Awards Professional of the Year


Enam Ali, Founder, British Curry Awards

How long have you been involved in Awards?
I started the British Curry Awards back in 2005 and I could never have imagined that they would become the force they are today and the Oscars of the curry industry.

What is it about Awards that give you the passion to do your job?
To reward the unsung heroes of the curry industry, to inspire the next generation to dedicate their careers to its continuation, changing the public perception towards the curry restaurants and by raising standards and boosting the profile of British Curry cuisine throughout the world.

What is your biggest strength when it comes to doing your job?
My experience in this industry gives me the confidence and to cope with the challenge of promoting and rewarding the industry to the highest level both national and international levels.

What is your biggest achievement?
The transformation of the whole curry industry; established British Curry as its own right cuisine and rewarding the industry’s stars in an Oscars style.


Sarah Austin, Awards Director, UBM

How long have you been involved in Awards?
I have been fortunate enough to work in the world of corporate awards for 9 years for UBM. My first experience was at the young age of 18 when I came to London for work experience on the National Business Awards – the show that I am now the Director.

What is it about Awards that give you the passion to do your job?
My passion is the experiential side of my role, nothing makes me happier than putting on a show and then seeing all the happy faces, standing ovations and VERY happy winners. When customers describe my shows as the best in the industry it makes it all worthwhile.

What is your biggest strength when it comes to doing your job?
My strengths lies in my people skills and transferring this to production I am a firm believer that if you are going to do something then do it properly I do not accept ‘sponsorshit’ and always put the customer at the heart of what I do – internal or external.

What is your biggest achievement?
The Building Awards 2016 was a huge show, opening with storm troopers followed by a hidden orchestra in the great room (beneath tables!) with a choir made up of 200 people. Some female comedy by Jo Caulfield and then awards given out by James Nesbitt AND we finished at 10.45.


Don Hales, Chairman, Awards International

How long have you been involved in Awards?
21 years. Launched first award – The National Sales Awards 1997, followed by The National Customer Service Awards. Since then I have launched 50 Awards in 8 countries. As Chairman of Awards International, I now preside over 12 Awards in UK, Netherlands & Dubai with three more in pipeline.

What is it about Awards that give you the passion to do your job?
The ability to allow extraordinary people, often doing everyday jobs in an outstanding manner, be recognised for their achievements and to feel like a MovieStar (often described to me by winners as a life-enhancing experience). Then to spread “best practice” and improve standards through publicity, conferences etc.

What is your biggest strength when it comes to doing your job?
Creativity, drive and enthusiasm. I have pulled many rabbits out of hats, with new ideas and, often low-budgets, turning failing programmes into success. I believe that I have inspired my teams to deliver exceptional standards and many members of the early teams are now in leading positions in Awards management.

What is your biggest achievement?
A lady introduced herself at the end of one of our great awards evenings. She ran an award for a very well established, old-fashioned, chartered professional body. Their awards attracted 150 and lost money. Taking them over, myself and one colleague, delivered 1200 delegates and profits, within 12 months.


Helen Horton, Director of Events, Haymarket Media Group

How long have you been involved in Awards?
I have been involved in the Awards sector of the Events industry for just over 20 years I joined Haymarket as an events manager and over the years have been very lucky to work on some very prestigious events primarily within the B2B market but also our consumer events.

What is it about Awards that give you the passion to do your job?
As my role has evolved so has my passion, from delivering great events to how we make them the best event for each of our markets, how our strategy, profits and vision allows us to be the best in our chosen markets and produce superb events with a great team.

What is your biggest strength when it comes to doing your job?
Understanding what my team are doing, the stresses that go with running a large Awards programme and still being close enough to our products to empathise, give advice when needed and being enthusiastic to push them to be better. Budgetary control and managing internal stakeholders are key to my role.

What is your biggest achievement?
Managing a great team who deliver superb events consistently in our chosen markets. Doing this for 20 years and still waking up in the morning and loving my job, making money and evolving our events! As a stand out event, Revolution Awards, 1500 people, Royal Albert Hall.


Ian McGarrigle, Chairman, World Retail Awards

How long have you been involved in Awards?
It is 26 years since I launched my first awards – the Retail Week Awards. Since then I added further awards to the Retail Week brand and then with the launch of the World Retail Congress in 2007, the World Retail Awards.

What is it about Awards that give you the passion to do your job?
My background is as a retail journalist and Editor and I believe strongly that Awards help promote excellence across retailing and also help strengthen the links between your magazine or conference and the industry. There is no better buzz than seeing great businesses gaining industry-wide recognition.

What is your biggest strength when it comes to doing your job?
A passion for the retail industry but hopefully also a deep knowledge and insight combined with high-level contacts that allows me to build the right mix of relevant categories, the panels of influential judges and the relationships with retailers to encourage entries. And a desire to keep innovating.

What is your biggest achievement?
Probably the Retail Week Awards because they became the most important brand extension for the magazine and across Ascential. But for personal satisfaction, our award for retail students at the World Retail Congress tops it all. To be told that it has helped so many careers is a fantastic feeling.


Emma Turner, Head of Events, Dennis Publishing

How long have you been involved in Awards?
Since 2007, so nearly 11 years now. I’ve run some really niche awards shows from those about cloud security for the technology industry, to the extremely glamorous PPA Awards – the Oscars of the magazine industry attended by 1000+ of the most influential people in media.

What is it about Awards that give you the passion to do your job?
Running awards shows allows you to be part of rewarding some of the most hardworking, and often unsung heroes, in their industries. Seeing people smiling, having fun and celebrating and being recognised for their success makes all the stress and long hours worth every second. It’s a fantastic job!

What is your biggest strength when it comes to doing your job?
Being swan like – seeming to be unflappable and completely serene on the surface, but with those legs going crazy under the water! So being able to stay calm no matter what is thrown at me on the day, and being able to solve whatever situation arises.

What is your biggest achievement?
The Octane Awards – achieving a +4000% increase. It was a huge success, the guests were happy, the sponsors loved it and we even had the singer Example turn up as a guest.