How to Win an Entrepreneurial Award
Updated: Jan 30
Not paying to win an enterpreneurial award and what it means, according to Bridges M&C's Founder and Regional Account Director Nanny Eliana
People have often asked me what drove me to work for myself, to which I would reply, “Necessity,” followed by, “Passion is overrated.”
It was circa 2004; a time of false starts.
After joining three publishing companies as a writer, I decided I was not going to waste another day working for bullies. The last one summoned me to a conference room, and flanked by several scowling senior editors, screamed I was not cut out to be a writer. After I had left the company, the bully published my articles ad verbatim sans my by-line, and after a few months, upon learning I had not joined a competitor publisher, re-hired me as a freelancer through a proxy.
I strung for that publication and a few others over the next two years, and took on a few small copywriting and public relations retainers for retail brands distributed by SMEs. I inaugurated Bridges M&C. I liked how bridges connected people and places and yet were dependable and rock-solid, something I desperately wanted to be at the time.
The following year, I hired a fresh polytechnic grad to help me with media monitoring and book-keeping.
In that same year I ended my marriage.
When I moved office from Maxwell House to Joo Chiat Road, the polytechnic grad, who had now been working with me for over two years, tendered her resignation. We had just signed on our first healthcare account with the Singapore Dental Association who needed media relations support for the World Dental Congress which they were hosting.
Before leaving, she said she would like to nominate me for an entrepreneurial award, the Spirit of Enterprise (SOE). Established in 2002, it was and probably still is the only award in Singapore organised by a non-profit organisation where awardees are selected through a thorough interview process on their entrepreneurial journey, and not by whether they could pay to win.
I did not win that year. And I didn't expect to; I did not feel what I had then was a real business by any measure.
Fast forward to 2022.
Bridges M&C has established its headquarters in Singapore, and registered an office in Malaysia with partners in Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand. We have 10 full-time staff, and a new colleague is expected to join us in the first quarter of 2023.
For more than 15 years we have been servicing largely blue-chip pharmaceutical, medical device and health tech clients in the Asia-Pacific and ASEAN regions, as well as the individual countries within them.
Our clients are good people who love our work, listen to, and act upon our counsel, pay us fairly and on time, and recommend us to others. And since we began reinforcing our online and social media presence a few years ago, we've been enjoying a 40% conversion rate of leads generated through our website.
This is the third consecutive year we've hit a significant high in turnover, and we'll be distributing the spoils among our teammates through salary increments and year-end bonuses.
In September this year, someone reached out to me via LinkedIn about nominating me for the SOE. She interviewed me over Zoom, sent me the transcript, which I edited and submitted.
I thought nothing of it until I received the call conveying the message I have been conferred the award right smack in the middle of my first annual Bali holiday since the pandemic. This was while I was happily stuffing my face, and not agonising about whether I would fit into a designer skirt I bought six years ago (read my blogpost on my last-minute desperate prep!).
For all the fanfare and glamour at the Ritz-Carlton awards event; the photo opportunities with Singapore's Minister of State for the Ministry of Trade and Industry Ms Low Yen Ling; the compliments I’ve received on my makeup (Sha Shamsi using Tom Ford and Chanel), and outfit (Max Azria and Carolina Herrera; 30-carat blue topaz pendant by Cherie Thum) what made it truly unforgettable was seeing my teammates at ease and genuinely enjoying each other’s company at an event celebrating my personal achievement.
I would be lying if I said I don't envy how some other awardees have grown their businesses; from one office to six in 10 years, compared to my one office to two in the same period, and the third just in its planning stages.
Or how they have been supported on their entrepreneurial journey; seed money from a parent, spouse, or even a golden handshake, business acumen honed by years of working in the family business or as the top salesperson of a multinational company, or just being born into more fortunate circumstances.
But looking back, I wouldn't have it any other way.