Paul Corke is the Leadership Development Manager at credit firm MBNA, and was a judge at the recent 2018 UK Employee Experience Awards. Here he tells CXM about his judging experience…
I have worked in the financial services sector for over 20 years, specialising in leadership development, so it was great to receive a call to be asked to be a judge at the UK Employee Experience Awards.
In previous years I have been part of teams entering awards, so I have an idea of the different types of emotions you feel when wining, or when you fail to pick up an award. This was the first time as a judge for me, so moving from providing a submission and presentation to being able to sit and listen to group presentations was quite the experience.
Being my first time as judge, there was a little bit of nervousness, but the plan was to project calm, enjoy the day, and have confidence in knowing I could ask the right types of questions. For me, being a judge is all about having a growth mindset – to want to listen, learn, and be curious about what is happening in other companies and across different industries.
It’s a great way to learn what current thinking is, who different companies are working with, what is cutting edge, and to scan different industries in your field of expertise. What I found was that each business is generally very unique, but often have similar issues – though different ones based on where they are in their life cycle.
This makes it interesting, but also a challenge for the judges with different sized organisations competing against one another at those different stages of their life cycle. I wasn’t disappointed by the teams, as I saw some great presentations along with some amazing projects, initiatives, and strategies.
The biggest thing I learnt from the process is that the initial submission is really important, as it needs to be well-thought through, providing real insight into how the company’s strategy has made a difference. For me, when scoring as a judge it really does make you realise exactly what should be going into the submission and the importance of taking your time to get this right. The presentations I observed were excellent, with an opportunity to ask questions, so backing this up with a great submission is key to success if you want to pick up an award.
We used a scoring mechanism where each judge scores both the submission and the presentation. Prior to this opportunity, I believed that the judges had a discussion to decide who would win based on what they had read and seen. But it was the opposite, where judges individually rate each company and then scores are added up to ensure you have a winner based on objective scoring. Yes there is a little time for debate between each presentation, but each judge then decides how they will individually score each company. It makes it very objective and fair.
It was also great to meet fellow judges and to learn about. It was interesting to hear the types of questions they ask the groups to see where their focus was compared to mine.
Overall, the whole experience – from reading submissions, to presentations, to the Awards dinner itself – was excellent and brilliantly co-ordinated. You really do feel the excitement for the winners and it’s a fantastic way to meet like-minded individuals. I would highly recommend the experience because it enables you to benchmark yourself in your field and gain valuable insight. I’m looking forward to being part of a judging panel again soon.