The new faces of Pause Awards in strategy and leadership

4 July, 2023
The new faces of Pause Awards in strategy and leadership | News | Pause Awards
George Hedon, founder and CEO, Pause Fest & Awards
George Hedon
4 July, 2023

The stellar lineup of judges keeps expanding to include: Stephen Foxworthy, Alan Kirszner, Jessica Williams, Damon Pezaro, Eneko Bilbao, Jodette Cleary, Brian Borowsky and Lauren Barber.

The Pause Awards ‘23, in partnership with VicGov, is open for entries until 1st September. The Standard Entry deadline is on Friday 18 August, at midnight AEST.

Meet the masterminds driving Australia’s flourishing business scene. From seasoned strategists to pioneering CEOs, we introduce the leaders making waves across various industries. In the spotlight, we have two distinctive teams – the ‘Innovative Strategists & Directors‘, plotting the course of success, and the ‘Inspiring Founders & CEOs‘, leading by example.

Innovative Strategists & Directors

Pause Awards Judges

At the helm of strategic innovation, we discover Stephen Foxworthy, Managing Director at Accenture Song. Stephen capitalises on his 20 years’ experience in digital strategy, marketing, and eCommerce to redefine digital impact across diverse industries.

Equally significant in this league is Alan Kirszner, July’s Head of Design. With over 20 years in industrial design, Alan empowers businesses with his practical methodologies, fostering value-creation through exceptional design.

Pause Awards Judges

Jessica Williams, Google’s Strategy & Insights expert, seamlessly blends a wealth of experience in sales, marketing, and people development strategies to help businesses reach their zenith.

At the forefront of product leadership, Damon Pezaro lends his expertise as the Chief Product Officer for Inspectorio, Venture Partner for EVP, and Non-Executive Director for Ordermentum & CarClarity. Damon’s influence is felt in every product development he helms.

Pause Awards Judges

And in the realm of cloud architecture, Eneko Bilbao, Principal Solution Architect at Amazon Web Services, has devoted two decades to modernising technology landscapes. Eneko’s unique blend of efficiency and resilience paves the way for businesses to thrive in a cloud-native environment.

Inspiring Founders & CEOs

Leading the charge of innovative leadership are Jodette Cleary, hipages Group’s Chief People & Culture Officer, and Frankie Layton, CEO & Founder of The Dirt Company. Jodette’s deep understanding of people and culture has seen her work with big-ticket clients like Red Balloon and Atlassian, while Frankie’s passion project has grown into a beloved laundry brand with over 100k customers across Australia and New Zealand.

Pause Awards Judges

Joining this illustrious roster is James Callahan, Co-founder and CEO of Forever. With an exceptional track record of creating best-in-class CG & Moving Image for brands like Apple and Google, James continues to revolutionise visual storytelling.

Board Member for Upparel, Brian Borowsky, brings a wealth of experience in international technology consultation, specialising in ClimateTech, HealthTech, and PeopleTech. Brian’s role in crafting strategies, driving growth, and building leadership is unmatched in the industry.

Pause Awards Judges

Lastly, we find Lauren Barber, CEO of NeedleCalm. A clinical nurse specialist turned entrepreneur, Lauren has won multiple prestigious awards for her work in helping individuals overcome needle phobia.

Whether weaving strategies or leading the charge, these innovators are tirelessly crafting tomorrow’s business world today. Their collective wisdom and passion for progress are a testament to Australia’s thriving business landscape. These leaders aren’t just influencing change; they’re embodying it. And the exciting part? Their journey is just beginning. Get in front of them at Pause Awards.

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.

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