PMA Magazine – Connecting the Imaging Communities - February 2010
By Don Long
Brenton Watkins is an achiever. In fact, he’s the Australia Young Achiever Award winner for 2009, the twelfth person to receive the award, created by PMA Australia as an incentive for young people working in the photo industry and to recognize young photo industry personnel, both professionally and personally.
Candidates are nominated by PMA member companies to recognize their levels of energy, knowledge, enthusiasm, and achievement in business. The nominations are submitted to a regional PMA committee, and a winner may be selected from each region. The regional winners go to the annual PMA Australia Digital Life Expo as part of their prize, where they face a final PMA assessment committee and the overall winner is chosen.
Watkins says it all began for him “when I was approached by the training manager at Ted’s Camera Store and asked if I’d be interested in being nominated for the PMA Young Achiever Program. I was really honored. It was great feedback from the company to be acknowledged and nominated.”
He notes the application form included a set of questions relating to the industry. “I had to answer these questions in a way I felt was relevant to me. Some questions related to how I would act in certain situations, others how I felt about the photographic industry as a whole.”
This was followed by a call to meet with the state selection panel for an interview. A week later he was advised he’d been selected to represent the state at the national finals, held during the national convention.
“To say I was thrilled would be an understatement. I felt I could not have done any better in the interview, so to come out with the state award was fantastic.”
The award included return airfares to the convention, accommodations, and entry to the Expo.
There, Watkins took in some of the sessions. In total, he says, the event was “a real eye opener.”
During the Expo, Watkins did his final round of interviews, this time with the national selection panel.
“This interview was a bit harder. Some questions were clearly more open for interpretation, which I guess makes the answers from each finalist very different. I didn’t think I did so well in that interview. As soon as I left the interview room, I thought of 100 things I forgot to say!”
Watkins muses on the awards night. “In typical award ceremony fashion, the event dragged on for what seemed like an eternity.” Eventually they got the finalists on stage, noting what the award meant and how unique it was. At the time, Australia was the only country to offer such an award, although Canada has recently instituted such a program.
“While standing there with all those people looking at me, I realized how proud I felt just to be there and, regardless of who won, I’d gained so much from the whole process.”
When his name was called, says Watkins, “I had to run the statement through my head about three times just to ensure I’d heard it properly. I was absolutely stunned to hear I was the winner. It was everything I’d worked so hard for, and I knew I did not want my PMA experience to end right there on that stage.”
Attendees may run into Watkins during PMA 2010 in Anaheim, Calif. That was one of his prizes. The other is an intensive 3-day workshop valued at A$3,000, conducted by The Freidman Group, the largest retail training organization in Australia, as well as travel and accommodations.
As well, Watkins and the other state winners will be PMA State Representatives for a year.
The PMA goal is to encourage those aged 18 to 26, working in the photographic and imaging industry, to grow and participate as representatives of their employers and the industry, as they are its future.
For Peter Rose, director of PMA Australian Activities, the judging process has made those nominated for the award to assess their achievements and aspirations. “That in itself seems to be of great value to them,” regardless of whether they progress beyond the State judging. Being at the PMA Australia Digital Life Expo for the final judging exposes them “to the wider Australian imaging industry, invaluable to their careers and their overall self-esteem.”
Rose adds many State and National winners “have moved on to senior roles and, without exception, participants comment the total process provides a journey that would be otherwise lacking in their career development.”
Watkins, who hails from Ted’s Camera Stores in Melbourne, acknowledges the experience “has exceeded anything I could have imagined. I have learned so much about the industry, its people, and myself.”
PMA Canada Young Imager
May 1 is the deadline for entries in the PMA Canada Young Imager Award program.
The PMA Canada Young Imager Award is seen as an incentive for those working in the imaging industry, recognizing new and dedicated individuals who are the future of the industry.
Voting members in Canada are invited to nominate an individual for the award, or employees of voting members can self-nominate.
The winner from each of five regional competitions is expected to qualify to enter the final judging, with each finalist winning a trip to the PMA Canada Expo 2010 in September, being part of the grand prize award presentation, and being appointed to the PMA Division Committee for 12 months.
The grand prize winner will receive a trip to the PMA 2011, including airfare and accommodations.
Candidates will be assessed by a panel of judges in each region, and will face a final assessment committee at the Canada Expo 2010. According to PMA Canada, award candidates will be recognized for their levels of energy, knowledge, enthusiasm, and achievement in business. There is no technical knowledge test.
The hope is the PMA Canada Young Imager Award will give candidates the opportunity to network with peers and industry leaders, to gain recognition in their field of expertise, and to grow personally and professionally.