The new faces of Pause Awards in strategy, growth and innovation

30 May, 2023
The new faces of Pause Awards in strategy, growth and innovation | News | Pause Awards
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Ann Nounce
30 May, 2023

This year’s prestigious judge lineup includes: Monique Alvis, Trevor Townsend, Doug Rathbone and Stuart B Richardson from the ‘Growth & Business Development’ and leading the ‘Expert Strategy & Innovation’ club are Kellie Morton, Michael Zyla, Nima Idel, Robyn Wilson and Amir Ansari.

The Pause Awards ‘23, in partnership with VicGov, is open for entries. There are just over two weeks to register and catch the Early Entry rates, before the deadline on 16 June, at midnight AEST.

Entering its sixth year, the programme has become the Australian benchmark for business excellence, the ultimate accolade for innovators, entrepreneurs and ambitious companies. Winners are selected in two rounds by the panel of senior industry experts.

Read more about the newly appointed judges who will be joining us this year:

Monique, Trevor

Monique Alvis is an Innovation Specialist at Microsoft. An expert at bridging business innovation, design, and technology, Monique has spent the last nine years working with some of the largest organisations globally. She is also an advisor and mentor to numerous early-stage companies, as well as a Board Member of the Tech Girls Movement Foundation.

The CEO of Startupbootcamp Australia, Trevor Townsend, is an entrepreneur passionate about business, technology, and sport. As an experienced angel investor, Trevor has a keen interest in supporting tech startups and early-stage companies, making him an ideal judge for the Pause Awards.

Doug, Stuart

Doug Rathbone, CTO of Airtasker, brings over two decades of experience in tech to the judging panel. As an award-winning innovator, he has led engineering teams at various prestigious companies including Amazon, AWS, and Commonwealth Bank.

Founder and Managing Director of Adventure Capital, Stuart B Richardson is a long-term supporter, creator, and contributor to the Australian entrepreneurial ecosystem. His involvement with various tech businesses, from startups to growth phases, makes him a valuable addition to the panel.

Moving on to the group focusing on ‘Expert Strategy and Innovation’, we have:

Kellie, Michael

Kellie Morton is the Director & Chief Legal Officer at Birchal, Australia’s leading equity crowdfunding platform. With experience spanning New York, London, and Australia, she brings a wealth of international knowledge to the panel.

Michael Zyla, Director – Retail and & Commerce at Mastercard, is passionate about bringing impact and value to retailers and commerce players. His interest in growth, next-gen products, digital transformation, Industry 4, and Web3 makes him an exciting addition to the panel.

Nima, Robyn

Nima Idel, Head of Product and Growth at, is a seasoned Product Leader passionate about driving innovation and growth. With over 15 years of experience in product management and design, his expertise will be valuable for evaluating award entries.

Robyn Wilson, Founder & Head of Strategy at SUPERORA, leads a team of strategists, designers, marketers, and technologists who transform and grow culturally valuable businesses. She brings her passion for the intersection between sociocultural zeitgeist and consumer markets to the judging panel.


Amir Ansari is the Global head of Product Design at Iress. An experienced product executive, mentor, and public speaker, Amir has an impressive track record of building and scaling design and innovation capabilities to deliver successful products. His commitment to both short and long-term product and practice strategies will be an asset to the judging process.

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 recognise innovative Australian companies for their excellence, performance, effectiveness and from this year how investable they are.

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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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