If I told you that the traffic around Bishopsgate in Central London was heavy one Friday evening, you’d think that to be some typical and rather uninteresting news.
On this particular evening though, ominously Friday the 13th of November, the various roadworks had the area almost in deadlock.
Despite the gloomy transport issues, the sparkling glass building of 250 Bishopgate, the headquarters of RBS, and the venue for the evening’s awards ceremony offered a welcomed contrast.
As event co-ordinator Sajna Rahman, representing event sponsor Sodexo, arrived at the venue and gathered the troops. Their primary mission was to transform the 4th floor of one huge financial institution into The Grow Personal Success Awards 2015. Due to the heavy traffic problems, this all had to be done in a matter of hours before the guests arrived.
With Sajna in command, like true soldiers the team got to work from dressing the round tables for the awards presentation in the main room to preparing the stall tables ready for exhibitors to begin setting up to showcase their business in the atrium.
With a little time to spare, the remaining team members changed into their awards dress and began to welcome guests with wine, orange juice and an endless selection of canapes, as gentle jazz tones played over the speakers.
The low lighting in the atrium created an intimate feel to the event which masked the enormity of the building itself. This served the aim of creating a true sense of connection and community among everyone in attendance, whether they were long time friends or meeting for the first time.
The networking flew by and soon it was time for guests to be ushered into the main room.
Upfront, the raised stage area with a blue carpet. In the centre, the podium.
To the right, a table displaying the translucent glass award trophies awaiting the announcement of their new owners.
Nick Howe from RBS opened the event and spoke of his passion for community building and the contributions his organisation was making, most notably the hosting of this very event.
It was then on to the event coordinator and emcee Sajna to welcome the guests and highlight the alignment between Sodexo’s commitment to improving quality of life for every community they touch and The GPS Awards. She shared how sponsorship of The GPS Awards was another step in the commitment to that mission.
The mic was then passed to Tony Dada, the host of The GPS Awards and creator of the GPS Mentoring & Coaching Programme of the same name. Tony opened his section of the evening with a song, giving the gift of one of his main passions to every attendee. The event was dubbed as ‘edu-tainment’ and became apparent from then on. Stories of past GPS students who had undergone personal transformations that almost defy belief followed as Tony spoke after his song.
In two particular cases, Tony could take no liberties with the facts, because they related to his own son and daughter, both of whom are now citizens of the world, pursuing their dreams in the USA and Nigeria respectively and are both under 30.
The final portion of the main event was to present the awards themselves. Anticipation had been hovering in the room since everyone entered. Everyone had followed the public vote and had a rough idea as to the state of the leaderboard when the voting was closed. But what impact had the judging panel had on the final decision?
Working through the categories in order, Sajna gave the audience some context by describing The GPS Award and the criteria for its winner. The contents of the envelope revealed that Damilola Bakare had won the prestigious D.A.D.A. Award for being the individual that most effectively Discovered their Aptitude (or the Aptitude of another), Developed it and Accelerated towards true success. Dami is studying law at university with the aim of returning to her native Nigeria to setup a service offering free legal advice to those who need it.
The attention then turned to the GPS Community Award which was awarded to the individual or organisation that Discovered Aptitude, Developed it and/or Accelerated it towards true success most effectively in the community. The envelope revealed Sheila Diete-Spiff was the winner. As the director of Active Reactions, Sheila provides care for people living with dementia in her local community.
The GPS Community Award was sponsored by The DADA Academy.
Next up was the GPS Class of 2015 Award, presented to the individual that went through the Grow Personal Success Coaching and Mentoring programme in 2015 and experienced the greatest personal transformation. This turned out to be Taiwo Adereni who had transformed his life from one that was consumed by the pursuit of money to one filled with the pursuit of productivity and personal fulfillment.
The GPS Class of 2015 Award was sponsored by Saladmasters and presented by Sharon Rhaman.
And finally the fourth award winner was announced as 16 year old Natalya Zawada, who went through the GPS programme when she was just 14 and had experienced an incredible improvement in the quality of her life. Natalya won the GPS Alumni Award and showed off her own singing talents with a two song set before the main event was closed.
The GPS Alumni Award was sponsored by NatWest and presented by Nick Howe.
Just before guests were released back to the atrium for more drinks, canapés and conversation Tony took the stage once again to highlight that a fifth trophy remained on the table which read ‘High Quality Service Award’. This surprise category was not subject to a public vote and known to no one prior to this moment except Tony.
As he began to explain the backstory as to why he felt it necessary to present the award he gave some details about the winner, a thought came to my mind…
“it sounds like he’s talking about me”.
It turned out he was and called me on stage to receive the High Quality Service Award for helping GPS with it’s business, marketing and technology systems since the inception of GPS.
Once the excitement of the final award had simmered down, Natalya performed her two songs before Tony and Sajna closed the formal section of the event and invited guests back to the atrium, while the nominees and award winners were escorted to the press room for photos and interviews.
As guests began to trickle out of the venue and 10 PM drew near, Sajna again called her troops to arms to sweep the venue and revert The GPS Awards gala back to the majesty of the RBS Headquarters, taking event equipment and new memories but leaving a lasting impression.
For a rich sense of the event’s vibrancy you are invited to visit the photo gallery on TonyDada.com.
If you’d like to hit the ground running in 2016 you are invited to take up the final offer of the year with upto 60% off the GPS Coaching and Mentoring Programme click here to get in touch (offer expires midnight Monday 30th November).
Some of the nominees from GPS Awards 2015