The Stevie Awards: Oscars of the business world
Sometimes, across industries rife with potential for crime and corruption, the genuinely good, trustworthy, and history-making business leaders aren’t appreciated enough for their hard and honest work. When The Stevie Awards began in 2002, the New York Post described it as a way to “distinguish the good guys from the scoundrels”, and it has remained well-respected ever since.
Originally known as The American Business Awards, The Stevie Awards were created by Michael P. Gallagher as a way to boost public and business trust in the companies nominated. Press all over the US has hailed the Stevies as a chance for C-level executives to clean up their image, and they have even been called ‘the Oscars of the business world’.
As such, it is considered an enormous honor to win, and those believing themselves to be worthy pay at least $505 in entry fees. Respected business figures do the judging, evaluating nominees, separating them into categories, and eventually awarding the 24-karat gold 16 inch tall statuette, which depicts a humanoid figure holding a pyramid representing Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
The main categories are as follows:
- The American Business Awards. These are open to all American organisations and include many sub-categories covering every aspect of the workplace.
- The International Business Awards. This opens up the awards worldwide.
- The Asia-Pacific Business Awards. Open to every organisation within the 22 nations.
- The German Stevie Awards. Open to all German businesses.
- The Stevie Awards for Great Employers. This honours employers themselves as well as HR professionals and suppliers.
- The Stevie Awards for Sales and Customer Service. Recognising the achievements of sales, customer service, and call centre professionals.
- The Stevie Awards for Women in Business. This honours women specifically, worldwide, covering every professional female from small entrepreneurs to CEOs.
Altogether, The Stevie Awards receive 10,000 entries a year across over 60 nations. For the American Business Awards, over 3,400 entries were submitted, with 250 American executives judging. Entrants are separated into five levels of distinction (Bronze, Silver, gold, Grand, and People’s Choice), and companies are able to submit from any aspect of their business, no matter how low or high.
The Grand Stevie Award winner at the American Business Awards 2016 was CallidusCloud, a California-based software developer which earned 76 points (based on the number and quality of submissions) overall, beating TopSpot Internet Marketing, Merkle, and MWW (the latter for the fourth consecutive year). Also included in the Grand Stevie honors were Cisco Systems, Keunesse Global, Lakeshore Recycling Systems, Accenture, Isagenix Internationa, Cigna, John Hancock, AT&T, New American Funding, and SoftPro.
Leslie Stretch, President and CEO of CallidusCloud, said: “These prestigious awards are great recognition of the incredible momentum in our business and the tireless efforts of the team at CallidusCloud, who help our customers make more money, faster, using our industry-leading service.”
Another particular jewel in the Stevie crown is The Stevie Awards for Women in Business, which acts as a much-needed spotlight on female executives and entrepreneurs. The Grand Stevie winners in this category were PAIRELATIONS LLC, Accenture, WDS Marketing & Public Relations, Jeunesse Global, and Linqia. As previously reported by Business Review USA, President and CEO of ERA Real Estate Sue Yannaccone was named Bronze winner in the coveted Female Executive of the Year (More Than 2,500 Employees) category, and recognized the enormity of the honor:
"I couldn't be more thrilled to be recognized by The Stevie Awards for Women in Business. Since joining ERA Real Estate last year, I have been deeply impressed with the energy and momentum of this uniquely collaborative brand as we chart a course for continued growth and work together to move real estate in a whole new direction."
Yannaccone wowed judges and beat 1,500 other entrants for the category by being promoted from COO to CEO and President within a year of working at ERA Real Estate. Similarly, Sabrina Rosati, Executive Vice President and Managing Director for Italy at Tagetik, led the company’s international business development strategy and also won a bronze award in Female Executive of the Year in Business Products (11 to 2,500 Employees).
“Emanuela (Cecchetti, Director of Digital Marketing and Technology) and I are honored by these awards,” she said. “Our talented and dedicated team members have been instrumental in helping us achieve ambitious goals and significantly increase awareness and market share for Tagetik. We view our Tagetik co-workers as family, and we all share in these accomplishments.”
Michael Gallagher added: “The competition has grown each year because there are so many high-achieving women all over the world, who serve as an inspiration to those who would like to start, grow, or lead a business.”
The benefits of becoming involved in the Stevie Awards are potentially endless; there is no better way of inspiring faith in your company than receiving an accolade from such a widely-respected source. As the Stevie Awards website states:
‘The employee relations benefits can be significant. When you submit entries, you’re telling your employees that you recognize and appreciate their accomplishments and believe that their achievements are worthy of national recognition.’
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.