Excitement is already building for the 2023 Executive of the Year Awards as the Awards ceremony edges ever closer.
The incredible panel of judges is getting ready to celebrate yet another extraordinary year in the world of business. By honoring the most outstanding CEOs and executives, these dedicated professionals play a vital role in putting the spotlight on top tier leaders to inspire and motivate others.
Here, the judging panel reflects on the challenges and opportunities business leaders have leveraged for growth and success over the past year or so.
Filtering through all the finalists to decide on one winner in each category is arguably not an easy task. However, as well-respected experts within their fields, each judge is well-versed in critiquing the leaders who have made it this far.
This year’s judging panel comprises Chris Dutton, Founder, The CEO Magazine; Anna Dutton, Co-Founder and Executive Director, The CEO Magazine; John Karagounis, Executive Chair, The CEO Circle; Ronni Kahn, CEO and Founder, Oz Harvest; Andrew Hume, CEO, Converge International; Scott Power, CEO, BMD; and Tristan Sternson, NCS NEXT Global Co-Lead, ARQ Group CEO & NCS Senior Partner.
Pointing the compass to north
From not-for-profit trailblazers and young executives to managing directors and CEOs, this year provides plenty of proof that a wind of change is in the air as entrepreneurship reaches new heights.
"There’s been a surge in startups and entrepreneurs, which really floats my boat," Founder of The CEO Magazine Chris Dutton reflects. "It’s great to see Australia as a genuine place in the world where business can actually be formed and flourish from just an idea."
"It’s great to see Australia as a genuine place in the world where business can actually be formed and flourish from just an idea." – Chris Dutton
For Dutton, the Awards continue to acknowledge the people who drive business excellence, not just the organization itself, which is an important distinction. During a thought leadership session with Richard Branson this year, Dutton recalls the most relevant theme for leaders to be aware of.
"One thing that great leaders do is help provide a clear path and ladder for employees to get where they want and to succeed within their companies, but more importantly, be accountable themselves for the growth and success of those people," he says.
This sentiment is echoed by The CEO Magazine’s Co-Founder and Executive Director Anna Dutton, who highlights the significance of celebrating achievements in order to keep the ball rolling toward more equitable and inclusive leadership.
"I am excited to see what’s new in the business world and how people have positively pivoted their businesses for success," she says. "For me, and other women executives, this is so important, as we still have a long way to go to achieve parity in the business world."
Masters in resilience
John Karagounis, returning judge and Executive Chair of The CEO Circle, says he is keen to shine a light this year on the individuals who have steered their teams through choppy waters. Karagounis’ story of resilience was truly demonstrated when he left behind a blossoming career in financial services to take a calculated risk as CEO of the membership organization.
"It’s even more challenging to actually succeed during these times," he notes. "I’m looking forward to seeing resilience, innovation and people striving to succeed in spite of all the noise and chaos happening out there."
"I’m looking forward to seeing resilience, innovation and people striving to succeed in spite of all the noise and chaos happening out there." – John Karagounis
If there was a badge of honor for social impact changemakers, it would undoubtedly go to OzHarvest’s Ronni Kahn.
"I left a business that sometimes could have made A$50,000 on a single weekend – but it was the best thing I ever did," she admits. "The challenges we face in this broken food system are complex and we need all levels of society to support and help fix this, from the government to citizens."
On receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award last year, Kahn was quick to acknowledge the 300 staff and 4,500 volunteers upon whose shoulders she stands. In doing so, she showed how honoring standout leadership extends and pays tribute to the wider organization.
With remote work here to stay and employee wellbeing front of mind, Converge International’s CEO Andrew Hume points out how instilling a sense of lightheartedness is the agency’s secret sauce.
Quoting advertising legend Keith Reinhard from his book Any Wednesday, Hume tells The CEO Magazine that the freedom to be is essential for any business wanting to retain talent and pursue a genuinely welcoming culture, and it’s up to managers to foster this.
"Not only do we ask managers to respect each individual’s right to a life outside the workplace, we also expect them to maintain an environment that encourages laughter and celebration on the job," he cites from Reinhard’s book.
From the tech sector, Tristan Sternson chimes in to add that caring for your people is also good for business. "I’ll be looking for how other leaders are nurturing and focusing on their people to achieve goals and build long-term business performance," he says. "Good, sustainable businesses are consistent."
"I’m keen to continue my involvement with such an amazing calibre of executives." – Tristan Sternson
As a Runner-Up in the highly coveted CEO of the Year – A$100M+ Turnover category in 2022, the ARQ Group CEO is excited to continue his involvement in the Awards – this time as a judge.
"There was a fantastic mix of executives in the room, across a broad range of industries," he reflects. "I’m keen to continue my involvement with such an amazing calibre of executives."
As the CEO of his family-owned business BMD Group, Scott Power brings yet another unique perspective to the mix. Like Sternson, he believes that the Awards foster a sense of community from which everyone participating can benefit.
"Acknowledging and celebrating outstanding achievements in leadership lifts and inspires everyone to new heights. It provides visibility into innovation and excellence, from which we all learn."
With the Awards ceremony just around the corner, the anticipation continues to build, and so too the burning question as to which finalists will take home a prestigious accolade. For many, this has opened up new pathways to building business success and rewarding partnerships.
"We had a really solid year of applications in the post-COVID-19 pandemic era," Chris Dutton says. "It’s fascinating to look under the bonnet again into some of Australia’s best run companies, and indeed most successful startup stories, to see people and companies doing really well."
And with that in mind, let the judging begin…
Winners for all categories will be announced during the awards ceremony held at The Star in Sydney, Australia on Thursday, 16 November 2023.
Buy your tickets to the 2023 Executive of the Year Awards here.