Chief judge hails an even year of entries

October 18, 2023 BY

LBW Business + Wealth Advisors principal Simon Flowers is chair of the judging panel.

The judging for the 2023 edition of the Geelong Business Excellence Awards has concluded, and the standard of winners continues to improve year after year. An expanded judging panel carefully selected the 59 finalists and six individuals, all vying for one of the 20 awards presented at the Geelong Business Excellence Awards ceremony.

Leading the judging panel is Simon Flowers, principal of LBW Business + Wealth Advisors, serving in this capacity for the ninth year, with an additional six years as part of the overall judging panel. This year’s deputy chair is Robert Hunter, director of Huntercorp Investments, with the support of 16 other judges and three guest judges.

According to Mr. Flowers, the first decision made each year is to determine the required number of judges. Meetings are held before the awards opening to discuss the judging process and consider any necessary changes from the previous year.

Entries for the 2023 Geelong Business Excellence Awards opened on May 4 and closed on July 14. Judges gathered for a day after the closing date to evaluate and score the written entries. This was followed by another meeting to determine the finalists from a business perspective. “Once we have all the scores in for the written entries, we then work out how many finalists we’re going to have, and that’s purely based on the scores. We pick a figure and we rule off at that score – and I can tell you that each year, the score actually increases, so the calibre increases each year.”

After the selection of finalists, the judges’ visits commence, and the scores from these visits are added to the written scores to calculate the final scores for each entry. “A few years ago, our cut-off score might have been 375 out of 50 – now it’s more like 390, so you can see the standard of entries does improve over the years,” Mr. Flowers noted.

He further added, “I’ve done this for 15 years, and this year has to be the most even scoring year ever. We are constantly amazed by these little nuggets of businesses that we’ve never even heard of, and they enter the awards because people have nominated them, and they’re just absolutely smashing businesses. You’re sitting there listening to their story, listening to their business and what they’re doing in relation to the five criteria they need to go through, and you’re just shaking your head, thinking ‘I can’t believe I’ve never heard of this business.'”

In 2023, the judges dedicated approximately 60 hours of judging time over a five- to six-month period, with Mr. Flowers, as the chief judge, contributing closer to 120 hours. To manage the workload, they added extra judges this year, reducing the individual workload. For more information on this year’s judges in the Geelong Business Excellence Awards, visit