On Thursday, June 11 2016, I was invited as a 2015 Finalist to the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year event in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Naturally, I brought along the family (except, unfortunately, my youngest daughter who lives in LA), and of course I invited some of my teammates and colleagues from Ocean Thermal Energy Corporation.
It was a marvelous evening and EY (Ernst & Young Global Limited), certainly know how to put on a show and make each and every entrepreneur finalist present feel warm, welcomed and important.
EY is an accounting and professional services firm headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is one of the "Big Four" audit firms and according to their Wikipedia entry is the third largest professional services firm in the world by aggregated revenue in 2014. I have to say that the EY folks I met with in Philadelphia certainly didn’t act like they were from a huge successful professional firm; they were friendly, outgoing (yes, even for Accountants!) and genuinely interested in the various entrepreneurial companies showcased at the event.
As described by EY, each spring, the business community comes together to celebrate regional semifinalists, finalists and winners. These entrepreneurs not only create and build market-leading businesses, but also help take the standard of excellence to new heights, transform the face of industry, create jobs and contribute to the vibrancy of communities.
It’s a pretty big deal. This year, more than 14,000 CEO's and executives gathered together in 25 cities around the country to celebrate entrepreneurship. EY has been celebrating entrepreneurs for more than 25 years. The EY Entrepreneur Of The Year® Award is arguably the world’s most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs. The program has grown to 25 programs in the US, and the global program now spans more than 60 countries.
This years event took place at the downtown Sheraton Hilton Downtown Philadelphia. While I wouldn’t rave about the hotel rooms (or room service for that matter), the meeting venue was outstanding. Wolfson Bell, the Canadian professional creative facility studio specializing in corporate communications managed the media and technical side of the event, which included huge screens, a live band and video segments of the various Entrepreneur Finalists (filming had taken place a few weeks earlier). Dinner was served (not bad considering there were hundreds of people) and speeches were given (including a rather stirring speech by Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia).
Next up came the selection of the Finalists. Each Entrepreneur was featured in a short video. A panel of independent Judges had already made selection of the Entrepreneur Finalists. It was sort of like the Academy awards – after all of the Entrepreneurs videos had been shown, an envelope was opened containing the winner’s name that was announced to the audience. (Note: No winner shouted: “Yay! I’m through to the next round!).
It was a great event. Black Tie of course, and the guys looked very smart in their Tuxedo’s and the ladies certainly stole the night with their evening dresses.
My family and some of my team members stayed overnight at the Sheraton, rather than drive the two hours back home. After the ceremonies were over, it was nice to kick back in the Sheraton’s Lounge.
Generally speaking, I’m not usually that big on huge banquets or business awards. But the success of this event was due entirely to the amount of care and effort that EY had spent on the arrangements. The panel of independent judges, including previous winners of the award, leading CEOs and private capital investors and other regional business leaders must have had a tough job in selecting the winners.
In all honesty, I thought the whole affair was extremely well done and would recommend this program to all Entrepreneurs. The program credentials Entrepreneurs to investors, employees, and customers and gives them the opportunity to celebrate achievements and publicly recognize the contributions of the team who made it possible.
Entrepreneur Of The Year finalists and winners receive great publicity in and beyond their communities, which contributes to valuable network building.
For me, taking my family and team members to share in the event was important. After all, they are the ones who tirelessly support my efforts! Without them, where would I be?
Interested in the EoY Program?
To get in on the act, you’ll need a strong and well-written nomination that will be both powerful and compelling to the judges. My sponsor was Philadelphia-suburbs based Solomon Edwards a privately held, national professional services firm focused on strategy execution to solve clients’ critical business issues related to business transformation, accounting and finance, governance and regulatory compliance, and mergers and acquisitions. Ed Baumstein, Solomon Edwards’ CEO is an investor in Ocean Thermal Energy Corporation and over the years his firm has provided some great advice and help to my entrepreneurial ventures.
The Entrepreneur Of The Year® Award is an opportunity for an Entrepreneur and his/her company to receive well-deserved recognition for the many accomplishments of the past few years. The judges want to hear about both the Entrepreneurs accomplishments as well as the successes of the company. As EY describes the process on its website: Bragging is encouraged. This is not the time to be humble.
The first step for me was completing all of the paperwork. Gerry Koenig, our General Counsel and a very good friend, helped me through the process and guided me though the essay that I would write. Jim Garner CPA, who is CFO of Ocean Thermal Energy Corporation, managed the company financial side of the nomination and, in his usual style, kept me on track. Jim and I researched what the judges would consider. We learned that entrepreneurial spirit, innovation, personal integrity, financial performance, strategic direction, market impact and social responsibility were critically important. I kept these distinguished features in mind and emphasized them throughout my essay.
One of the more important aspects of the essay is to correct any grammar and misspelled words before submitting the paperwork. Mistakes deflect the attention away from the quality of the nominee, so my team and I took great care to make sure there were no errors.
Nominations are made using EY’s online nomination form or a download of the PDF of the form.
Find someone to nominate you and follow the instructions. It’s worth doing. The Entrepreneur Of The Year® is a great way to not only get recognition for your own Entrepreneurial journey and success, but to get inspired by other Entrepreneur’s stories of innovation, vision and hard work