British Business Awards October 2013

You Judge the Judges: Part Two

Awards panellists tell us what it takes to be a winner

With just days to go before the 2013 British Business Awards (BBA) on 1 November, BCCJ ACUMEN put the six judges on the spot to find out what matters most in nominations.

There’s still time to promote deserving members and firms, with nominations being accepted until 18 October via a written application or even by phone.

BBA winners will be announced at a glittering gala, bilingual for the second year running, at the Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo. Flavours from the kitchen at the British Embassy Tokyo and a photo booth will be some of the special new touches at this year’s event.

The judges, who cumulatively bring to the table vast experience in business, finance and the arts, were each asked five questions:

1. What will you be looking for in nominations?

2. What advice can you give nominees about presenting?

3. Which three words would you use to describe the ideal candidates?

4. Why do you think you were asked to be a judge?

5. What do you anticipate will be the hardest part of this task?

David Bintley CBE
Artistic director (ballet and dance)
New National Theatre, Tokyo
Birmingham Royal Ballet

1. I suppose that coming from an arts background, it will surprise no one when I say creative innovation is what I’m always attracted to, allied with technical mastery, in whatever way that might apply to the different nominees.

2. Eye-catching presentations are always good, as is energy, but neither can mask
a lack of substance.

3. Innovative, honest, substantial

4. I run two ballet companies on opposite sides of the world. Am I a bit of a wild card?

5. I’ve never done anything like this before and I’m a financial idiot.

Danny Choo
Culture Japan brand

1. I will be looking for the entries that most inspire others to achieve what they have done in the Japanese market.

2. I personally prefer photos of my food on a menu rather than text, which leaves the decision to the customer. I would recommend including visuals to complement the presentation, helping the audience to visualise the business strategy and achievements.

3. Innovate, break barriers, inspire

4. As a British national working in the creative industry in Japan, I can offer some insights and share experiences in a field in which I have been working for many years. Also, I am a member of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s Creative Industries Internationalization Committee.

5. Running a business in Japan is no easy task and I think all entries will already have succeeded on this note. However, I do feel there will be entries that inspire more than others—and that’s what I will be looking for.

Jon Harding OBE
Chief operating officer
UK Trade & Investment
Non-executive director
UK Export Finance

1. I will be looking for clarity of vision, hard work and a spark of creative flair. The winners could be major corporates or small start-ups. Every day I see SMEs with amazing technologies or products that have captured a niche market, and those are the backbone of any economy.

2. Keep it simple and punchy! I feel pretty busy myself but am immensely humbled to be a judge. We’re all going to be juggling our time and will probably appreciate clarity above all.

3. Visionary, committed, customer focused

4. My current employer, UKTI, assists some 30,000 firms each year to break into overseas markets, and previously I headed up Virgin Atlantic in Japan. So I like to think I can bring an understanding of the challenges of doing business abroad, and of the Japanese market specifically.

5. Probably trying to make judgements about the relative merits of entries in completely different sectors. I know British business in Japan covers everything from heavy industry to software, from consumer goods to financial services. I’m sure each entrant will have excelled in their field, but comparing the challenges and competitive environments they’ve each had to contend with is going to be pretty challenging.

Nikki King OBE
Chief executive officer
Isuzu Truck (UK) Ltd.
Auto 22

1. I shall be looking for outstanding nominees who have made visible efforts to understand the culture of Japan and integrate both Japanese and UK cultures into their business. I also want to see a strong customer service ethos and some “blue sky” thinking.

2. Keep your application short with lots of back-up information and customer and staff feedback.

3. Entrepreneurial, empathetic, passionate

4. I am extremely honoured to have been asked to be a judge. I started Isuzu Truck in the UK in 1996 and have learned to love Japan, its culture, its history and its people. My home in the UK has a Japanese garden and a tatami room and I also have a Japanese dog. I am known by Isuzu as henna gaijin and by the people in my home village as “the strange woman who thinks she is Japanese”, so I guess I have done something right.

5. Assessing the applicants on paper only, without the opportunity to visit and get a feel for them myself. I also anticipate there will be many different firms covering various disciplines, so it will be a challenge to compare “apples with oranges”.

Ernfred Olsen
Country executive
Royal Bank of Scotland, Japan

1. I will be evaluating submissions based on the BBA’s values of success, innovation and ethics.

2. It is always a smart idea to read the instructions and ensure that your nomination covers all the key points.

3. Successful, innovative and ethical

4. I’ve been in Japan for many years and have been involved in starting a number of businesses, as well as starting up several firms from scratch.

5. This will be my first time to participate in this role, and I expect it will be very hard to decide between a number of strong candidates.

Michael Woodford MBE
Managing director
Michael Woodford Associates, Ltd.

1. I’m looking for a firm that provides a product or service that Japanese want to buy now and in the future. Japan has the most discerning consumers in the world and, in this respect, ultimately it will be the quality of the offering that will bring sustainable success.

2. Keep it simple and avoid business speak! Focus on real strengths and don’t try to spin.

3. Innovative, entrepreneurial and tenacious

4. While I’m best known for my role in exposing the Olympus Corporation scandal, I’ve run successful businesses around the world and have a reputation for looking behind the rhetoric for the substance of things.

5. Seeing the wood for the trees—it’s often difficult to see things clearly because you’re looking too closely at the smaller detail. I will simply be looking for a firm that offers a quality product or service that consumers or businesses are prepared to buy and keep buying. In considering the individuals behind such businesses, what is equally important to me are their ethics and values, which should come through in the applications.