with Sport, 2020 

MSc Digital Business, 2021 

Azeem Amir has been visually impaired since birth, yet he has never let it be a barrier to success. Azeem plays Blind Football professionally for the England and Great Britain blind football team and is working towards achieving international success. Playing across the globe he and the team are aiming to qualify for the next Paralympics. His football skills on the pitch have paved the way for him to be a part of several national and international media campaigns, working with brands from an array of industries from across the globe.  

Azeem has risen to fame as a highly respected advocate for disability rights. He is now an ambassador for several disability awareness charities and organizations and through public speaking, coaching and workshops aims to inspire as many young people as possible to achieve their own version of success.  

With support from University of Salford business incubator Launch@Salforduni, Azeem has launched his own organisation called Learn With ESS, a disability awareness and team cohesion business that runs courses designed to allow organisations to learn about and tackle the stigmas and attitudes towards disabilities.