On October 30th, 2014, we celebrated another successful edition of the NLOWE Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. On this annual momentous occasion, we honour outstanding women in business in seven different categories. This year we added two more awards to the line-up to include an award for Corporation of the Year, an award to acknowledge a corporation in the province of Newfoundland Labrador that has proven their support for women in business, and the Export award, an award to recognize a woman business owner who has found success in international markets.
Since I’ve been working with NLOWE, I have had the opportunity to be a part of the organizational shift towards embracing technology and social media (with great success, might I add – bias included). Each year we try to raise the bar higher and higher for our Awards Gala. In 2012, we introduced the #nloweawards hashtag. In 2013, we introduced the award winner videos, the red carpet, and the NLOWE backdrop for pictures. In 2014, our new addition, which we were very excited about, was a Twitter ticker rolling across the bottom of the big screens. We always get great play on our hashtag during the awards show, and this year we wanted everyone, tweeter or not, to be able to get a glimpse of what was being said online.
“See the words at the bottom of the screen?”
To fully capture everything that is happening in the Twitterverse during the #nloweawards, we assembled a team of 3 NLOWE staffers, each with our own specific duties. Lindsay Mercer, Business Start-up Advisor in Central, was in charge of monitoring and operating the Twitter ticker program; Kristy Martell, Chief Operating Officer, was in charge of picture tweets; and I, Melissa Wheeler, Business Connections Coordinator, was in charge of “live-tweeting” – creating original NLOWE tweets and choosing retweets from the #nloweawards hashtag. This is my third year in the live-tweeting role, and I have finally configured the optimal work station: an iPhone (charged to 100% before the awards, plus a charging stick for a back-up battery), an iPad, and a Bluetooth keyboard. Here is a picture of me in my element:
The #nloweawards included a host of special guests. Hon. Darin King, Minister of Business, Tourism, and Culture, and Hon. Judy Manning, Minister of Women’s Justice and Public Safety and Attorney General, Minister Responsible for the Status of Women, and Minister Responsible for Fire and Emergency Services, were both on hand to take in the evening. Minister King had a grand time tweeting during the #nloweawards, and early in the evening he tweeted a picture with Minister Manning and NLOWE CEO, Paula Sheppard.
Amy House was our emcee for the 7th year, and she did not disappoint. She dropped a special joke about Twitter that included a term I don’t think I am allowed to include in this blog post, but, that doesn’t mean comments about the joke didn’t show up in the #nloweawards hashtag. Take a look if I’ve piqued your curiousity. 😉
Finally, we were also very lucky to have NLOWE Board President, Allison Stoodley, on hand, as well as Karen Appleby from ACOA.
The #nloweawards were a blast! We had over 200 guests in attendance and the room was abuzz from start to finish. To highlight the success of the hashtag, I will tell the story of the #nloweawards from my point of view and through the eyes of someone who had been following along with the hashtag.
We started off the evening with Newfoundland and Labrador Credit Union’s Start-up Award. Elizabeth Duff presented the award to Helen MacKinnon of A Holding Place. Within the last month, Helen has celebrated her 3rd anniversary of being in business, has become certified by WEConnect International, and now has won a NLOWE Award. Way to go, Helen!
The next award of the night, the Community Impact Award, sponsored by the Hebron Project, was presented by Geoff Parker, Senior Manager with the project, to Angie Parsons of Royal K9 Spa and Resort, located in Deer Lake. Angie’s video featured a number of dogs, of course, and the audience reacted appropriately. Lots of oohs and awws for the pups.
Melissa Chambers from Scotiabank presented Jackie McCann-Scott of Invested Mama with the Scotiabank Innovation Award. Jackie’s speech was very sincere and heartwarming. She thanked a number of people who have helped her get to where she is today, including the original ‘Invested Mama’, her mother. Sweet!
Leanne O’Leary presented the Visionary Award, sponsored by Cox & Palmer, to Bonnie Cook of Abbyshot. Abbyshot did a great job tweeting along with #nloweawards and had a great bit of fun getting their pictures taken with the award after the show. I wasn’t located near their table, but I hear they did a marvelous job at cheering on each and every award winner. True team players!
For their continued support of women in business in Newfoundland and Labrador, the inaugural Corporation of the Year Award was presented to the Hebron Project. Frank Maher, Benefits & Supplier Development Coordinator with the Project, let out a nice loud whoop when the award was announced.
The Export Award, presented by Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) was handed out to Barbara Doran of Morag Loves Company by Karen Appleby. Barbara has an impressive resume, including production credits on Random Passage and The Grand Seduction. The congratulatory tweets for Barbara kept pouring in throughout the night. Very appropriate for someone who has made such an impact on the film community within Newfoundland and Labrador!
The College of the North Atlantic Youth Entrepreneur of the Year Award was presented by Donna Stone to Lesley Oake of the Lesley Oake School of Dance, located in Grand Falls-Windsor. I was struck by Lesley’s shoes when she was walking up to accept her award. They looked terrific! Lesley’s School of Dance looks like it’s a lot of fun! (I should also take the time to mention that we have a playlist of award videos on our YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/nlowevideo)
Finally, the last award of the evening was the RBC Royal Bank Entrepreneurial Excellence Award. Debbie Bowring presented this prestigious award to Margot Mayo of Jema International Travel Clinic. Margot’s speech was inspiring! Her business has set a Canadian precedent for nursing professionals being allowed to administer vaccinations without being unfairly charged to do so. Incredible work, Margot!
One thing I noticed throughout the #nloweawards, and that I loved, was all the selfies that were coming in! I wish there had been even more. I enlisted the help of Julieanne Reddy, Marketing and Communications Coordinator, and my #nloweawards seat-mate, to help me make a collage of all the selfies that came in. Thanks for sending them in @gillwhelanfit, @KristyMartell, @alisonstoodley, and @tapsnap1107!
To sign off from the #nloweawards, our Social Media Trio decided to sign off with our own selfie.
I think it is safe to say the 2014 NLOWE Entrepreneur of the Year Awards was a great success. I had a great time navigating the twitter-waves and really enjoyed reading all the positive feedback and support that exists for and within the women in business community. You’re all an inspiration to us here at NLOWE!
At the end of the night, #nloweawards winners had a number of pictures taken and they were without a doubt the most creative and fun poses I have seen from any awards winners. As Julieanne said, “NLOWE ensured that these award winners really got the red carpet treatment!”
Thanks for reading and I hope to see you all on the #nloweawards hashtag next year!
Melissa Wheeler is the Business Connections Coordinator with NLOWE, you can contact her at email@example.com or by calling 1-888-NLOWE-11 ext. 233.