Workshop on March 11 will give entry-pointers to 2020 WEA awards

Pictured at the launch of the Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards at Hicksons Point are guest speaker Patrick McAliskey (Novosco) and NI Chamber of Commerce chief executive Ann McGregor with Irish News managing director Dominic Fitzpatrick (right) and marketing manager John Brolly. Photos: Declan Roughan
Gary McDonald Business Editor

COMPANIES and organisations intending to submit an entry to this year's Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards by the April 28 deadline have the opportunity to participate in a special 'How to Write a Winning Entry' breakfast workshop on Wednesday March 11.

Delegates at the free-to-attend event at KPMG's Belfast headquarters will receive invaluable tips, advice and words of wisdom from past winners, a leading PR professional and one of the judging panel.

Last year's inaugural workshop was attended by more than 40 prospective WEA award entrants, and the consensus was that they all left with a much clear perspective of what the judges were seeking.

For the third year running, the judging panel (it convenes on May 13) will be headed by Ellvena Graham, chair of the Electricity Supply Board, a former head of Ulster Bank and chair of the Belfast Waterfront and Ulster Hall board.

She will be joined by Irish News business editor Gary McDonald, and also representatives from our initiative's nine business partners.

The partners this year are Carson McDowell, Queen's University, Ulster University Business School, KPMG, Progressive Building Society, Glandore, First Derivatives, venue Titanic Belfast and wellbeing partner Galgorm Spa and Golf Resort.

The Workplace & Employment Awards, now in their 14th year and which focus on businesses' people asset, take place in Titanic Belfast on Thursday June 11, a star-studded event which will be attended by upwards of 600 guests.

Among those addressing the March 11 entry-writing workshop will be Deborah Loughran, group head of marketing and communications at Newry-based specialist construction firm MJM Group.

Contributions will also come from past winners including the MAC and Action Cancer.

Sitting alongside long-established and popular categories in this year's Workplace & Employment Awards will be a special “Strive to Zero” sustainability accolade, encouraging companies to set expectations and work towards reducing their carbon footprint.

:: To book a place at the workshop at KPMG go to


:: Time management: Allow a six-week window in terms of planning, developing and polishing your entry. Start the process and keep the momentum up.

:: Don't leave anything unexplained: presume the judges know nothing: imagine you're explaining your business to someone that has no knowledge of what you do whatsoever.

:: A second pair of eyes: Get someone else to fact-check, proof and edit your entry – sometimes you will not spot your own mistakes.

:: Structure the entry to showcase all the brilliant work you're already doing, so introducing a framework can be a great way to ensure you capture everything

:: Show off your organisation: You may wish to treat your entry like a pitch - imagine it's your chance to show your senior leadership exactly what you've been doing and to gain their buy-in

:: Look at the bigger picture first: think of your overall organisational strategy and how whatever you're going to showcase fits in to that.

:: Make your application stand out. What makes the culture in your company different?

:: Provide evidence to support your application such as client and team testimonials, and quotes from professional governing bodies.

:: Include quantitative figures and qualitative anecdotes plus include graphs in your appendices to back up what you have claimed.

:: Be current. These are the 2020 awards, so detail what have you done in the last year - not in a bygone era.

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