The independent South Australian media organisation received 580 referrals and 200 completed nominations in its third year of the event, up about 15 per cent from 2019.
Businesspeople under the age of 40 could either nominate themselves or someone else before an assessment panel representing the state’s business community selected their top 40 leaders.
The influx of nominations comes despite the global coronavirus pandemic causing the award celebration to be postponed from June 19 until October.
SA Venture Capital Fund Portfolio Manager and 40 Under 40 Chair David Rohrsheim said he’d felt honoured to read the swath of stories of resilience and determination from applicants across a range of industries.
“Something we saw was many tough stories this year of challenges faced,” Rohrsheim said.
“People have really shared personal details of their careers and personal lives. All of the judges noted that it was a real privilege to read about our fellow South Australians and it made us really positive about the future.
“What was great to see was how people have adapted and businesses have reacted to the new circumstances, going back to the bushfires we had at the start of the year and more recently the coronavirus.”
He said the diverse panel of 12 judges had tried to consider the numerous obstacles different sectors faced in the past 12 months in order to make their selection.
Of the final 40 to be named, eight will win individual category prizes for their passion and achievements. These include an emerging industry award sponsored by Piper Alderman, the creative thinker award chosen by KWP and the first among equals, which is selected by the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Judge and Art Gallery of South Australia Director Rhana Devenport said the panel had met last week to compile this year’s finalists.
“It was a really amazing process. What is fascinating is that all of the entries come from different areas, whether that be dentistry or podiatry or the space industry or the cultural sphere,” Devenport said.
“And there were really fascinating stories as people spoke about their lives and their ambitions, why they’d chosen to be in South Australia, and how they want to make a difference in the world.”
She said the high calibre of entrants made narrowing the list of young leaders down to a mere 40 a struggle.
“I started a category of ‘yes’ and ‘no’. Then I ended up having three categories: great, really good and maybe – and hardly anyone didn’t end up in one of those categories,” Devenport said.
“There’s a lot of people who are terrifically good at their job. So what’s the distinction between somebody being very good at their job and having entrepreneurial flair? Being able to earn a lot of money is not necessarily the criteria.
“Thinking about community and what people are doing within their own community and how they’re making a positive impact, for no material gain is part of it.
“It was actually really inspiring in terms of the future. When you’ve got the kind of level of activity and success and change that those couple of hundred people under 40 are making – it’s really quite extraordinary.”
The awards presentation, which like events across the country was pushed back in the year due to restrictions, will take place next month.
To coincide with the event, for the first time, InDaily’s sister publication CityMag will run a special 40 Under 40 edition of the magazine.
CityMag editor Johnny von Einem said he was looking forward to supporting the State’s young business leaders in the first print publication since COVID-19 swept the nation.
“We’re excited to bring back CityMag’s print presence with a special edition dedicated to Solstice Media’s 40 Under 40 event,” von Einem said.
“Our entire reason for being since our founding has been to support and promote Adelaide’s emerging generation of leaders in hospitality, culture and business, and so aligning with 40 Under 40 makes perfect sense.
“I can’t wait to see the new crop of leaders decided on by the 40 Under 40 judging panel, and to celebrate them in our first edition back since February.”
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