AWARD School 2020 State Top Students Announced

AWARD School 2020 State Top Students Announced

AWARD School has announced its top students for 2020 last night in each state in a celebration of Australia’s ‘hardcore thinkers’ – our brightest emerging creative talent.

Virtual graduation ceremonies in NSW, VIC, QLD and SA were live-streamed on Facebook Live on Wednesday night 29 July, while an ‘in-person’ graduation ceremony was also held in Perth for WA students.

Gold Pencils for state top students were awarded to Lauren Elliott (NSW); Declan Harrick (VIC); Meg Jenkins (QLD); Oli Nicholson (WA); and Cameron Roberts (SA/NT).

This year’s winners were drawn from a national intake of 192 students. This was the second year for AWARD School’s successful Regional and Indigenous Scholarship programs. Five regional students (from ACT, NSW, TAS, NT and WA) graduated in 2020, while six Indigenous Scholarships were awarded.

The five state winners are now in the running to be named National Top Student and will have their books reviewed by an international super jury. The National Top Student will be announced on 12 August.

State Winners:

State Top Student Tutors
NSW Lauren Elliott Shaun O’Connor, Jonathan Shannon (R/GA Sydney)

David Roberts, Leila Cranswick (BMF)

VIC Declan Harrick Jack Elliott, Lochie Newham (Wunderman Thompson Melbourne)
Nic Molyneux, Ben Mann (WhiteGREY Melbourne)
QLD Meg Jenkins Chelsea Parks, Guido Pecego (VMLY&R)
WA Oli Nicholson Liz Hammond (Rare Perth)

Richard Berney (303 Mullenlowe)

SA/NT Cameron Roberts David Lawson (Design People); Matt Minear (BAD);

Troy O’Brien (Welbourn O’Brien);

Ollie Prenton, Katheryn Korczak, Charlotte Clarke (NATION Creative);

Becq Hinton, Johnny Velis (The Rowdy Group);

Peter Syndicas (Freelance CD); Sam John (KOJO);

David Stocker (Simple Integrated Marketing)


Chair of AWARD and M&C Saatchi Chief Creative Officer Cam Blackley congratulated the winners and praised all the 2020 graduates for their hard work and commitment throughout one of the most challenging year’s in AWARD School’s 37 year history.

Blackley also thanked this year’s seven school heads, more than 50 lecturers, over 80 tutors, and in excess of 100 judges nationally, whose combined efforts make AWARD School not just possible but so hugely successful.

“When we started our enrolment campaign in January, we put the call out for hardcore thinkers to apply for this year’s AWARD School,” Cam said.

“Little did we know back then what an insane year this would turn out to be, and in incredibly challenging circumstances this year’s students have delivered true hardcore thinking. It’s one of the strongest years in quite a while for depth and quality of talent.

“Several months ago when we realised that this was going to be a uniquely tough year just to get AWARD School off the ground, let alone make it a success, we were also determined to ensure that far from being the worst AWARD School year, 2020 would actually be one of our best years.

“And thanks to the incredible hard work of our amazing school heads, tutors and guest speakers, we reckon we met that objective,” Cam said.

National and NSW AWARD School Co-heads Mandie van der Merwe and Jack Nunn said the commitment shown by their fellow school heads in each state as well as all tutors and the engagement from students around the country this year had been “beyond amazing”.

This year’s other state school heads are: Jess Wheeler and Chris Ellis (VIC); Ricki Burns (WA); Benjamin Davis (QLD); and Nick Brz (SA/NT).

“AWARD School 2020 has been like no other year, with the course having to be almost completely repurposed to get over the hurdles of the COVID crisis. But students and tutors alike rose brilliantly to the challenge of making 2020 AWARD School the best yet, despite extraordinary circumstances,” Mandie said.

Jack added: “In addition to taking the entire course online, I’m thrilled we were able to expand the Regional Program and our Indigenous Scholarship program. A huge collective effort, but a special thank you to Cam, Tony, Simone and the team at the Comms Council, Esther Clerehan for lots of help behind the scenes and to Mandie who really led the way this year with some incredible initiatives.”.”

Numerous AWARD School ‘firsts’ were introduced this year, including the creation of the first AWARD School online community and social events to help students network while having to work from home.

Arguably the most notable ‘first’ in 2020, and one which proved a major hit with students, was the ‘Legendary Lesson’, in which 32 of advertising’s most legendary creatives from around the world dropped into tute sessions to give direct feedback on student’s work.

Cam said: “It was a real feat for our team to assemble 32 of the planet’s top creatives to take part in this year’s course, and we cannot overstate how grateful we are to them.

“The fact that this number of our industry’s greats freely gave their time for the Legendary Lesson goes a long way in showing the respect AWARD School commands around the world,” he said.

Because AWARD School is not just about who makes it into the Top 10, this year also featured the AWARD School Mentor Program, designed to help students get job-ready and take the next step in their creative careers.

At the end of the course, tutors were asked to nominate students for the program based on their attitude, work ethic and overall improvement, not just their final portfolio.

This year 21 students were chosen and will be partnered with a Senior Creative and have four monthly catch-ups to help them develop.

AWARD and The Communications Council would like to thank AWARD School principal sponsor Facebook Australia for its ongoing support of the next wave of Australia’s creative talent.

Alexandra Sloane, Director of Marketing, Australia & New Zealand, Facebook, said: “Creativity, entrepreneurship and the redistribution of opportunity is what will help pull economies out of what 2020 has thrown at us. Up and coming creative talent into our industry have an immense opportunity & responsibility ahead – on behalf of Facebook Australia, congratulations to the AWARD School state winners announced today.

“They embody the diverse thinking and unique approach to digital culture that will shape the future of business. The Communications Council and all AWARD School students across Australia should feel very proud, at being part of the digital transformation of AWARD School in 2020.”




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