Meet even more judges and why they love Pause Awards

8 July, 2024
Meet even more judges and why they love Pause Awards | News | Pause Awards
George Hedon, founder and CEO, Pause Fest & Awards
George Hedon
8 July, 2024

The Pause Awards 2024 continue to be a beacon of innovation and excellence, bringing together some of the most distinguished professionals across various sectors.

This year, we are excited to introduce 45 judges from Microsoft, Wisr, Frog and Monash University to name a few in this group. These individuals, both returning and new, bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table. Let’s get to know them and understand why they are excited to judge this year.

Meet the Judges:

Nikki Shah – Founder and CEO, MyMuse (Returning)
Nikki transitioned from a semi-pro tennis player and physiotherapist to the Founder and CEO of MyMuse. As a mother, outback rally car driver, and board member, she thrives on challenges and making a difference in people’s lives, even starting her own charity to provide clean water in Africa. Nikki says, “It is a great opportunity to see new and upcoming businesses that are making an impact in the world for the amazing work they are doing.”

Sergio Brodsky – Brand and Foresight Strategist (Returning)
Sérgio Brodsky is an internationally experienced and award-winning brand and foresight consultant, returns to the judging panel. Sergio says, “To be at the cusp of real-world innovation, surrounded by people creating and seizing the future, is truly exciting.”

Anna Lee – Design Manager, Frog, part of Capgemini Invent (Returning)
Anna is a multidisciplinary Human-Centred Design and Innovation Leader. She utilises her background in Behavioural Economics to create new solutions to complex problems across various industries both domestically and internationally. Anna believes that “We need more success stories of companies and organisations that place their true value and focus on the impact they have on their customers and their people.”

Marion Burchell – Managing Director, Azolla Holdings (New)
Marion is renowned for her expertise in strategy, innovation and change in the public and private sectors. She shares, “The Pause Awards showcase the ingenuity and advancement of Australians solving everyday problems that have the opportunity to make a real difference in people’s lives. Seeing the extraordinary companies and individuals live their purpose by giving them the opportunity to create transformation through the awards.”

Karl Svacic – Digital Product Lead, Coles Group (New)
Karl has been developing digital products and innovation capabilities, innovation capability, and high-performing teams for over 15 years. He remarks, “It is an amazing opportunity to connect and learn from some amazing organisations and individuals, while celebrating their achievements, resilience to drive change, and all the positive impacts they make in the process.”

William McCahey – Partner, Think & Grow (New)
William, a partner at Think & Grow, brings his experience from the UK, Europe and Asia. He says, “I’m always excited to learn about projects driving growth and innovation in Victoria, Australia, and beyond. As a judge for the Pause Awards, I hope to play a small part in representing and supporting local companies to showcase best-in-class innovation.”

Adam Ryan – Professor Innovation and Start Ups, Monash University (New)
Adam Ryan brings over 27 years of startup experience from Australia to California. As a founding executive at SEEK, his expertise spans leadership in high-growth environments, consistently driving innovation and success in the tech sector. He shares, “It offers a unique opportunity to engage with the latest innovators and innovations who are breaking new ground and driving significant advancements, and being a part of this process not only fuels my passion for innovation but also provides a platform to share insights and promote excellence within the startup ecosystem.”

Caroline Shawyer – Founder and CEO, The PR Group (New)
Caroline is a global communications executive with over 20 years of experience, specialising in corporate communications, messaging, and narrative development.. She states, “Seeing firsthand the impact these entrants have on the Australian economy and their ability to innovate is truly inspiring. But it’s not just about the awards themselves; it’s also about being part of a dynamic community of individuals who are all passionate about pushing boundaries and supporting each other.”

Monique Alvis – AI Apps Design Lab, Microsoft (Returning)
Monique has spent the past nine years bridging the worlds of business innovation, design and technology, working with some of Australia’s and the world’s largest organisations to design and implement emerging technologies and award-winning experiences. She is excited to “Recognise and celebrate the dynamic calibre of our flourishing tech and innovation ecosystem and the people who make it. Pause has always been a home for innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship in Australia. “

Ben Berger – Chief Product Officer, Wisr (Returning)
Ben has been building software and online products for over 20 years across three continents. From start-ups to IBM. Ben looks forward to “discovering and celebrating some of the great and innovative things going on in our community. There is so much creative local talent and it’s going to be fun to be part of it!”

Angus Tait – Product Design Director, Xero (Judging Board)
Angus is an accomplished design leader with over 20 years of experience designing for a diverse range of businesses and is a valued member of the Judging Board. He is excited to “celebrate the accomplishments of Australians making a positive impact on the world through innovative design and creative business practice.”

Cassandra Diaz – Chief Operating Officer, Tank Stream Labs (New)
Cass blends 10+ years of operational savvy with a genuine passion for fostering vibrant tech communities. As someone deeply invested in fostering technological advancement and entrepreneurial spirit, She said “Being part of this process allows me to witness firsthand the groundbreaking ideas and solutions shaping our future.”

These judges bring a diverse range of expertise and perspectives, ensuring that the Pause Awards 2024 will be a fair and comprehensive evaluation from the best minds in Australian innovation.

Stay tuned for more updates and insights as we approach the awards ceremony. Together, we break through!

For more information on the judges and the awards, visit the Pause Awards Judges Page.

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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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