Winning Awards with Neil Skehel, CEO of Awards International
Winning Awards Podcast
By Donna O’Toole
Transparency and transformation in awards with Neil Skehel, CEO of Awards international & Founder of UK & International Customer Experience Awards, Employee Experience Awards, Digital Experience Awards, & more!
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.
- 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.
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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