From meeting with the deputy prime minister to elevated industry credibility, Tim McKay, CEO & Founder of mentoring platform OK RDY, says multiple iAward wins opened doors to exciting opportunities.
Growing up as a “a bit of a geek” in Wagga Wagga in regional NSW, Tim McKay was aware that he and fellow students had limited access to mentoring from the range of professionals, including in the technology space, that their city counterparts enjoyed.
“There wasn’t a big Microsoft or IBM or anything like that in town,” Tim recalls. “So it was quite difficult to talk to people in those professions unless someone happened to come to your school for a one-off career day.”
Then as he started his career in the tech and innovation space, including working with the University of Canberra, he saw that students often lacked job-ready skills.
“They had their university degree or TAFE qualification but didn’t understand what the workplace was after.”
Taking on board these insights, OK RDY made its debut in 2017 by matching university students with mentors. “We really wanted to create some ‘flash mentoring’ opportunities,” Tim explains. “A one-off chat with someone in the area they’re interested in to provide information about that pathway, or to demystify career paths or jobs and roles in an organisation.”
From university grounds to award wins
OK RDY developed from a concept service that collected hundreds of student resumes and manually managed match-ups via Excel spreadsheets, to an AI-powered matching platform that connects mentees and mentors based on values, skills and interests in their profiles.
“It uses those commonality points to suggest the recommendations in the first place, and then it’s up to the users to do a mutual match,” he explains. “Then you can unlock your comms and schedule your mentoring sessions and use other features within the platform.”
“It’s like a virtual water cooler where you can have conversations in a safe space.”
Primarily, rganisations use the platform to make mentor and mentee connections between their own employees in a bid to retain talent and develop emerging leaders. It is also used by local tech community groups to forge individual connections and build early career networks.
iAwards win open doors to politicians and “elevates” credibility
In 2018, OK RDY won its first iAward for ACT Start-up of the Year. It went on to win three more – Business Service Markets, Automation Technology and Start-up of the Year (again) – in 2019. Last year, Tim was also named Male Champion of Change for Australian Women in Security Awards.
Tim says the immediate benefits to the iAward win was industry acknowledgement and getting a “foot in the door” with politicians.
“I met the then deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, and Gai Brodtmann, who was shadow minister for cyber security and defence at the time, wanted to see a demo.”
“The iAward win gave us additional credibility in the market. Off the back of that I was able to talk to my local contacts and say we’d won the award and would love to talk to them about our product.”