2017 winner: Georgina Hilton, client strategy manager for Old Masters at Christie’s

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This is being held on Wednesday, October 24, in Cambourne, Cambridge, a day ahead of the association’s Annual Forum.

With 11 auctioneers accepted for the competition already, however, there is just one space left and would-be entrants need to hurry to apply as it is first come, first served. 

The annual competition, co-sponsored by ATG parent Auction Technology Group, involves novice property, chattels and livestock auctioneers hosting a sale in front of a panel of judges and an audience of experienced auctioneers playing the role of bidders.

Last year’s winner, Christie’s Georgina Hilton, said the award “completely transformed” her career.

Cambridge Belfry venue

The 2018 competition takes place at The Cambridge Belfry in Cambourne.

Entrants receive free accommodation at the hotel on the night.

The annual conference takes place at the same venue on Thursday, October 25. Speakers include respected chartered art and antiques appraiser Nicholas Somers and Indian Premier League auctioneer Richard Madley. ATG editor Noelle McElhatton will host a panel discussion.

For more competition and Forum details, go to:

Q&A with 2017 winner, Christie’s Georgina Hilton

Last year’s winner, Christie’s client strategy manager in Old Masters, Georgina Hilton, describes the experience of entering: her nervousness beforehand, the challenge of the competition task and what she learned along the way.

ATG: What led you to enter the NAVA 'Novice Auctioneer' competition?

GH: I was already at Christie’s and had just started taking auctions at South Kensington. My dad, an avid Antiques Trade Gazette reader, saw the competition in the paper and alerted me. I was unsure about entering, because I was new to auctioneering but then the competition was for people who had taken four sales and less. So I took a deep breath and entered.

ATG: What benefits did the experience of entering bring?

GH: The competition made me really polish up my skills. I was incredibly nervous about what I’d got myself in to and had to really practice.

The added challenge was what we had to sell, including a redundant toilet! I wondered, how on earth do I sell this? But the fundamentals of auctioneering don’t change as long as you know all about the piece you’re selling.

And meeting all those other young auctioneer entrants was great. We didn’t get to see each other perform but I was aware of their knowledge, the aspects they chose to highlight and the fact that I was the one female auctioneers amongst nine men – all this gave me such confidence.

You learn so much during your performance, thanks to a very experienced panel of judges and their brilliant feedback.

I also found doing it outside of work allowed me to be completely myself as no one from work was watching.

ATG: And what difference did winning make in the end?

GH: It has completely transformed my career at Christie’s. Winning the competition was really well received by my bosses and colleagues. The entering process was very separate to my work but when I got back to Christie’s, news had gotten through of my win and it gave Christie’s confidence in me.

I was slowly signed up to host more sales. Every sale I’ve taken has been a step up from the last – I’ve gone from a few lots in the interiors sale to hosting an entire Old Masters sale in July.

Christie’s is great for training and gaining experience. I started in November 2015 and took my first sale – ski posters in January 2016. They use a lot of videoing and have a network of support and that's continued.

I’m still training – after each sale I’ll watch my video. My whole body language is different now and the reason I won, I believe, was because I gave it the whole of my energy. There’s no limit to how much you can throw at it.

ATG: Single biggest lesson from entering and winning the competition?

GH: It taught me that it’s not necessarily the loudest person in the room who succeeds in auctioneering and you may find you have what it takes. It tests you in all the right ways your whole performance and reacting to difficult questions, without letting the energy drop.