Seeking young business leaders who are making a difference

The 40 Under 40 Awards are not just for entrepreneurs, according to Matthew Illman, a director at William Buck and one of this year’s judges.

The 40 Under 40 Awards celebrate leaders from across industries and disciplines who are pushing the boundries of their professions. Photo: Vlad Kutepov, Unsplash

The 40 Under 40 Awards celebrate leaders from across industries and disciplines who are pushing the boundries of their professions. Photo: Vlad Kutepov, Unsplash

With nominations for the InDaily 40 Under 40 Awards now open, Illman encourages leaders from across South Australia and across industries to nominate for the prestigious awards.

“We have always placed a fair degree of importance in our judging criteria on people who are prepared to take a risk and have a goal and really show entrepreneurial spirit,” said Illman in the leadup to this year’s awards.

“That has always been something we have viewed as a really key trait.”

He stressed, however, that young leaders who are making their mark via organisations that are not necessarily entrepreneurial in nature are “absolutely part of what we’re looking for”.

“There are some fantastic success stories within the 40 Under 40 alumni and their cohorts that have come before,” he said.

Previous alumni of the awards include Zahra Foundation co-founder Arman Abrahimzadeh, Lincoln Medical Centre rural GP David Lam, University of South Australia associate research professor Kristin Carson-Chahhoud, Community Corporate managing director Carmen Garcia and OZ Minerals general manager transformation Katie Hulmes.

Entry to InDaily’s 40 Under 40 is by either self-nomination or nomination by someone else.

Knowing whether to self-nominate can be “tricky” according to Illman because “it will always be in the eye of the beholder, in terms of whether they feel like they’ve made a significant enough contribution to merit consideration”.

He believes, collectively, South Australians have a tendency to be “fairly humble and gracious” and not promote personal successes. The awards offer an opportunity for people to signal that they are making a contribution.

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There are now 200 alumni recognised for their impact on South Australia.

Illman has been a part of the judging panel since 2019, the second year of the awards.

“It’s been a really enjoyable process for me. I’m always blown away every year by the number of applications we get and the number of people out there that are doing some really fantastic and exciting things that deserve to be talked up and be encouraged as part of the future prosperity of South Australia,” he said.

His background as an accountant means he takes a pragmatic approach to assessing award applications.

“I certainly have a have a view that I want to see that the businesses and organisations – and the leaders of those businesses that we are recognising – are doing something that is truly making a difference,” he said.

“[It’s an approach] that’s very much focused on people who [are] investing in trying to move our state forward.”

Presenting a convincing case to the judges means giving as much detail as possible to support each answer and showing awareness of one’s contribution to the business and within the community.

The reward for a case well-made is to join alumni who are recognised for their positive impact.

Illman said it can also bring connections and business opportunities to help their businesses going forward.

“It is a really valuable network of influential and successful young business leaders.”

Applications are open for InDaily’s 40 Under 40 until March 31, with winners announced at a gala night on June 8 at the Adelaide Oval. This year’s 40 will also be featured in the print edition of CityMag in June.

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