CIOB: A journey from YTS to Industry Elite

It’s a long way from becoming a joiner on the Youth Training Scheme (YTS) to being named Construction Manager of the Year by the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), but Neil
Matthias has climbed the career ladder with relentless passion.

Neil who works for Shepherd Construction won the award for his outstanding work on the £44.5 million development of Rockliffe Hall Hotel, Golf Course and Spa in Hurworth on Tees, Darlington.

This incredibly complex project over a 350 acre site involved the sensitive restoration of a Grade II listed Old Hall that had lain derelict for several years, and many new-build elements which had to blend in with the existing structures. The project included a golf course with accompanying facilities designed to meet championship standards.

Chris Blythe CIOB Chief Executive said, “When partnering goes well, it can work magnificently. Neil treated the entire workforce as equals in a tour-de-force example of collaboration. The rewards of his whole-team approach included innovation, quality, and savings. Through constant questioning of details and creative thought, he delivered excellence. By winning our Construction Manager of the Year Award (CMYA) 2010 that high regard has been shared by his peers in the industry, and he now joins a very select few to have won such great acclaim.”

Through his faultless performance the client happily admits that ‘delighted’ is an understatement. Neil championed Lean construction. Six-week look-ahead plans eliminated any constraint. Plans detailing the week’s operations were relayed to the workforce through morning ‘huddles’, offering an opportunity for feedback and involvement in overall decision-making. He brought the subcontractors and specialists on board early to contribute their expertise and find the cost savings that would bring the scheme within budget.

Neil’s ability to bring the whole workforce to bear delivered his leading innovation on this project: a tunnel to link the separate basements at either end of the Old Hall. Once the discovery of a brick vault under part of the derelict hall piled up the risk involved in digging an external tunnel, Neil set out his own proposal: to prop up the superstructure with scaffold while open-excavating a tunnel through the building, using small plant to excavate and conveyors to remove the spoil. The enthusiastic development of the idea by the team turned it into an effective and economical solution.

Commenting on his award, Neil said, “I live and dream construction. I have worked in the industry since school, having started out as an YTS joiner with Shepherd, and working my way up to become a project manager.”

At its finest, construction management is not only about overcoming technical challenges safely but having the ability to engage and reach others outside the industry. Neil’s community-based approach included working with local schools on numerous projects ranging from promoting construction to upgrading areas of a school. Monthly visits from students were encouraged during the construction of the Rockliffe project, and site volunteers even improved the facilities at a local nursing home.

For more than thirty years CMYA has been the leading industry event to celebrate the individual achievement and excellence of managers in construction, rather than the projects, processes or design.

The awards, run by the CIOB, are widely recognised as the Oscars of the industry and the premier accolade for management in the built environment. To be held in such esteem requires a judging process of the highest standard. It takes thirty judges six months of meticulous site visits and interviews (including the nominee, client and contractors) before the overall winner can be decided upon.

This year’s competition included more than 120 finalists and was held at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London on 14th October.

For further information please go to or contact Saul Townsend on t: 01344 630 766



The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) represents for the public benefit the most diverse set of professionals in the construction industry.
Our Mission

To contribute to the creation of a modern, progressive, and responsible construction industry; able to meet the economic, environmental and social challenges faced in the 21st century.
Our 7 Guiding Principles

. Creating extraordinary people through professional learning and continuous personal development.

. Promoting the built environment as central to the quality of life for everyone everywhere.

. Achieving a sustainable future, worldwide.

. Advocating exemplary ethical practice and behaviour, integrity and transparency.

. Pursuing excellence in management practice, and technological innovation rooted in evidence based science.
. Being socially responsible and working responsibly.

. Enabling our members to find an emotional resonance with the Institute; their success is our success.

We have over 45,000 members around the world and are considered to be the international voice of the building professional, representing an unequalled body of knowledge concerning the management of the total building process.

Chartered Member status is recognised internationally as the mark of a true, skilled professional in the construction industry and CIOB members have a common commitment to achieving and maintaining the highest possible standards within the built environment.
CMYA Sponsors

The sponsors for CMYA 2010 are: The Health & Safety Executive (HSE), Hays, CIOB Insurance Services, Sprecher Grier Halberstam, IHS, BT Global Services, Hill International, COINS, and Premier Guarantee.

Kind Regards

Saul Townsend MCIPR
Press & Communications Manager
The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB)
t: + 44 (0) 1344 630 766 f: + 44 (0) 1344 630 770

e: Twitter: CIOBsaul