The new faces of Pause Awards in startup, product and experience

15 June, 2023
The new faces of Pause Awards in startup, product and experience | News | Pause Awards
George Hedon, founder and CEO, Pause Fest & Awards
George Hedon
15 June, 2023

Meet the stellar lineup of judges, champions in their own right, including: Ashwin Ramachandran, Nikki Shah, Warwick Peel, Craig Gillam, Joel Hanna, Nathan Connors, Evan Davey, Angus Tait, David Constantine, Patrick Tam and Adam Mortimer.

The Pause Awards ‘23, in partnership with VicGov, is open for entries until 1st September. The Early Entry deadline is this Friday 16 June, at midnight AEST.

At the very heart of Pause Awards, you’ll find a panel of astute, accomplished and passionate judges. Their collective wisdom and experience (over 1,000 years) are what shape the credibility of the awards to measure your ambition and effectiveness. Today, we lift the curtain on the dynamo individuals who will be charting the course of the Pause Awards, one of Australia’s most acclaimed national awards.

Presenting our ‘Founders Shaping the Industry‘ and the ‘Product Design & Experience Pioneers‘ — a bold league of experts who’ve not just broken glass ceilings but crafted their own skyscrapers in the world of innovative companies. From startups to tech giants, these individuals have led, nurtured, and transformed businesses, setting the new industry benchmark with Pause Awards this year.

Pause Awards Judges

Kick-starting our revelation is Ashwin Ramachandran, the visionary CEO of Sapyen. An effective rainmaker, Ashwin has raised an impressive $200m+ for healthcare and life sciences startups. No stranger to ambitious companies, his career spans across UN, Nike, and Estée Lauder. Ashwin stands eager to elevate dedicated innovators shaping the Australian startup ecosystem through the Pause Awards.

Joining Ashwin is Nikki Shah, the multi-talented Founder of MyMuse. Transitioning from a semi-pro tennis player and physiotherapist to a health-tech entrepreneur, Nikki’s journey exemplifies resilience. Her diverse pursuits including rallying and philanthropy are a testament to her belief in making a tangible impact in the world.

Pause Awards Judges

Warwick Peel, Founder of Startup Boardroom, brings a wealth of experience in building climate and ESG ventures. Warwick’s authentic community impact extends beyond his ventures as he serves on the board for the United Nations Association of Australia.

We then have Craig Gillam, Brand Director and Co-founder of Little Phil, whose strategic design expertise of over 15 years has been committed to designing a world that’s a little better than how he found it. He deems the Pause Awards as an exciting and honourable avenue for celebrating impactful innovation.

Pause Awards Judges

Joel Hanna, the Founder of Big Little Brush, brings his expertise as a sustainability leader. As a three-time founder, he’s no stranger to the hustle of tech startups and is thrilled to witness the talent emerging from Australia’s vibrant startup community.

Onto our Product Design & Experience Pioneers, meet Nathan Connors, the Director of Product at Granicus. Nathan is at the helm of building the world’s most comprehensive Government Experience Cloud, bringing digital engagement to over 5000 government agencies globally.

Pause Awards Judges

Evan Davey, VP Growth (APAC) & Partner at DEPT®, adds a wealth of experience in digital product development. His work with startups across diverse sectors gives him a unique lens to recognise local trailblazers reshaping industries through Pause Awards.

Angus Tait, Principal Product Designer at Xero, brings in his expansive design acumen. His work revolves around capturing the stories of business owners to create exceptional product experiences. Angus sees the Pause Awards as a unique platform to celebrate Australians driving change through innovative design.

Pause Awards Judges

David Constantine, Principal and Director, Design at Ellis Jones Consulting, brings creativity and impact to the table. He eagerly anticipates front-row seats to Australia’s brightest sparks in the innovation space through the Pause Awards.

We also have Patrick Tam, Head of Digital Experience Design at Westpac, an industry veteran with a passion for designing a better tomorrow. Patrick is intrigued by the transformational power of this era, shaping norms and reinventing paradigms, which he’s eager to witness at Pause Awards.

Pause Awards Judges

Finally, rounding up our panel is Adam Mortimer, Director of Strategy & Partnerships at Spaces Interactive. A believer in the power of ideas, Adam is devoted to harnessing emerging tech to improve societal experiences and is eager to credit and celebrate innovation at its finest.

They are pioneers who’ve scaled the summits of their respective fields, and through their illustrious careers, demonstrated what it means to be truly innovative. They know all about the breakthrough moments, the hustle, the setbacks, and the victories that the journey of building the most ambitious companies entails. Stay tuned for more.

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!

Let Pause Awards tell your story
Entering first-timers
Check 2023 Pause Awards winners
Pause Awards Night: the community of champs
Pause Awards Night
2023 Years Summary page is here
Summary Page

Related posts

See who won in 2023

Read more

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:
00d : 00h : 00m : 00s
Enter now