The new faces of Pause Awards in business and the product officers

21 August, 2023
The new faces of Pause Awards in business and the product officers | News | Pause Awards
George Hedon, founder and CEO, Pause Fest & Awards
George Hedon
21 August, 2023

These are the final few impressive profiles of the Pause Awards 2023 judges. From tech titans at Amazon and fintech wizards at Wisr to sustainability trailblazers and equity leaders, discover the mavens driving innovation and creativity.

The Pause Awards ‘23, in partnership with VicGov, is open for entries until 1st September. The Late Entry deadline is this Friday 1 September, at midnight AEST. The big one!

The Pause Awards aren’t merely a testament to innovation and brilliance; they’re about celebrating the minds that dare to push boundaries and challenge the status quo. As we gear up for the most anticipated recognition ceremony of 2023, we spotlight the last batch of judges who hail from two distinct tribes: The ‘Remarkable Product Heads‘ and the ‘Executive Legends‘. 

These individuals have carved their niche, be it in world-leading brands like Amazon and OMD or in sustainable ventures like evee. Let’s delve deeper into the lives of these visionaries who stand as the torchbearers of excellence and creativity in the Australian business landscape.

Fabio Oliveira, the National Innovation Manager at Kmart Australia, has been the pulse behind integrating novel innovation practices within household brands, creating ripples of transformation from WorkSafe Victoria to Kmart. He stands as a testament to how large-scale corporations can embrace agility and innovation.

Founder and CEO Judy Sahay, the dynamo behind Crowd Media, leverages her expansive influence to seamlessly meld brands and consumers. With a reputation that extends to being named Australia’s Top 50 Influencer, she has time and again shattered the glass ceiling, inspiring many in her wake.

Pause Awards judges

Adding a financial acumen to our panel is Partner Eric Boone from Madison Marcus. With a meticulous eye for sustainable developments and strategic finance, his international prowess has made waves from the US to APAC.

Kirsty Dare, the COO of evee, is not just a leader; she’s an advocate. Her dedication towards catalysing the adoption of electric vehicles coupled with her passion for sustainability sketches the blueprint for a green future. Through her roles, she shapes the very discourse around conscious capitalism and sustainable enterprise.

Pause Awards judges

Representing the quintessential blend of entrepreneurship, design, and investment is Kate O’Keeffe. As a Board Member at Birchal, her journey from the bustling lanes of Silicon Valley to being a voice for Australia’s crowd-sourced equity funding is nothing short of inspiring.

Tanya Christie wears the hat of the Chief Operating Officer at Fullstack Advisory with aplomb. As someone who stands at the intersection of tax and tech, her vision is steering one of Australia’s premier accounting firms dedicated to the modern, tech-driven enterprises.

Pause Awards judges

Then, there’s Yi Hsia Koh, the Managing Director of Kit, whose app resonates with the future – instilling financial literacy in kids. Her portfolio, rich with ventures spanning from healthcare to investment, reflects her versatility.

Ben Berger, Chief Product Officer at Wisr, is the mind behind some of the most groundbreaking software and online products that have shaped fintech landscapes across three continents.

Pause Awards judges

Kate Gooden‘s role as the Head of Product for Amazon Alexa ANZ underscores her commitment to redefining our interactions with AI and smart devices, bringing to the table two decades of experience in crafting unmatched digital experiences.

Lastly, Penny Shell, the Chief Product Officer at OMD Australia, brings to the panel a legacy of global acclaim for her media campaigns and an award-winning strategy prowess that has earned her accolades such as B&T’s 2021 Women in Media Award for Strategy.

Pause Awards judges

Together, these titans of industry will illuminate the Pause Awards ‘23, upholding its legacy of recognising and rewarding unbridled innovation and creativity.

Pause Awards ‘23

Pause Awards recognises the most ambitious and effective companies in Australia, powered by over 60 independent senior experts who set an industry benchmark for evaluation criteria annually. We take a more holistic approach to awards, by entering your breakthrough moment we measure how ambitious and effective your company is. And from this year, how investable you might be!

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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.

Early Entries end on:
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