The Performance Marketing Awards (PMAs) will take place on June 22, and with the shortlist now officially announced, the Industry Rising Star Award will return once more to highlight the next generation of performance marketers ready to take the industry by storm.

Sponsored by headline partner, Piggy, this prestigious award recognises key attributes in performance marketing professionals at the early stages of their careers, including natural talent, work ethic, enthusiasm, creativity and innovation.

The standard of entries received this year was extremely high and tasked with interviewing the shortlist are three highly esteemed members of the judging panel, including last year’s winner Stephen Short

‘Going forward we’ll be bringing back the previous year’s winner to join the judging panel. With Rising Star’s presenting their thoughts on the biggest opportunities for the channel alongside some challenging Q&A from the Dragons!’ – Matthew Wood, Founder of PerformanceIN.

Joining Stephen, will be industry veteran and CMO at RevLifter, Jim Nichols, alongside CEO of Envolve Tech, Emma Smith

One winner will be decided by an algorithm of 70% for each of the three judges’ scores, while a crucial 30% is reserved for the final industry vote.

Here’s a chance to meet the Rising Star 2021 candidates, along with words from peers on their progression in the performance marketing industry.

Meet the rising stars

Jake Hodgkiss – Senior Partnerships Manager, TopCashback 

Jake Hodgkiss initially joined TopCashback in 2015 during his university placement year, returning in 2017 as a Partnerships Executive in the London team. Since then, he’s worked up the ranks to progress to a hugely popular and well-liked member of the TopCashback team and a role as Senior Partnerships Manager. This role sees him taking ownership of multiple top tier clients across several verticals, working directly with the senior leadership team on key internal projects and managing junior members of the Partnerships team.

Jake is dedicated to securing market-leading offers for TopCashback members and works closely with advertisers to drive incremental value; providing detailed data insights to guide their strategic plans, proposing new campaign ideas, and ensuring best practice ways of working for all parties are considered at all times.

The company said: “It is Jake’s enthusiasm, commercial awareness and ability to create symbiotic partnerships that makes him not only an incredible high achiever, but a true rising star at TopCashback and within our industry.”

James Norris – Senior Team Lead, The Groupon Reach Network 

As a Senior Team Leader, James works closely with the Groupon Reach Network account management teams and Head of Affiliates, as well as in-house SEO, communications and PPC teams to maximise campaign efficiency and enable growth for partners. 

Starting his journey in affiliate marketing as an Account Executive for Vouchercloud, he’s progressed through numerous account management roles and now leads a team, utilising over 5 years of industry knowledge to support his team and the wider business to generate results, overcome blockers and create innovative strategies which challenge the norm and enable the business and their brand partners to hit their KPI’s. He has worked on a number of award winning PMA’s, frequently building successful campaigns from creative briefs through to strategic analysis.

Peers commented: “On top of considerable client success, James has grown as a manager over the past year. He’s a compassionate and motivating leader, advancing his team members’ careers whilst never shying away from difficult conversations to continuously challenge his team to do and be better. He is a joy to manage and, in our opinion, a true rising star.”

Jessica Tomkins – Senior Publisher Development Manager, Skimlinks 

Jessica Tomkins is the Senior Publisher Development Manager at Skimlinks. Initially joining Skimlinks in the Merchant Team to help key brands optimise their affiliate programs, since 2019, Jessica has taken a leading role in the Publisher Development Team, working closely with top UK publishers on their commerce content strategy.

Jess’ close relationships with her portfolio of publishers has helped these clients to achieve fantastic results, diversify their revenue streams and turn affiliate marketing into a vital component of their performance marketing strategy.

“Jess has been a fantastic asset to our organisation, helping bring on new clients, grow existing ones and help publishers seize affiliate marketing as a key performance marketing opportunity.” said the company.

“She is the definition of a rising star for our business and our industry with a bright future ahead.”

Lizzy Mackay – Senior Publisher Development Manager, CJ Affiliate 

In her role as Senior Publisher Development Manager, Lizzy is responsible for the strategic growth of publishers, developing management strategies and working with CJ’s global teams to deliver publisher focused tools and solutions that help grow publisher revenue. Lizzy is also a key stakeholder and lead on projects that benefit the wider team, such as CJ UK’s Morale Task Force – helping cement the importance of the team’s health and wellbeing.

With no prior affiliate experience, Lizzy left her role in recruitment to join CJ in November 2019. She began her journey as a Network Development Manager, and was promoted to Senior Publisher Development Manager in April 2021, a result in-part of her leading UK- and Europe-wide initiatives.

Peers said: “The industry needs future leaders like her – I am confident that Lizzy is on track to be an extremely important part, not just for CJ, but the wider industry’s future in general, playing a vital role in the education and development of future marketers in the channel for years to come.”

Lois Evans –  Acquisition Partnerships Manager, Admiral 

Lois Evans started her career in affiliate at just 18 years old as a university graduate. She took her first step onto the affiliate ladder at Awin as a Campaign Assistant, growing with the team working her way up to a role in Account Management, working alongside brands such as EE and Plusnet.

After spending some time in London at Awin, building knowledge in the industry, Lois is now settled in South Wales looking after affiliates at Admiral. In the role of Partnerships Manager, Lois has enabled Admiral to grow from having two affiliates to now over 80, winning over some dubious stakeholders and achieving multiple PMA nominations. Lois is a true champion of the affiliate channel. 

The company said: “Admiral knows it has an exceptional performance manager in Lois Evans. It is no exaggeration to say Lois has transformed her channel in under three years.”

Mel Blue​ – Director of Affiliate Marketing, Optimus Performance Marketing

Mel is the Director of Affiliate Marketing at Optimus-pm, She started out as an Account Executive, learning the ropes straight from the team’s CEO. Now, after just four years, Mel is successfully managing and overseeing the team at Director level – managing large affiliate programmes for major ecommerce brands in the UK, Germany and France, and global programmes in the US, Australia and Singapore. 

With passionate communication skills, Mel helps represent her clients to optimise their results, as well as building valuable relationships. Mel thrives on helping her team members learn and flourish, and she looks forward to what her future in the industry may hold.  

Peers commented: “I was impressed by Mel’s professionalism and aptitude from day one. Mel quickly develops a rapport with her clients and her calm approach to the job compliments her ability to analyse problems and identify solutions. She is not afraid to ask questions and learns from experience. Mel is a huge asset to Optimus and a big part of taking Optimus-pm to the next stage with gen3.”

Who should be crowned 2021’s Industry Rising Star? Vote now for your winner. Voting closes at 17.00 on Thursday 10 June.