Entries for the Pause Awards are open – and here’s what the judges are saying about the year

- May 19, 2023 2 MIN READ
George Hedon
Pause Awards founder George Hedon. Photo: Jess Middleton
George Hedon

Pause Awards founder George Hedon. Photo: Jess Middleton

Entries for the annual Pause Awards opened this week, with CEO and founder George Hedon announcing a stellar line up of more than 60 judges to decide who gets the gongs.

The Pause Awards hand out honours across five key categories: growth, excellence, operators, good and culture. The awards span People’s Choice, Winner, Grand Prix, Hall of Fame, Champion and the Diamond award for best all-round business.

Hedon is simple about the goal of the Pause Awards, which he started in 2018: “We only award the real people that do real things”. 

This year’s judging panel includes experts in product, growth, and innovation at companies such as Mastercard, Airtasker, Google, Medibank, Dept, AWS, Bookings.com, Microsoft, Birchal and more.

“We are incredibly excited to have such a diverse and experienced panel of judges for this year’s Pause Awards,” George Hedon said.

“Their insights and predictions highlight the dynamic and transformative nature of our industry, and we can’t wait to see how these trends will be reflected in the entries we receive.” 

As entries opened this week – they close August 18 but stragglers can still apply until September 1 – several members of the judging panel were asked about how they saw the year ahead, with the responses spanning everything from AI transformation to sustainable business practices, and growth and innovation.

Some, such as Nathan Connors from Granicus, are wildly optimistic, predicting: “Australia to win the Rugby World Cup.” 

Doug Rathbone from Airtasker believes economic fundamentals will kick in again as “product and Tech leaders learn to build successful and profitable businesses again”. Veljko Golubovic from New Moment sees “full-scale creative chaos”, while Startupbootcamp Australia’s Trevor Townsend is more in Survivor mode with ,“a year of turmoil where the resilient and resourceful thrive!”

Robyn Wilson from Sydney management consultant firm Superora predicts that “we’re going to see an explosion in the ChatGPT Plug-in ecosystem, with service providers rapidly integrating with AI to enable faster, more dimensional service experiences.”

India Gad from Shipeezi foresees “a stronger emphasis on sustainable business practices and the development of transparent ESG efforts.” 

When it comes to work culture, Viona Young from VY Consulting believes that “the realisation that work and life are not two separate things, will continue and we will move further towards a human-first approach to ways of working.” 

Jodette Cleary from hipages sees a similar vein, saying “holistic wellbeing will become the most important employee benefit that companies provide, ensuring teams are physically and mentally energised to do their best work everyday and we look after the whole person, not just the work person.” 

Meanwhile Stuart B Richardson from Adventure Capital predicts “there will be step-changes in work and workplace catalysed by AI & commercial real estate.” 

Among the big tech gurus Jessica Williams from Google has gone for an oldie but goodie in “disruption, disruption, disruption” while Michael Zyla from Mastercard predicts “a year for optimising core customer value propositions and securing spend in volatile economic times.” Sam Ayre from Medibank sees an economic fundamental saying “value rises to the top as cost crunch continues”. 

As for industry-specific predictions, Evan Davey from Dept is hoping “mixed reality finally gets its opportunity to go mainstream”

Penelope Shell from ad agency OMD ‘s view is that “in a swing back from the hyper local pandemic focus, FY24 will be the year more Australian founded brands expand their footprint globally than ever before.” 

You can enter the Pause Awards here.