This year will be the fourth year as a judge at Isle of Man Newspapers’ Awards for Excellence for Deb Byron. Here she explains what she and her fellow judges will be looking for as they go through the entries.
‘It isn’t just about business as normal, or having a good year, because lots of companies have had a good year. These awards are for excellence, and excellence is what we are looking for,’ says Deb, ‘sometimes people forget to draw out what are they saying is excellent about their company or their achievement, but that’s the point: what have they done that’s excellent?’
Manx-born Deb understands exactly what it takes to achieve excellence. She is Director of Information Technology at Hansard Global PLC, chair of both the Isle of Man Chamber of Commerce’s ICT/eBusiness Committee and the Isle of Man Government’s ICT Sector Skill Committee, and is a member of British Computer Society Elite.
The judging process for the Awards for Excellence was established in 2006 when the Awards first began and has not changed in the intervening years.
There are sixteen judges, the same number as there are award categories, and initially they are put into pairs. As a more experienced judge, Deb will typically be paired with one who is new to the judging panel. Often, a judge from the public sector will be paired with one from the private sector so that entries are looked at from different perspectives.
Each pair of judges is allocated two categories and these are carefully chosen so that there is no conflict of interest for any of the judges. They then have two weeks to examine them:
‘It can be a little bit daunting,’ explains Deb, ‘particularly if there are a lot of entries. People have spent a long time putting these entries together and you’ve really got to read them several times, before making notes and scoring them. Then you have to rank them and pull out three or four statements about each entry that is in your top five which will later be used in the programme on the night.’
Each judge will look at one category first, then swop with his or her partner judge and repeat the process with a second category.
‘Then you get together with your partner judge and you say why you think they should be in a particular order,’ continues Deb, ‘and they say what they think and basically you have to come to an agreement between the two of you as to your top five.’
With such a lot to get through in just two weeks Deb says it is vital that entries have passion and interest and grab the judges’ attention:
‘If you’ve got ten or fifteen entries, you’re looking for the one which stands out and some entries make it much clearer as to what actually they are drawing your attention to.
‘You do need supporting background information but you have to know what’s the differentiator, why they are saying they should get this award – that they are excellent because they or their staff have done this particular special thing.
‘We’re really quite focussed on the last year and, when it comes to financials, in the private sector it’s growing the business in difficult operating circumstances. In the public sector or service sector it can be that they’ve been creative or innovative when faced with budget cuts or headcount reductions and we want to know what have they done and how have they achieved this.’
Where relevant, Deb adds, testimonials or good customer feedback can add weight to an entry, but not too many and only if they are relevant. Another key differentiator can be the winning of an industry award, especially if it is an off-island award.
At the end of the initial two-week judging stage, they all reconvene for the final judging session which is held in the boardroom of the Awards for Excellence major sponsors, RBS International.
On this occasion the whole judging panel is looking at the three organisations or individuals who have scored the highest marks in each category. If a judge has a conflict of interest in any category, he or she will leave the room while the result is being discussed.
This is where it gets really interesting as each pair of judges explains to the others on the panel why they scored a particular organisation or individual highly and how they came to choose their ‘top three’.
In some categories the judging pair has found a very clear winner and their verdict stands. In others, they have scored their top three so closely that they require consultation and a final vote from the panel in order to confirm a winner.
It may be hard work for the judges but it is also a fascinating process and, as Deb explains, a real eye-opener: ‘I am always surprised by the quality of entries and the breadth and the excellence of what is going on in the Isle of Man, quite often without people really knowing about it. I think we should be so proud of what we’ve got. Some of the charity entries have really opened my eyes some of the smaller companies as well.
‘Some of the things the Children’s Centre do are just amazing and I would not have known about them if I hadn’t seen the entries. Some of the smaller businesses have really opened my eyes, too.
‘It really does make you proud of what’s happening on the Isle of Man.’
Entries are now being invited for this year’s Isle of Man Newspapers’ Awards for Excellence in all sixteen award categories. Entries close on October 4.
This year’s Awards night takes place on November 21. The event will be compered by Hugh Dennis, star of the hit TV comedy ‘Outnumbered’, and screened live online to a worldwide audience.
For further details on how to enter the awards, go to www.iomtoday.co.im/afe