2022 STAR Awards submissions are now open!

The STAR Awards shine a spotlight on talent acquisition professionals who through their work deliver outstanding results, do things differently, put candidates at the centre of what they do, and have a positive impact on their organisations, candidates or communities.

The awards span eight categories and are judged by two independent panels.

STAR Awards categories

The STAR Awards are open to human resources, talent acquisition, hiring and employer brand teams and professionals within Australian organisations. Recruitment agencies and recruitment process outsourcing suppliers will be acknowledged by the SARA Awards at a later date.

Talent Acquisition Leader of the Year

The winner of this award will be focused on the big picture, and on how their talent team are driving the vision for their business. They will encourage continuous improvement throughout their team, while motivating and inspiring their team to achieve outstanding results.

Talent Acquisition Rising Star of the Year (NEW)

The winner of this award will be a highly valued member of their team with fewer than 8 years of talent acquisition and/or hiring experience within a HR capacity. They demonstrate exceptional hiring skills and are helping to improve the talent acquisition strategy at their organisation through innovative and creative thinking, whilst always putting the candidate at the centre of what they do.

Talent Acquisition Team of the Year (over 1000 employees)

The winner of this award will be able to demonstrate that their team is a powerhouse, collaborating closely to drive toward their talent acquisition goals, and leveraging the strengths of their large organisation.

Talent Acquisition Team of the Year (under 1000 employees)

The winner of this award will be able to demonstrate that their team is striving to be a trailblazer in talent acquisition, taking a nimble and innovative approach to reaching their goals, and leveraging the strengths of their small or medium-sized business.

Public Sector Team of the Year

The winner of this award will be able to demonstrate that their team is championing talent acquisition in the public sector while ultimately ensuring the very best candidates go on to serve the greater community.

Best Employer Brand Initiative

The winner of this award will be focused on amplifying and optimising their unique Employer Value Proposition (EVP) to reach best fit candidates. Their nominated initiative will be strategic and innovative in approach, and will be contributing to a stronger employer brand.

Best Candidate Experience Initiative

The winner of this award will take a candidate-centric approach to ensure all candidates have a great experience. Their nominated initiative will go above and beyond their candidates’ expectations.

Best Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiative

The winner of this award will treat diversity, equity and inclusion as integral to their organisation, and will have an attraction strategy that supports this.

What the judges are looking for

The judging panels will assess entries using the following guiding criteria. These have been designed to reflect the essential role internal talent and hiring teams play within organisations, and the way these teams must adapt and strive for success in an ever-evolving landscape. Here's an overview of what the judges will look for:

Candidate centric

How are you putting the candidate at the centre of your strategy or initiative/s?


How are you doing things differently, whether it's process, technology or strategy?


How do you know you are succeeding?

Greater impact

How does this achievement better your organisation, your community, or your candidate experience?

The judges

This year, the STAR Awards will be determined by two independent panels. To ensure the awards process is as transparent and fair as possible, there will be a two-stage judging process. One independent panel of talent acquisition leaders will determine the awards shortlist, then a second independent panel of HR and business leaders will determine the award winners.

Juliet Bourke

Professor of Practice, School of Management and Governance, UNSW Business School
Juliet is an author and TEDx speaker and sits on a number of boards including the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at Kings College London, founded and chaired by Julia Gillard AO;  the 30% Club Education Committee,  qChange (an HR Tech Start-up) and Ovarian Cancer Australia.
She consults to global leaders on D&I and was recognised in 2021 by Engagedly as a global thought leader in HR, and in 2019 as one of Australia’s top 100 Women of Influence by the AFR.

Amy Schultz

Global Head of Talent Acquisition, Canva
Amy has lived in China, Singapore and San Francisco where she led Recruiting for LinkedIn's Global Product Organisation. Amy has worked in start-ups, publicly-listed global companies, and cut her recruiting teeth building teams across the Tech, Pharma, Childcare, Services and Recruitment sectors. She recently returned to Australia to lead Canva’s global recruiting team.
Leading global teams has allowed her to better understand the cultural nuances of what they do. Working with Product, in Program Management and Human Resources roles and recruiting within Agency, RPO and Internal environments has allowed Amy to see talent holistically. Recruiting requires both instinct and insights to enable businesses to effectively scale with their number one asset – their people.

Andrew Staite

CEO and MD, The Pinnacle Foundation
Andrew’s passion is helping young people to realise their full potential. He believes in the power of education, focused support and visible role models to sustainably transform young lives. The Pinnacle Foundation is a national charity that awards educational scholarships and provides mentoring support to young LGBTIQ+ Australians to overcome challenges arising from their identity.
Andrew is co-founder of search, outplacement and people advisory firm, SHK, remaining its non-executive chair. Andrew previously spent almost ten years with Morgan & Banks and its successor companies. He lives in Melbourne with his husband, Mark, and their Cavoodle, Raffaella.

Michelle Phipps

Chief People Officer, Australia and New Zealand, VetPartners
Michelle is currently Chief People Officer for VetPartners, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. She was previously General Manager HR AusPac - Business Partnership and Talent for QBE Insurance, Group Head of Talent, Leadership and Learning for Coca-Cola Amatil APAC and Vice President HR APAC for Brown-Forman as well as HR Director for Kellogg Company ANZ.
With a PhD in Culture and Identity (UTS) and an MA in HR Management (Charles Sturt University), Michelle is passionate about culture, leadership and talent and workforce strategies. Michelle serves as a Board Director of Vet Nurse Plus NZ, Chair of the AHRI D&I Panel and Chair of AusDance NSW. She resides in Sydney’s Northern Beaches with her family and dog George and is an avid dancer.

Robert Lamb

Robert Lamb, Head of Talent, Square Peg
Rob bridges talent with technology. His experience includes being part of building Apple, Uber, and SafetyCulture across Asia Pacific and North America. His current role sees him focused on enabling talent development and growth for the incredible companies that are part of the Square Peg Capital portfolio.
An industry leader in workforce planning, attraction and engagement, his success stems from an emphasis on communication, trust, collaboration, tech enablement and human-centred talent strategy. He leverages his experience and network to amplify high quality growth for Square Peg’s Founders.

Melissa Bennett

Director - Attraction, Queensland Department of Education
Melissa has extensive experience in the education sector and has led teams focused on the attraction, sourcing, talent management and mobility of teachers for Queensland state schools, including in diverse rural, remote and regional communities.
She is the custodian of the Teach Queensland employer brand, focused on promoting teaching as highly desirable career and attracting beginning and experienced teachers to employment in more than 1250 primary and secondary schools. In 2020, her team was a finalist in the Australian HR Awards Best Recruitment Campaign category, and was included in HRD Magazine’s list of Innovative HR Teams.

Melissa enjoys the challenges of working with colleagues, schools, universities and stakeholders to develop and implement fit for purpose strategies to address workforce challenges.

Lisa Burquest

Chief People Officer, Virgin Australia
Lisa has over 26 years’ senior experience as a people and culture specialist working for significant ASX and private companies including BHP, Origin Energy, Jetstar/Qantas Airlines, The a2 Milk Company and currently, Virgin Australia. Lisa is Virgin Australia’s Chief People Officer, and has helped navigate the airline’s 6,000 strong workforce through the significant impacts of COVID-19 as well as Virgin Australia’s transformation after relaunching under new ownership in November 2020.
Lisa is equipped with strong practical expertise in developing and executing successful people and culture strategies in fast paced environments undergoing significant transformation and growth. Lisa’s more recent experience also included Safety and Sustainability leadership. With experience across a variety of geographies, particularly Asia, Lisa thrives in a dynamic, complex and fast paced working world.

Jenny Neville

Talent Acquisition Manager, Mecca
Jenny started her career in Agency and RPO before making the move to Australia , from New Zealand in 2019, where she joined MECCA Brands as their Senior Talent Acquisition Partner.
Now in the role of Talent Acquisition Manager, Jenny leads the team responsible for Mecca's Support Centre and Supply Chain recruitment, giving her the opportunity to apply a ‘whole of business’ lens to Talent including strategy, attraction, retention, mobility and EVP.

Libby Mitchell

Head of Recruitment, Australian Red Cross
Libby’s background in HR and Recruitment is full of variety and growth. She’s gravitated towards opportunities involving change and transformation hence why she often describes herself as ‘not a maintenance person’. She has been involved with many redesigns of teams and loves the challenges that are begging for something to be fixed or re-imagined.
In her current role at Red Cross, she is focused on re-imagining the recruitment function, aligning it to the purpose and strategic goals of Red Cross and ultimately, streamline processes and improve experiences for employees and volunteers alike. Libby is deeply committed to her belief that ‘everyone deserves a wonderful life and a secure future’ and you see it in everything she does including her active profile on LinkedIn where she shares many tips and opportunities. She’s also a long-time, avid gamer (Diablo & WOW) who enjoys her inner-city life and her e-bike with her husband now that her children are out of the nest!

Hayden Stokes

Head of Talent Acquisition, Blackmores
Bio coming soon...

Katherine Mitchell

Talent Acquisition Leader, Australia & New Zealand, Microsoft
Bio coming soon...