Friday, 23 September 2016

Here we go again

So I'm going to the Ball...again. And by Ball I mean as part of the Blogsquad for #CIPDACE16 - the annual conference, exhibition and gathering of HR, OD and L&D professionals.

This is very exciting news for me, although I fully accept you may not be quite as excited.

Here's the full Blogsquad, with a "full house" theme this year which I'm sure I can pun my way through.

I was part of the Blogsquad last year, which I wrote about afterwards HERE.  But to be invited back again this year is tremendously exciting as well as ego-boosting - I enjoyed myself so much and felt I contributed a lot last year, and am looking forward to doing the same again this year.

Although the experience of being in the Blogsquad was exceptionally tiring, the positives far outweighed the negatives.  The Conference, the learning from it and the discussions I had with people about it and lots of other things were amazing.

And I love the CIPD Annual Conference.  I haven't missed a year since I first went in 2004, although I do still miss the small town feel that Harrogate had when the Conference more or less took over the town and in every hotel and bar you could find something going on that was HR-related.  But last year Manchester finally came into its own with a top notch programme and set of fringe and social activities (although all the ones I wanted to go to happened on the same evening, which was unfortunate).  As a Conference though you just can't beat it for sheer value and learning potential, even if - like me in years gone by and plenty of others - you just go to the exhibition and free seminars - nothing wrong with that at all and in fact you end up winning just because of the free stuff and learning you pick up.

A few days ago I asked, via social media, why other people go to the Annual Conference.  This is a selection of the quotes I got back, which perfectly illustrate the different reasons people go to the Conference and the different things they get out of it.

David D'Souza: "It has become an unwritten tradition that I'll find a way to humiliate myself, somehow, with the keynote speaker. So there was the awkward moment with Rita Gunther McGrath when I was introduced as 'the guy you've been tweeting about bubble wrap' just before she took the stage and the time I got star struck and asked Daniel Pink if I could move in with him. Both memorable, for different reasons."

Michelle Parry-Slater: "My stand out CIPD ACE moment was Peter Cheese and his "let them get on with their job, next question" statement when asked what he would do if an employee came to work with blue hair and tattoos #LoveIt"

Helen Amery: "My favourite memory is ACE 2013 when I was at the turning point in my career and I met so many great people from Twitter in real life for the first time. A whole new world was opening up to me and it was great to get out and discover more of it"

Mike Morrison: "For me its always the people."

Amy Humphreys: "I go for the atmosphere, the lovely people I get to hang with, and of course there's so much learning to be had!"

Darren Vann: "Going for the first time myself, was really just looking forward to the whole experience but now I'm keen to make sure I don't miss David D'Souza humiliate himself."

I understand what each person gets out of going.  Its the whole experience, and each year its different.  One year I got chatted up, and asked out for dinner, by a CIPD researcher whilst browsing books on their stand.  Another year I totally gatecrashed a fairly posh employment law networking event to which I wasn't invited, ate lots of food, had a drink and then made a dash for it.  Another year I came home LOADED with free gifts for my children and having won a £500 Red Letter Days voucher and some champagne.  EVERY year I make the most of the exhibition, talking to suppliers about what they're doing and how it interests me, catching up with people I've not seen for ages, attending the free seminars, and in recent years I've attended the full conference and got access to the premium content too.

This year's programme looks great, which you can view HERE.  There's so much to choose from and I feel like I want to be in 2 or 3 places at once.  Peter Cheese's introduction always contains a couple of soundbites that sustain many for an entire year, but the keynote speeches are different enough to offer lots of good insight.

The introduction of five different streams and five different types of session gives some structure but to be honest I don't think this was needed as the sessions kind of sell themselves without having the labels around them.  There's some good sessions available this year on what I think is the right range of topics.

The list of free seminars is also impressive and I'll genuinely struggle to decide where I need to be.

I'll be in and around the Conference for its entirety so if you see me wandering around the exhibition or sat in a conference session, please come and say hello.  Aswell as blogging about the content I'll be trying to capture people's views and reactions to the whole thing, so if you fancy appearing in print or on video - here's your chance.

And once again I'll repeat my promise from last year, that if any exhibitors have free neck/shoulder massages available on their stands (or even if they don't but its part of their sales technique) then I will visit and talk to you.  I'm that shallow.

Maybe you could even play Blogsquad Bingo and see if you can tick off the full house of bloggers if you manage to spot us all...

And it always feels like the start of Xmas when the Annual Conference gets underway, often because the Xmas Markets are being built just a few hundred yards away in Manchester.  Roll on November.

Till next time...

Gary

PS In other news, honeymoon has been and gone - astonishingly beautiful (but expensive) place, Norway - and I've decided I'd really REALLY like to live there.