MY WORK­ING LIFE

Lon­don-based Mark Llewellyn-Slade tells us about the Queen’s Hon­ours, the art of bragging, and why bribes are the ul­ti­mate no-no

Friday - - Editor’s Letter -

Merit aside, Mark Llewellyn-Slade can help you get awards and ac­co­lades... even a knighthood.

How did you get into this, Mark? I was work­ing in PR when I iden­ti­fied a need for an or­gan­i­sa­tion that helps com­pa­nies to find, en­ter and win busi­ness awards. A cou­ple of years later it be­came ap­par­ent that there was no help on of­fer for in­di­vid­u­als who want to nom­i­nate their friends, fam­ily, busi­ness and com­mu­nity con­tacts for Queen’s Hon­ours such as an MBE, OBE, CBE or knighthood, so we launched a ser­vice to help them, too.

How many awards are there glob­ally? We have over 2,000 awards in our data­base.

Why do people like to win? Win­ning awards will raise their pro­file, en­hance their rep­u­ta­tion and in­stil trust, that vi­tal in­gre­di­ent for suc­cess in all walks of life. Many busi­ness award win­ners re­port an in­crease in sales and prof­its as a re­sult. A Queen’s Hon­our can help the nom­i­nee to raise aware­ness of their ex­cel­lent work, build on their suc­cesses and keep giv­ing back to their in­dus­try and to the com­mu­nity.

What can scup­per chances of win­ning? People don’t an­swer the ques­tion. They cut and paste from ex­ist­ing ma­te­rial when they ac­tu­ally need to write a be­spoke piece of copy that is tai­lored to the cul­ture of the awards. All too of­ten people write bul­let­points and fail to cap­ture the imag­i­na­tion of the judges; yes, you need that fac­tual in­for­ma­tion, but your ap­pli­ca­tion also needs to have a cap­ti­vat­ing and in­ter­est­ing story.

Any other tips? The real art is be­ing smart about the awards you en­ter. We spend a lot of time with our busi­ness clients build­ing awards plans for

them over the next 12 months. Be­ing smart about the awards you have the best chance of win­ning based on your strengths will in­crease your chances by about 20 per cent be­fore you even put pen to pa­per. An­other tip: Never let the com­pany ac­coun­tant or fi­nance di­rec­tor write an award en­try – they’re nearly al­ways hope­less!

How boast­ful should one be when fill­ing in an ap­pli­ca­tion? I would go in all guns blaz­ing. It’s a com­pe­ti­tion at the end of the day: If you en­ter a 100m race you don’t say ‘I won’t run my fastest be­cause I don’t want to up­set the guy in the next lane.’ You’re in it to win it, and while you should never be mis­lead­ing, if you are the best at some­thing, then say it.

Awards of­ten have a ve­neer of benev­o­lence, but some must be big money-spin­ners. What’s the deal? Busi­ness awards tend to make their money by charg­ing an en­try fee, by sell­ing ta­bles at the awards din­ner, by sell­ing spon­sor­ship and ad­ver­tis­ing and by sell­ing mar­ket­ing ma­te­ri­als to win­ners such as tro­phies and cer­tifi­cates. Or­gan­is­ers don’t tend to pub­li­cise how much money each in­di­vid­ual event makes but I think it’s fair to say that the more es­tab­lished na­tional and in­ter­na­tional awards are very prof­itable.

What is the most pres­ti­gious award? For in­di­vid­u­als it would be a UK Queen’s Hon­our, specif­i­cally a knighthood for men and a dame­hood for women. An­other very pres­ti­gious award open to in­di­vid­u­als or com­pa­nies is a No­bel Prize.

What are some of the big ones in Dubai? There’s the MRM Busi­ness Awards; the MEA Awards; the Gulf Busi­ness Awards – there are lots of them. The Queen’s Hon­ours are open to people from all over the world. A lot of people as­sume you have to be a UK cit­i­zen and based in the UK to ap­ply but nei­ther of those are true. It’s open to any wor­thy per­son, although I should point out that you don’t tend to get an hon­our sim­ply for do­ing your job, oth­er­wise ev­ery po­lice­man and fire­fighter in the world would be el­i­gi­ble for one. You have to go above and be­yond the call of duty.

How do you help boost clients’ chances? We save our clients time, ef­fort and ag­gra­va­tion as well as in­creas­ing their chances of suc­cess. You are six times more likely to suc­ceed with our help. We spend about 100 to 150 hours re­search­ing and draft­ing a Queen’s Hon­ours nom­i­na­tion, for ex­am­ple. People just don’t have that amount of time to de­vote to a nom­i­na­tion. Much of this time is spent talk­ing to sup­port­ers and help­ing them to draft their let­ters of sup­port as well as the nom­i­na­tion it­self. We’ve drafted over 700 hon­ours nom­i­na­tions and well over 2,000 busi­ness awards en­tries so we have got to learn what works and what doesn’t.

What kind of fees are we talk­ing about for your ser­vice? Our Queen’s Hon­ours nom­i­na­tion draft­ing fees range from Dh18,000-117,000, depend­ing on the length of nom­i­na­tion re­quired and the amount of li­ai­son with sup­port­ers. Busi­ness award draft­ing fees range from Dh9,000-28,000.

What if some­one wants help to win an award that they have no chance of bag­ging? We po­litely dis­suade as many people as we ac­tu­ally work with. But it’s rare that people will con­tact us and they’re an ut­ter no-hoper; we might have to tell people they’re not quite ready yet and talk to them about what else they could be do­ing to build on what they’ve achieved. For us, it’s about work­ing with the top one per cent of lead­ers in their field whether they be com­pa­nies or in­di­vid­u­als.

What’s your ad­vice to any­one tempted to send in their ap­pli­ca­tion with a lit­tle ‘gift’? Don’t! You should never try to bribe the judges or in­flu­ence them. Never try to call a judge; most are eas­ily found via the awards web­site but the worst thing you can do is call them and let them know you’ve en­tered. That’s highly em­bar­rass­ing and is likely to re­sult in your en­try be­ing re­moved.

‘You’re in it to win it, and while you should never be mis­lead­ing, if you are the best at some­thing, then say it.’

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