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A look inside the judging of the 31st INCITE Awards with Chief Judge, Bob Cross

31 years, 812 entries (and counting), 306 local and national winners (and counting)… needless to say, judging the INCITE Awards is no mean feat.

It’s an exercise that requires on average 30 judges, 8 weeks of painstaking deliberations and more than 40 hours of volunteered time every year.

We sat down with this year’s Chief Judge, Dr. Bob Cross – WA ICT industry stalwart, business mentor and former INCITE Achiever of the Year himself – for a quick chat about being an INCITE volunteer and the labour of love that is the judging panel.

Q: Can you tell us a little about your history with the INCITE Awards and what led to you being named this year’s Chief Judge?

As the WA Chair of the Australian Computer Society (ACS), I was ex officio on the Awards committee in 2003 and continued to judge on INCITE panels in the years following. On the back of a Lead Judge role at the national iAwards from 2012 to 2014, I became the Chief Judge from 2014 to 2016.

I stepped down from the role when I moved to Bunbury, however, general acceptance of a virtual world has made it possible for me to happily take up the position again. Of course I’m receiving invaluable help from Celia Jordaan, who was the Chief Judge from 2017 to 2021.

Q: As Chief Judge, it’s your role to select the judging panels and guide the judging of each category. Can you tell us a little about the process?

A huge part of what makes the INCITE Awards so highly regarded in the industry is the comprehensive judging process, so it’s not a role I take lightly. Volunteer judges – more than 30 this year – must sign a conflict-of-interest statement and report any conflict, real or perceived, which may result in them judging a category.

Judges are selected on the basis of their extensive ICT experience across a wide range of industries, and each will contribute many hours of their time throughout the process.

The judging itself is conducted in two phases. The first is a shortlisting process in which we comb through every entry submitted to find our finalists. Finalists must then present to the selected panel of judges via Zoom – another now widely accepted product of our virtual world that allows judges such as myself and finalists to participate in the Awards no matter where in WA they are based. In fact as Chief Judge I’m often required to drop in and out of multiple judging sessions that are running alongside each other, so Zoom is quite literally allowing me to be in two places at once!

Last but not least, to determine our winners a number of data techniques are used such as Olympic Scoring.

Q: It really does sound like a huge job! Why do you do it?

I want to give back to the ICT industry that has been great for me – an industry that in Western Australia leads the world in many areas but needs more recognition. Besides, it is a wonderful opportunity to keep abreast of what’s new in ICT.

Q: Finally, can you let us in on this year’s judging so far? How is the competition shaping up?

We have a number of impressive entrants from a diverse range of sectors across all of this year’s product and start up categories. But that is all I can say for now, you will just have to wait and see until our finalists are announced next month and stay tuned until August 12 to discover who the lucky winners are… but without doubt this year’s judging panel do have a tough job ahead of them.

We wish all this year’s entrants every success, as participating in the INCITE Awards can open doors to life changing opportunities – for those who make the most of them.