The APICTA Awards – a blow by blow account
I arrived in Singapore on the evening of November 25. After checking into my hotel, I met up with Jawwad Farid of Alchemy Technologies and Zia Imran of Vahzay Inc and together we went to Vivo City to have some dinner. Jawwad had selected a restaurant by the name of Ramen 10, a Japanese place that served very spicy food in addition to the normal sushi and sashimi. Poor Zia (egged on by some sort of machoism, had the spiciest of the meals on offer – but he survived it in the end). Adnan Agboatwalla of Pixsense joined us a little later and we went off for coffee at Starbucks and sticky rice desserts that Jawwad became addicted to over the next few days.
The next morning we had arranged to meet with some of the Pakistani companies at my hotel. The idea was to share our experiences of previous APICTA events and point out what it was that the judges were looking at when they assessed products from the region. Most of the software products that are nominated for these Awards from different economies are top notch. Hence very often it is the approach that you take in presenting your software product, that gives a product more of an edge. And that is what we were trying to relay to the nominees from Pakistan.
Zia, Jawwad and I spent about 3 hours with them after which we ventured out for lunch to the Magic Wok which is a Thai restaurant in the vicinity of Raffles City Convention centre. Delicious food and refreshing young coconuts provided us with the energy to deal with the rest of the day.
In the afternoon there was a Judges’ Briefing and since the three of us were judges from Pakistan, we headed for the Singapore Management University where the briefing was to take place. At SMU we met up with judges from the rest of the Asia Pacific region. Many of them were already known to Jawwad and me since this was not our first time at APICTA.
The head of the Singapore IT Federation, and the Chief Judge Professor Daniel Tan of Singapore presided over the Judges’ Briefing and allotted us our categories and time slots. We were also given folders which contained detailed nomination forms of the products we would be judging. We were supposed to study them overnight in preparation for the judging that started the next morning. Each of us would be judging almost products. Yikes! I was allotted the Communications and the Tourism & Hospitality Categories, Jawwad had the Tertiary Student Project Category, Zia was given the Industrial Applications and Startup Categories and Sultan Hamdani was allotted the Financial Applications Category.
It was emphasized that the Code of Conduct for the judges was very important. In fact if I am not mistaken, we were all asked to sign the Code of Conduct document at least 3 different times 🙂 – once before we got to Singapore, the second time on the day of the Judges’ Briefing and the third time on the morning of the first Judging day. The roles and responsibilities of the judges, the Head Judges and the Chief Judge and adjudicators was also discussed so that everyone was aware of what they were to do. The folders also contained the scoring sheets. Since some of the judges had not shown up for various reasons, a little bit of juggling took place to ensure that all categories were covered adequately. Our Singaporean hosts were quite thorough with the instructions. We were told that we should conduct ourselves very professionally – no reading email or browsing while nominees are presenting, no taking phone calls or using blackberries, no dropping off to sleep 🙂
Briefing over we were put in a bus and taken to the joint ASOCIO/APICTA Welcome Reception. Here we networked with delegates who were there for both events. Whoever we ran into asked with great concern how we were and told us how happy they were that we were able to make it to Singapore despite the serious situation in our country. We told them that yes politically there were problems but day-to-day activities and businesses were not affected directly. We had serious issues that we as a nation had to contend with and we would but that hadn’t resulted in the country coming to a standstill.
There were some speeches from the Chairman of the Singapore IT Federation, the APICTA Chairman Stephen Lau and the ASOCIO President Ashank Desai followed by a welcome address from the Singapore Minister for ICT. We were then finally allowed to attack the food. Since it was a stand-up reception, we were quite tired by this time and ate little but I did attack the Ice Kachang (a Malaysian version of the gola gunda that includes ice shavings, fruits, jellies and various coloured liquids). There was some excitement when the head of the Sri Lankan delegation fainted. Doctors from Hong kong who were on the scene attended to him after which he was taken to hospital and kept overnight for observation. Apparently the humidity, an empty stomach and insufficient sleep over the past couple of days had been responsible for the fainting spell.
There were some cultural performances which followed during dinner i think but I wasn’t too keen – have seen them all too many times before.
(More to follow in another post!)
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