Final judging for business awards concludes

Respected officials: Chief judges (second from left) Choo, Loo, (fifth from left) Raja Badrulnizam, Koong and Teh, with BDO executive director Mok Chew Yin (far left) and SMG chief business officer Lydia Wang (centre, in red).

THE quality of the Star Outstanding Business Awards (SOBA) 2023 submissions and presentations have improved considerably and it has become increasingly difficult to judge the top winners in the awards.This observation was made by top judges during the final round of judging on Feb 5 at Menara Star, Petaling Jaya.

Judges will be deciding winners for the Malaysian Business of the Year (MBOTY) award, which is the top award in SOBA that is presented in two separate sales turnover tiers: one up to RM25mil and the other, RM25mil and above, as well as the Elite Entrepreneur of the Year (EEOTY) award.

They will be considering a wide range of criteria, taking into account the clarity in the company’s vision to their track record, their financial stability and achievements, management methods, differentiation and more increasingly, their environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives.

Shortlisted candidates from the second round judging, which was held on Jan 4, were identified based on the judges’ aggregated top scores.

Each participant is then given seven minutes to present their company profile virtually before the judges, as well as a five-minute question and answer session after that.

Judges will be deciding who from the five above RM25mil finalists and three up to RM25mil finalists will win the MBOTY in their respective tiers.

Judges will also confirm who out of the six finalists vying for the EEOTY spot will win, following the respective tier, from the par excellence Young, Male and Female winners.

The panel judges include Malaysia External Trade Development Corp (Matrade) strategic planning division senior director Raja Badrulnizam Raja Kamalzaman, Branding Association of Malaysia president Datin Winnie Loo, Malaysia Entrepreneurs’ Development Association vice-president Datuk Dr Teh Tai Yong, Malaysia Retail Chain Association vice-president Datuk Vincent Choo and Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM) treasurer-general Datuk Koong Lin Loong.

Raja Badrulnizam said that this year, the submissions were stronger in terms of (the participants) presenting on their ESG credentials.

“There is a lot of passion from business owners, to be innovative in their products, to increase efficiency in production, but they also try not only to achieve a balance in profitability but also to ensure that their business and product services are sustainable environmentally.”

Loo said that this year presented a good choice of entrepreneurs who took part and some to her stood out.

“It is more than a competition, it’s about finding the right person (who will win) and I am spoilt for choice.”

She added that joining an award like SOBA certainly helps small and medium sized enterprises especially those in the below RM25mil tier.

“There are many companies out there that crave to be recognised and having a platform like SOBA helps them drive their own awareness and innovation,” she said.

Teh said that based on previous year’s experience, the quality (of submission) has increased tremendously.

“We see Malaysian companies grow so much in the post-Covid days, the results have shown that in 2022 and 2023, there has been an increase (in quality).”

He mentioned that companies that have withstood the ravages of Covid-19 did so because of the resilience of their business model and have bounced back even stronger, even when compared to their pre-Covid performance.

Datuk Vincent said: “I believe that people who submit for SOBA are those of calibre and are ready to win an award – it’s just a matter of who is being more competitive.”He said taking part in SOBA will give companies an added advantage because the award is recognised in Malaysia so many companies aspire to have a SOBA award to add credibility to their company profile.

Like Raja Badrulnizam, Koong also pointed out that the submissions now reflect more emphasis on ESG strategies.

“It is beyond the bottomline, you must see what their vision is, their commitments, their attitude, and especially their commitment to the product and the business, as well as the people who are working as a team in the company.

“Nowadays we have ESG, on how to make good use of their profitability to give back to society.”

SOBA 2023 is organised by Star Media Group with CelcomDigi Bhd, Credit Guarantee Corp Malaysia Bhd, PKT Logistics Group Sdn Bhd and RHB Bank Bhd as main sponsors, and Matrade as official trade promotion partner.

Supported by Bursa Malaysia, SOBA is audited by BDO while radio stations 988 and Suria are official media partners.

For more information on SOBA 2023, call SMG Events at 017-231 1789 or visit

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