Exceptionally high calibre of applicants puts BIBAs judges to the test

Organisers of the Be Inspired Business Awards, the BIBAs, admit that the first round interviews were tougher than expected for this year’s crop of judges

This year, the judges faced a daunting challenge as the calibre of applicants across all 20 categories proved to be exceptionally high. The rigorous selection process took place over two intensive days, hosted by Blackpool Football Club at its Bloomfield Road ground in the seaside town.

A prestigious venue steeped in history and known for hosting a number of epic sporting clashes, the football ground provided the perfect backdrop for the interviews, with the iconic stadium setting the stage for some tough competition.

Jamie Leigh Matherson from Blackpool Football Club said: “We were honoured to host the first round of interviews for the BIBAs here at Bloomfield Road. There was a real buzz about during both days, and you could tell that the businesses shortlisted for interview came prepared to fight hard for a place in the final. It was a privilege to see and be part of, but I don’t envy the judges.”

Babs Murphy, chief executive at the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce that organises the BIBAs, admitted that the quality of this year’s applicants made the job of judging tougher than expected. “Every category has been packed with serious contenders this year,” she said. “It’s never easy trying to pick the winners, but there really hasn’t been much between applicants this time around, and that’s made it even more challenging for our judging panels. But that’s one of the reasons we train them and give them the tools they need to make informed, unbiased choices, even when the competition is so fierce.”

The judges, who are all seasoned professionals from businesses across the county, say they were left stunned by the exceptional quality of the applicants. Reflecting on the difficulty of the selection process, Norman Tenray, CEO, OBAS UK said: “The level of talent we encountered during the first round interviews was truly outstanding. It was a challenging task to identify genuine points-of-difference as each candidate demonstrated a high level of innovation, excellence, and dedication. I think the quality of the applicants really speaks volumes about the thriving business landscape in Lancashire.”

Another judge, Dawn Cheetham, from CKS Blackpool, echoed similar sentiments, and said: “The first round interviews were much tougher than I’d anticipated. Scoring was very hard as the applicants all showcased impressive achievements, strong leadership, and a commitment to excellence. The level of competition was exceptionally high.”

The BIBAs are known for their rigorous selection process. With the first round interviews now out of the way, anticipation is building for the next and final stage of the competition where the applicants will face the judges again but this time in their own places of work as the BIBAs go ‘on tour’.

Babs added: “This immersive experience will provide the judges with deeper insights into the operations, culture, and achievements of the exceptional businesses and individuals who have advanced to the next stage. As far as we know, it’s unique to the BIBAs and one of the things that makes them Lancashire’s premier business awards.”

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