Common Purpose UK is sponsoring this year's Birmingham Young Professional of the Year (BYPY) awards, with the overall winner gaining a place on our Birmingham Navigator programme for emerging leaders. We caught up with last year's winner and Navigator graduate, Katie Kershaw on her experience. The 2016 awards take place on 12 May at the ICC Birmingham.

How did it feel to be nominated and win the award last year?

I was surprised and delighted just to be shortlisted for BYPY, so to win on the night was incredible. The past nine months have been a whirlwind of opportunities, events and meeting exciting new people. It is an absolute privilege to be BYPY.

What did you hope to gain from the Common Purpose Navigator programme, and do you feel the programme delivered what you wanted?

I had high expectations of the Navigator course from the glowing reports I had received from past attendees. I recall looking forward to meeting an interesting and diverse group of people, learning from some of the region’s highest profile leaders and being challenged to think about familiar issues in unfamiliar territory.

Is there anything that you do differently as a result of taking part in the programme? 

The course has improved my overall confidence and approach to challenging situations, through the incredibly reassuring knowledge gained from the group situations, that everyone experiences broadly the same range of emotions. The course also strongly reinforced my own mantra of the importance of being yourself - or authenticity, and the benefits that this can bring from both a personal and professional perspective.

Were there any stand-out moments from the programme for you?

I enjoyed every moment of the course and envy anyone that has it ahead of them, but if I had to pick one moment, I must say that I found the visit to HMP Leicester an incredibly thought-provoking and challenging experience, which made me consider leadership, as well as wider issues of rehabilitation and the justice system, in a new light.

Find out more about the Navigator programme or BYPY 2016.