As the MPA Inspiration Awards are now live for 2022, it seems like the perfect opportunity to look back on some of the amazing young talent from our Student Award category over recent years.

Manchester Metropolitan University are strong supporters of the MPA. Jeff McCarthy, Senior Lecturer, Digital Marketing and MPA board member, continues to collaborate with us to help nurture and secure future talent for our industry.

Jeff commented, “Since launching the Student Award category in 2016 we have seen winners and finalists gaining employment with MPA members as a direct result of being at the Awards evening. Also more employers actively wanting to recruit our graduates. It’s a fantastic showcase of next gen talent that industry wants to employ.”

At the awards over the past few years, we have been delighted to hand over the gong to some exceptional talent. Here is what four of our previous winners, Rachael Radford – 2021 winner, Alessandra Sofia Valentini and Rebecca Watson – joint winners in 2020, and Richard Lang – 2018 winner, have to say about their journey so far and how the win has inspired them to work in our industry.

Richard Lang – 2018 winner

What did being shortlisted for an MPA award mean to me?

I was proud to be shortlisted for the MPA student of the year award. We all put in a lot of work and late nights into striving for the best results we can achieve. To be recognised for that effort, it’s quite nice. Plus it’s the cherry on top for graduating university with first class honours.

What have I done since?

I’ve continued to build Spoked. I was working away on the business from my 2nd year of studies. Since graduating, we’ve rebuilt the Spoked app, created a new B2B tech proposition, partnered with Welsh and Cycling Ireland Federation and have grown a fantastic community.

It’s been quite a journey, lots of hard times but equally good times too. Now we’re in a fantastic space to scale Spoked further.

The experience of attending the awards

It gives you an opportunity to experience first hand what is being valued within the industry. You can take a step back and think ‘how I can apply myself and become a valuable member of these award winning agencies’. Of course, being in the same room in a relaxed atmosphere allows you to network with industry leaders. It’s something you want to take advantage of.

Alessandra Sofia Valentini – Joint winner 2020

Winning such an award was extremely exciting because it felt like I was actually reaching a milestone in my professional journey.

Before moving to Manchester I used to work within the Logistics and Customer Service Department for an Italian ecommerce company. My decision to start my adventure as an MSc student at MMU was driven by the willingness to change my career path and become an expert in Digital Marketing Communications. Even though this decision was hard to take, I had many satisfactions in return. Among these, the MPA Awards was one of the greatest, as it is a testament to my talent and the recognition of my hard work.

Winning the award has not only boosted my personal and professional confidence; it has also given me the opportunity to stand out and kickstart my career in this field on the right foot. During the celebration I also had the chance to meet professionals from the most diverse branches of the digital world.

The nominees and winners from all categories have been very inspiring to me, and the opportunity to know them has made me love the digital industry even more.

Currently I’m working in Italy, but I am more than grateful to Manchester and the MPA for this very important recognition.

Rebecca Watson – Joint winner 2020

Initially I hadn’t considered applying for the MPA awards but after some encouragement from a couple of university tutors I thought ‘what have I got to lose?!’ I remember writing in my application about how I’d freelanced as a marketing assistant for several SMEs within Manchester as a way to put theory into practice. I believe this really enhanced my application as it showed just how determined I was to succeed in this industry even from such an early point in my career.

Being shortlisted for the award was an honour, but winning it was such a spectacular feeling – I’ll never forget the feeling when my name was read out! Being selected as the winner of the Student award really cemented my interest in the industry and gave me the confidence boost I needed to start my career. It has also given me an excuse to network and reach out to people who I’m inspired by in the digital, creative and media industries in Manchester (and across the world)!

Since winning the MPA award, I’ve been offered many opportunities including guest speaking slots and even a couple of job offers too! I’m currently working at the IF Agency in Altrincham as Account Executive for a number of leisure and hospitality clients. Thanks to the MPA awards, I’m now part of an inspirational group of people across Manchester. I seriously recommend you apply, you never know … you could be the next winner!

Rachael Radford – 2021 winner

After a whirlwind year studying for my Creative Advertising Strategies MSc during the height of Covid-19, in October 2021 I won the MPA student award. This award recognized the achievements I had made during my time as a Masters student, from high grades, making a positive difference for companies I worked for, to a job offer 6 months into my Masters course. I applied on a whim after being recommended to do so by my tutors, never expecting to be shortlisted, let alone winning.

The awards night took place at The Midland Hotel with a delicious 3 course gala dinner. It was incredible to sit alongside such well-known agencies in Manchester and mingle with the creators of some fantastic campaigns. After winning the award, I was featured across my current workplace’s social media and the President personally emailed to congratulate me, giving me even more industry recognition. Personally, this award meant so much, it validated my hard work over the past year and my belief that this industry is right for me, and that I have the ability to flourish in it.

If you are thinking about applying for this award, I would recommend you to go for it. Winning, or even being shortlisted, will enable your career pathway to be forged, enhance your CV, and you will get the opportunity to network with industry influencers.

For more information on the MPA Inspiration Awards please visit If you are interested in sponsorship of the Awards, please contact