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!

Winning Awards, Winning Awards Podcast, Donna O'Toole, Awards Expert, Awards Judge, Neil Skehel, Awards International, UK Customer Experience Awards, Employee Experience Awards, International Business Excellence Awards

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.”

 

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UK Employee Experience Awards

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UK Employee Experience Awards

Business Awards

By Donna O’Toole

UK EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE AWARDS

We were thrilled to partner with Awards International at the fantastic Employee Experience Awards finals for yet another year.

Every year the event promises to showcase the businesses who provide the very best for employee experience and are driving their success through their people. From huge global brands, to brilliant SMEs every finalist is doing great things in employee experience and leading their prospective industries.

FINALIST PRESENTATIONS

The format of the awards is unique, finalists present to the judges during the morning, with the ceremony taking place in the afternoon of the same day. This means only 1 day out of the office, and no need to nervously wait around for months to find out if you’ve won!

Finalists have 15 minutes to present, answering the criteria provided by the organisers, followed by 15 minutes of questions and answers from the judging panel. The Q&A section of the presentation is vital, and in a tough category can be the difference between winning or not.

August CEO and awards expert Donna O’Toole has judged at over 10 of Awards International awards, and knows a winning entry and presentation when she sees one! This year she chaired the Employee Engagement – Reward and Recognition category, it was interesting to hear from some of the best companies explaining their fantastic R&R initiatives – what lucky employees!

THE EVENT

Throughout the day the venue is a hub for fantastic networking opportunities, with areas open for productive discussions over tea, coffee and pastries. This year finalists, judges and guests could have free professional headshots taken courtesy of Splash media. It really is a fantastic event to sponsor and partner, you can make good connections and contacts with business people who share the same values.

With the finalist presentations over, everyone takes their seat in the glamorous ballroom to enjoy a three-course meal, complete with bubbles and wonderful lunchtime entertainment from the Singing Waiters, before finding out who has claimed the top spot and got their hands on a trophy.

THE RESULTS

The Holly Private Hospital took overall UK Employee Experience Awards winner, with Octopus Energy winning both Contact Centre of the Year and Best Company to Work For. You can find a full list of the winners here.

We would like to congratulate all the winners on their wins. Every year the finalists step up their game and the competition is tough, the quality of entries and presentations is outstanding and winners truly deserve it.

Also, well done to all of the finalists – it is a huge feat to get to the finals and the presenters should be proud of their accomplishment.

Let us know if you were at the awards this year and your experience! If you’re excelling in employee experience, you likely have happy customers too. Afterall; happy employees = happy customers. So why not enter the Customer Experience Awards? There are 24 categories open including Employee Experience, Employees at the Heart of Everything and Team of the Year.

Take a look at the Customer Experience Awards here.

 

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Awards Open in January

Awards Open in January

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AWARDS OPEN IN JANUARY

It’s January, it’s a new year and it’s time to start your award-winning 2019.

We’ve picked out some great awards that are open now for you to enter, each award deadlines in February.

Take a look below, then head to our other award lists pages to see which awards you could be entering this year.

Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year

The Ernst & Young UK Entrepreneur of the Year awards celebrate, support and connect entrepreneurs. The awards recognise successful entrepreneurs who are making a positive social impact, boosting the economy and creating legacies. The UK awards programme runs in four regions: London & South, Midlands, North and Scotland. Entrants compete in their regional programme, the winners then go to compete nationally to find the UK Entrepreneur of the Year. The winning individual will then take to the global stage for the coveted World Entrepreneur of the Year award.

Deadline: 28th February 2019
Finalists Announced: April/May 2019
Judging Days: May 2019
Regional Awards Final: June/July 2019

UK National Contact Centre Awards

One of the top awards for the UK Contact Centre industry, these awards recognise individuals, organisations, and teams in the industry who are providing exceptional services and leading their industry.

The awards process is comprehensive, with industry professionals and previous award winners making up the judging panel. Finalists will have to present to a panel of judges or, for some categories, host a panel of judges for a site visit to see first hand the work being done.

Deadline: 22 February 2019
Finalists Announced: March/April 2019
Judging Days: March/April 2019
Awards Final: 14 May 2019

UK Business Leader Awards

The UK Business Leader Awards organised by Business Leader Magazine, recognise the UK’s best businesses, entrepreneurs, founders and leaders. With 17 categories to enter, the awards aim to celebrate a variety of businesses and individuals from Start-up and Entrepreneur of the Year to Disruptor/Innovator of the year and Family Business of the Year, and of course there is the overall Business Leader of the Year award to be won.

Business leaders, entrepreneurs and professionals including Dragons Den’s Piers Linney make up the highly esteemed judging panel. The award winners are determined on entrants’ written entries, which are judged individually by the chosen panel of judges. Winners will be announced at the awards finals in June.

Deadline: 28th February 2019
Finalists Announced: 14th April 2019
Awards Finals: 21st June 2019

UK Employee Experience Awards

The UK Employee Experience Awards are one of the awards organised by Awards International. The awards aim to recognise and celebrate the excellent employee initiatives organisations from around the country have undertaken. The awards offer categories for reward and recognition, learning and development, best company to work for and many more.

The awards have both a written entry stage, to determine the finalists, and an additional presentation stage to a panel of judges. Written entries equate to 50% of your score, with the additional 50% coming from the presentation stage. The awards are unique in that the presentations take place in the morning of the awards finals.

Deadline: 15th February 2019
Finalists Announced: 1st March 2019
Awards Judging and Finals: 16th May 2019

Expert Awards Support

We provide expert awards consultancy and training. We can write your entries for you or train your team to win.

If you would like our help to win, contact us today for a free assessment of your likelihood of success, and take a look at our award entry writing tips here too.

 

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Donna O’Toole Recognised for her Outstanding Contribution to Judging

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Business Awards

By Donna O’Toole

Donna O’Toole Recognised for her Outstanding Contribution to Judging at UK Awards

We were thrilled to exhibit at the 2018 UK Employee Experience Awards and we had a great day. Donna O’Toole August CEO chaired the panel of judges judging the Technology for Productivity Category – the competition was fierce!

Awards International organise the awards and CEO Neil Skehel awarded Donna with the prestigious Outstanding Contribution to Judging Award. Donna has judged and chaired at Awards International awards 10 times in her career. She has helped Awards International shape how the awards are scored with a simpler, fairer system.

Outstanding Contribution to Judging, Donna O'Toole, August, Awards Consultancy, Awards Experts, UK Employee Experience Awards

Award Winning Support

Throughout the year we’ve been supporting businesses with their award entries, including clients who came out on top to win awards at the Employee Experience Awards.

By supporting businesses with their entries, we help them to show their fantastic initiatives and projects in the best light. The hard work is all theirs and their teams, we just provide expert award entry writing, presentation support and coaching to get them the recognition they deserve.

Outsourcing vs Inhouse

In all aspects of business choosing whether to use agencies or use inhouse resources is always a big decision. There are pros and cons on either side.

Writing award entries in-house gives you the benefit of having someone who knows the business inside out. However, this can also be a downfall. A writer from inside the business may make assumptions and struggle to be objective in their writing.

Outsourcing to an awards consultancy gives a third person objective, and gives an excellent opportunity for a new perspective which will be more likely to impress the judges. Asking the experts to write your award entries also relieves your team of the additional workload on top of their everyday responsibilities.

How to Present Perfectly

Many awards have a second stage in the judging process where businesses get to bring their story to life in front of a panel of judges. Winning award presentations are different to a sales pitch and are the difference between a great company winning or losing out on an award.

Our support for businesses doesn’t stop at the written entries, we also craft presentations and coach teams through their presentation technique.

If you have made it to the final stage of an awards competition, you already know the judges like your project! The presentation stage is your last chance to impress the judges and prove that you are the best in your category. You may have the best project or business but if you can’t get that across to the judges you’re not going to get that all important win.

There is an art to presenting at an awards final. With Donna’s expertise and experience from judging at many national award finals, we know the winning formula and can share it with you to help you become a winner too!

 

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

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