HIGH FIVE

HIGH FIVE

There’s intense competition in the various business categories, say judges as the Indian Executive Club Awards celebrates the best of the best in its fifth year

Alys Francis

This November will see the milestone fifth edition of the Indian Executive Club Awards, Victoria’s first event dedicated to recognising the achievements of the fast growing South Asian business community.

Over the years the IEC Awards have given a platform to the best of the best. Business profiles have been cemented, entrepreneurs have been celebrated, and the breadth of talent and skill in the community has become known.

To find out how the awards have grown and continue to strive to foster business success, The Indian Sun spoke to Chief Jurist and CEO of Yarra City Council Vijaya Vaidyanathan, and Jurist Lydon Joss, Executive Director of management consultants McMillan Richardson.

What does it mean to hit the five-year milestone?

Vijaya Vaidyanathan: It shows the IEC Awards are getting traction. We hear people saying that if they win an award, their gateways and pathways are getting even more refined. It has become almost like a highlight for their profile, so there is traction in terms of credibility, and also building their profile for their own companies.

Lydon Joss: There’s also a broader acceptance by the Indian Diaspora. The awards have credibility and the type and depth of applications have significantly improved.

How have the awards developed over the years?

Vaidyanathan: Initially the entire awards night was not focused only on business but there used to be popular awards, which concentrated on the travel industry, the food industry, most popular personalities, and things like that. This year for the first time the awards are exclusively for business.

iecawards-judges_jossJoss: The popularity of the business awards is such that it now stands alone, and the other awards are hosted separately. And, as an indication of the merit that the business awards now have, we have as many applications in this year’s round for purely business, as we had for business and all the other categories before, like the tourism and food industry. So in its own right it has grown significantly.

How has the quality and scope of entrants changed?

Vaidyanathan: I think that standards have been lifted. Also what has happened is we as judges and as organisers in the Indian Executive Club have been articulating the criteria even better. There’s more clarity around how the award winners will be evaluated. So that has improved significantly and is useful for both nominees and judges.

Joss: And we’ve been very careful to gauge feedback after each event from the winners and also the runners up. We’re constantly looking for improvement and we’re taking on board the suggestions and the criticisms made, so we’re constantly improving what we’re doing.

You’re in the process of judging this year’s entrants – can you reveal your first impressions?

Joss: It’s always interesting to have new applicants. We do get some return ones, where perhaps they didn’t come up to scratch or didn’t have the depth of experience earlier. But we make it clear that, had they had a little more experience or depth in their business, it could well be that they‘re in the finalists next time; we’re looking to encourage not just the winners. Where we see particular issues that can help the applicant we make those known. From our point of view the diversity of the applicants and the skills and the knowledge of the people doing things really amaze us, and it’s really encouraging to see the growth.

Vaidyanathan: What was different this year also, is the fact that there were sessions where Pitcher Partners offered value added master classes, on how a business can actually improve its indicators and results. That has motivated people to go beyond the known factors and step up. We’re right in the middle of the judging process, so the short answer is, the numbers are good, the quality is also good, but we’ll have to wait and see who emerges the final winner.

What have the awards achieved for the business community?

Joss: For those who are attending the awards who are in the finalist category, or haven’t quite made it, by attending they’re learning what makes a good business and what things they can do to improve their business.

Vaidyanathan: Recruiters have placed value in these awards. We’ve had informal feedback from past entrants who said that they’re CVs and resumes looked better after winning awards over the past two or three years. Which suggests mainstream business is looking at this with some degree of interest.

Where would you like the IEC Awards to be in another 5 years?

Joss: We already have a couple of interstate applicants and we would like to see the awards going on a national scale, perhaps broken up into states. Certainly there is interest coming from as far as Western Australia and Queensland.

Vaidyanathan: There could even be some kind of synergy with New Zealand. They’ve been having business awards that are very successful for the past 10 years. They involve the New Zealand government and Prime Minister, so there’s a healthy focus on what businesses can do to lift productivity. There’s no strategy to that end just yet, but there’s definitively opportunities for synergies.