visit.brussels was in a celebratory mood last week as the convention bureau organized the 10th anniversary of the European Association Summit 2022 (EAS22) at the Egg, in Brussels. The 3-day event managed to offer the best of both in-person and digital worlds to its participants, going into hot topics for associations and creating many valuable networking opportunities. The relaxed atmosphere among attendees was the perfect platform for education and discussion on keys areas like smart leadership, communities of practice and hybrid engagement, among others.
Things got off to a good start with an interactive session designed by GAHP international advisor Martin Sirk. Instead of listening passively to some keynote speech, the audience got to do a solution-based networking exercise. Using the ‘Two Free Consultants’ method, Sirk gathered delegates by teams of three: each person took turn sharing a problem that their association is currently confronting with, while the other two people came up with concrete solutions that could be implemented later on.
Popular sessions included a hands-on approach to leadership with Ole Petter Anfinsen, Vice President EDBAC, Doctoral Researcher at Henley Business School, who explained all about the crucial alignment of authority, discretion and psychological well-being that is at stake when it comes to successful and sustainable leadership, as well as a fresh take on hybrid events by Sina Bünte, who explained how to keep both the in-person and remote audience engaged and interested. Think like a TV producer and use elements of gamification were two of the main take-aways of the session.
The first day concluded with a special ESAE session facilitated by Rafael Plata, ESAE Vice-President; Secretary General of the European Association of CCP Clearing Houses (EACH), who explored, together with the audience thanks to a series of roundtable discussions and debates, the key skills needed to lead associations in an everchanging environment.
Fresh & interesting
The second day of EAS was just as interesting. Through her presentation, Dr Mounia Heddad Masson, Head of Education and Science at the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL), shared her experience on creating communities of practice. Essentially, such online communities are topic-focused for more specific knowledge exchange and offer bigger outreach to association members. Social media and small live webinars are key to sustaining engagement of these communities. As most participants in the room were interested in giving their association’s educational content new life, we all related to Dr Massons ideas. On the same community-building topic, Marjorie Anderson, Founder of Community by Association L.L.C., offered a step-by-step guide of how and why any association can build such a community.
On a different note, Cyrille Mai Thahn talked about his one-year-old Brussels Sustainability Club which connects businesses with NGOs. A group of public affairs professionals representing leading organizations from across sectors got together through their interest in EU sustainability policies to create a platform focused on promoting cross-sectoral networking. A fresh idea by passionate professionals well-received by the audience, as sustainability is on everyone’s agenda these days.
Later the same day, the masterclass presented by Christoph Raudonat, Managing Director of Henley Business School Germany, guided the participants to finding the ideal leader in them. With interactive exercises, the speaker connected different leadership models to the societal purpose associations serve and emphasized the importance of the right leadership for the right impact.
This article was co-written by Vicky Koffa and Remi Deve.