Jane Tewson

Ask judges and winners past and present how the Talent Unleashed Awards stand apart from the growing number of awards programs celebrating the startup community and a common answer is the calibre of the people in the Talent network.

Among them is Jane Tewson, an internationally renowned philanthropist who has founded charitable organisations including Comic Relief and sat on the boards of Oxfam and Virgin Unite Australia. In 2015, Tewson as appointed to the board of Talent as a non-executive director.

With her wealth of experience in philanthropy, Tewson’s appointment was geared towards helping develop and further the work of Talent’s foundation, Talent RISE.

The foundation was established to tackle the issue of youth unemployment in Australia, its goal to connect 10,000 disadvantaged young people across Australia to employment in the tech sector.

As Talent practices what it preaches through RISE, working to place people in its own organisation, Tewson said she was eager to work with the company.

“Like [Talent founder] Richard Earl, I am passionate about creating opportunities for people who might not normally have them. Talent RISE works hard to unleash young people’s potential. Talent itself is also supporting young people by offering employment opportunities within their own business across Australia.”

Thanks to her role with Talent and Talent RISE, Tewson was then asked by Earl to judge at the Talent Unleashed Awards.

Given her background is in social change rather than technology, Tewson said that she hadn’t ever been asked to judge new tech startups before, however the key ethos of the businesses entering the awards resonates with her.

“I recognise the passion and vision of the entrants; I think people who want to create positive change have a lot in common, however they’re effecting that change,” she said.

“I had a lightbulb moment listening to one of the entries last year, ResApp Health. As both my parents were GPs, and I have spent a lot of time in Africa, it was wondrous to see that we can now download an app to diagnose respiratory disease, and that the technology is accessible to people in the developing world. Making life saving technology available at low cost is really a gift to future generations.”

This ties back into what Tewson will be looking for as a judge for the 2017 Awards.

The three key factors in an entry for Tewson are: passion; an idea that is working to fill a gap in their business or community needs; and the ability for entrants to explain their product or idea succinctly and in an accessible way.

“I’m not a digital native!” she said.

Tewson is particularly excited this year to uncover “stunning leaders”.

“Those who are able to deliver new ideas that can positively impact us all. I’m especially looking forward to the new ‘Most Progressive Workplace Leader’ category. Inclusivity and happiness at work is good for everyone – for business, the employee, and the customer,” she said.

As well as uncovering and celebrating innovative businesses and leaders effecting change around the world, Tewson is excited to develop further opportunities for Talent RISE through the Talent Unleashed Awards in 2017.

“The Talent RISE Foundation will excitingly be benefitting from all profits created on the night of the Awards, supporting the Foundation to continue its work giving young people an opportunity through meaningful and supported employment opportunities.”

Is entering the 2017 Talent Unleashed Awards part of your journey? Check out the categories and enter here.

Startup Daily