Second time around, WA Business News’ 40under40 Awards has found a host of talent in WA. But that did not make picking the winners any easier as Mark Pownall explains.

LAST year the judging panel thought it was tough. The final part of the process highlighted the difficulty, with two stand-out candidates so closely matched in votes that they shared the 1st Amongst Equals prize and some strong debate when two other candidates ended up at equal 40th in the points scoring.

Hard decisions were required, but that was 2002, the inaugural year. It was all going to get easier from here on in, wasn’t it?

Think again.

The profile gained from last year’s 40under40 Awards has ensured an even stronger pool of candidates, which is great for the program but unfortunate for those who missed out.

Because of this, 2003’s pool proved even harder to judge than their predecessors.

We were presented with stories of self-made business operators vying for places against go-getting careerists, making the battle to get in the top 40 all the more difficult for this year’s entrants.

Without wanting to be apologetic, those who didn’t make the list in the following pages should not be disheartened.

There is some great emerging talent that, unfortunately, remains hidden for the time being.

Perhaps next year, 12 months older, wiser and more successful, they may consider taking another run at this prestigious award.

Turning back to the new 40under40, it is worth noting the massive diversity among this group of emerging business leaders.

They come from the regions and from overseas, from a remarkable variety of backgrounds. Some dabble at the cutting edge of technology, while others make traditional businesses run more effectively and efficiently than ever.

One thing is certain. They all have the capacity to tell their stories in a very clear and succinct way, explaining in detail the logic of their moves and almost intimately revealing to the judges what they learned from the worst of their mistakes.

Believe me there are some clangers in there. Naturally, though, they bounce back.

A strong element among the winners is their community involvement – amazing stories of effort and energy being provided in ways that, in the best examples, had little logical fit with their role in business.

In other words, many of these busy people generously give their skills and time without taking anything back, except, I imagine, a great deal of gratitude and thanks.

Whether or not these 40under-40 winners are better than those selected in 2002 is a moot point. That was then and this is now.

There is nothing clear cut about any of this, except how almost limitless the talent pool is in WA.

These winners are not just 40 top young business people, however. They are more than that.

They represent the thousands of aspiring young business people of all levels who will form the backbone of this State in the years to come.

We need them to be recognised, not just as individuals, but also as the embodiment of the talent that exists in this State, which is needed to ensure our community flourishes in the future.


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