Insights from Mahmoud Mansi – Brilliance Awards 2021 Judge
Mahmoud Mansi is an eight-times global TEDx speaker, a Human Capital Consultant, Auditor and Trainer, a CommunityService Activist, an Award-winning Author and the Founder & Chairperson of ‘HR Revolution Middle East Magazine’.
As an expert in his field, Mahmoud has been invited to judge several global business awards such as the ’International Brilliance Awards, UK 2021’, the ‘Middle East & North Africa Stevie®️ Awards, USA 2020 & 2021’, and the ‘GULF Sustainability Awards, UAE 2021’, in addition to judging several literary and cultural awards in Egypt.
Mahmoud is an author of nine books on human resources, entrepreneurship, literature, feminism, theatre, and humanitarian themes. In 2010 he was one of the winners of the ‘Sea of Words Literary Award’ in Spain.
Mahmoud has travelled and spoken at conferences across Egypt, the UAE, India, the KSA, Italy, Sudan and the UK about human resources and community development.
In addition to his MBA and his current DBA & CIPD studies, Mahmoud has achieved 18 professional certifications in Change Management, Strategic HR, Talent Management and Agile HR: PAPITM3 | GLA360 | sHRBP | SWP | CMHR | ATM | CEP | HCS | EPL | CHO | CSSMBB | HCS | LDSS | CGRA | CLDM | AHRP
BOC: How does it feel to be the only judge to be selected from the Middle East for the 2021 BOC Brilliance Awards?
Mahmoud Mansi: Besides feeling humbled and pleased to be chosen as one of the prestigious BOC Brilliance Awards jury members, I salute the diversification and inclusion that BOC is implementing. That diversity is shown not only in diverse cultures and regions, it is also present in the expertise of the jury members and, in addition, diversity as a BOC value is clearly reflected in the diverse and innovative entries received.
I was also thrilled to see some entries from the Middle East. I am always conscious to act as a BOC Brilliance Awards Brand Ambassador in the Middle East and help to motivate organisations to participate and become part of this competitive innovation hub.
BOC: Mahmoud, you judged in six award categories with the highest number of entries scored, why did you choose those?
Mahmoud Mansi: As a practitioner, trainer and consultant, judging is itself a learning journey for me as it is for any judge. You are exposed to new case studies, innovations, approaches and business planning. This learning is pushed to a higher level when the judge is asked to write recommendations and to give feedback about the entries he/she reviewed, hence learning is an added value for the judge who has to do extra analysis in order to write the recommendations, and it is also an added value for the nominee as their organisation can further enhance its initiative.
BOC: You have judged several awards across the Middle East, can you describe to us how your experience with BOC Brilliance Awards was different?
Mahmoud Mansi: Besides the professionalism, expertise and excellent organisational skills of the entire BOC team that I have been involved with, the quality of the entries submitted to the BOC Brilliance Awards was highly competitive and that made it an interesting challenge for a judge to score entries. This challenge has led me personally to acquire additional auditing and analytical skills.
The BOC Brilliance Awards judging platform makes it easier for the judge to score the entries and leaves less room for biasas each answer from the nominee addresses specific criteria and each has its own separate scoring system. Also the judge is given the option to write feedback on every response/criteria in addition to final overall feedback.
BOC: What are the criteria you use for judging?
Mahmoud Mansi: The criteria might differ from one award to another, however as a judge I am responsible for following the guidelines and the primary criteria in the first instance and then I apply my own logic and experience secondly. I share below some of the criteria I use when judging:
- Proposal Writing Style: is there a logical and interesting sequence of ideas, data and facts in the form of storytelling? Is there a distinctive use of vocabulary? Are there any grammatical or formatting errors? Is there any repetitiveness?
- Teamwork on the Project: who are the team members and what are their job functions? Is there a diversity of knowledge and expertise within the team?
- Teamwork in Writing the Proposal: is the proposal co-written by several team members or only by one person? One can actually distinguish the team members from the proposal writing approach, one can detect if it was written by someone with a project management background, a content writer, a marketing research specialist, an industry expert, or if it is a team effort.
- Stakeholder Engagement: are all the stakeholders well identified and mapped? Is their contribution to and impact on the project visible?
- Project Timeline and Efficiency: project planning, implementation and accuracy all make a vital impact on the success of any project.
- Impact Balance on Employees, Customers and Community: do the project outputs impact any one segment atthe expense of another? Or do they impact each segment in logical and balanced ways?
- Data Analysis, Illustrations and Statistics Shared: is there sufficient data to reflect the project outputs and successesin a quantitative manner?
- Clear ROI on Business: are the Returns on Investment clearly linked to the objectives of the project?
- Branding and Marketing of the Project: is the success of the project well-communicated to all stakeholders? What use is made of branding tools, social media, digital media, newspapers, documentaries, case studies, etc.?
BOC: From your personal point of view and experience, can you describe the optimal qualities and competencies of a judge?
Mahmoud Mansi: Judges are best selected by keeping in mind a diversity of talent and expertise on the judging panel.
- Good interpersonal and communication skills are vital in order to have the flexibility, wisdom and humility to see different perspectives when communicating with other jury members or in understanding and analysing the entries.
- Being certified in a specific field or two, and/or achieving academic degrees is indeed a plus, but not mandatory.
- Having consulting experience in the same industry tends to make a judge more competent when reviewing entries and when providing professional feedback.
- Being an avid reader and critic adds perspective to the experience of a judge which also keeps him/her updated on different philosophies and best practice.
- Coaching and development ability is important in order to ‘coach’ and ‘develop’ the nominee either through written or verbal feedback depending on the situation. This enhances the contest experience for the nominee because we all gain from such recommendations and development tips to ensure sustainability of initiatives.
- Auditing skills in order to spot the gaps and write recommendations are another important competency for a good judge.
- Project management skills help to provide insights on differing project management approaches and therefore assist a judge in making better decisions regarding the scoring of the entries.
- Time management skills are also important in assisting a judge to organise the tasks and to review the entries according to any given schedule.
- The ability to be aware of any potential error bias is also critical as it increases a judge’s self-awareness during the judging process and helps her/him to remain as fair as possible.
- Optimal judging reflects all these qualities in a judge’s personal and professional life, it becomes a mind-set and therefore a lifestyle.
BOC: Why do you believe awards are important?
Mahmoud Mansi: Contests and awards create a healthy competitive enviroment and therefore encourage us to continuously develop, and they give us the chance to celebrate teamwork, diversity, innovation and success.
Awards also give recognition to individuals and teams who have made an impact which helps to increase awareness and motivation for them and others.
One cannot compete on his/her own in such corporate competitions, it’s not a ‘one person show’. If the initiative is not implemented in a collaborative manner and if the proposal is not co-written by all the team members, then it is most likely that the entry will not be nominated. Therefore, such awards enhance teamwork, as the French football player N’Golo Kante said, “It is good to win awards but the most important is to win together.”
BOC: Tell us about your book “How to Manage a Writing Competition: A Handbook to Effective Measurement of People Innovation”?
Mahmoud Mansi: I first started by winning a literary award in Spain ‘Sea of Words 2010’ for a short story I wrote,‘The Island’, which discusses identity, freedom of choice and diversity through two people who are the only inhabitants of the island; a prisoner and his warden. After that, I thought about initiating a writing competition in Egypt, and that’s when I first started judging one competition after another, which were all related to literature, the arts and writing. As the Roman philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero stated, “Philosophy is the mother of all science,” I would say that literature is also the mother of all science, especially social science. Judging at such competitions, in addition to my experience in human resources, was my “succession planning” to become a judge of corporate awards from 2020 until the present.
About my book ‘How to Manage a Writing Competition: A Handbook to Effective Measurement of People Innovation’, I wrote it with the intention of sharing my know-how in initiating, managing and judging in competitions. It includes a sequence that starts with the theme creation right up until the award ceremony and beyond. It explores different types of competition, different methods of judging, and different ways to manage the competition process.
For readers who are interested to know more about the book content, please click here.
BOC: In 2016 you visited us in London as a BOC Speaker in the EMEA HR Summit, can you share with us your experience of that event?
Mahmoud Mansi: Actually this conference in particular was special for several reasons. Back then I had spoken at countless conferences and seminars in Egypt about human resources, and for me the EMEA HR Summit was the first global conference that I had spoken at after I was recommended by the renowned EMEA HR speaker Mohamed Mesbah. It was the first conference that I attend outside of Egypt as a ‘speaker’. Now I have travelled to the UAE, the KSA, India, Italy and Sudan speaking at different global conferences, so the EMEA HR Summit 2016 was my lucky charm.
The conference was also special to me because I was the youngest speaker and I was sharing a new model I developed called ‘Shared Development’ which is about engaging junior and senior employees to coach one another and to enhancelearning between different generations.
My magazine HR Revolution Middle East was a media partner, and I was delighted to incorporate all the wisdom Ilearnt from all the insightful speakers into one article entitled ‘Striking HR Philosophies in EMEA HR Summit London 2016’.
BOC: What would you like to say to those who were not selected as winners this year?
Mahmoud Mansi: I believe that every organisation that is able to innovate and create a new impactful initiative is indeed a winner in the eyes of its employees, customers and community. The true ‘Award Winners’ are the organisations that are able to sustain their initiatives and ensure that they continue to have an impact on the business, employees, customers and their community. As Sir Winston Churchill, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom once stated, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” And I would love to add that besides courage, success is also about benchmarking, collaborating, inventing and being agile.
The International Brilliance Awards 2021 recognised the best in Internal Communications, Human Resources, Marketing & PR and in Business from all over the world. To read more and see the list of last year’s winners, follow the link below: https://www.boc-uk.com/2021/12/2021-brilliance-awards-winners-announced/