beacon 2023 | Inspiring Individual Award

Call for nominations for the Inspiring Individual Award sponsored by Warner Bros. Discovery in honour of Sandy Smith

Nominations for the Inspiring Individual Award are currently open, as the Comms Council and Warner Bros. Discovery seek out the industry's most inspiring leaders. This award recognises individuals who are often referred to as the "unsung heroes" within their organisation, as they inspire their peers through their generosity of spirit, patience, willingness, and passion. These individuals are integral to the success and culture of their company and are nominated by their colleagues.

Warner Bros. Discovery’s Senior Director of Ad Sales ANZ, Donna Gurney says ”It’s that wonderful time of year again, when our industry can acknowledge those who actively support others to unlock their full potential, and those who contribute to driving a better industry for all. This is such a special award, and we are honoured to continue recognising Sandy’s legacy at the Beacons this year.”

Sandy Smith has worked in the media industry for more than 25 years, building enduring client relationships. Her expertise and understanding of the sector led to her involvement in groups dedicated to improving advertising standards, conducting research and addressing key industry issues. The Inspiring Individual award is recognition given to individuals who have consistently demonstrated outstanding leadership, mentoring, or coaching skills in the workplace, regardless of their position or job title within our industry.

The Inspiring Individual Award was first introduced at the Comms Council Media Awards in May 2011. The inaugural recipient of the award was Richard Fenner, who worked at SparkPHD. Other notable individuals who have received the award include Liz Fraser, who was the General Manager of and chairwoman of the IAB at the time, Alistair Jamison, CEO of Starcom & VivaKi NZ, Louise Bond, CEO of SparkPHD in 2013, Claire Harris from Nielsen in 2014, Chrissy Payne of OMD in 2015, Julia-Ann Hedges in 2016, Matt Bale, Co-founder of MBM in 2017, Robert Harvey, CEO of Dentsu in 2018, Anne Lipsham, Head of Strategy at FCB Media in 2019, Sean McCready, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at MBM in 2021, and Gina McKinnon, CEO of OMG Content NZ/APAC in 2022.


So, what is the Inspiring Individual Award?

This award celebrates the “unsung hero” in the company; the person who others find utterly inspiring with their generosity of spirit, patience, willingness and eagerness to be involved. This person is integral to the company culture and passionate about contributing to the company’s success.  The Inspiring Individual Award nominees are selected by their peers. Nominees need to meet the following criteria:

  • Is a mentor for others - this person invests time in younger members of the team, inspiring them professionally and encouraging them to evolve as individuals.
  • Share their knowledge and wisdom accumulated during their time in the industry.
  • Is the person colleagues look to when they want a wise, practical and honest answer.
  • Contributes to the media industry – this person sees the value in being involved in industry developments and initiatives in a constructive way.
  • Approaches challenges with a positive, can-do attitude.
  • Challenge the status quo with logic and reason.
  • Embrace the changes in our ever-evolving media landscape.

To nominate an individual for the award, it is necessary to provide an explanation as to why the person is deserving of the honour. The nomination form can be downloaded here.

Completed nominations should be sent to by 4pm on Wednesday 10 May 2023.

The recipient of the Sandy Smith Inspiring Individual Award, which will be announced at the Beacon Awards Show on June 15th, 2023, will be granted $10,000 to further their education, providing an opportunity to gain additional experience and knowledge that they can share with others.