Elevate Your Career: Learn from a 2023 AWHSA Winner

Meet Ally Orr, a shining example of the impact winning the 2023 Australian WHS Emerging Leader of the Year Award can have on your career and organisation. In this interview, Ally shares her journey from being a surprise nominee to a celebrated winner, revealing the unexpected benefits and opportunities that came her way. Her story serves as a testament to the value of recognition and the ripple effect it can have on an individual and their workplace.

Read on to discover how Ally's win has not only elevated her career aspirations but also created a positive buzz within her organisation, inspiring others to strive for excellence. 

Did you know about the nomination before the finalists were announced?
No. I didn’t know about the nomination. My manager submitted it but kept it on the down low. I submitted another nomination for a project and was checking the website to see how it went and saw my name under the Australian WHS Emerging Leader of the Year Award finalist list.  

How did it feel seeing your name among the finalists?
I was shocked and speechless! But really, I was grateful to know somebody had seen me and the work that I had been doing and think that was worthy of nominating me. I had been trying really hard to be authentic and passionate at work and to have someone see this was really beautiful and validating.  

What was the lead up to the Awards Dinner like?
I was really excited to travel to Melbourne with my team and and have an opportunity to do something fun. We were finalists in another category so there was a bit of buzz for us and we were excited. 

Going into the awards dinner, how were you feeling about your prospects?
There was maybe a small part of me that was hopeful, but didn’t think I would win, but there was a 1 in 3 chance. 

How did it feel to be chosen as the winner for this WHS Emerging Leader of the Year Award? 
I was really shocked and completely un prepared. The finalists in my category were amazing and super deserving of the award. My manager asked me if I had written a speech for when I win, and of course I hadn’t and didn’t think I would need to. When they actually called my name I thought, oh god, I have to pull myself together and say something and remember who I needed to thank. I was both overwhelmed and grateful. 

Have there been any significant impacts on your role/career as a result? 
Yes. I think the award itself, has so much buzz around it. The Australian Workplace Health and Safety Awards are quite recognisable. The company really celebrated me. The immediate effects returning to the office was really noticeable. Especially people calling out “Ally Orr” as I walked through the office. Very fun! Then I found people were reaching out to say congratulations, wanting to know about the work I was doing and interested in getting involved in various projects. I still get asked about what cool stuff we are doing at Endeavour Engergy.
In terms of my career, where I want to move next is the leadership space. This was exactly the momentum I needed to escalate that process and push my prospects forward. The awards (AWHSA) are well recognised and have a reputation for being hard to win, so I know that will always work in my favour.  

Have there been any significant impacts across your organisation, perhaps with other team members? 
The main ripple effect was that the company being able to celebrate something or someone. This inserted such positivity and light into the teams. It shows people in the company that we were willing to nominate staff for awards and push them forward for the work they are doing to be rewarded. It was just a really nice thing and generally created good vibes. 

Would you recommend entering an award? 
If you are going to nominate someone because that person stands out as someone who deserves it, it is always worth recognising people who do good work. Individuals don’t always know their impact. But letting them know you see them and recognise the work they are doing is so valuable.
If you’re an individual, why not enter. You have nothing to lose. If you think you're doing good work and want to be recognised go for it or are proud of a particular project, go for it. 



As we gear up for the 2024 Australian Workplace Health and Safety Awards, Ally's experience stands as a compelling reason to nominate deserving individuals and projects. If you know a deserving candidate, click here to recognise their hard work and put them in the spotlight.