Whistler Excellence Awards ignite excellence

April 25, 2017
By: Michelle Ratcliffe
Make business easy — tune in to The Big Idea, a bi-weekly column from the Whistler Chamber of Commerce showcasing a Whistler business innovating in their sector

On any other week in this space I enjoy the privilege of sharing stories of inspiring local entrepreneurs. Candid conversations with business minds showcase fresh ideas, exciting expansions and brave trailblazing in our community.

With every column I’m left inspired and humbled by the talent that fuels our healthy resort economy.

This week, however, with the announcement of our Whistler Excellence Awards finalists, I find my inspiration cup overflowing and am once again humbled by the leaders that lift our little mountain town to sit at an impressive height.

The 2017 finalists are an exceptional group from sectors as varied as tech, real estate, healthcare, athletic equipment and hospitality to name a few. Businesses stretch from Function Junction to the Upper Village, with one even perched on Whistler Mountain.

At the Whistler Excellence Awards on May 11, the Whistler Chamber, in partnership with the Community Foundation of Whistler and Arts Whistler, with the support of presenting partner BlueShore Financial, will host a celebration of these local superstars. This week I’d like to share a glimpse into our vision for this annual affair.

Catapulting young careers

Added to the Excellence Awards lineup four years ago, the Rising Star of the Year Award has struck a chord in our community, regularly drawing the largest list of nominations. Whittling the entries down to a top three is no easy task.

The award was created to celebrate a Whistler businessperson making an impact beyond their years. For many of the finalists, the recognition marks a milestone on their leadership track, shining the spotlight on early achievements and serving as a jumping off point in their career development. For example, last year’s winner, Alex Relf, owner of Peaked Pies went on to achieve provincial recognition on the 2017 BC Business 30 Under 30 list.

The award positions these up-an-comers among the seasoned leaders in town. We’ve also seen past Rising Star finalists elevate their organizations to be nominated for other future awards.

Elevating brands

This past week the Whistler Chamber’s events project manager, Sarah Stead, and the creative team at Reactive Design have been criss-crossing town, camera in tow, filming video and snapping headshots of each finalist. This helps showcase them in a polished way on awards night, but perhaps more importantly, it gives businesses visual material to elevate their professional image and tell their stories well beyond the event.

Regardless of whether they walk away with the hardware on the big night, all finalists enjoy recognition in the pages of local papers, on radio airwaves, social media and the chamber website and newsletter. Finalists are also toasted in style at a special edition of Chamber Après on Wednesday, May 3 at the Audain Art Museum in partnership with Event Rental Works.

The chamber has baked this style of brand building into the Excellence Awards strategy with the end goal to help businesses leverage this recognition, turning a moment in the spotlight into a sustainable elevated presence for their brand.

Igniting excellence

This year’s event theme is “igniting excellence.” The night has become an annual occasion that fuels the creative, pioneering spirit of the community, sparking new ideas and highlighting achievements. It also celebrates those who continue to inspire greatness, like the late artist Chili Thom, who will be honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award this year.

More nominations were received in 2017 than ever before, with over 126 entries creating a daunting task for the award selection committee. Ticket sales too, are following the igniting trend. With 430 tickets sold so far, the event has already surpassed last year’s attendance.

When I think about the stage on awards night, I’m reminded of Whistler’s unique, supportive nature. While all eyes are on the winners, they get to look out at a room of their peers, neighbours and biggest cheerleaders. That is the magic of this place and what makes this evening feel so special. I hope to see you all on May 11 to celebrate Whistler’s innovators, trailblazers and community cultivators.

Link to Whistler Question article: http://ow.ly/VJRnm