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Held biannually, the list of previous winners reads like a ``who's who'' of local business. Previous supreme winners include the likes of Emerson's, Nichol's Group, and NHNZ. ``It's quite interesting looking back, and how some of the businesses have changed,'' Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dougal McGowan says. ``This year we've seen a larger number of tech firms involved, and maturing start-up businesses, which is great.''
Westpac's area commercial manager for the lower South Island, Philip Moore, has been involved with the awards since their 1998 inauguration, and has judged them since 2004. ``It's all about celebrating excellence,'' he remembers of Westpac's original desire to be involved. ``New Zealanders tend to like to be under the radar and just do what they do. This is saying `if you think you're doing a great job, put your hand up and say so'. Westpac wanted to drive that sort of behaviour and celebration.'' Moore says the calibre of the businesses in the finals has always been high, but over the 20 years, the awards have become more prestigious. While winning is obviously the goal, the rigorous judging process can be a valuable exercise even for those who don't.
McGowan says it is a great opportunity for businesses to reflect on what they do and how it has changed. For many businesses, the way they do things has had to change dramatically,'' he says. ``That innovation and disruption is affecting a number of businesses, and they've got to think differently. [The awards] process allows them to self- evaluate and think about where the gaps might have been.'' Moore says that many businesses don't enter for the sake of the owner's ego, but so that their staff get some hard-earned recognition. The awards nights are always popular, and enjoyed by those in attendance. Some businesses even make it their end-of-year function, and bring the staff along. A lot of effort has been put into this Friday's event, with live entertainment on offer, and a greater element of video content. ``We're investing in it, and want it to be the go-to event,'' McGowan says. ``It's a great opportunity for business people to get together, and it's a good time of year to do it.''
WESTPAC OTAGO BUSINESS AWARDS: 6pm, Friday, November 30, Dunedin Town Hall. See www.otagochamber.co.nz for more information.