If there was an Award for commitment & effort …
If an Award was given for commitment & effort, then the Pakistan camp at APICTA would definitely have won it hands down. After the long day I had on the 12th, you would have thought that I would have crashed, as would have the judges and nominees who had just flown in from Karachi and Lahore tired, deprived of sleep and needing so desperately to rest.
But did any of us rest? No way. We are in Jakarta on a mission. To show our award-winning products (they are all award-winning having won the P@SHA ICT Award in Pakistan a few weeks ago)! We had decided that we were going to put on the best performance we could.
And that is just what we did. After a 15 minute break we all met in the meeting room at the Sultan Hotel for initial mock presentations. And we tore them to shreds. We had asked them beforehand if we could be brutal with our comments. All the nominees said we could, so there were no holds barred.
Most of the presentations we make as IT companies are sales presentations – and as such they are probably brilliant. But for APICTA, they are absolute no-nos.
As technologists and researchers, we are prone to putting all the technical jargon into any presentation we make. We want to show in 20 minutes the years of work that we have put into developing our products and our companies. But is that all really relevant when you are presenting to a panel of judges who are looking at a clearly defined judging criteria? Nope. And that is exactly what we had to drum into our brilliant, innovative and talented group of nominees from Pakistan. There was no mincing of words. Each of us took the presentations apart, gave detailed advice on what should remain and what shouldn’t, on what the approach should be if they were going to grab the judges’ attention in the first 5 minutes. The meat, the gist had to be right up front – what was unique about the product, what was innovative, current market size, what was the market potential, what recognition and quality standards had they followed, what technologies had been used, what was their revenue and their future course of action? This had to come out clearly in the first 5 minutes. And for community products/services, what impact had it made on the community?
Of course it took a lot out of the coaches – this picture of P@SHA Chairman Imran Zia is an indication of the state we were in by the time we finished the seesion late at night and finally headed to the restaurant for dinner.
This exercise was repeated on the second night. Each candidate was asked to present, was given advice, was told to fix various parts of his presentation and delivery, and was tested a second time.
What is important to relate here is that the training, coaching and support that was given to kids like Zubair Shafiq of FAST NUCES (he was presenting on Day 1), Islamabad by seasoned judges like Sultan Hamdani the first day was in turn given by Zubair to Sharjeel of See’n’Report with the same commitment (Sharjeel was slotted in to present on Day 2).
As Sharjeel pointed out after he had made his presentation, “I didn’t come here to win … I came here to experience what it was like to present to an international panel, to share our vision for the company and our product and to learn from what others are doing.” Great attitude young man! Isn’t that the attitude that makes us feel proud of all the delegates we have brought to this event year after year? Good luck Team Pakistan. The Awards night is tonight. You have already been recognized as winners – being nominated for APICTA is recognition in itself. If we pick up an Award, that will just be additional gravy 😉
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