On a balmy spring evening in Sydney, a group of talented executives gathered together to celebrate being named finalists of The CEO Magazine's 2017 Executive of the Year Awards.

The CEO Magazine invited the 105 finalists to a VIP cocktail party thrown in honour of their achievements. CEO Chris Dutton was on hand to welcome and congratulate the attendees, and, of course, invite them to enjoy the party.

Marcella Romero, Rehab Management, Alexis Soulopoulos, Mad Paws & Chris Dutton, The CEO Magazine

And how could they not? Held in one of Sydney hotspot Establishment's stylish function rooms, the champagne was flowing and there were canapés aplenty. Plus, guests were treated to a decadent oyster bar, not to mention the Chivas Regal stand with a selection of premium whiskies for those after a dram.

2017 Executive of the Year Awards

This year's panel of ten judges had a difficult time narrowing down the nominees to just 105 finalists. They are now faced with the momentous task of choosing the winners in each of the 23 categories, from the pool of very deserving finalists.

"Wading and choosing your way through the finalists to pick a winner proves so difficult every year. The quality, excellence and ability is outstanding," says Chris, who sits on the judging panel alongside The CEO Magazine's MD Daniel Di Loreto, Boost Juice Founder Janine Allis, LK Group's Larry Kestelman, Libby Roy of PayPal Australia, The Australian Red Cross Blood Service's Shelly Park, Azure Group's Michael Derin, Holly Ransom of Emergent, The CEO Circle's John Karagounis and last year's CEO of the Year, Stephen Cornelissen of Mercy Health.

Lee Anderson, Salesforce & Mark Nielsen, Talent International

"To be acknowledged by The CEO Magazine allows me to talk about the amazing work Mercy Health does each and every day," said Stephen of his 2016 win. "It allows me to highlight the new initiatives we're embarking on to improve the lives of others."

The 2017 Executive of the Year Awards will be held on Wednesday 15 November at Palladium, Crown Melbourne. Eddie McGuire will be back to host the black tie event for his sixth year.

"I think it's a great night, in that the room is up for a bit of a laugh, which is not always the case at awards shows," he says. "And people are genuinely proud of their contribution, as they should be, so there is a tremendous energy and camaraderie in the room."

To view a full list of the finalists in all categories, click here.

Cocktail Party Gallery

Check out all the photos from the night.