For five years now I’ve had the great honour of leading the Young Australians Best Book Awards Council (YABBA). The YABBA Awards is a children’s choice book award. The awards were founded by a team of volunteers in 1985 that believed children need to have great Australian books to engage them. Today our mission is the same, we want to have Australian children Recommend, Read, Rate and Reward Australian books.
Leading a not-for-profit volunteer run organisation has been truly transformational for my leadership. Nothing will test your leadership skills more than engaging volunteers and ensuring they have valuable work to actually do and actually deliver on. Anyone that has lead a volunteer organisation will understand how that simple challenge isn’t that simple. I personally love the enthusiasm and the drive the team bring to their work.
I never joined the YABBA Council with the view of leading it. I simply wanted to add my skills to the organisation in the area where I could help the most – Sales and Marketing. I started with a review of the sales and marketing processes. This lead to a rebranding, the development of a brand promise and ultimately a new website. That website has since been replaced and the branding refined, but the journey continues towards a strong sales and marketing driven organisation. But I’m truly honoured to work with the people that I do, they are a great team of custodians for the YABBA brand.
The 2016 Awards Ceremony was a truly fantastic event. We had a sellout this year, with 380 children, 65 teachers and 30 industry representatives in attendance. The scramble for tickets this year is a new thing, certainly in my time on the Council, which has presented challenges. But all organisations have challenges, I certainly prefer this model of having too much demand, instead of too little.
The Awards Ceremony gives me a some personal reward. The reward of all those days and days and days of work across the year leading the awards is getting to be Masters of Ceremony. Graham Davey the YABBA President of 20 years was the consummate MC, so I’ve used his 20 years precedent of the President MC’ing the day. I truly love the fun of leading a room of 380 children and 35 authors/illustrators that are true entertainers.
The Awards Ceremony day is a true celebration of books and a huge reward for everyone that gets to participate.