Grace Payne

Grace Payne

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Rona Jobe Grows Small Businesses with the Help of a Unique Workforce

Posted by Grace Payne on Tue, Aug 23, 2022 @ 12:39 PM

In 2020, Stevie Award-winner Rona Jobe founded LVL-Up Strategies, a minority- and woman-owned small business based in Arlington, Virginia. She now serves as the CEO, working to propel small businesses to grow their potential by offering clients strategic advisement, operations design and implementation, marketing plans and execution, and business development guidance.

Jobe’s vision for LVL-Up Strategies is to help small businesses break the generic mold of how to grow their business. Instead of following a pattern from another business or figuring it out as the business grows, Jobe works to analyze each of her client's goals and current structure to define long-term strategies and customized next steps for success.

In addition, Jobe has a passion for supporting the careers of military and Department of State spouses. LVL-Up only employs military and Department of State spouses, so that they have the opportunity to grow their careers in an often unpredictable and stagnant work environment. This symbiotic connection of talented and driven individuals is critical to the company’s success.

lvlup logoLVL-Up Strategies already embraced a fully remote workforce prior to the pandemic. They have continued this success by creating and implementing a remote onboarding and training program for incoming staff, which has led to growth in staff, revenue, and client base in just one year.

Since earning the Bronze Stevie Award for Most Innovative Woman of the Year - Business Services, LVL-Up Strategies has developed the LVL-Up Five Step Process for working with small businesses; the LVL-Up CEO Entrepreneur Roadmap, which guides individuals from “solopreneurs” to full-time CEOs; and the LVL-Up Remote Staff Onboarding Process. These tools have been the foundation to developing customized client tools and programs, and have ultimately led to further growth for the young company.

Rona Jobe won Bronze Stevie Award for Most Innovative Woman of the Year - Business Services.

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SmartHub Provides Efficient Ad Tech Services to Global Customers

Posted by Grace Payne on Wed, Aug 17, 2022 @ 03:24 PM


Stevie Award-winner SmartHub is a programmatic, white-label RTB solution designed to facilitate ad tech market entry for companies that plan to set up their own branded marketplaces. It is designed for small and medium-sized ad tech businesses, ad networks, SSPs that need to build their own ad tech platforms while saving money and time. Their mission is to maintain the highest standards for marketplace transparency, accountability, and trust.

smarrtSmartHub was created in 2018, when a small team of skilled professionals grew their internal programmatic expertise. After this, they started to provide companies with robust technologies based on which enterprises could build their own independent ad marketplaces. With their unique  platform, customers can leverage technology that enables the most rapid market entry and continuing growth. Over the past two years, SmartHub has been able to advance their abilities in order to deploy a programmatic marketplace in just 7 days. Additionally, their company offers uncommon services such as ad tech outstaffing.

The SmartHub team has spent countless hours designing and building AdTech platforms for their clients. Their customers include those that have started and strengthened their ad businesses. They have also created a very responsive customer service team full of well-versed employees in numerous disciplines including tech, advertising, business development, and client relationships.

Since winning the Bronze Stevie for Best Customer Satisfaction Strategy, SmartHub has evolved significantly both in terms of technology and human resources. During 2020, SmartHub survived a global economic crisis and successfully entered a new technologic cycle, during which the business expanded to a new market – Israel - then explored the Asian region (Hong Kong, China), LATAM (Argentina, Uruguay), USA and Eastern Europe (Russia, Ukraine). Also in 2020, SmartHub technology was adopted by 59 new customers. The net profit during 2020 grew to reach the bar of $47,938.42. Income in 2020 increased in comparison to 2019 which is substantial growth for a young investment project.

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Their agile approach, responsiveness to the market's change and attentiveness to the needs of their clients have defined the success of our product. During 2020, the team spent over 2,700 hours designing and building AdTech platforms for their clients. Сlient-centricity is central to their strategy, so during the pandemic, they optimally redistributed the SmartHub team and augmented expertise in technologies that boost the businesses of customers. SmartHub developed a tool that enables setting up an independent ad exchange that makes it possible to easily and quickly deploy and adjust it to the user’s needs. 

SmartHub won the Bronze Stevie for Best Customer Satisfaction Strategy at the 2022 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service.

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Topics: Steve Awards for Sales and Customer Service

Fleetio's Team of Customer Service Experts Surpass Larger Competitors

Posted by Grace Payne on Wed, Aug 10, 2022 @ 10:22 PM

Stevie Award-winner Fleetio provides an alternative to spreadsheets and outdated fleet software, designed to help automate fleet operations and keep vehicles running smoothly. The company builds simple, collaborative software that helps fleets of all sizes track, analyze and improve operations. With a focus on automating the fleet operations process through telematics devices, maintenance shops and fuel cards, Fleetio’s web and mobile based technology gives access to fleet data in real-time. 

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Fleetio’s Customer Experience Team serves a worldwide customer base and is always looking to improve, while aiming to reach goals that are beyond the industry standard. The customer is considered first priority and their Customer Experience Team works to ensure customers get the most out of their product. Fleetio’s team has a high sense of ownership of their offerings and they have contributed heavily to the product roadmap, strategy, and customer journey. This has resulted in creating an incredible fleet management tool that keeps customers happy and returning.

During the pandemic, their Customer Experience team has rallied to customers' side and created unique strategies on a case-by-case basis. The Fleetio Customer Experience Team understands the importance of continually learning and growing to improve oneself under difficult circumstances. While other SaaS companies operate with large Customer Experience Teams, Fleetio believes in quality over quantity. The team historically runs very lean, with 4 main specialists for 3,000 accounts, equating to 35,000+ users. Even with a smaller team, they consistently hit service goals and continue to receive positive reviews across various platforms. 

To provide customers with another outlet for problem solving, they offer an online Help Center, which includes over 360 in-depth articles that can all be found with a quick search. For those that prefer to speak to a Support Specialist, or need additional assistance, the Customer Experience Team consistently surpasses goals, with response times under the 30-minute industry average.


Since winning the Silver Stevie Award for Customer Service Department of the Year - Computer Software, Fleetio has continued to provide excellent customer service to their clients. The Customer Support Team has successfully transitioned over to Salesforce Service Cloud, hired and trained a new team of 6 new Support Specialists, and maintained an extremely low missed call percent average. Fleetio’s customer service team continues to receive constant praise, in contrast to many other fleet management providers.

Fleetio won the Silver Stevie Award for Customer Service Department of the Year - Computer Software in the 2022 Stevie® Awards for Sales and Customer Service.

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Topics: Steve Awards for Sales and Customer Service

Stevie Winner is Dedicated to Water Conservation in the Utility Industry

Posted by Grace Payne on Wed, Aug 03, 2022 @ 04:10 PM


Stevie Award-winner Jenni Steele is the Vice President of Marketing at Niagara Corp., a manufacturer of water conservation products and the leader in high-performance, water-saving toilets. Niagara has revolutionized the utility industry with a reputation as the premier resource for conservation. In three years, Jenni has restructured her team efficiently in order to launch several product lines and automate marketing activities while strengthening client services and events. Jenni is dedicated to Niagara’s conservation mission and is valued by her team for her guidance. As climate change and record droughts present a strain on the water supply, it is more essential than ever to bring solutions and messaging to the marketplace.

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In order to carry out Niagara’s goals, the team launched a new suite of products with the intention of making powerful water-efficient technology and products that are available to residential and commercial facilities to save the world’s water and the owner’s money through utility bills. These new products were also designed specifically with features and benefits for builders, remodelers, and plumbing professionals. Jenni listened closely to these building professionals who install, repair and specify toilets to learn what details are important to them when installing. 

Additionally, Jenni spent more than a year teamed up with executive leadership to help build a new wholesale program. Their goal was to launch the product lineup filled with the features that pros want and to sell them exclusively to the wholesale channel. Through Niagara’s new program, the company is committed to providing attractive products and services to wholesale distributors, plumbers, and trade partners in the industry.

Since earning her Stevie Award for Female Executive of the Year – Consumer Products, Jenni has been able to restructure the marketing department, successfully launched several new product lines, enhanced overall client services, modernized digital integration, and automated marketing activities, all while also strengthening Niagara’s event marketing and online retailing. She also helped Niagara earn a national water conservation award from the EPA.


In addition, Jenni played a lead role in spearheading the launch of over 100 new toilet SKUs across four product suites. The line of new products was designed to help wholesalers serve the needs of their plumbing professional clients by offering fixtures with advanced technology and high performance for those looking for a wide variety of water-efficient products. She also created a campaign strategy that included virtual media meetings with Niagara’s executive team. Over the twelve meetings that were held, Steele and Niagara’s leadership demonstrated and shared critical aspects of Niagara’s four new full product lines, designed specifically with features for building, remodeling, and plumbing professionals. The campaign resulted in more than 53 million impressions to an audience of builders, contractors, plumbers, and facility managers. Jenni continues to be an invaluable resource to her team and Niagara as a whole through her dedication to sustainability.

Jenni Steele won the Bronze Stevie Award for Female Executive of the Year – Consumer Products –11 to 2,500 Employees.

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Lisa Utzschneider Demonstrates Powerful Leadership in Digital Advertisement

Posted by Grace Payne on Fri, Jul 29, 2022 @ 09:00 AM


Lisa Utzschneider is the CEO of Integral Ad Science (IAS), a digital media company that works to ensure that ads are viewable by real people in safe and suitable environments. Lisa focuses her team to bring greater media quality and transparency to digital advertising and has been able to differentiate IAS as an independent, trusted partner for both buyers and sellers of digital advertising. IAS practices contextual targeting and supply path optimization in order to bring high quality products to their customers. 


Lisa helped set the company’s core values of “We Are One Team” and “We Are Customer Obsessed.” Under Lisa’s leadership, IAS has expanded its product innovation and data-driven insights, closed two key acquisitions, become a public company, and continued to foster a strong company culture. Since 2019, Lisa also guided the IAS team through two acquisitions on Admantx, expanding the company’s contextual offerings and making the Total Visibility product an IAS brand that brings greater transparency to programmatic buying and supply path optimization.  

Additionally, Lisa successfully led IAS through the pandemic, transitioning to a remote work environment while continuing to focus on overall business growth. To ensure transparency and collaboration, Lisa instituted regular live global Town Halls to provide important updates on wins and progress across IAS, while creating a forum to answer tough questions from employees. She also launched a Fitbit Challenge for IAS employees to step their way toward healthy habits while working from home. Lisa also addressed the Black Lives Matter protests head-on by mandating unconscious bias training, establishing an employee match program for social justice organization donations, and recognizing Juneteenth as a company holiday. She has also been a mentor and supporter of elevating more women to leadership positions across industries.

Since winning a gold Stevie® Award in the 2021 Stevie® Awards for Women in Business for Female Executive of the Year, Lisa has honed the company’s mission to be the global benchmark for trust and transparency in digital media quality for leading brands. The digital ad market is expected to reach $526 billion in global spending by 2024, and under Lisa’s leadership, IAS will continue to play a critical role in shaping the future of digital media quality across high-growth segments including CTV, programmatic, social platforms, and international markets. The company also continues to lead in developing and collaborating on ad fraud and brand safety and suitability guidelines, as well as further industry standards. 


The company’s continued growth during Lisa’s tenure underscores her strong leadership and the value that IAS delivers as a digital media quality company, ensuring its customers, which include Verizon, L’Oreal, HP, Hulu, Nestle, Volkswagen, and Coke, make every ad impression count. As one of about 30 women to successfully lead her company through an IPO this past year, during one of the busiest IPO seasons on record, Lisa is also committed to paying it forward by continuing to support other female leaders across the technology industry and supporting diverse talent.


Lisa Utzschneider won a Gold Stevie Award in the 2021 Stevie Awards for Women in Business for Female Executive of the Year – Business Services –11 to 2,500 Employees.

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Rebecca Bendikov Works to Bring STEM Workshops to Classrooms Across South Australia

Posted by Grace Payne on Wed, Jul 27, 2022 @ 12:30 PM

Stevie Award-winner Rebecca Bendikov is the Head of Marketing at Lumination, an immersive technology company, where she works to inspire and educate teachers on how to incorporate emerging software and technology into the classroom through storytelling and building community. Doing so will in turn contribute to the development of students' abilities in an evolving technological landscape. Rebecca’s work represents her great passion for forming the “sparking the lightbulb moment” in young Australian women and girls when introducing them to careers in STEM.

Prior to her Stevie Award nomination, Rebecca’s job was to develop a marketing strategy for the Lumination Learning Labs built by Lumination. The Lab is a space where students engage with emerging technologies to solve real-world problems across all classroom subjects, covering topics like waste management, climate change, accessibility, and sustainability – all vital issues in today’s world. Rebecca developed the marketing collateral for the Lab, including a highly successful testimonial video, brochures, a website, as well as several Symposium events designed to bring school principals and decision makers into the space to foster brand awareness and develop networks with schools.

Rebecca took the Lumination Learning Lab from concept to reality. Due to Rebecca’s marketing work, the Labs are being incorporated by Lumination in all new government schools across South Australia.  Her achievements are significant as she was new to the industry and still managed to adapt effectively and encapsulate the learning outcomes to reach a broad variety of teachers across South Australia. Now, many students across South Australia are to benefit from being exposed to new technologies and experiences. Since earning her Stevie Award, Rebecca has continued her amazing work and taken the role of Head of Education Programs at Lumination, building a team supporting teachers as they integrate the use of immersive technology into their lesson plans. 

Rebecca Bendikov won the Silver Stevie Award for Female Executive of the Year in Asia, Australia or New Zealand.

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Topics: stevie awards for women in business

Christine Tao is Helping to Train Future Business Leaders

Posted by Grace Payne on Fri, Jul 22, 2022 @ 09:30 AM


Christine Tao is the co-founder & CEO of Sounding Board, a Silicon Valley startup redefining how organizations develop their leaders. Her rapid career growth to executive management in the tech sectors of Silicon Valley became her inspiration for founding Sounding Board. As she began to manage larger teams and became responsible for revenue growth, it became clear that she needed a “sounding board” to coach her on the development of her leadership skills. After receiving valuable mentorship in leadership development, Christine was driven to make this coaching accessible to people at all levels. Traditionally, leadership coaching has only been available to C-Suite executives, but with the advent of Sounding Board’s most recent innovations, coaching has become available and affordable to all levels of an organization in order to rapidly scale and upskill employees at a critical time when companies are needing to escalate at a more rapid pace.

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Christine achieved significant milestones that led to the acceleration of growth at Sounding Board and set the company on course for strong valuation for the future. First, she developed and supported the engineering and product leadership to create Group Coaching, a new product offering that has rapidly attracted new business and expanded the spend of existing clients wanting a more impactful leadership coaching program for teams. Additionally, Christine built the board of directors and advisory board for Sounding Board to include influential leaders and investors in the learning and leadership development industry. This helped to prepare the company to start fundraising to bring the company past its start-up level.

Since earning a Silver Stevie® Award in the 2021 Stevie® Awards for Women in Business for Female Executive of the Year, Christine has scaled Sounding Board in revenue exponentially, surpassing budgeted expectations. She hired heads of engineering and finance, and built out a strong infrastructure to design new products launching in early 2022. Additionally, Sounding Board’s coach network scaled rapidly to meet and exceed the demand from enterprise clients around the world. 

Christine has also supported her team to transition from SMB-centric clients to Enterprise companies using Sounding Board’s services for their companies with 5,000+ employees. This development fueled revenue growth during the pandemic and completed a record of meeting or exceeding stated gross revenue goals. Additionally, she led the company’s efforts to create an innovative AI-enabled tech platform that is the first-to-market. This program is designed to coach leaders for measurable business impact. 

As a female co-founder of Asian descent, Christine has broken several glass ceilings in not only completing a Series A funding round at a rapid pace, but also being part of the only all-female-founded, female-led, and all-female board of directors within the leadership development industry.

Christine Tao won a Silver Stevie Award for Female Executive of the Year in the 2021 Stevie Awards for Women in Business: Business Services – 11-2500 Employees.

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Stevie-Winner Jonckers Provides an AI, Cloud-Based Translation Service for Companies Around the Globe

Posted by Grace Payne on Thu, Jul 21, 2022 @ 09:32 AM


Jonckers Translation & Engineering was established in 1994 to provide innovative translation and localization solutions to international companies, such as Amazon, Microsoft, Adobe, Marriott International, and Samsung.

In 2015, Stevie Award-winner Jonckers began to develop its own cloud-based, AI translation platform called WordsOnline, in order to reduce costs and translate large volumes within a small time frame. WordsOnline now combines machine translation with Jonckers’ own expert linguistic community. Their fusion of AI and human translation offers the speed of technology alongside the attention to detail of the human eye. In 2021, Jonckers then launched two innovative services via the WordsOnline platform: ‘Translate Now’ and a translation subscription service. ‘Translate Now’ is an instant ordering service that allows customers to upload the documents that need translating and pay directly online. The translation subscription service allows customers to set up a recurring monthly or yearly subscription based on the volume of words translated each month.jonkerslogoOver the past two years, Jonckers has developed innovative workflows and solutions to help one of their clients provide top-rate customer service across several languages. They assist this client, an insurance agency, by translating their customer assistant portal queries and translating documents required for travel insurance claims. Customer assistant portals require 24/7 support, and the user submitting a query must receive an accurate response in their source language, using the terminology they used in their request. Jonckers overcame these challenges by making use of their AI-powered translation platform, WordsOnline. By ensuring there are linguists working in all time zones around the world, the insurance agency client can provide 24/7 coverage for their customer portal in all required languages. Making use of WordsOnline means their average reply rate for queries is 30 minutes.

Translation and localization are ultimately about facilitating good communication and Jonckers works to provide an excellent service to customers by coming up with original, creative solutions, that in turn improve their customer service by making it accessible to more users around the world. 


Since winning their Gold Stevie Award for Award for Innovation in Customer Service, Jonckers has announced the development of a connector between WordsOnline, and the popular web content management system, Tridion Sites, to facilitate the management of multilingual websites. Tridion users just need to click a button from their interface to send content for translating directly into WordsOnline. The connector allows Tridion users to cut down on turnaround time and project management, thereby reducing costs and time-to-market for their customers. WordsOnline works out five times faster than the traditional translation process followed in the industry, and Jonckers continues to support their clients through efficient translation processes. 

Jonckers Translation & Engineering S.A. won a Gold Stevie Award for Award for Innovation in Customer Service - All Other Industries at the 2022 Stevie® Awards for Sales and Customer Service.

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Topics: Steve Awards for Sales and Customer Service

Zoe Simmons Advocates for Individuals with Disabilities Through Her Journalism

Posted by Grace Payne on Fri, Jul 15, 2022 @ 09:12 AM


Stevie Award-winner Zoe Simmons is a journalist, copywriter, editor, and author based in Australia who writes with the goal of making a difference in the world. Zoe has published her work hundreds of times in major publications such as New York Post,, and Daily Mail. She specializes in capturing audiences through the raw power of storytelling, tackling challenging topics in a way that connects with readers. Recently, she has been working on her first book on her town's survival in the Black Summer Bushfires, a cause for which she has also raised over $15,000. Additionally, Zoe has published pieces including personal stories, guides, and features, all containing an element of activism on bushfire recovery, mental health, disability, and more.zoe simmons

In 2016, Zoe started her freelance writing business. She built her business part-time while working as a social media assistant at the Daily Mail and a communications assistant at Forensicare. She then transitioned to full-time business ownership as a copywriter and editor in July 2021. Now, she works to help businesses find the perfect words to engage their audiences. As a chronic pain and mental health advocate, she still regularly writes and shares stories to combat the stigma of disability. Specifically, she has worked with organizations like Women With Disabilities Australia, Reach Out, SANE, Endometriosis Australia, and more, creating content that makes a difference in the lives of disabled people.

It’s not about the finances for Zoe, but the impact of her words. Since advocacy is integral to her business, her stories are more to her than just works, but a sign that she is helping someone in their hour of need. She chooses to run her copywriting business in a way that sets her apart from others, accommodating employees and clients who deal with daily health struggles.

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Since winning her Silver Stevie Award, Zoe has appeared on a number of podcasts, where she has spoken about her commitment to advocating for chronic pain and mental illness acceptance. Additionally, she presented at the 2021 National Young Writers Festival in Australia, including the panel on Journalism and Trauma: Keeping Safe in an Unsafe World. Zoe has also been continuing to develop her journalism workshop, where she shares the impacts of journalism, how stories stick with readers, and practical advice on how to best support ourselves and others through the storytelling process.

Zoe Simmons won the Silver Stevie Award in the 2021 Stevie® Awards for Women in Business for Young Female Entrepreneur of the Year.

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Sophie Bowman Helps Influencers Convert Their Following into Sales

Posted by Grace Payne on Wed, Jul 06, 2022 @ 10:34 AM, founded by Sophie Bowman, provides services to social media influencers who want to convert their followers into customers via innovative strategies. The company was created in 2020 when the United States government attempted to impose bans on the social media service, TikTok. During this time, many influencers feared what would happen if other forms of social media were threatened. Their followers, time, and money could disappear. was created to serve one major purpose; to educate brands and individuals on how to convert their social media followers to customers. Sophie saw that even major brands failed to convert fans to sales, so she set up to educate the world and help business owners improve their sales. 

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The proven process was first tested on a giveaway collaboration with BALMAIN and a celebrity entrepreneur. Within 24 hours, they received 950 email subscribers which were then retargeted with email marketing campaigns. Sales of the entrepreneur's beauty brand were up by 38% that month with no cost. The process was so successful that Shark Tank's Kevin Harrington said, “This is such a niche and unique business model which I think is a lifeline for businesses.” 

Sophie is now shattering glass ceilings by educating business owners and individuals on how to implement this process themselves to cut out the costly marketing middlemen. Typically, this service would cost thousands of dollars a month, but her goal is to help business owners save their businesses or ensure that they thrive rather than survive the aftermath of COVID. She has won multiple awards for her pro bono efforts to support business owners throughout the pandemic.

Since winning the Gold Stevie Award for Company of the Year, Sophie started to launch her book, How to Convert Your Social Media Followers to Customers. Additionally, Sophie has been featured on billboards in Times Square as an example of an inspirational immigrant who launched two patented technology brands in the past year. Following the success of the BALMAIN campaign, she integrated a $200 voting poll plugin on the celebrity entrepreneur's website and launched a monthly makeup contest to tap into her army of influencers for her makeup and beauty brands. The influencers used their own social channels to ask for votes from their followers, driving 63,000 unique visitors to the celebrity entrepreneur's blog within 24 hours. Many of these visitors gave their email addresses and were retargeted via marketing campaigns which saw sales of her brands increase by 70% the following month. won Gold for Company of the Year – Business Products – 10 or Less Employees at the 2021 Stevie® Awards for Women in Business.

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Topics: stevie awards for women in business