This article was published before we became the Chartered Institute of Export & International Trade on 10 July 2024, and this is reflected in references to our old brand and name. For more information about us becoming Chartered, visit our dedicated webpage on the change here.

Helen Hastie, IOE&IT membership engagement manager, at MemberCon23

The Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT) recently announced the launch of its inaugural International Trade Awards. Here, the IOE&IT Daily Update catches up with membership development manager, Helen Hastie, to find out more about these important new awards.

Why is IOE&IT launching awards now?

There’s no question that the whole trade community has been though some challenging years, with a lot of change and upheaval. Brexit, the pandemic and the war in Ukraine have each had different and dramatic impacts on trade and supply chains. It feels like an important moment to take stock, to stop and reflect. We’ve been speaking with our members in our member monthly and at our events and have been able to celebrate and share their successes. It feels like an important part of the IOE&IT’s remit to reward the excellent hard work and commitment of our members and others across all parts of the trade community, so we have launched these awards to allow the entire international trade community to recognise, reflect and celebrate with us.

What’s different about these awards?

These awards will reflect the wide diversity of the people and businesses involved in global trade and will also cover the full range of issues – from sustainability in trade to innovation and digital trade – that traders are having to cope with every day. As I mentioned, it seems important right now that we do all we can to help celebrate the businesses and individuals who are driving growth across the economy. The success of our members and their businesses are critical for the success of the UK economy and these awards will help them to recognise and celebrate that success.

How did you settle on these nine categories?

There was quite a lot of rigorous internal debate about this. We started out with a much longer list of categories. We wanted to make sure that we covered as many aspects of international trade as we could and also to reflect the full range of business types and individual members we have. But at the same time we also recognised there are practical limits as to what we could do in our first year, and ensure the gala dinner doesn’t get cold in the meantime!.

So, it was a matter of balancing our ambition with the practicalities and the desire for the experience of the awards to live up to the high standards that IOE&IT drives on behalf of our members in all its activities. In the end these nine categories was agreed as the right mix to celebrate businesses and individuals alike.

Will there be different categories in future?

As an organisation IOE&IT is pretty good at learning from what we do and at listening to what our members tell us about their experiences, and in future we might look to change or add a few categories back in. But let’s get through this year’s awards before we start looking too far ahead. Right now, the whole team is focused on delivering a world-class awards experience this year.

Who will be judging these awards?

One of the first decisions we made was to make these awards as independent of IOE&IT as possible. As a result, we have lined up an expert panel of brilliant external judges, all picked because they are among the most experienced people in the area they’re judging, including senior trade experts from ITC, WTO, DBT and across the industry. This helps bring even more credibility to the award winners successes, but as a membership organisation we also want to make it clear that we value all our members equally. It was important for anyone entering to know that there was no conflict of interest and no involvement in the decisions from anyone with a direct connection to the Institute.

What’s involved in entering for an award?

First, it’s important to note that there is no charge for entry. We wanted this to be an opportunity for people to celebrate their work or the work of colleagues in international trade and to make the process as easy as possible by removing all possible barriers to entry. Second, we have used an online awards system to make the entry process (and the judging) as simple as possible. It is very easy to fill in the entry forms for all the awards either if you want to enter yourself or your company, or if you want to nominate a colleague or other partner. We know not everyone will be ready to enter their awards this year, so we extend our gala dinner and awards ceremony invitations to all entrants, members, and all in the international trade community to celebrate the successes of their peers and network with the winners and judges alike on November 15 at the Leonardo Hotel straight after our Import Export Show.

Entries and nominations for the inaugural International Trade Awards are open now and all awards are free to enter. You can enter here.

You can also buy tickets for the gala dinner here.