IES competition winners announced

The IES Coalition is delighted to announce the winners of the Communicating Ethics competition.

The Coalition created the competition to ask students and young professionals to help answer some big questions about the role ethics plays in business. They were keen to hear how ethics should shape the land, real estate, construction and infrastructure sectors in the future.

Entries were received from students and young professionals around the world including America, Russia, Taiwan, Brazil, Spain, India, Ireland, Germany, the UK and Zimbabwe.

Winner: Adam Golden, University of Law, Costain, United KingdomAdam-ethics2

Adam is currently studying with the University of Law but he also works at UK firm, Costain, who provide engineering solutions, operating in the energy, water and transportation sectors. Read Adam’s winning entry below.

Read Adam Golden’s, entry to the IES Communicating Ethics Competition

1. Why are ethics important to the future of land, real estate, construction, infrastructure and related professions?

One must simply look to the banking and automotive industries in recent years to understand the importance of ethics. Trust is eroded, reputation is damaged, share prices plummet and anger within society can build.

Land, real estate, construction, infrastructure and other related professions are critical, their jobs are pervasive and they touch on the vast majority of society. The areas covered by these professions also account for a not insignificant amount of a nation’s GDP. Any dilution of trust and reduction in industry values would therefore have far reaching ramifications within society.

2. In your opinion, can business management meet its responsibilities to shareholders, customers, employees and society as a whole at the same time?

A certain class of shareholder would never be satisfied with ethical business management. Capitalism encourages competition and while largely beneficial there is temptation for businesses to push the boundaries of acceptable behaviour to get ahead. Bending the rules can result in large gains and subsequently huge losses and this volatility is attractive to certain shareholders however it is harmful to all other stakeholders.

The vast majority of shareholders can be satisfied alongside customers, employees and society as they share the same values in addition to sharing an interest in ensuring long and sustainable growth.

3. Do you believe there is an inherent relationship between successful business and ethical conduct? Why?

Absolutely. Any meteoric rise of an unethical business will undoubtedly be met with a meteoric fall and any perceived success is merely a flash in the pan as these businesses are always found out in time.

Conversely, ethical conduct creates sustainable business, business that grows consistently without causing harm and these are the truly successful businesses. Unethical businesses are clearly not competitive in the long term and lose out to those businesses which do the right things and improve not only the lives of employees, customers and stakeholders but society as a whole.

4. In terms of ethics, how should the next generation of business students shape how business is conducted?

Society places a duty on professions above and beyond that of others and the next generation must push for transparency and accountability to ensure this is realised.

As graduates enter the working world there is often a reluctance to challenge and a submissive attitude can develop whereupon the graduate absorbs everything they’re taught verbatim, whether ethical or not, as the correct way of conducting business. Lack of reference is another risk as students can lack sight of how other businesses operate. This cycle should be broken via teaching students to respectfully challenge, including those senior to them.

5. How far does the image and the behaviour of a company with respect to ethics and social responsibility affect your choice of a land, real estate, construction and infrastructure employer? Would you rather choose an ethical company – even if they pay less – and why?

Ethics and social responsibility undoubtedly play a part in my choice of employer. There are already companies I would not apply to due to their historic actions. While admittedly past performance in not always an indication of future, I consider that the businesses lack the culture I desire for my working environment and I would absolutely work for an ethical company with a lower salary over the alternative.

People spend a considerable amount of time within their work environment and I believe people inherently wish to do good things so I wouldn’t waste that time in an unethical business.


  • Thomas Van De Velde, Hogeschool Gent, Belgium
  • Otabek Aynaev, Coastal Carolina University, USA.
  • Gashirai Zvavandanga, University of Zimbabwe, Africa
  • Alexander Cakkos, CBRE, Graduate Surveyor, CBRE, London, United Kingdom

Highly Commended:

  • Leandro Yagome,  Perícias em Edificações, Brazil
  • Sabina Berariu, University College London (UCL), United Kingdom
  • Lillian Ingleby, The University of Sheffield, United Kingdom

Peter Bolton King, chair of the IES Coalition:

“I enjoyed reading each of the entries in the first round of judging, particularly from participants Lillian Ingleby and Svenja Wollweber who is from Germany. We received some thought-provoking answers. It is encouraging to see that young people feel passionately that ethical values have a strong role to play in the future of our sectors. I was particularly impressed with the wide geographical coverage the competition generated. We’ve received entries from all over the world and will be able to showcase the responses in communication material which promotes the value of ethics in land, real estate, construction and infrastructure.”

Excerpts from the four runners-up:

Thomas Van De Velde, Real Estate Management student at Hogeschool Gent, Belgium

Q3. Nowadays the question shouldn’t be how to lead a successful business without violating ethical principles, but instead, how can these moral guidelines help businesses to be more successful than ever? The key lies in the definition of success. Besides profit there are other aspects that should gain importance.

The first is a positive relationship with people since buying, selling or developing real estate is one of the most expensive purchases a person is likely to make. Secondly is environmental consciousness. A green approach is necessary because the impact of real estate on the environment is immediate and permanent.

Otabek Aynaev, Real Estate and Economics student at Coastal Carolina University, USA

Q1. Real estate, with its related fields, is an industry that forms the backbone of society. Development of infrastructure is the fundamental driver of civilization, shaping the habitat essential for human life and its continuation.

Decision making in this profession has consequences that reach far beyond a business transaction, impacting generations of people across the lands we make our home. Adherence to ethical standards is vital to real estate; to ensure integrity, and credibility in the profession in the short term, and to preserve land and its resources, and pass on a habitable environment to people of the future.

Gashirai Zvavandanga , University of Zimbabwe, Africa

Q1. The nature of work of real estate practitioners in the built environment is to create and manage sustainable communities. With the world urbanizing at an alarming rate and the alarming population increase, challenges in real estate practices have also emerged. Here in Zimbabwe, challenges particularly of an ethical nature have been apparent. These include corruption, fraud/swindling and labour issues; whose consequences are increased socio-economic costs.

The development of ethical values that are standardized and adopted across the board is paramount as this will stimulate self-regulation among real estate practitioners globally, a move which will reduce the socio-economic costs.

Alexander Cakkos, CBRE, Graduate Surveyor, CBRE, London, United Kingdom

Q3. Trust is fundamental to the success of any business; operating at the foundation of every relationship. In the absence of trust, the confidence needed internally by colleagues and externally by clients and partners to facilitate success, cannot occur.

Ethical conduct is at the heart of a company’s moral principles, inspiring the confidence businesses require to thrive. Furthermore, successful businesses are often publicly facing; their success in part because of and in part a result of, their public brand. Ethical conduct serves to reinforce a company’s brand, which clients and partners buy into as much as the service itself.

Tony Grant, deputy chair of the IES Coalition:

“The built environment affects us all – the real estate and construction sector is one of the biggest industries worldwide and it’s essential to stimulate fresh thinking about the role ethics plays in the future. This wasn’t an essay competition, participants were asked to submit answers to one or more of the five questions in 100 words or less. The IES Coalition were keen to receive answers that could be used to help create material and online content that will help us promote the importance of ethics in land, real estate construction and infrastructure.”

Who judged the competition?

Four trustees from the IES Coalition judged the ‘Communicating Ethics’ competition. Each of the judges has a wealth of experience in different real estate sectors and they were asked to read and provide scores for the shortlisted entries. Marking criteria included overall understanding of ethics in business, consideration of the future of ethics in real estate, quality of communication, relevance and insight.

The final round judges were:

  • Karin Barthelmes-Wehr, Initiative Corporate Governance of the German Real Estate Industry, Germany
  • Eric Finn, based in Canada. International Right of Way Association – USA
  • Hamilton de Franca Leite Jr., SECOVI, Brazil
  • Robyn Waters, Real Estate Institute of Australia,