Otago Daily Times
Journeys to be celebrated
TICKETS are now on sale for the 2020 Westpac Otago Business Awards, hosted by the Otago Chamber of Commerce on November 13.
The premier recognition of business excellence in the region, this year’s 12th edition of the biennial event has a theme of celebrating the journeys of businesses in Otago.
With the ongoing trials that businesses are contending with this year, it’s a fitting theme, even if it was decided upon before the Covid19 pandemic.
‘‘We’re finding that a lot of people are really enjoying the opportunity to tell their story,’’ Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dougal McGowan says. ‘‘Not just their story about this year, but also previous years. The idea about journeys and what that means for businesses is quite topical.’’
The Westpac Otago Business Awards have long provided businesses with a valuable opportunity to reflect on their individual stories. Entering the awards can be a commitment in time, but the rigorous entry and judging process can provide an opportunity for them to examine their operations in detail.
McGowan explains that this can lead to new challenges being taken on, and goals for the coming years set.
There are other benefits to being part of the Westpac Otago Business Awards, including the chance to connect with other businesses from the region. And of course, it’s always a great celebration.
‘‘Being in business is pretty tough at the moment for many people,’’ McGowan says. ‘‘Although it’s only one or a couple of nights out for some, it gives them a chance to relax and enjoy each other’s company and have a celebration.’’
Entries for the 2020 awards have poured in since the launch event on July 23. In the majority of categories there have been more entries than in previous years. Finalists will be announced tonight.
‘‘THE judges have had a busy time trying to narrow down each category to three finalists,’’ McGowan says. ‘‘In one category there were over 20 entries, and some businesses are entered into different categories. We’re really happy with the quantity and the quality of the applicants.’’
Organising the large scale blacktie gala dinner at the Dunedin Town Hall for the awards on November 13 has been a difficult exercise this year.
Due to Covid19 the Otago Chamber of Commerce has had to consider three different scenarios for the event.
‘‘For the team here having three scenarios and keeping people informed about what that looks like has been a big job,’’ McGowan says. ‘‘Fingers crossed we’re going to get this one across the line by November 13, and it’ll be a great celebration of what it means to be part of business.’’
While 2020 has clearly been challenging for those in business, events of the year have forced many to look at things differently, which has presented opportunities.
McGowan says a lot of businesses in the region had already been forced to transform over the last five years. Some things in Otago business remain the same, however.
‘‘The business environment has changed quite strongly,’’ he says. ‘‘But we still know the value of sitting together at a meeting and getting those deals done face to face. Some of those things aren’t going to change. We want to be able to meet those people and know that it’s not just about the deal, it’s about the people who you are dealing with, which is just as important.’’
This is the 22nd year that Westpac have been involved as the primary sponsor for the awards. Their longterm association with the Otago Chamber of Commerce reinvigorated what had previously been the Spirit of Dunedin Business Awards in 1998.
‘‘They’ve been embedded in the Westpac Otago Business Awards right from the start,’’ McGowan says. ‘‘Their support for small to medium business, whether it’s through these awards or through their daytoday activities has been huge for the New Zealand business community.’’
There are many other sponsors behind the awards, with some new ones joining other longterm supporters this year.
‘‘We’ve been really lucky,’’ McGowan says. ‘‘Some of them have a past connection, either taking part in that award, or winning the award that they’re now sponsoring. That’s a really nice story in itself.’’
0 Westpac Otago Business Awards: Friday November 13, Dunedin Town Hall. Tickets available from the Otago Chamber of Commerce, call 0800 424 968 or see www.otagobusinessawards.co.nz