The Stevie Awards Blog

Marketing Group Promotes the Intersection of Creativity and Strategy

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Wed, Jan 31, 2018 @ 02:52 PM

For companies looking to hire a marketing agency, making a decision is usually dependent on accepting certain tradeoffs. You can either get the boutique provider that’s energetic and responsive to your needs, or go with a bigger outfit that has more resources and a recognized brand name.

Strunk Media Group has tried to eschew that binary choice, and it’s proving to be a winning formula. The American firm prides itself on providing the full menu of options that clients need, from website design and digital advertising to print and billboard marketing. But the eight-employee team also conveys a unique, playful attitude that’s in line with its young, tight-knit staff. “We’re different on purpose,” says co-founder and CEO Matthew Strunk.

Strunk-Media-Team(Left-to-Right).pngSince its inception in 2015, the agency has already garnered over 40 clients who have bought into its “all of the above” message. Based in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, a town in the United States with just over 5,000 residents, the burgeoning company has found success by recognizing trends and finding creative ways to adapt.

“There is no doubt that the marketing industry will continue to transform with the evolution of the internet, but successful and proactive marketing professionals evolve with it,” says Strunk, who continues to serve as a U.S. Air Force reservist, even as he steers the company through a period of swift growth.

Strunk media dog.jpg“While traditional advertising methods are still relevant, Strunk Media has been using online methods such as Facebook advertising, Google AdWords, YouTube, Pandora commercials and ringless voice drops delivered directly to consumer cell phones,” he says. “These methods have proven successful through higher impression rates, more involved customer engagement and specific targeting capabilities.”

Whereas marketing companies are sometimes seen as places where creativity is valued more than strategy, Strunk and his team are trying to meld the two. Each marketing campaign is created specifically for the needs of a given client and based on extensive research, he says.. For example, customers who hire the group for digital services receive a web audit that addresses weaknesses in their internet presence, something that helps the agency design a targeted action plan.

Realizing a Dream

In 2017, Strunk Media took home not one, but two Stevie Awards at The American Business Awards in New York City. The firm earned the Silver Stevie for “Startup of the Year” in the Business Services category and a Bronze Stevie for “Veteran-Owned Business of the Year.”

“As a new company, winning the Stevie Awards has given Strunk Media Group validation that its marketing methods are working,” Strunk says. “These awards are the first nationally-based recognition Strunk has received, which is a tremendous accomplishment.”

“Recognition from these awards will grow awareness of our brand, helping it meet new potential clients and become a better-known company,” he added.

For all the acclaim the company has received in a short period of time, the company nearly didn’t get off the ground. Strunk recalls having to think twice before leaving a steady job overseeing marketing for a local auto dealership.

“The biggest challenge we faced was gaining the courage to leave safe careers and risk everything for a business that could become amazingly successful or be a tremendous flop,” he says. “It’s easy to talk about your dreams, but implementing action to achieve those dreams takes an immense amount of energy, time and money. But once our plan was in motion, the needed energy to continue pushing forward has not been lacking in the slightest.”

In Strunk’s case, starting a new venture involves an added challenge: having a CEO who could be called into active military duty on short notice. Strunk says he’s tried to develop a team that’s as committed to the organization’s success as he is, something that will certainly pay off should his reserve unit ever be deployed.

“Each member of the company cares about delivering the highest quality work for clients while pursuing innovative ways to obtain new business and help the company grow,” he says.

Building chemistry amongst employees is a key part of that enthusiasm, and it’s something staff members try to do outside the office as well, whether it’s a weekly happy hour or a team lunch.

“These casual bonding moments help the team get to know their co-workers, strengthening the Strunk bond,” he says.

Topics: Advertising awards, marketing awards, American business awards, marketing campaign, Startup of the Year

In Singapore, Artificial Intelligence Helps Job Seekers Find the Right Openings

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Fri, Jan 26, 2018 @ 01:09 PM

Finding a new job is a stressful endeavor, regardless of one’s background. But for high-level professionals, the scarcity of jobs at the top creates an added challenge.

The team at Singapore-based startup JobTech is trying to make that undertaking a whole lot easier, with the help of artificial intelligence (AI) and deep machine learning. Their software provides a more accurate, unified view of the job vacancies available around the country, says co-founder Charlotte Lim.

Jobtech 2.pngOne of the challenges that job seekers face is that more than a third of jobs advertised in Singapore are either duplicates or sham listings. JobTech aims to identify and eliminate those extraneous entries and help PMETs (professionals, managers, executives and technicians) access legitimate matches.

Lim says she became frustrated with the lack of transparency and accuracy in the job results she found online when she was searching for a job herself. In seeking a solution to that problem, she met Wee Tiong Ang, a computer scientist whose work in the AI field offered a potential solution.

“I realized he had built an artificial intelligence capable of accurately mapping job seekers to job openings through complex data analysis of roles, skills and competencies,” says Lim. “JobTech was born.”

The company’s first offering, JobTech PMET, was specifically designed to help professionals in Singapore find and prepare for new job openings. In addition to offering insights into industry trends, the software is able to identify skill-set requirements and recommend classes the job seeker can take to improve their odds of landing the position.

One of the product’s strengths is its considerable reach. It currently tracks and analyzes more than 90% of online job ads in Singapore, according to the company.

JobTech predicts the platform, which has several thousand users in Singapore, will soon reach more than 10% of retrenched PMETs nationwide.

Other potential benefits

While job seekers have been the core audience to date, the firm sees other potential applications for the technology as well. For example, it plans to develop applications that provide deeper insights into hiring practices and improve human resource management.

TalenTech enterprise application promises to help companies automate the résumé-screening process by scanning and contextualizing submissions and pinpointing those that match the job requirements.

JobTech also hopes to help public entities increase productivity nationwide by providing a clearer picture of labor market needs. In fact, the government of Singapore is already a customer.

Though the company is still very young—it launched in late 2016—it’s already gaining plaudits for its novel approach to job searching and human resource management. In October, the company accepted the Bronze Stevie® Award for Tech Startup of the Year at The 2017 International Business Awards in Barcelona.

Fostering collaboration

While AI and machine-learning technologies are at the heart of JobTech’s platform, Lim suggests that the collaborative culture within the organization is another key ingredient in the company’s growth. Lim and her team regularly get together for “scrum” meetings to make sure everyone is working toward a singular goal.

“Members share their problems in the meeting and other team members will chip in with their expertise to help solve them,” she explains.

Employees are also encouraged to organize team activities outside of work hours. “These activities help everyone understand each other better and build stronger bonds,” says Lim.

Topics: International business awards

Stevie Winner, Chicken Dinner

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Wed, Jan 24, 2018 @ 05:54 PM

International restaurant franchise Church’s Chicken® celebrated 65 years in San Antonio, Texas, U.S. this year. Founded in 1952 by George W. Church, Church’s Chicken serves signature small-batch, hand-breaded chicken, honey-butter biscuits and All-American sides. Church’s Chicken, and its international sister company, Texas Chicken, have 1,650 locations in 23 global markets with sales exceeding $1.2 billion annually.

Church’s Partners Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization which provides assistance and scholarships to the employees and franchisees of Church’s Chicken, Texas Chicken, their families and their communities.

Churchs chicken laura.jpgLaura Reese, Church’s Senior Director of Media, Digital and Public Relations, won The Gold Stevie® Award for Most Innovative Woman of the Year in Franchising in the 2017 Stevie Awards for Women in Business. Reese used her specialized expertise from career experience at Nielsen and with private advertising firms to creatively advance the Church’s brand, furthering reach in their communities.

churchs chicken jen.jpgJennifer Chasteen, Church’s Vice President of Brand Strategy and Activation, won The Stevie Silver Award for Female Executive of the Year for Consumer Products in a business with over 2,500.

When Laura was promoted in 2017, she went through a deep dive of the Church’s brand. She asked herself – who are we? What do we do? What does it mean? And most importantly, why does it matter? Together with her digital agency partners, she examined the archetypes most linked with the brand: Nurturers and Everyman. This lead to a “principles of authentic participation” for the brand’s digital presence, and ultimately resulted in her biggest find – It’s in Church’s DNA to help build communities and people through its food. With the data on her side, she launched a daring new digital campaign, “Church’s Loves Community,” a video/short film campaign which would require the utmost collaborative effort from everyone on her team. Laura brought partners and team members together to strategize a launching plan, designate the platforms to be used, spend, timing, targeting, communication plans, success objectives and measurement.

Fast forward to the present, the Church’s Loves Community series has created four amazingly well-received films – Church’s Loves San Antonio, Church’s Loves Compton, Church’s Loves St. Louis, and the most recent film which debuted in August, Church’s Loves Atlanta. The latest film gained a highly-coveted launch on Nowness.com, a site with five million viewers that serves as the go-to global video channel for screening the best in culture based films. The film boasts a 4.8/5 rating on Nowness, and has gone on to be showcased at the 2017 BronzeLens Film Festival in Atlanta. Millions of views have been garnered, recognition earned on industry trades, and it has reached success on social media channels through short teaser content on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Under Laura’s direction, the Church’s Loves Community series has been connecting consumers everywhere with the essence of the Church’s brand – through their values of progress, unity, hard work and resilience, Church’s continues to bring communities together. Pioneering an innovative new role for a 65-year old brand can be seen as a daunting task, but if the Church’s Loves Community series is any indication of the brand’s future, we can be excited for the changes which are still to come.

“Both women are bringing a level of commitment and dedication to the Church's brand and its values of Stepping Up, Doing the Right Thing, Celebrating Differences, Working Together and Showing We Care,” says Hector Munoz, Executive Vice President and Global Chief Marketing Officer at Church's Chicken.

Church’s Chicken has made a commitment to honoring female professional business leaders who have impacted the international market for this legacy American restaurant.

Topics: stevie awards for women in business, women awards, Women in Business, employee of the year

Stevie Awards Announce Finalists in 12th Annual Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Fri, Jan 19, 2018 @ 10:00 AM

Gold, Silver and Bronze Stevie Winners to Be Announced in Las Vegas on February 23

Finalists in the 12th Annual Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service, an international competition recognizing excellence in disciplines that are crucial to business success, were announced today.

SASCS 2017 pic 3.jpgA diverse group of organizations and individuals around the world are among those recognized in the customer service awards, contact center awards, business development awards and sales awards categories. Organizations with five or more finalist nominations include 60K Ltd. (Sofia, Bulgaria), Albridge (Pennington, NJ, USA), Allianz Global Assistance (Richmond, VA, USA), BlueCat Networks (Toronto, ON, Canada), Carbonite, Inc. (Lewiston, ME, USA), Dell Technologies (Bangalore, Karnataka, India and Round Rock, TX, USA), Delta Air Lines (Atlanta, GA, USA), Delta Defense (West Bend, WI, USA), Delta Vacations (Minot, ND, USA), Deutsche Post DHL (worldwide), Druva Inc. (Sunnyvale, CA, USA), eMoney Advisor, LLC (Radnor, PA, USA), FIS (Jacksonville, FL, USA), GNResound (Bloomington, MN, USA), GuideWell Connect (Jacksonville, FL, USA), HomeServe USA (Norwalk, CT, USA), IBM (Armonk, NY, USA and Tokyo, Japan), iHeartMedia, Inc. (New York, NY, USA), Imparta Inc. (Austin, TX, USA), John Hancock Financial Services (Boston, MA, USA) Mass Mutual Life Insurance Company (Springfield, MA, USA), Mercer Consumer, (Des Moines, IA, USA), NCR Corporation (Duluth, GA, USA), nThrive Education (Los Angeles, CA, USA), Overstock.com (Midvale, UT, USA), Response (Lindon, UT, USA), Sales Partnerships, Inc. (Broomfield, CO, USA), SmartLinx Solutions (Edison, NJ, USA), Sun Basket (San Jose, CA, USA), TTEC (Englewood, CO, USA), UPMC Health Plan (Pittsburgh, PA, USA), VakifBank (Istanbul, Turkey), VIZIO Inc. (Irvine, CA, USA), VXI Global Solutions (Los Angeles, CA, USA), Wells Fargo Treasury Management Client Delivery (San Francisco, CA, USA) and Wyndham Vacation Ownership (Orlando, FL, USA).

For a full list of finalists by category, visit www.StevieAwards.com/Sales.

All finalist nominations ultimately will be named Gold, Silver and Bronze Stevie Award winners. The placements will be revealed during a gala banquet on Friday, February 23, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, NV. Tickets are on sale now.

The awards are presented by the Stevie Awards, which organizes several of the world’s leading business awards shows including the prestigious International Business Awards® and American Business Awards.

More than 2,500 nominations from organizations of all sizes and in virtually every industry were evaluated in this year’s competition. Finalists were determined by the average scores of more than 150 professionals worldwide in seven specialized judging committees. Entries were considered in 89 categories for customer service and contact center achievements, including Contact Center of the Year, Award for Innovation in Customer Service and Customer Service Department of the Year; 60 categories for sales and business development achievements, ranging from Senior Sales Executive of the Year to Sales Training or Business Development Executive of the Year to Sales Department of the Year; and categories to recognize new products and services and solution providers.

Beginning today through February 9, the general public may vote for their favorite providers of customer service in the People’s Choice Stevie Awards for Favorite Customer Service. Voting is open at http://peopleschoice.stevieawards.com. Winners of the People’s Choice Stevie Awards in multiple industries will be determined in mid-February and honored at the awards gala in Las Vegas on February 23.

Topics: customer service awards, sales awards, stevie awards for sales and customer service, customer service leader of the year, customer service success, sales training

Female-Powered Technology Optimizing the Construction Industry

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Wed, Jan 17, 2018 @ 11:43 AM

The male dominated construction sector isn’t usually known as a place where women enjoy a level playing field with their peers—but when it comes to shaping the industry’s future, females are taking on a key role.

One of these leaders is Jessica Pollack, a head consultant and trainer with the U.S. technology firm PlanGrid. Her mission: getting everyone on the jobsite, from laborers to project managers, to build more efficiently and cost-effectively.

The San Francisco-area-based company she works for has become a force in the industry in recent years, offering a mobile app that’s been used on more than 500,000 projects around the world.

Plangrid1.jpgThe construction productivity software allows employees to manage blueprints, specs, photos, RFIs and field reports right from their phone or tablet, enabling increased collaboration on the jobsite. To date, it’s been used in more than 70 countries by prominent corporations like DPR, Granite, NVIDIA, Target Corporation and Tutor Perini.

Pollack’s job is to help users discover a new way of managing projects—one that saves valuable time and effort on the ground. Through webinars and on-site learning sessions, she helps make sure her predominantly male audience gets the most of the software.

“I love my job,” Pollack writes on the company’s blog. “I get to meet other construction professionals around the world and introduce them to the magic of PlanGrid.”

PlanGrid is part of an all-too-rare breed in Silicon Valley: a tech company where women are empowered to take on leading roles. The outreach is led by CEO Tracy Young, a female entrepreneur who co-founded the organization in 2011.

Throughout its short history, PlanGrid has put women in a number of key roles, priding itself on a varied workforce in an industry not especially known for its diversity.

Pollack, who’s been part of the team since 2015, has made the most of her opportunities. In recognition of her important teaching role in the construction industry, she recently won the Gold Stevie Award in the 2017Stevie Awards for Women in Business for “Female Employee of the Year” in the Computer Software category.

“It will definitely show women that they can succeed in construction and technology,” Pollack said at the event, held November 17, 2017, in New York City.

Finding her passion

Plangrid 2.jpgPollack didn’t see herself landing in either of these industries when she enrolled in Smith College, an all-female liberal arts school in Massachusetts. At the time, she wanted to become an event planner, a career that she thought would make good use of her interpersonal and organizational skills.

That all changed after she took her first architecture course and switched her major to architecture then took an internship with Turner Construction after her junior year. She was offered the chance to work on the new Terminal 2 at San Francisco International Airport. “It was then that I realized I wanted to work in construction,” she says.

At Turner, she was fortunate enough to find a number of female role models, including some in key management spots.

“It has been truly empowering to work as a woman in the construction industry,” she says. “Going from an all-women’s college to a male-dominated construction industry allowed me to become the independent, vocal and determined woman I am today.”

Pollack would later take a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to help build a premier hotel and casino in Macau, China. She insisted, though, that the company use PlanGrid, a software solution she first used at Turner.

“When my time in China ended, I wanted to stop by the PlanGrid office to thank all the wonderful people who helped me succeed,” she recalls. “By the time I visited, I was already interviewing with construction companies around the Bay Area, and PlanGrid asked me if I would be interested in working on their team instead.”

“At first, I was hesitant to switch careers and leave the general contracting world, but it was clear that PlanGrid was a supportive company. It felt like the whole team was family.”

In her role with PlanGrid, Pollack is teaching a new crop of project engineers and tradespeople how to achieve the same efficiencies she realized as a user of the app.

“My knowledge and expertise saves people (and projects) time, money and paper,” she says. “It’s a good feeling.”

Topics: employee awards, stevie awards for women in business, women awards, women in busines, employee of the year

Swiss Startup Makes Board Meetings More Efficient

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Wed, Jan 10, 2018 @ 10:47 AM

Even at companies that thrive on innovation, board meetings tend to be low-tech affairs.

Typically, directors are handed a thick stack of papers before the meeting to help them prepare. It can be a cumbersome task, one in which it’s hard to stay organized.

The Swiss firm Sherpany is transforming board meetings through Boardroom, its subscription-based software that’s designed to help members make more effective decisions, and without all the stress associated with a paper system. All the documents they need are easily accessible on their mobile device, whether it’s running iOS or Windows 10. Users can also sign in on other devices via the web using a recent browser.

Sherpany.pngThe tool comes packed with user-friendly features, like a personalized dashboard that allows the user to keep tabs on multiple committee matters at once. It also comes with a question-and-answer function that provides rapid feedback from members of the management team.

Board members can annotate documents or access the history of a topic with a swipe of their hand, a clear benefit to busy corporate executives. At a time when risk management is a top priority at many organizations, Sherpany believes having that information at one’s fingertips can be an invaluable asset.

The goal is to make meetings more productive by allowing participants to focus on the outcome, not the process. The company explains that its objective is to “encourage the evolution of meeting culture through a delightful, easy-to-use and secure meeting management SaaS.”

“We reduce waste by cutting administrative, organizational and repetitive work and spare resources like paper, shipping and transportation,” says Sherpany CEO Tobias Häckermann.

A Fast-Growing Market

Sherpany got its start in 2012 by launching the first software platform in which investors could cast their votes electronically. Soon after, it unveiled Boardroom, a product it saw as a game-changer in the way board meetings get done.

The market has clearly bought into the idea. Just five years ago, the company had a total of 10 corporate clients. Today, roughly 210 companies are using its technology, and its users include some of the biggest corporations in Europe.

Sherpany’s customer base and physical presence continue to grow. In addition to its Zurich headquarters, the company now has satellite offices in Paris, Milan, Lisbon and Wroclaw, Poland.

That success, the company says, is in no small part to the programmers, designers and engineers who make up much of its small staff. In total, the company has around 50 employees who have made Sherpany the fastest-growing startup in Switzerland.

Even the company’s name, a nod to the Sherpas who guide climbers up some of the most treacherous slopes on earth, suggests its emphasis on innovation. The company’s goal, according to its website, is to grasp for new frontiers and help those intrepid customers who have come along for the journey.

Considering the amount of competition hovering around the software-as-a-service market today, Häckermann is particularly proud of the business’s trajectory. “A potential customer may have to sort through hundreds of applications available in dozens of different app stores to find a solution to fit their needs,” he says. “You have to stand out from the masses, whether it be with a special feature or an outstanding service.”

Sherpany’s latest version of the app, Boardroom 3, recently earned the Silver Stevie® Award in the “Mobile Site and App” categories at The 2017 International Business Awards, which received entries from more than 60 countries around the world.

“It gave our staff the recognition they deserved for all their hard work,” says Häckermann. “It also provides prestige for our clients, who love to be associated with the award.”

Topics: app awards, website awards, International business awards, top business awards

Judging Committee Heads Named in 2018 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Thu, Jan 04, 2018 @ 11:05 AM

Judging of the 2018 Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service will be conducted through January 15 by more than 150 professionals worldwide.  Their average scores will determine the Finalists to be announced in mid-January, and the Gold, Silver and Bronze Stevie-winner placements among the Finalists.

2018 Jury Chairs:  these professionals will lead the judging of the 2018 awards.

Customer Service & Contact Center Individuals
Chair: Lisa Oswald, Senior Vice President, Customer Service, Travelzoo, New York, New York, USA
lisa oswald.jpgLisa P. Oswald is senior vice president of customer service at Travelzoo and leads a global portfolio including customer and client services, product operations, and voice-of-the-customer programs in support of Travelzoo’s 28 million members worldwide. Lisa is a Director of SOCAP International, the customer care industry’s leading professional development association, and an Advisory Board member with Execs In The Know, a global community of customer experience executives. She is a Gold Stevie Award winner, and was named Customer Service Executive of the Year in 2013 by The American Business Awards.  She is extremely pleased to be serving the Stevie Awards community as a Judging Committee Chair in 2018.

Customer Service & Contact Center Teams and Customer Service Success
Chair: Art Gairo, Senior Vice President, Evolve IP, Wayne, Pennsylvania, USA

18 sascs cst_css chair gairo.jpgArt Gairo is a Client Operations Executive with over 20 years of experience in building, transforming, and leading world class customer service organizations. Art currently serves as Senior Vice President of Client Operations at Evolve IP, The Cloud Strategy Company™. In this role, Art is responsible for leading the entire client experience, while directly leading client care & support, technical services, project management, service delivery and client activations.  

Prior to joining Evolve IP, Art was the Senior Vice President and Head of Customer Experience at Broadview Networks, with responsibility for all Service, Repair, and Care Centers; the Enterprise Customer Support Division; Field Operations; and the Agent and Wholesale Support Divisions. Before joining Broadview, Art was Vice President of Customer Operations at ATX Communications, which was acquired by Broadview in 2006. Art was also Vice President of Client Implementation at Allegiance Telecom prior to his time with ATX Communications. 

A multiple award-winner, including for Customer Service Team of the Year, Art holds a 6 Sigma Black Belt Certification and dual Master’s Certifications in Lean 6 Sigma and Organizational Leadership from Villanova University. He is currently enrolled in the Executive Leadership Program at Notre Dame’s Mendoza School of Business. Art served as the Chair of the Customer Service Judging Committee in The 2011 American Business Awards.

Art told us: “I’m honored to be selected for the second time to serve as a Judging Committee Chair for the Stevie Awards. My first experience was a remarkable opportunity that provided me with many wonderful memories that I cherish to this day.  I look forward to having the opportunity to recognize the past year’s accomplishments by customer service practitioners around the world that truly demonstrate the capabilities of this ever-evolving industry.”

Customer Service Departments & Achievements
Chair: Matt Medina, Senior Director OF SMB Customer Service, Dun & Bradstreet, Tucson, Arizona, USA  

mattmedina.jpgAs the Senior Director of Customer Service at Dun & Bradstreet, Matt enjoys developing leaders and taking care of customers. In 2017, Matt was recognized for spearheading teams that resulted in improved Net Promoter Scores, handled millions of customer contacts at an 82% service level, and contributed over $100 million in sales, saves, and collections.

Matt was named Contact Center Manager of the Year in the 2017 Stevie Awards, and in 2007 was awarded the Scott Cook Innovation Award from Intuit for TurboTax Solutioneering.

In his spare time, Matt enjoys coaching high school soccer and watching Club Atlético River Plate.

New Products and Solution Providers
Chair: Ben Martin, Vice President, Client Support, Network Alliance, Reston, Virginia, USA

18 sascs np_sp chair martin.jpgBen Martin currently serves as a member of the Network Alliance executive management team.  He directs the Network Alliance Client Support Center, which specializes in offering white glove technical support, system management, and professional services for a wide spectrum of Cloud Desktop, Cloud Infrastructure, and Cloud VoIP environments.  Ben previously served as Vice President of Customer Care at Parature, Inc. (acquired by Microsoft), where he directed technical support operations serving Parature's global customer and partner network.

Prior to joining Parature, Ben was the Director of Investor Services at The Morino Institute Netpreneur Program, an organization dedicated to helping entrepreneurs fund and grow their technology businesses. During his four years at The Morino Institute, Ben worked with technology entrepreneurs, angel investors, and early stage venture capital firms to identify early stage investment opportunities within the Mid-Atlantic region.

Ben began his career in Information Technology as a technology analyst with the Advanced Technology Department of the American Chemical Society. He earned an MBA in Corporate Finance and an MS in Information Technology from The George Washington University in Washington, DC. He also holds a BS in Corporate Finance and a BA in Philosophy from West Virginia University.

Sales Achievements & Business DevelopmentChair: Jay Fortuna, President & Chief Learning Officer, Jado Solutions, Chicago, Illinois, USA

18 sascs sa_bd chair fortuna.jpgJay Fortuna has been helping transform the Learning and Development industry through a blended learning approach that incorporates micro-learning and other innovative techniques.  The curriculum and courses that Jay has created are not only effective and immersive, but are engaging and enjoyable.  Jay is becoming a recognized name in the Learning and Development (L&D) field and received multiple awards in 2017.  This includes winning the Gold Stevie Award for Sales Training Program of the Year, and Bronze Stevie Awards for Sales Training Product of the Year, and for Sales Training or Education Professional of the Year in the 2017 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Services for his work with the Horton Group. In addition, Jay and his team were named a Finalist by the Institute for Excellence in Sales (IES) for Sales Innovation of the Year.  Recently, Jay was named as one of Workforce Magazine’s 40 under 40 Gamechangers in 2017 for his accomplishments and the future impact that they believe he will have in the human resources and L&D arena.

Jay’s career started in an industry where many young men dream of working one day: professional sports.  Though his own dream had been to be a professional athlete, he instead learned many early lessons from his time as a Media Relations Intern with the Minnesota Twins that have helped him get to where he is today.  He received some words of wisdom from the team’s General Manager, which still resonate with him today: “Learn enough to become dangerous.”  As a result, Jay is a perpetual student of new trends and effective techniques that can be applied to L&D. 

The next steps in Jay’s career allowed him the opportunity to use his charismatic people skills and competitive nature to soar. He succeeded in multiple sales roles at Enterprise Rent-A-Car and various financial institutions, including JPMorgan Chase and Associated Banc-Corp.  At Associated Bank, Jay’s true passion for L&D was nurtured by his Director, Penn Vieau.  With Vieau’s coaching and mentorship, Jay was able to develop his craft as a facilitator and to garner a deeper understanding of how to run a successful L&D department.  Jay took the lesson’s that he learned from Associated Bank and joined HUB International, where he became Training Manager and was able to create the curriculum for the Business Development Team from the ground up.  Curt Vondrasek, a fellow Gold Stevie Award winner, encouraged him to embrace the Training Manager opportunity at HUB International. Jay launched a training program that took new inside-sales representatives and trained them to become successful sales leaders in their insurance verticals.  It was here that Jay continued to hone his craft of training Sales, Service, Leadership and Support staff through a blended learning approach. He teamed up with Chris Condon, VP of Sales Training for HUB International, and together with the Sales Force Development Team, they took on the Insurance Brokerage Firm’s largest goal, growing sales organically.  The early success achieved by this new approach brought attention to Jay’s talents, which propelled him to his next role, Director of Training and Development at the Horton Group.  Jay didn’t just focus on the issue of organic growth at the Horton Group: he helped the company modernize and reinvent their training as a whole, which has allowed the company to be recognized as an insurance brokerage firm industry leader from Assurex Global, the world’s largest privately held commercial insurance, risk management, and employee benefits brokerage group.

Jay is honored by the opportunity to Chair one of the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service Awards Judging Committee.  He tells us that he is looking forward to seeing the best that the world has to offer in Sales and Business Development.

Sales Individuals & Sales DistinctionChair: Tiffany Wagner, Global Process Executive for Account Planning, SAP, Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, USA

18 sascs si_sd chair wagner.jpgTiffany Wagner has worked in sales, consulting, and sales operations leadership roles in the software industry for 25 years.  Her experience crosses over both start-ups and fortune 500 companies.  She has been with SAP since 2006, and is responsible for the largest demand-generation program in SAP strategic and large enterprise accounts.

Tiffany won the Gold Stevie® Award for Software Sales Distinction in the 2017 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Services, and was recently asked to provide the keynote for Enterprise Ireland on Sales Planning.  

In her personal time, she volunteers at multiple non-profit organizations in the San Francisco bay area.

Sales Teams
Chair: Dan Stalp, President, Sandler Training, Kansas City, Missouri, USA

18 sascs st chair stalp.jpgDan Stalp is known as the consummate sales training professional. As the president of Sandler Training of Kansas City, he excels as a transformational sales trainer and sales coach, a highly sought-after speaker, and respected business writer. For more than 12 years, Dan has been one of the most successful sales trainers in the Kansas City metro area. He has built a loyal client base, many of which not only continue with him year after year, but also refer him to their clients and business associates. They do this because Dan has helped them become very astute and highly successful non-traditional sales professionals. In the 2017 Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service, Dan received the Gold Stevie Award for Sales Training or Education Leader of the Year in the Sales Individual Awards category.

Topics: customer service awards, sales awards, stevie awards for sales and customer service, business development awards, solution provider awards

Revolutionizing Private Jet Ownership

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Wed, Jan 03, 2018 @ 04:09 PM

Providing access to information by centralizing, standardizing and comparing aircraft cost data worldwide is no easy task. My Sky (formerly My Jet) is a company in Switzerland that offers financial controlling and benchmarking tools for jet owners and their representatives to optimize ownership costs. They do this by collecting, digitizing, analyzing and storing all relevant financial information online for a 24/7, user-friendly service for its customers. This work has led them to win the Gold Stevie® Award for “Startup of the Year - Business Services Industries” and a Silver Stevie Award for “Tech Startup of the Year" in The 2017 International Business Awards.

A Beacon of Trust
The concept of My Sky was first developed in 2014 by two entrepreneurs active in private banking and private aviation. Since its public launch in August 2015, My Sky has garnered business from an exponential number of business aircraft owners in Europe and beyond. Oksana Smirnova is the Head of PR & Marketing at My Sky and is excited about how quickly the company became a beacon of innovation and trust.

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“Today, My Sky is a dynamic company evolving in the sectors of business aviation and financial management with headquarters in Switzerland. It currently employs over 80 experts, including in-house auditors, analysts and IT specialists.”

All their data is proof tested against the largest companies in the industry cost database. My Sky services 50 private jets and employs 80 experts in Switzerland and Russia.

Taking Off
My Sky’s mission is to revolutionize private jet ownership through technology and expertise. This has helped the company earn three international awards in just 12 months. In August 2016, they won a Bronze Stevie Award, then a Sapphire Pegasus Business Aviation Award for Innovation in April 2017, and now it has won Gold and Silver Stevie Awards.

“Winning gold one year after bronze shows that our product and our company have evolved in a very positive way and is a very important milestone in My Sky’s development,” says Smirnova.

“We also have ambitious plans on geographical expansion, and this international recognition will obviously be an added value to our unique proposition.”

Their innovative and disruptive approach provides an opportunity to augment traditional cost management practices in the business aviation industry through a smart blend of technology, data analytics and best practices.

Finding the Missing Link
My Sky considers themselves to be the missing link between industry players and the owners that remove any inefficiencies to empower jet owners by giving them more control and absolute transparency. Smirnova highlights what makes them distinct from similar companies.

“We believe the key to our success is the fact that there are no direct competitors today adopting a client-oriented SaaS approach. Accounting digitization, dynamic reporting and cost benchmarking offered by My Sky are absolutely unique on the market.”

Their unique features have allowed jet owners and their representatives to be in full control of their assets to optimize future costs while correcting past discrepancies, making sure aircrafts fly at the best hourly rate.

Topics: International business awards, company awards, Startup of the Year, startup awards