Meet the new addition to the Judging Board ‘23

4 September, 2023
Meet the new addition to the Judging Board ‘23 | News | Pause Awards
George Hedon, founder and CEO, Pause Fest & Awards
George Hedon
4 September, 2023

And lastly, we introduce you to the Pause Awards ‘23 powered by VicGov incredible Judging Board. Learn what excites them about this year’s awards, judging criteria and process.

Founders and innovators, tech enthusiasts and industry leaders, the Pause Awards ‘23 are closing this Friday 15th September at midnight AEST, and we’re thrilled to introduce you to the stellar team that will be at the helm of this year’s executive judging process. Get ready to meet the brains and hearts behind the most anticipated tech and innovation awards of the year.

In an exciting development, the Founder Joel Hanna joins the judging board this year, bringing his unique perspective and commitment to sustainability. He steps into the shoes of Tom Leyden, CIO at Longview, who has admirably served on the board for the past couple of years.

Joel and Sonia

Joel Hanna: Founder of Big Little Brush

First up, we have the dynamic Joel Hanna, stepping into the spotlight this year as a new addition to the Pause Awards Judging Board. Joel brings a fervent passion for sustainability and a track record as a three-time founder to the table. His commitment to driving positive change in both business and the environment is truly commendable. Joel firmly believes in the market’s power to improve primary health access and foster a sustainable future for all.

Sonia Clarke: Director at PwC

Sonia Clarke, a crucial part of PwC’s The Difference leadership team, joins our esteemed panel of judges. With expertise in shaping the future of work and a background in strategic communications and collaboration design, Sonia helps executive teams articulate their organisations’ future. She finds inspiration in the innovation, resilience, and flexibility displayed by Pause Awards entrants, acknowledging their significant impact on the Australian economy.

Christina and Ben

Christina Gerakiteys: Co-CEO of WAVIA

Christina Gerakiteys, on a mission to enable the enablers, is a force to be reckoned with. As Co-CEO of WAVIA, she collaborates with corporations to embed a strategic approach to innovation across all operations. Christina’s engaging speaking and facilitation style, driven by design thinking, purpose, and play, have graced international stages. Her enthusiasm for learning and supporting communities shines through, making her an invaluable addition to the judging panel.

Ben Ford: Head of Enterprise Sales at Tic Toc & Fintech Editor at Idea Spies

Next, we have the fintech aficionado, Ben Ford. Ben’s journey before joining Frollo involved a stint with Silicon Valley Fintech company Yodlee, where he established the APAC headquarters in Sydney. His dedication to the fintech community shines through in his role as the Head of Enterprise Sales at Tic Toc and as the Fintech Editor at Idea Spies. Ben is not just a commentator; he’s a fierce advocate and supporter of the fintech ecosystem.


Lee Tonitto: Managing Director of Tonitto and Partners

Last but certainly not least, we have Lee Tonitto, the Managing Director of Tonitto and Partners. Lee’s firm is dedicated to helping clients make a social and environmental impact. Her mission is to transform the economic system into a more inclusive, equitable, and regenerative one. As a Chair of the Judging Board, Lee champions entrepreneurial minds, community involvement, and positive impact, aligning perfectly with the ethos of the Pause Awards.

As the anticipation is building for the Pause Awards ‘23 closure, it’s not just the esteemed Judging Board that’s causing a stir; it’s also the intricate and thoughtful judging criteria that underpin the entire process. Here, we break down the four key criteria that each entry will be evaluated against, providing a sneak peek into what makes a Pause Award winner truly stand out.

1. Smart Tactics (Weighting: 20%)

Innovation is the name of the game in this category. How intelligently and creatively does your initiative operate? Judges will be on the lookout for groundbreaking ideas, ingenious strategies, and inventive solutions that set you apart from the competition. It’s not just about what you do, but how you do it that counts.

2. Business Success (Weighting: 30%)

While innovation is essential, tangible results speak volumes. Pause Awards recognize the importance of metrics and quantifiable achievements. What kind of impact has your initiative made on your business? Whether it’s growth, profitability, or market share, your ability to deliver concrete and measurable outcomes will be carefully assessed.

3. Positive Impact (Weighting: 40%)

Beyond the numbers, the Pause Awards also value the human touch. How has your initiative been received by people, and what overall impact has it created? Judges will examine the ripple effect of your work, considering the social, environmental, and community implications. The heart of your initiative is as vital as its head.

4. Investable Score™ (Weighting: 10%)

Every innovative idea needs the backing to become a reality. In this segment, your company’s potential for investment is evaluated on a scale from zero to $10 million. How appealing is your venture to potential investors? Judges will look for that unique spark that can ignite investment interest.

The Judging Process

The excitement is building as Pause Awards ‘23 are set to close on 15th September, but have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes during the judging process? Let’s pull back the curtain and take you through the intricate steps that lead to the crowning of champions in the tech and innovation realm.

Qualification Is Key

Before the judging frenzy begins, there’s a crucial step: qualification. Once the entry submission window closes, we internally inspect each entry before we launch Public Voting and invite judges. This means ensuring all questions are answered comprehensively and that you’ve provided enough information for evaluation. If not, don’t worry – you’ll be given the chance (5 days) to update your entry before the real judging kicks off.

Now, let’s dive into the heart of the judging process, which consists of two rigorous rounds.

1st Round: Scoring and Selection

In the first round, each judge takes on the responsibility of reviewing entries within their designated categories or groups aligned with their expertise. Using a 1-10 rating scale, judges meticulously assess each entry. However, here’s the catch – to progress to the 2nd Round as Finalists, entries need to secure at least three judges’ votes and score above 7.0 points. This ensures that only the most promising and exceptional initiatives advance to the next stage.

2nd Round: Deliberation and Decision

The 2nd Round is where the magic happens. The Judging Board convenes in an open session, and each finalist is subjected to intense scrutiny and discussion. It’s here that the winners are decided, and the fate of each entry hangs in the balance. The Chair of the board presides over this critical round, ensuring that the judging process maintains its integrity and impartiality.

The Quest for the Grand Prix, Champion and Diamond Awards

Now, let’s talk about the highest accolades – the Grand Prix, Champion and Diamond Awards. These prestigious honours are not handed out lightly. To claim one of these titles, the entire Judging Board must reach a unanimous agreement that an entry is truly the best in-class and in-show. It’s a testament to the exceptional quality and impact of the winning initiatives.

No Limit to Excellence

In the Pause Awards, there’s no cap on excellence. Judges have the freedom to assign as many finalists and winners as they see fit in each category. It’s all about recognising outstanding contributions to the tech and innovation landscape. However, there’s a caveat – if an entry falls short of the judging criteria or fails to provide sufficient information and metrics, there won’t be a winner declared for that category.

Investment Insights

Here’s an exciting twist: judges are given $10 million worth of free tokens to allocate toward each entry as if they were investors. This unique approach provides entrants with a snapshot of how investable their projects appear at that stage. With 60 senior industry judges strategically placing their bets on entries, it’s a thrilling insight into the potential impact and viability of each initiative.

As the final days to the Pause Awards ‘23 continue, remember that behind every celebrated innovation is a rigorous and meticulous judging process. It’s a journey of scrutiny, deliberation, and celebration of the best and brightest in the Australian tech and innovation arena. 

So, enter now if you haven’t already, because the Pause Awards are not just about recognition; they’re about setting a new benchmark for excellence in the industry!

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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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