@Work Advice Contest: And the winner is ...

October 20, 2011

From more than 600 entries to 10 finalists, through four rounds of competition and after almost 10,000 votes — we finally have a winner.

The panel of judges in the @Work Advice Contest, our month-long search for the person with the smartest, savviest advice on navigating the modern workplace, have handed the crown to 39-year-old Karla Miller of South Riding, Va.

“Congratulations!” we told her over the phone.

“Hold on just one second ...” Miller replied. And then: “Eeeeeee!”

The judges shared her enthusiasm, though with more words. They praised the solid advice she gave to readers’ on-the-job dilemmas and liked her friendly style.


Karla Miller (Courtesy Karla Miller)

Miller summed up her approach in Round 1.: “Once you know what motivates a person — fear of embarrassment, a craving for encouragement, a secure niche — you can sympathize. Once you sympathize, you can often find a way through conflict — or, at least, around it.”

Lynn Medford, Editor of the Magazine, said Miller “saw the layers behind each question and looked at all the different possibilities.” Said advice columnist Carolyn Hax: “Karla seems like the coworker I’d go to in the office.”

The two runners-up, Michele Woodward and Cindy Coe, were formidable competitors. “[Woodward] struck me as having a deep reservoir of experience to draw on,” said business psychologist Douglas LaBier. And: “She encouraged people to make a shift within themselves rather than always look outside for an answer,” noted Sydney Trent, a senior editor for the Magazine. Meanwhile, Coe had “moments of real insight and lots of empathy,” said Society for Human Resource Management’s Eric Peterson.

But it was Miller’s smart suggestions, thoughtful approach and consistently fun writing that won the day. She’ll begin a four-column series in The Washington Post Magazine on Nov. 20.

Online commenter “fugue” urged the judges to choose Miller and said she was “the kind of person you thank your lucky stars got hired ... professional but fun, who is full of common sense but doesn’t act superior, who you could envision yourself both managing and reporting to ... In short, the perfect sort of person to write an advice column.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

***

Meet the @Work Advice Contest’s final 3

Cindy Coe | Karla Miller | Michele Woodward

Read each contestant’s Round 1 answers (“No Easy Answers” challenge)

Cindy Coe | Karla Miller | Michele Woodward

Read Round 2 answers (“Biggest Problem” challenge)

Cindy Coe | Karla Miller | Michele Woodward

See Round 3 answers

The video round

See the Round 4 answers

The live chat transcript

Full coverage of the contest

The @Work Advice Contest

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