Donna O'Toole is joined by Head of Events at The Learning and Performance Institute, Pauline Saunders. Pauline talks about their flagship awards programme The Learning Awards, including what the 2021 entry process entails, who should enter, and which new categories have been introduced.
The Learning Awards, since its beginning in 1996, have continually adapted to align with significant trends in L&D, and to ensure that categories represent current technologies, innovations and people skills - they are one of the highest accolades you can receive in workplace learning and development.
Donna O'Toole is the Founder of August, and she has had the pleasure of supporting entrepreneurs, business leaders and teams to win the most prestigious awards in the world. She has seen, first-hand, how receiving awards and recognition has motivated teams, solved problems, supercharged brands and raised their profiles, helping businesses to grow and do even more good things for their employees, their industry and their community.
Hi, I'm Donna rohtul. And you're listening to my exclusive winning awards podcast. Over the years, I've had the pleasure of supporting entrepreneurs, business leaders and teams to win the most prestigious awards in the world. I've seen firsthand how receiving awards and recognition has motivated teams, solve problems, supercharge brands, and raise profiles, helping businesses to grow and do even more good things for their employees, their industry and their community. In this podcast, I'll be sharing valuable awards, insights, tips, and inspirational stories to make sure that you get the recognition that you deserve, so that you can go on and achieve your dreams. So what are you waiting for? It's time to start winning. Hello, and welcome to another episode of the winning awards podcast. Thank you for joining me. And today I'm very pleased to welcome Pauline Saunders. Pauline is the head of events at the Learning and Performance Institute, and is always in charge of running the learning Awards, which we're super happy to help with every year. So hi, Pauline, lovely to have you here. Hello, thank you very much for having me back again. So Right. So for those of you who are listening, who maybe don't already know that LPI it would be really nice if you could tell us a bit more about what you do falling. Yeah, no problem. So I just said my role as head of events here at the LPI. I've been in this role coming up to think six years now. I can't believe it because absolutely flown by. And I manage all of the LPI events. So including the learning awards, a new event for this year, which is the learning with summer party, and we've got learning Live, which is our conference, and also learning live networks, which are global events and run those inside and outside of the UK. Fantastic. So obviously pulling since we lost by coincidence, last year's awards, it's been quite a year, hasn't it? So how's the last year pmtu? Have you had to pivot things change things make changes to operations? To keep supporting the learning community? Yeah, absolutely. What a year we will had and I think, like most people will say it, you know, has been it has been challenging, we have had to look at things differently. And like most organisations and sectors had to make so changes and, and working in events in particular. It's been challenging with just so much uncertainty, you know, things moving around dates moving and not knowing, you know, are we planning for a face to face event? Are we planning for online events, so we've had to make some, some big decisions. So for example, we run a conference learning live every September. So last year, we had to cancel that event. But we wanted to offer something else in the place of that event, we didn't want to just put that event online. So what we did is we launched learning live digital, which is a free series of weekly online events. So we had webinars, panel discussions, interviews, and they're completely free for the learning community. They're all recorded and made available. And we still do those now. And that's something will continue to do going forward. Yeah, fantastic. And, and so obviously, with the learning awards running every year, and I know that that's open now. So we want to support as many people as possible to get themselves recognised this year and their projects and initiatives. And I know from the people that we speak to there's been a lot of learning projects going on, particularly in the digital transformation world. So tell us a bit more about the learning awards for anyone who's never entered them before. How do they work? So who do they recognise who's entering and you know, the process if you can? Yeah, absolutely. So the learning awards recognises innovation and achievement within workplace learning. And it's open to individuals and organisations across the world. And it's totally free to enter the learning awards. And the process of entry would be that you would submit your entry before the last Friday in September, which this year falls on the 24th of September. entry for submissions are open now they open in February, you upload your submission online. We then have a panel of short listeners who read those entries, score those entries and whittle them down to eight finalists per category. And then those eight finalists are invited to the judging process, which we run in November and that consists of a 15 minute presentation and a 30 minute q&a And previously that's always been a face to face judging process. Unless you are outside of the UK then you would do your presentation online. But last year, we actually changed that to completely online judging and that is something we will continue going forwards. I think with everybody so much more used to using the technology now on Zoom for meetings, etc, it's a it's an easier transition to go from face to face to toward online judging. And it makes it completely fair from wherever you are in the world, you will be doing an online presentation. So everyone is on exactly the same playing field for their for the judging process. That's fantastic. And I can say that, because I judge with the learning awards every year that I love the face to face judging processes, it's really, really nice. But on Zoom, and I do this a lot for lots of different awards. It works so well. And it's so nice, because you can have different members of the team involved. You know, and judges are able to question in the same way as we would have done live. And it's just means people can be there who might have found it difficult to be there. Otherwise, I think so. Yeah. Yeah, no, that's fantastic. I'm looking forward to it again this year. So the process is open. And now you need your written entry in this key criteria on the website, for you there and choose specific categories, and then all the finalists who get through to the next stage will be then able to do their next part of the process on Zoom, which would be nice and easy. So then what about the actual ceremony last year, obviously, we had an online event and that was really exciting. And really, you know, I still had lovely Claudia hosting and and and so much it was so much positivity coming out of it. But obviously, you had to make a bit of a transformation yourselves. And so what what are you expecting for this year? Yeah, so Well, I learned a lot last year doing doing the online awards event was I've never done anything on that, that scale before. So it was a huge learning experience for me. And actually we weren't, we learned a lot. And it made me take away things from that that I would actually put into the Face Face Awards. And we wanted to if anyone's watched it, or you can watch the recording of the event we did like a TV show, we didn't want to replicate a typical Awards where you you know be on stage, you've been behind the lectern, because it's very different experience to somebody behind the screen than it is talking to somebody in the room. So we had to think about so much you know, from from the script, a script that you would maybe say to a roomful of people is a very different script to what you're saying when you're just talking to someone behind the screen. So learn a lot, and really enjoy the experience. But I am looking forward to hopefully getting back to a face to face event next February. So we've introduced two new categories for next year, we've also introduced a new event, which is the learning awards summer party. And because we couldn't have a face to face ceremony in February, we really wanted to bring the winners and the finalists together, in person. So on the 12th of August this year, we'll be having our first learning awards summer party, which is a celebration for those finalists and winners and a great way to people to network and meet the winners if you want to. So and that's something we'll continue going forward. It isn't just a one off of this year, we'll see that continue year on year to have that sort of summer celebration for award winners. That's really nice. I think it's lovely when you have these sort of wider networking events, because it helps. Particularly, we talk to people who are obviously interested in the awards, and it helps them to get even more benefit from the from you. But to actually get out there and be networking at a time when you're not feeling nervous and anxious about the results and things like that you can actually just relax and get to know people. Yeah, exactly. And that's what we want it to be, you know, is a real celebration. And so we're all looking forward to that. And fantastic. And last year, I was really delighted to judge the COVID Champion Award. And that was won by guys and St. Thomas's hospital, and was brilliant. So what can we expect from this year's categories? So we have two new categories. For this year, we've replaced our COVID champion and individual award for a learning culture award. And the reason we've introduced that award is that our conference learning live, we ask all of our attendees, what challenges they're facing at the moment, and that is the number one top challenge learning culture and how to create a learning culture. And we didn't have an award category that reflected that. So we've introduced that category and that's presented to an organisation that has demonstrated an environment that enables learning to flourish and happen naturally in the flow of work and create creating a live lifelong learning mindset. And we've also introduced the learning give back award and that award recognises and celebrates individuals and organisations who supported learning and creative and innovative ways to make life better those who've gone above and beyond and help others through difficult times and and that category is one that we decided by a public vote which i think is perfectly nice yeah that is a really nice category and there's been so much of that happening hasn't there yeah so that tough one to judge that will be that really will be a tough one a bit like the the COVID champion individual awards that we had last year really tough categories but we thought the public vote element is something really important you know we want the community to decide you know who is that person that deserves that that walks it's gonna be a worthy winner oh fantastic how exciting so if that sounds like any of you listening today then don't miss out because also they're quite unusual awards categories so you're not going to find those everywhere you know something to really go for and celebrate your culture and celebrate what you've done to help other people and to make that really good positive environment so definitely encouraged that and what would you say to them to businesses who are thinking about entering or individuals who are thinking oh i'm not sure it's been a tough year should we shouldn't we you know what what kind of projects would you encourage to enter and businesses and and does it make a difference if they have had a tough year with the pandemic it doesn't you know we've had it has been a really tough 18 months and i think for that reason would be the reason i'd say now's the best time to enter it's a really great way to get some recognition either for your organisation or even you know as an individual it's a fantastic way to reward your team now that we're coming out of lockdown i think now more than ever it that is so important and and winning an award will will give people the recognition they deserve it will help strengthen your business and and raise your profile and it's a really good differentiator between yourself and your and your competitors so i think i think you're right and maybe we can put people off and think oh we know we've had a really tough year but actually this is the best time to enter awards i always think as well when i'm certainly when i'm judging and when we're telling stories you know of people's work that they've done that actually talking about the challenges that you've had only strengthens your award entry because absolutely you know we're all we're all real we know that we know that everyone's gone through a lot but to show that you've gone through it and you've made changes you've pivoted you've made adjustments you've supported people in your team you know and you've come out the other side with a brand that's still going and a business is still going and maybe some new opportunities and services and products and things is like say a great time and will motivate our employees to keep going and strength and everybody coming out of this situation absolutely so it's good to reflect the thing as well yeah you know if you sit back you know oh wow what what have we done over the last 18 you know a while you know i've done a lot a lot more than you might think when you're sort of in it yeah definitely and it's a good way to benchmark your business as well against what others are doing you know so if you get into the awards final you know hang on about we're doing really well here and you can learn an awful lot from talking to other people at the event and just getting involved in the whole process i think yeah certainly you know we find awards really bring people's businesses forwards and bring them on to the next level so they can see that happening for the entrance again this year absolutely well thanks so much pauline i'm really looking forward to it myself really hope we're going to get back to live events because obviously we're all ready for a party and i'm really looking forward to it thank you very much and we look forward to seeing you soon thank you so much donna speak to you soon thank you thank you for listening to this episode of my winning awards podcast if you enjoyed it or found it helpful please share it on twitter and linkedin and if you have any questions please head over to crafted by auguste comm where you can find out more about winning awards and contact me on the website you can also take our free awards test which will identify your award strengths and tell you how likely you are to win i really hope you've been able to take away some ideas today so that you can go ahead and win awards have an even bigger impact on the world and achieve your dreams