Judge Sessions with Synergy Group, AOK Creative and i4 Connect

16 September, 2022
Judge Sessions with Synergy Group, AOK Creative and i4 Connect | News | Pause Awards
George Hedon, founder and CEO, Pause Fest & Awards
George Hedon
16 September, 2022

Welcome to the Pause Awards show, where we invite past winners and future judges to talk about their journeys, inspiration and lessons learned in their professional careers and beyond.

In this episode, George Hedon, Founder of Pause Awards, speaks with Jason Perelson (Creative Director, Synergy Group), Antonia Grimard (Founder, AOK Creative) and Taylor Tran (Facilitator, i4 Connect). They discussed key skills in business, their idea of success, industry expectations and more.


Rallying them together for our first round of judges interviews, we delved deeper into understanding what they consider to be the most important skill in business. Their responses (rather unified) were centred around people skills.

I think you need a mix of different perspectives and skills. You need a visionary and an implementer. Someone who can see the market, and someone who can get to that market.

Antonia Grimard, Founder, AOK Creative

People skills, empathy, and self thought. You might be very good at people skills. And if you don’t have all the answers, that’s also okay. It’s about knowing where to find the right people, and the skill of being able to work with others.

Jason Perelson, Creative Director, Synergy Group

To be able to ask good questions and to be able to ask for help. And also to be able to listen, and the ability to learn from what you listen to. It’s simple – Ask. Listen. And learn.

Taylor Tran, Facilitator, i4 Connect

Chatting about what success meant to our judges, their responses included a mix of both personal and business focussed success.

For me, success is every project where the client achieves their goal. If I deliver what they need and it actually gets them.

Antonia Grimard, Founder, AOK Creative

Success is having that balance between personal and work life to keep going. Working to live rather than living to work.

Taylor Tran, Facilitator, i4 Connect

For me, success is feeling irrelevant. You feel relevant after having helped someone, but feeling irrelevant would push me forward. It would be a great experience and a crisis that I’m probably going to have to write a book about.

Jason Perelson, Creative Director, Synergy Group

We then asked for what business advice they heard or would offer someone:

If you want to have a structure for success, build a business like you would sell it.

Antonia Grimard, Founder, AOK Creative

For me, reaching out and asking for help is a huge one. And focusing on the problem that you are working on as opposed to the solution.

Taylor Tran, Facilitator, i4 Connect

I remember being told once that you should ‘eat the elephant bit by bit. It’s a really nice way of thinking about all these insurmountable problems that we often face, these big goals and objectives that we see in business.

Jason Perelson, Creative Director, Synergy Group

Delving into some foresight of the industries they work in, the trio said:

It’s interesting to see, Australia is seeking to be a leader in emerging technologies, like quantum computers, advancing manufacturing, digital tech and energy tech. There’s some great opportunities there.

Taylor Tran, Facilitator, i4 Connect

In the creative marketing communications side of things, there’s almost a trend of returning to basics — a homogeneity of techniques. Settling back to good communication and being creative. I think we are moving to a point where we will be less and less focused on the method and more about the message.

Jason Perelson, Creative Director, Synergy Group

There’s a sense right now of everyone niching down. Instead of having just range, really drilling down on one thing. But niching down isn’t necessarily a measure of success. For some people, you could be successful by being a generalist. But for me, I guess it’s less niching in terms of industries, and more in terms of personality and networks.

Antonia Grimard, Founder, AOK Creative

We also spoke of some personal aspects to their business lives, such as what they’d like doing more and less of in the future (and trust us, they had some brilliant answers.)

To listen to that plus an amazing quick fire round of questions, don’t forget to check out in the full conversation below.

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Category tracks

The Culture track seeks entries that exemplify the development of an inclusive and collaborative workplace culture, crucial for organisational success and growth. Submissions should illustrate transformative strategies implemented across core business functions, reflecting expertise, leadership, and a clear vision. These strategies should demonstrate a positive impact on the business, its employees, stakeholders, and customers, showcasing how a nurturing culture contributes to overall growth and innovation.

The Excellence track celebrates businesses that have demonstrated remarkable success and impact within their industry, regardless of their size. Entries for this category should illustrate how the business's strategic execution, guided by visionary leadership and exceptional expertise, has significantly influenced the industry. The focus will be on the tangible outcomes of these strategies, highlighting the company's ability to innovate, lead, and leave a lasting impression in its field.

The Good track is focused on recognising companies dedicated to their mission of creating a positive societal impact. Entries should highlight innovative solutions aimed at addressing global challenges such as environmental sustainability, social equity, and community well-being. Successful submissions will demonstrate how their initiatives contribute to significant changes, tackling issues like gender inequality, social imbalance, and injustice, thereby setting a precedent for responsible and impactful business practices.

Awarded to a single entry in a category, Grand Prix is the top accolade in that category. To win the Grand Prix, the entire Judging Board must unanimously agree that the entry deserves the accolade of being the best in that category.

The Growth track is about showcasing how businesses have enhanced productivity and execution to make a significant impact in their market. Entries should highlight innovative strategies that have optimised the customer journey, leading to increased engagement and commercial success. This track is for those who have effectively used their understanding of the market and customer needs to scale their business and achieve notable growth.

The Operators track seeks entries that showcase leadership in fostering innovation within their ecosystems. Ideal submissions will highlight how your initiatives have catalysed the creation of new products or services, bolstered by a culture that uplifts internal teams and the wider community. This track celebrates those who drive progress by empowering voices and forging transformative connections in their industry.


  • Always Evolving New

    Acknowledges a culture of continuous learning and improvement within a company, encourages employee development, and always looks for ways to optimise and innovate operations.

  • Big & Mighty Culture New

    Recognises companies (51-1000 employees) for their exceptional efforts in cultivating a culture that champions innovation.

  • Diverse Co.

    Celebrates workplaces dedicated to fostering innovation through a vibrant tapestry of diverse talents and perspectives.

  • Small & Mighty Culture New

    Applauds small teams of fewer than 50 employees for their remarkable ability to foster innovation and set new benchmarks in their domain.

  • Work Sweet Work

    Acknowledges companies that have achieved extraordinary employee engagement, satisfaction, and retention, creating an exemplary workplace culture.

  • Company of the Year

    Honours an outstanding company that not only showcases exemplary leadership and resilience but also demonstrates a clear, quantifiable impact over the past year.

  • Customer Obsessed New

    Applauds prioritisation, understanding and meeting the needs and expectations of their customers, including feedback, personalised services and ensuring high satisfaction.

  • Defiant Ones

    Recognises firms that lead technological innovation, setting new standards and defining the future of their industries.

  • Hammer

    Celebrates companies that have not only defined success on their own terms but have also concretely demonstrated their triumphs over the past year.

  • I Wish I'd Done That

    Applauds ingenious, simple solutions in niche markets that spark a universal sentiment of admiration.

  • On the Rise

    Celebrates early-stage startups, under 4 years, that have shown remarkable progress and success in their initial years.

  • Prodigy

    Recognises young visionaries under 30 with outstanding talents and achievements, setting them apart in their fields.

  • Singularity

    Highlights AI-driven companies that are pioneering new services or integrating AI to create innovative products.

  • Women in Business

    Celebrates female entrepreneurs and leaders who are forging paths for future generations by creating more equitable opportunities.

  • B-Good

    Recognises businesses that redefine commercial success by positively transforming our economic system for the benefit of all stakeholders.

  • Circular Pioneer

    Celebrates companies at the forefront of circular economy practices, making substantial and sustainable differences.

  • Ethical Leadership New

    Commends companies exemplifying leadership in environmental and social governance, setting standards in corporate responsibility and ethical practices.

  • Going Green

    Acknowledges companies leading large-scale sustainable initiatives, addressing critical areas like clean energy and environmental justice.

  • Collab New

    Honours strategic partnerships and alliances with other businesses to leverage complementary strengths, access new markets, and share resources for synergistic growth and innovation.

  • Design First

    Celebrates companies where design is the heartbeat of innovation, engaging the whole team in crafting groundbreaking products.

  • Going Global New

    Applauds companies that have expanded their reach globally, showcasing exceptional growth and international success.

  • Great Pivot

    Acknowledges companies that adeptly navigate change, leveraging insights to pivot towards delivering outstanding products.

  • Movement

    Recognises unforgettable event experiences that resonate emotionally, drive social change, or achieve viral status.

  • New Model

    Honours businesses revolutionising markets with elegant and disruptive business models.

  • Next Level New

    Applauds companies which had successful strategic acquisition and integration of another entity, staff or an asset that allowed them to further grow and scale their services.

  • Wildfire

    Celebrates companies that have rapidly and significantly impacted their marketplace, online and offline, setting new standards for success.

  • Angel

    Honours visionary angel investors who've significantly contributed to early-stage startups, guiding them toward success.

  • C-Suite

    Recognises exceptional leadership qualities in high-ranking executives, showcasing their management and interpersonal excellence.

  • Creative Maverick New

    Honours unconventional thinkers with exceptional abilities to execute typically unimaginable initiatives, expertly coordinate teams, secure funding or successfully launch multiple ventures.

  • Ecosystem Star

    Celebrates individuals who energise and nurture their communities, fostering engagement and advocacy.

  • Future Builder

    Recognises the determination and resilience of founders who've embarked on the challenging journey of starting their own ventures.

  • Quiet Achiever New

    Applauds the unsung heroes whose behind-the-scenes efforts have led to flawless project executions and exceeded expectations.

  • Splash Down Under New

    Acknowledges international companies making a noteworthy entrance into the Australian market, enriching the local business ecosystem.

  • TopCoder

    Recognises developers for their outstanding technical skills, clean code, and collaborative spirit.

  • Venture Cap

    Salutes venture capital firms with a track record of backing transformative businesses, contributing significantly to Australia's economic growth.

  • Visionary New

    Recognises effective leadership by setting a clear vision, motivating the team, and making strategic decisions that guide their business towards its goals.

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