OBSERVER AND GAZETTE BUSINESS AWARDS Judge tells us what he’s looking for

With just one week to nominate your company, business heavyweight Farid Ahmed talks about what stands out to him as a judge of the Observer and Gazette Business Awards.

“For the past five years, I have been delighted by the invitation to judge the prestigious Observer and Gazette Business Awards. This is not about the opportunity to attend the elegant black-tie awards dinner, nor is it about spending several hours reading through the scores of nomination forms. Neither is it about the intense judges’ meeting where we debate and decide the winners over bacon sandwiches and endless cups of coffee, often a very difficult task due to the high quality of the entries.

“No, my personal motivation for being a judge of the Observer and Gazette Business Awards is having the opportunity to promote and celebrate the best of business in the area.

“As president of the Chichester Chamber of Commerce & Industry, I get a genuine buzz from seeing great people from great businesses get the recognition they deserve, and seeing how they benefit from the extra publicity and raised profile this gives them.

“As the Chamber president, I have been particularly pleased at the high proportion of winners and highly-commended awards going to Chamber members. It just shows the level of professionalism and talent that exists with the Chamber. It is good for all our members to have this opportunity to demonstrate the quality in depth within the Chamber.

“But what makes a winner? Yes, of course, it takes a great company or business professional, but equally then it needs this quality to be effectively communicated in the nomination form for the awards. You should produce this nomination yourself – these are not ‘unsung hero’ awards where you hope to be nominated by someone else. No, it’s up to you to shout it from the rooftops that you deserve to win, backing this up with some persuasive evidence to give substance to your declarations.

“Your nomination form will communicate a great deal about you, so make it look professional – typed or printed is better than handwritten, using good grammar and punctuation – these all add to the overall impression you give to the judges. There is every reason to add photographs, company literature and testimonials to give more weight to your argument, but don’t just pad it out with fluff; reams of unrelated bumpf are a big turn-off for the judges (but we do like nice pictures). Keep it relevant too: it’s no good quoting testimonials from years ago – we’re judging just your last year.

“Think carefully about which category(s) to enter – some are more appropriate to you than others. In particular, the categories for environmentally-beneficial behaviour plus performance in construction and manufacturing are too often neglected, yet we have some excellent businesses succeeding in these sectors. Think about exactly what it is that makes you outstanding.

“Lastly, while it is clearly great value to a company to win an award, there are also superb opportunities for recognition through sponsorship. In this way, not only are you helping to honour the best of local business but you also reap the benefits of association with the worthy winners and the publicity this brings.”

To nominate yoru business for an award visit by the closing date March 15.