The Lloyds Bank National Business Awards with Awards Director Sarah Austin

The Lloyds Bank National Business Awards with Awards Director Sarah Austin

The Lloyds Bank National Business Awards with Awards Director Sarah Austin

Winning Awards Podcast

By Donna O’Toole

In this episode of the Winning Awards Podcast, Donna O’Toole chats with The Lloyds Bank National Business Awards, Awards Director Sarah Austin.

The Lloyds Bank National Business Awards is one of the UK’s most prestigious awards programmes, recognising and rewarding excellence across all sectors. These awards are considered “the ones to win” – all UK companies are invited to enter, regardless of size or industry. The awards have a range of categories suited for any successful organisation to tell their story.

Sarah shares;

  • her journey into events and awards, from doing work experience at the NBAs and getting her degree in Events Management
  • the challenges for the events industry and their suppliers in 2020
  • the opportunities available to NBA finalists and winners 
  • her plans for the 2020 awards programme and beyond

And more!

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EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS

[01:47] Sarah got her first taste of the thrill of the National Business Awards and live events from doing work experience at the NBAs and going on to get her degree. Since then the awards have changed and evolved over the years.

 

“…for 24 hours I went into this madness, table planning, helping people with all these queries and really just running around the Grosvenor House in high heels. And it was brilliant. And I loved it. And that’s when I got the taste.”

[06:27] The National Business Awards have always aimed to celebrate the very best in British business and support British SMEs, which they do through their media partners and events, including their summer party at The House of Commons.

 

“The aims of the awards have always been to celebrate the very best of great British business. And so you can always under that umbrella, you know, there’s so much that you can work with, my particular themes that I like to bring out in it as you know, to celebrate innovation, ethics, teamwork, you know, very basic fundamentals and values that are important to a successful business.”

[10:57] The global pandemic has caused challenges for us all, and Sarah is no exception. Both personally and professionally, Sarah discusses some of the heartbreaking challenges for the events industry and their suppliers. Plus how vital the #WeAreEvents movement has been to raise awareness.

 

“I think the awards industry in particular, like with events, people by our very nature, were quite adaptable. So I knew that ideas would come out and we’d be okay but the with the #weareevents movement that’s happening recently and it’s like the camaraderie between everybody is amazing. And we can see, you know, all the venues lighting up and ready to send their message that we are events. We’re ready. We are adaptable. We can do it. And I think that’s so powerful.”

[18:24] Sarah and Donna reminisce about past NBA awards ceremonies and some of the amazing keynote speakers, Sarah also drops some hints on what to expect from the virtual 2020 awards ceremony.

 

“I think one of the things that 2020 is going to allow me to do is have more people involved than we normally would have. So I can’t give any names away. If you go by alumni, you will see we have you know, Buzz Aldrin, Tim Peake, Mo Farah. And you know, and that’s just the ones that come to my head. There’s been some incredible people. that we’ve had over the years. And I think each year we’ve set the bar higher and higher.”

[22:35] Awards naturally promote positivity, but a theme in this year’s entries was the confidence and honesty to say ‘this went wrong, but here’s how we adapted and coped with it’ and to see so many businesses going above and beyond to support their employees, customers and communities.[27:53] The National Business Awards give businesses the opportunity to say ‘we are the best in the country’ and Sarah’s message to those businesses who are wondering if they’re ready for national recognition is to seize the moment and put yourself forward.

 

“All of these businesses have something that is unique. And something that will be what perhaps to you is something quite normal. That actually if you put yourself in front of a panel of judges, that work that you do is sensational. You need to be recognised for that.”

 

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Winning Awards with Neil Skehel, CEO of Awards International

Winning Awards with Neil Skehel, CEO of Awards International

Winning Awards with Neil Skehel, CEO of Awards International

Winning Awards Podcast

By Donna O’Toole

In this episode of the Winning Awards Podcast, Donna O’Toole catches up with Awards International CEO Neil Skehel.

Awards International launched in 2008 and they successfully organise 11 Awards Programmes in the UK, UAE, Netherlands and Germany, giving much-deserved recognition to outstanding business initiatives. They believe winning awards creates real possibilities for personal and professional growth.

Neil shares;

  • His journey into awards, from award-winning McDonald’s Restaurant Manager to organising some of the most popular awards in the UK and Internationally,
  • The challenges of moving to digital award ceremonies in 2020,
  • His message to aspiring businesses.

And more!

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EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS

[01:48] From Restaurant Supervisor to CEO of UK and International Awards Programmes, Neil shares his journey into the world of awards, how awards have played a huge part in his career and how he came to be CEO of Awards International.

“We’re all in the business, in the awards business. Do you know that? And I was thinking, you know, when I got my first award, I think it was for swimming five metres when I was about five years old, generally and awards play such an important part in people’s lives.”

[06:58] Awards International awards portfolio has been successfully growing, reaching into new markets including The Netherlands and Germany. In 2020 the pandemic has put a halt to all live events, but Neil and his team have pivoted to overcome the challenge.

“I thought we were done for I thought, “What on earth is going to happen?” And I spoke to a few people who I do use as mentors to sort of cheer me up from time to time. They were like, No, no, no, no, you’ve got to do this. You’ve got to make this work”

[11:26] Neil and his team have successfully converted their 2020 awards programmes to be fully digital using their own software that ensures their scoring is as robust and secure as their in-person judging, and the event is still entertaining and enjoyable for entrants and guests.[14:40] Transparency is key when it comes to judging, and Neil has no problems being open and honest about the judging process Using their own unique software and large panels of independent judges, everyone has the same chance of winning no matter whether you are an SME or a global corporation.

“So for me, transparency has always been a really important part of what we do.”

[20:14] As our world continues to change and adapt, there is a place for digital events but Neil assures us live physical events will come back once it’s safe to do. But for now all eyes are on the UK Customer Experience Awards and how the event will be as incredible as it always is year-on-year.[29:41] With the pandemic affecting all businesses in unique ways, Awards International have included specific COVID-19 categories to reward those who have gone above and beyond to help their business, customers or employees.

“But you know, the world has changed. There is no going back. You know we know the conversation will all be about what we are doing. So you have to change, you have to change the categories.”

[33:33] Neil’s final thoughts and overriding message for all businesses is to just ‘do it,’ enter the awards, now is the perfect time to enter and will help with the recovery.

“The challenges that the coronavirus has brought us entering your team for an award can be just so powerful in terms of their own performance, in terms of reward, in terms of fun in terms of development, and all of those things are really important now as ever before.”

 

Click here to listen and subscribe!

 

Share
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Contact us now to find out which awards you could be winning.

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Latest Tweet

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