Written by Ruby Parmar
So it started on the night of October 11, 2019. What a night that was. I’m sure all of you who were there will remember the fantastic buzz around the ballroom, the vibrant colours and beaming faces. You’ll also remember our fabulous guest speaker, Cindy Rose OBE, CEO of Microsoft UK, and the amazing nominees, finalists and ultimate winners of the 2019 Women Leaders Awards.
The problem with a huge success is how do you match it, let alone exceed expectations. That was the start of my challenge for the 2020 awards but it didn’t feel too daunting a prospect. We’ve done it before, we can do it again.
So we got off to a great start launching the opening of the nominations at a select event at the Brasserie at MK College on 11th March 2020. We had our then Mayor Sam Crooks who shared with us the basis of his research some 40 years before which showed that businesses led by women were more successful that those led by men. Still now we are having to stand firm for equal opportunities and continue to bang the drum for women. This is why we continue to have awards to showcase the successes of women as well as put up role models for others to aspire to and gain inspiration from for their own careers.
So the scene was set and the nominations started to roll in. That was before we were hit by the pandemic and the subsequent lock down across the UK. We were all on hold, our lives changed unimaginably and as you know there were much more pressing things that we all had to tackle and the awards took a back seat. Not for long however, the amazing team at Queensbury Consulting took us virtual. They formulated a project plan which focussed on social media engagement with nominees, sponsors and supporters and with the support of the trustees we were back on track again. Not only were we back on track but we had also formulated and launched a fantastic mentoring offer for all the nominees which has evolved further to offer 12 months support to all the finalists from an impressive list of mentors. Take a look at the page here
It was all starting to look great with record nominations. Then came the virtual judging. First the shortlisting of the 98 nominees, and then the final interviews of all 47 finalists with three each of the 37 independent judges was the icing on the cake. It was managed superbly by the amazing Karen Brown and was a smoother process than ever before. So what challenge did we have next?
The actual awards ceremony had to be virtual. How do we do that? In step Imagine Presentations. With their expertise and support we were getting comfortable that we could put on a great event despite the pandemic restrictions. Videos of all our finalists were done, the judges spoke to camera and sponsors gave their support to the awards. So we had another first for Women Leaders. It didn’t end there.
Then came the suggestion of doing a Tik Tok video. Once the trustees and other supporters understood what that actually entailed, it was another resounding success.
So we were all set, an enviable list of finalists, great supporting video material and once again this year Cindy Rose OBE, now Microsoft President of the whole of Western Europe, gave us her backing and recorded an inspiring address for the night. All that was left was the frock!