Last night we welcomed Squared grads from as far afield as Cyprus to our first-ever Squared Awards Night & Christmas Party at Google HQ in London. Gathering around our special Christmas trees decorated with Squared-theme baubles it was incredible to see so many of the Squared Network in one room, and toast to a very special few years.
The Squared Awards - celebrating the amazing things our grads do each and every day in digital
This year we saw our 5000th graduate from a programme that started as a 6 week immersive programme at Google in 2012, develop into a scalable online version that sees digital talent from across the world join every month to empower themselves to do great things in digital, and take both their organisations and their careers forward.
This year we wanted to do something big to recognise and celebrate the amazing things – big and small – our graduates do each and every day in digital, and the amazing leaders they are.
That's how the Squared Awards came to be, and last night we also crowned our very first winners across three categories: Squared Digital Champion, Squared Digital Team of the Year and Squared Leader of the Year. Miss the shortlist? Catch up on all the entries in the running here.
The presentation kicked off with a warm welcome from Shuvo Saha, Director of the Google Digital Academy.
We want the industry to know that if someone’s been through Squared Online, they’re someone you want on your team and Shuvo talked about how over the last few years we've seen that very unique combination of talent, hard work, creativity and the Squared mindset build the most amazing global graduate network. This is an alumni body that develops ground-breaking mobile partnerships with the UN sending life-saving information about Ebola in Tanzania, combines maternity leave with study, inspires and educates others by delivering digital training in their organisations, launches new products and drives innovative thinking and working, and transforms marketing performance to play a leading role in business success – to name just a handful of Squared successes.
Shuvo then handed over to Sarah Logan, Head of Marketing and Industry Partnerships at Google, and Claire Whittingham, Managing Director of Squared Online, for the main event.
Meet the winners!
We started with the Squared Digital Champion Award for the grad who excelled in taking their Squared digital knowledge and putting to into practice to make a real-life campaign or project a big success.
The judges were looking for a compelling, impactful story of the opportunity identified to apply those Squared digital learnings, and evidence of creative and strategic thinking of how it would drive the success of the project. A solid summary of the impact and results was a big bonus too.
Polly Foster from The Higher Education Funding Council was awarded top spot for her data-driven work using Google Analytics to understand how users interacted with HEFCE’s website and optimising for mobile to double views of the organisation’s annual ‘Higher Education in England’ report in 2016 compared to 2015.
Next up was the Squared Digital Team of the Year, where we were looking for the corporate team who have collectively put together their Squared digital strategy, collaboration and leadership skills to take a real-life project or campaign to the next level.
Katerina Orfanidi, Jessica Svensson and Katie Carroll from Starwood Hotels wowed the judges with their data-first approach to the customer journey, mobile and social media. By tightening up their retargeting strategy on Facebook, they increased their ROI by 60% and by tailoring visual content for mobile, they doubled their engagement rate and halved cost per engagement versus desktop.
In today’s digital world the leadership role has shifted to be more focused on the traits of leaders, rather than the more traditional definition of running a team. As a result, leadership skills for a digital age are all around collaboration, communication and the ability to bring disparate groups of people together towards a common goal.
Whether they played a leading or supporting role in a project, the Squared Leader of the Year applied those core Squared leadership skills during a real-life campaign or project to make something great happen.
Jacqui Merrington won top place for her digital transformation of the newsroom of online news portal Cornwall Digital. After completing Squared during maternity leave, Jacqui took on a new digital role at the publication and shook up their print-first strategy, doubling online page views to three million every month.
The whole evening was the most wonderful celebration of all things and people Squared. Keep your eye on our winners, and the wider Squared Network in 2017 - they're the ones to watch! Be fast though, so much moving and shaking means these guys move pretty quick.
Want to put yourself in the running for the Squared Awards next year? Come be part of it, get Squared! You can give us a ring on +44 (0) 20 7173 5938, or download the brochure to read about the course and the Squared experience.