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Entering and winning awards is a great way to tell the world your company is the best on the block. But what about the Individuals in the work place that make a difference?

Back in 2016, when he worked for Silverbean as a search marketing consultant, Tom Etherignton, head of search at Evolved Digital Marketing, took home the Rising Star accolade at The Drum Search Awards.

Talking at The Drum and Sun Arms during Advertising Week, Etherington recounts how the award helped progress his career and how agencies can benefit from individual awards.

How did you enter?

I didn’t put myself forward. It was a marketing thing. The marketing team had seen my progression and what I was doing with clients, so they wanted to put me forward.

The one thing I have said to people since winning, is although it is an individual award, it's the agency that benefits. It was recognition for them because they trained me from scratch and gave me the opportunities. Even though it was an individual award, the agency could still say it was an agency award. It was great recognition to have been put forward.

How did it feel to have been nominated?

It was a bit bizarre and weird. I thought I was just doing my job. 

The award wasn’t announced until nearer the end of the night and it was the only one the agency had been nominated for. The agency is based in Newcastle and not really well known, it had been shortlisted for a couple of things but never won an award. I attended with a couple of the guys from my team. When it actually came that was amazing.

What were people’s perception of you before you won?

I progressed quite quickly from the training I received. When I first started I was 21 and only a couple of years later I won the award.

I was quite junior in terms of age in the agency and clients could see that I wasn't the director or head of the department but working on the biggest campaigns of national brands, me being the lead person was a bit daunting for them as I was so junior. I never had any problems with my employer, they believed in me but sometimes clients might have been a bit worried that I was a junior on their account. Clients want the biggest and most senior people on their account.

Following the win, there was a shift in terms of how people – clients in particular –perceived me. They had more confidence in me. It gave me further recognition and credentials, and if you are an award winner it means a lot for the clients you are working for.

How did the award help progress your career?

A few months after I won the award I was promoted to senior consultant and then moved on to the job I am in now. It gave me a lot more confidence and I was having to line manager/direct people that were a lot older than me, and more experienced. 

There was a lot of PR around myself and the win, through the agency. That got me well known in Newcastle and on the SEO scene. I've had opportunities given to me, which is a really fortunate position to be in. It got my name out there and I was approached about jobs and was offered five jobs on the night of the ceremony.

The agency I work for now was a great career opportunity. They knew who I was, and it was a good match in terms of what I wanted to do next with my career. 

From what you know now, would you put yourself forward if no one else had?

Without a doubt. I manage a lot of people now and I want to put someone forward for the award, I’ve got a few guys that are new into the industry. The good thing about The Drum Rising Star award is that it's not based on how old you are, it's how you have worked in the industry. 

And it's not just about the person who won, it's about the agency they work for. New business leads came in the back of my name and they wanted to work for me so that's the benefit for the agency. 

The Drum Search Awards have now been judged. The nominations can be found here. Tickets to attend the ceremony on April 25 at The London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square, can be purchased online now.