Engaging, celebrating a community

A TIME TO CELEBRATE: Winning companies in the Best Places To Work competition often send large contingents to the awards ceremony, which is a 500-person party, complete with rock music-scored videos and a suspenseful unveiling of the top companies in each of the size categories. / PBN FILE PHOTO/RUPERT WHITELEY
A TIME TO CELEBRATE: Winning companies in the Best Places To Work competition often send large contingents to the awards ceremony, which is a 500-person party, complete with rock music-scored videos and a suspenseful unveiling of the top companies in each of the size categories. / PBN FILE PHOTO/RUPERT WHITELEY

Providence Business News began its awards programs 11 years ago with the Business Excellence Awards because “we wanted to get to know our audience; we wanted to have a two-way conversation,” said Publisher Roger C. Bergenheim.
“And, almost every year without exception, the events get bigger,” he added.
The awards have grown to six programs ranging from 40 Under Forty to the latest – the CFO Awards launched in 2011. In 2012, PBN will add Healthiest Employers to its awards roster, honoring in April those who take the best care of their workers.
PBN’s awards have touched more than 693 individuals, businesses and nonprofits throughout Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts since their inception.
Two, in particular, have had meteoric growth in popularity, Best Places To Work and Business Women.
Best Places To Work began as a small, 50-person event honoring just 15 companies when it began in 2006. It has since grown to honor more than 40 companies with 500 people in attendance at the dinner.
Business Women, which started as a luncheon in 2008, has become a pet favorite of many at PBN and in the local community.
“It just seemed like there was a real, pent-up need for this type of recognition program,” said Nancy Adeszko, PBN marketing manager, who works tirelessly on all of the events, but says that Business Women – honoring female CEOs, small-business owners and entrepreneurs – is her favorite. “The women that we’ve recognized are an outstanding group.”
“I have been truly awestruck by the quality of the women who have been nominated, and personally inspired by how many women come to show their support [for their colleagues],” she said, noting that even women who don’t make the final cut come to the event to support winners.
“There’s a real sense of sisterhood,” Adeszko added.
Bergenheim, echoing the sentiment, said that he feels “inspired just being one of the few males in the room” at the event.
And while events like the CFO Awards may seem like a drier type of program, those in attendance will tell you that these pillars of every organization are more than guardians of the balance sheet, income statement or statement of cash flows.
Beyond keeping their companies afloat through difficult economic times or in check during bountiful ones, the chief financial officers who were honored strive to care for their co-workers during times of hardship, all the while volunteering in the community.
Like many of PBN’s programs, the Innovation Awards originated as a simple category in a larger program.
Striving to highlight Rhode Island’s talent, however, PBN – with the support of local government – realized that these entrepreneurs, inventors, scientists and other intellectuals deserved their own stake in the ground, leading to the first event in 2006.
Every year the award categories change, grow and adapt to the local community, aiming to highlight the cream of the crop.
And, because it’s Rhode Island, many of the same faces attend, nominate and cat-whistle at the dinners, luncheons and general celebrations throughout the year, forming a tight-knight community willing to lend a hand where needed.
And that is the ultimate goal of the Providence Business News awards program. &#8226

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