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Recognising and rewarding the unsung heroes of the event industry

‘The objective of today’s event is to publicly celebrate the unsung heroes of the industry’ announced Kay England, Chair, The Meetings Industry Association as she opened the miaList 2018 celebrations.

miaList awards programme

miaList 2018 celebration lunch programme

Back in spring 2018, when Mia Butler, Sales Director, MIA approached me about getting involved with miaList 2018 as a judge, these were exactly the reasons that she brimmed with enthusiasm for the awards. They celebrated people that work hard within the industry but often don't get recognition. How could I not agree to get involved with such a great initiative?

Meeting the other judges for the first time at London Park Plaza Riverbank in June, for shortlisting, I wasn't sure what to expect. I was warmly welcomed by the judging panel and Jane Longhurst, Chief Executive, MIA. The shortlisting was a tough process, so many great stories from all corners of the events and hospitality industry but only 10 places on the list. Having attended and worked on awards ceremonies before, being on the judging panel was something new for me. It was interesting to see how the combination of skills and expertise amongst the judges contributed to the decision making process. We were learning about the candidates and learning from each other, through our different perspectives. After several hours discussing and debating the shortlist was confirmed and invites would be sent for the next round of judging.

miaList judges at Park Plaza Riverbank London

The judges: Amanda Thurlow, Mark Gallen, Rob Flinter, Gill Smillie, Lacy Curtis-Ward

Meeting the candidates face to face over two days, at The Barbican Centre and at Victory Services Club, in London was a fascinating and beneficial experience. During the interview process the candidates nominations came alive, as judges asked questions and got to experience their personalities. We also got to meet the person who had nominated each candidate, which really added a multi dimensional approach to the decision making process. The only problem now was that the choices were even tougher to make.

miaList judges selfie

A quick break from judging for a selfie: Amanda Thurlow, Lacy Curtis-Ward, Robert Kenward, Gil Smillie, Jane Longhust, Richard O'Riordan, Mark Gallan, Rob Flinter, Carol Primett

Regrouping for the final judges meeting, decisions had to be made on who would feature on the miaList 2018. As each candidate only met two pairs of judges, it was really useful to have video interviews of each candidate available to view. We could then all go back and listen to those who we had not met and use it as evidence in the decisions we were making.

There were no categories within the list, which made it slightly more unusual in the judging process. Excellence was recognised equally in those with strategic business experience, driving business revenue, as those with back of house experience, striving to satisfy customers and deliver great experiences. They all delivered value to the business that they worked for but in different ways. It was a great way to remove barriers and highlight the connected parts that everyone plays across the industry.

After a full day of debate and discussion the miaList 2018 was finally agreed. As exciting as this was, we had to keep our lips sealed for a couple of months until the announcement at the celebration lunch.

The judges watch interviews of the candidates

On 2 November we arrived early at The Tower Hotel in London, to rehearse the awards sequence before the guests arrived. Finally the drinks were served and the doors were opened, as the time we had all been waiting for arrived. Keeping a poker face whilst chatting to candidates during the drinks reception was tricky, as we tried not to give anything away. Live music drifted across the foyer as the talented musicians entertained with vintage songs.

An energetic and amusing performance from "frobats", against the twinkling backdrop of the stage set, opened the awards. After speeches from Jane Longhurst and Kay England, guests tucked into a delicious lunch before the presentations began.

Lunch at the miaList 2018

From the leadership and one to watch award, from the graduate to the post graduate award every single candidate had an inspiring story behind their nomination. Despite the event industry being recognised as one of the most stressful places to work, each and every one of those who made it onto the list not only embraced their role but had drive and enthusiasm that contributed to the success of the business that they worked in, the accomplishments of the team around them and the experience of their customers.

The awards presentation

The genuine pride and excitement that exploded around the room and bubbled over into the foyer after the event was tangible. Jane recognised the support of the organisations behind the candidates when she said, "Behind every superstar is likely to be an organisation offering encouragement and professional development opportunities"

Not only had the candidates inspired the judges but there was a sense that achieving a place on the miaList 2018 had inspired the candidates to go on, to reach further within the companies that had supported them. Even those that did not make it onto the list had received well deserved nominations, if only there were more places!

It was a memorable event to be part of and it would be amazing to see where the careers of those looking to achieve further go and hear more stories from those who are happy in their role and continue to deliver excellent service. Let's continue to recognise and reward the unsung heroes of the event and hospitality industry. Throughout the year, why not consider who you encounter that goes the extra mile and show them some well deserved recognition by nominating them for the miaList 2019?

Discover the full list of those recognised on the MIA website

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