Tips for Australian Aviation Awards victory from a serial-winner


Karu Esselle winning the top prize at the Defence Industry Awards 2021
Karu Esselle winning the top prize at the Defence Industry Awards 2021

As someone who is no stranger to the awards circuit, UTS academic Karu Esselle has offered some techniques for writing a strong submission for the 2022 Australian Aviation Awards.

Esselle is a distinguished professor in electromagnetic and antenna engineering at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), but has the extraordinary accolade of being crowned the overall winner at both the Australian Space and Defence Industry awards. In total, he has taken home a remarkable four trophies in the last 12 months. 

He spoke to Australian Aviation about how entrants could write a compelling submission for the inaugural Australian Aviation Awards, which will take place on Thursday 1 September 2022.

The Australian Aviation Awards (sponsored by principal partner the University of New South Wales) includes 24 individual and company categories (including Defence Support Business of the Year) and seek to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and resilience of the aviation industry amid a turbulent and challenging few years during the coronavirus pandemic.

Submissions are peer-reviewed by a panel of trusted and well-respected judges.

Nominations and submissions will close on Thursday 30 June 2022.

Make full use of submissions to spotlight achievements 

Speaking about the value of winning these types of accolades, Professor Esselle said it elevated the profile of UTS, and as such, suggested that winning or qualifying as a finalist at the Australian Aviation Awards could help businesses gain exposure and build their profile in the aviation industry.

“The defence industry is clearly going through a kind of revolution,” he said.

“It has a lot of new companies, small-to-medium enterprises, traditional primes, and others in between. They’re all competing for commercial, government and industry contracts.

“If your organisation or someone from your business wins one of these awards, it could really give you an edge when you are competing out there in the marketplace for projects and grants. Even becoming a finalist is still very valuable.”

To impress the judges and increase their prospects of succeeding at this year’s awards ceremony, Professor Esselle urged entrants to be meticulous in addressing the selection criteria.

Submissions provide an opportunity for award entrants to showcase the depth of their talent, demonstrate their results through the use of figures and metrics, and highlight how they have propelled the Australian aviation industry forward.

As such, Professor Esselle advised them to utilise all the space available in their submission forms to illustrate their achievements.

“If you can write 500 words, then try to write as close to that as possible, and use all the space available,” he said.

“Don’t just write 100 words, unless you don’t have anything else to write.”

A picture’s worth a thousand words

Including additional supplementary material such as letters of recommendation, photos and graphics would also bolster the submission quality as they are a visual demonstration of the entrants’ achievements, according to Esselle.

“Photos, graphics, and figures can catch a judge’s eyes. You need to find something that will set you apart from the crowd and make sure judges take notice,” he said.

Most importantly, he urged applicants not to be discouraged if they fail to win or qualify as a finalist this year.

“Even qualifying as a finalist is a great achievement but if you don’t become a finalist, try next time. Just keep trying,” Professor Esselle stressed.

Spurring others to nominate in future

Last year, Professor Esselle was recognised at the award ceremonies for partaking in critical and strategic defence projects for the government, along with a team of participants at UTS, Macquarie University and the University of New South Wales.

In addition, he has mentored research and development engineers, research associates and PhD students who have subsequently secured positions in the Australian defence industry.

With expertise in telecommunications, defence and space technologies (including imaging surveillance from space), Professor Esselle has been involved in Australia’s Future Submarine Combat System Program managed by Lockheed Martin Australia.

Since 2002, his research team has been involved with research grants, and contracts with PhD scholarships worth over $20 million, including 15 Australian Research Council grants.

“I was humbled by the awards last year. It means a lot to me and my team,” Professor Esselle said.

“In terms of real outcomes, it enhanced my career profile. I bumped into several people during defence industry meetings. When I introduced myself, they said they knew who I was and that I had won the awards last year.”

Moreover, Professor Esselle said his victory has motivated his team to nominate themselves for the awards in the future.

“We have teams across several organisations as we collaborate with defence departments. It would be very exciting to potentially nominate several people or teams from multiple organisations for company awards,” he said.

The Australian Aviation Awards includes a range of individual and group awards for airlines, airports, support businesses, pilots, engineers, rotary businesses, industry associations, and female aviation leaders.

To enter the awards, visit the website below to register, download the category criteria, follow the criteria, and submit an entry. Finally, simply save and confirm your submission.

Submissions will close on Thursday, 30 June 2022, with the gala event set to take place on Thursday 1 September 2022 at 7pm at The Star in Sydney.

It will provide professionals with the opportunity to network and share their successes with their peers and the industry.

Click here to submit an entry or nominate a worthy colleague for a chance to take centre stage and walk home with a trophy.

For more information about the awards program, including categories and judging process, click here.

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