Our new vision:
The home for champions

27 June, 2022
Our new vision: <br>The home for champions | News | Pause Awards
Nikita Lamba, writer contributor
Nikita Lamba
27 June, 2022

You’ve seen the new website. You’ve heard how it was built. Now, it’s time to get down to the intent and the why – why the big shift? And why now?

Awards by definition are meant to be communities of the best in business, design, performance, and more. Sadly though, many of them have notoriously grown to become money making machines that involve little to no community engagement.

Flipping this notoriety on its head is George Hedon (Founder & CEO of Pause Awards). His vision for the awards’ new positioning has been driven by the need to create a home for champions — a platform that recognises real people doing real, impactful things.

But what does this new home for champions mean for the community? And how can they make the most of it?

To know all this and more, we sat down for a little tête-à-tête to have a deeper understanding of this shift, starting off with a bit of background into what Pause Awards is.

“The way I see it, we’re an independent innovation agent that honours business excellence and effectiveness, and we do this annually to measure the progress of the Australian ecosystem. Pause Awards was born out of Pause Fest — Australia’s largest festival for business and creativity — and has grown to acknowledge and award thought-leaders and doers across 5 key category tracks: Growth, Excellence, Operators, Good, and Culture.

Through this, we expect to honour outstanding business achievements year on year. And we can’t wait to welcome the new and experienced innovators of Australia. When I say we’re creating a home for champions, I truly mean it.”

You can tell George has had a long innings. Coming off the back of Pause Awards leads us to wonder how it all started and what exactly led to this moment.

“I think we all can agree that not all awards are created equitably. There are so many disingenuous and self congratulatory awards on the market that deliver little to no justice for the growth and development of the ecosystem. Throwing an award to someone that doesn’t really deserve it (or doesn’t deserve it just yet!), or as an encouragement, sets a bad example for what quality and real performance truly mean.

George Hedon, Founder & CEO, Pause Awards

And so to counter that, we established Pause Awards in 2018 as part of Pause Fest, where it only ran as an internal nomination program for companies that were excelling. But it’s been a decade since we began recognising achievers, and setting a high standard has always been in line with the Pause Fest ethos as an innovation catalyst in Australia. And by virtue of this, Pause Awards has come to be a natural extension of that recognition and repute.

Also, we can’t not talk about how the Australian ecosystem is booming.
The Startup Genome 2022 report says the Sydney ecosystem is now worth US$68 billion (A$97.8bn) and Melbourne’s at US$17bn (A$24.4bn). It would be crazy to not care about tech and the innovation ecosystem. There would be no progress and growth without it. Innovation is what gives us the purpose to live, create, care, and beyond. And that’s why we harbour it here at Pause.”

It’s pretty wild to think how big an idea can grow to be. For George, it doesn’t stop here though. When asked what he hopes to see come out of this new home for champions, he goes on to say, “For me, Pause Awards has always been a symbol and support of progress, achievement, and community. We aim to be the epicentre for ambitious, forward-thinking businesses in our ecosystem and to inspire future generations working towards the same.

This is exactly what’s propelled us to create a home for champions, and to deliver on this new vision by providing exclusive, high-quality bespoke experiences, ranging from our refreshed website and user experience to our entry and judging portal, and of course, our new trophy designs and NFT drops by 3D artists.

And so I look forward to our community and the wider ecosystem leveraging what we seek to serve every day. I want them to know that Pause Awards is as much theirs as it has been mine, perhaps more theirs, to be honest. We’ve built the home, it’s for you to move in.

It’s fairly clear that George’s whole intention is underpinned by action, engagement, and honest facilitation of discourse on innovation and community. Here’s hoping the website is just a starting point for the same!

If you’d like to explore how you can delve deeper into the Pause Awards community, click here to learn more about the Pause Business Club.

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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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