Darwin: Driving Australia’s Medical Discussion

April 24, 2019

Darwin: Driving Australia’s Medical Discussion

The Northern Territory is quintessential Australia: heritage-listed wetlands, wildlife parks, rock domes dating back 500 million years, and the home of national icon Uluru, after all. And while the region is rich in natural resources, it’s also a pioneer in agribusiness, international education and remote-area health services. After a day of productive meetings, you’ll be in the perfect spot to watch the captivating sunset over the sea right from the capital Darwin, the gateway to Northern Australia.

Darwin has particularly excelled in the sector of tropical health, responding to the growing health research needs of nearby tropical regions—which comprise 40 percent of the world’s population. As Australia’s leading medical research institution, Menzies School of Health Research has conducted research on malaria in over 20 countries across the Asia-Pacific region, saving thousands of lives in the process. The research facility is also home to RHDAustralia, the Australian government’s national coordination unit that helps prevent and reduce acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease in Australia.

The National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre (NCCTRC) is strategically positioned in Darwin to ensure Australia has the best readily deployable medical workforce to rapidly respond to sudden health emergencies both across Australia, and throughout Asia. Darwin’s NCCTRC has a renowned international reputation for excellence in health training and is a key element of the Australian Government’s disaster and emergency medical response to incidents of national and international significance. The also NCCTRC provides clinical and academic leadership in trauma and critical care.

Darwin’s cutting-edge research and top-notch facilities are drawing the attention of international congresses like the World Federation of Neuroscience Nurses (WFNN), which recently announced it will host the 13th annual congress at the Darwin Convention Centre in July 2021. Playing on a theme of “Create – Imagine – Inspire – Discover,” the congress will “provide a platform for an open dialogue about best practice that will challenge thinking to contribute to better care worldwide,” says Vicki Evans, WFNN Vice President and Scientific Chair.

Destination City

Last October, the Australian College of Remote and Rural Medicine and the Rural Doctors Association of Australiachose Darwin as the destination for the Rural Medicine Australia (RMA) Conference, the main national event for rural and remote doctors in Australia and abroad. “Darwin was one of those places we weren’t sure if everyone was going to make the trip,” explained Michelle Cuzens, the event coordinator. “Many of our delegates told us they’d never been to Darwin, and in our post-event survey, it was a massive stand-out that Darwin is a ‘destination city’—it turned out to be a must-visit, and for our delegates.”

RMA usually aims for an attendance of 500, but the four-day event was one of the largest yet, drawing a final count of 775 attendees with themes revolving around indigenous health, women in health, tropical medicine and innovation in remote settings—sectors Darwin specializes in. In big cities, it’s easy to lose delegates who head off to restaurants or are stuck on other sides of town, but having hotels within walking distance of the venue—and exclusive use of the Centre—helped delegates feel at home, with many exclaiming it was the best RMA yet. “Darwin is a capital city, but it’s smaller compared to other Australian cites, which made it special; the culture there is different and the pace is relaxed,” Cuzens says. “We recognised that immediately and tried to embrace it by bringing the NT into RMA and not just the RMA Conference into the NT.”

The full version of this article, written by Boardroom editor Lane Nieset, is available in the May issue of Boardroom.

Picture: Darwin Convention Centre (www.darwinconventioncentre.com.au)

April 10, 2019

#Meet4impact: An Actionable Impact Framework… and More

The #MEET4IMPACT project was initially announced in the February 2019 edition of Boardroom. Founded by Geneviève Leclerc, CMP, founder of Caravelle Strategies, along with several partners, this ambitious project aims to create an impact framework that offers support in social impact generation and measurement for associations and business events destinations. 

Impact Management

One of the ultimate goals of “measuring” social impact is being able to show the entire value that an organizationis delivering to its beneficiaries, and ultimately to society at large. Because associations are social organisations and their mission is essential to their existence, having the capacity to report on how well that mission is being served provides the organisation with the proof that it is doing what it’s supposed to do. But when expanded intoa broader process, it can be a powerful management strategy to achieve operational excellence, improve processes and delivery, and demonstrate great governance by holding itself accountable for the outcomes it generates.

Through the #MEET4IMPACT initiative, we aim to empower our partners to consider impact as an end-to-end process which can be purposefully created, managed, captured, and communicated for value. This means supporting them throughout their journey from the initial impact goal setting to the identification of which stakeholders can assist with this goal; to making sure it fulfills the business objectives of enhancing its value proposition to funders and members; to determining what it should be measuring and how to do it; to providing the know-how and tools to register this and track it; to analysing the data collected and how to communicate it; to finally leveraging this data and knowledge to ultimately get greater clarity on how it should improve its programme and service delivery.

Impact Measurement

The measurement of societal impact will use “impact” as a currency by which the organisation will be able to report on its organisational effectiveness in carrying out its mission, in a similar way that one would report on financial results. To measure the societal impact of an activity, such as an event, the association will want to assess the economic, social, regulatory and environmental effects on the local host communities, on the event participants, and on its community of interest as a whole. This is typically done through three types of measurements: 1) demonstrating change, 2) monetizing change and 3) calculating indicators showing progress.

Initially, when demonstrating change, you have to evaluate outcomes against what was there before and benchmark on your own objectives. In many cases, this is the best way of reporting on impact when there are no metrics available, or when the change created by your actions can be observed but not quantified. By formulating a hypothesis of cause-to-effect relationship between your desired impact goal and the outcome (IF I do this… THEN this happens…), you can prove that you undertook the necessary actions and you can claim contribution to the impact being created. The “demonstrating change” method uses narrative to provide information about the value it creates.

Secondly, to monetize social change, you have to quantify the economic value of your action through generating an increase in well-being or in any other societal gain. In social impact, this is done mostly with the help of the SROI framework (Social return on investment), which basically attributes a financial “market value” to certain changes in social condition. SROI uses financial currency as a way of conveying the gain in value for society.

Finally, to calculate indicators, you have to compile quantitative metrics and compare these results over time or against others. This falls into the realm of data management and it implies that the organisation is ready to commit resources to data collection, compilation, analysis, and communication. The key to impact measurement is to be able to identify what data it should really be tracking and what value it will gain out of this. Social impact experts at #MEET4IMPACT have mapped out this process and they can help identifying what data capacity your organization has and what needs developing.

How can you be a part of #Meet4impact?

We’re a global not-for-profit aiming to build a community passionate about social impact in our sector:

  • Associations and destinations collaborating on a specific event can become Founding partners and benefit from all our tools and expert accompaniment.
  • Organisations wishing to embark on their impact journey can also work with us to gain new knowledge or explore a theoretical approach before diving into implementation.
  • We can design and facilitate educational social impact “boot camps” for your team.
  • And anyone can join the #Meet4impactcommunity, sharing their stories and learning from others’ progress.

Keep looking out for more updates on social media following the #Meet4impact/ #Associations4impact/ #Cities4Impact keywords; visit www.meet4impact.global; or write to community@meet4impact.global to tell us your story.

Online Platform

One of the finest features of the #MEET4IMPACT project is the platform it will be rolling out this year. The comprehensive online tool that will be made available to #MEET4IMPACT partners will be both a community platform and a social impact management dashboard.

The platform will support organisations taking part in the project by allowing them to map their desired impact and select from a catalog of impact KPIs to create their own impact journey and dashboard; enter and visualize their data as it is being collected; and create visually attractive impact reports conveying powerful impact stories to a broad range of stakeholders – all from the same tool. Indicators from existing global impact frameworks and calculators will be built in and distributed in the areas of focus that we have selected for demonstrating social change in the business events industry, such as: knowledge transfer and research; innovation; community well-being; environment; policy; and many others.

The online platform will also enable partners to share their own journey with others on this path; exchange success and failure stories; and contribute valuable insights as everyone is collectively learning.

Design Thinking

The #MEET4IMPACT team uses Design Thinking as a core principle of our methodology. Design Thinking was first coined in the 1960s by John E. Arnold but really came of age when it was adapted for business purposes by IDEO in California, who created a workable framework for it. Tackling a challenge with purpose and intentionality moves us into the discipline of design. Design Thinking has proven to be particularly effective when dealing with a big challenge and multiple stakeholders who want to create an impact; Design is about finding solutions drawing on intentionality and creativity.

The various steps proposed will guide you through a successful problem-solving process: 1) Frame a question; 2) Gather inspiration; 3) Generate ideas; 4) Make ideas tangible; 5) Test to learn; 6) Share the story.

Design thinking is deeply anchored in responding to a need and creating new value and is an ideal methodology to accompany an organisation on an impact journey. It’s a mindset of constant iteration and learning and as such, is an integral part of #MEET4IMPACT and how we create value for our partners.


Good storytelling is essential to conveying the real value created by your events and connecting with your audience in a meaningful way. We’re all born storytellers and crave for good stories; this is how humanity has constructed its sense of meaning since the dawn of time. Smart organisations know that their message will have more impact if they connect emotionally with their stakeholders. When talking about your impact efforts, storytelling is the new panacea to influence decision-making, and you can demonstrate the effectiveness of your actions most powerfully by incorporating both qualitative and quantitative information to enable a compelling and data-driven impact story. The #Meet4Impact platform and its experts will enable you to draw those elements together into an effective impact report and create a strong narrative on the positive social value you have generated.

Social Innovation

What do we mean by social innovation? This telling quote from Social Innovation Generation evocatively reflects our mission: “Social Innovation… assumes a world where ultimate good in society can be not only imagined, but also created. It is an initiative or process that profoundly changes beliefs, behaviors, resource and authority flows of any ecosystem in the direction of greater resilience. Successful social innovations have durability, impact and scale.”

#MEET4IMPACT offers an entirely new approach in this sector… we’re trailblazers and so are our partners. Our objective is that #MEET4IMPACT be co-designed by the community and anchored in cross-learning and collaboration practices, and we believe that it can ultimately change the way business events define success in the future.By allowing our project to be built on an open innovation platform, adopting a “lean startup” mindset of rapid experimentation and iterations, and channeling collective intelligence to design our end product will ultimately, we hope, enable associations and other meetings sector stakeholders to become real agents of change in society.

March 28, 2019

After Meetings Africa 2019

Meetings Africa 2019 started off with a blast at Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg on 26 February, as South Africa’s Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom announced that this year’s show has broken previous records in 2019, with 343 exhibitors – 37 more than last year – and 86 of whom are from African countries. In the 14th version of the annual two-day trade show the 15 participating African countries along with international delegates and thought leaders offered their wisdom through panel discussions, roundtable meetings and various networking opportunities.

The international associations present got a good grasp on the business events growing market called Africa. Under the theme of ‘Shared Economies’, which highlights the need for finding ways in order to achieve further collaboration with the goal to boost and stimulate African economic growth, attendees all agreed that much strength is generated through common goals and visions and under strong leadership. Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo, Chief Officer of South Africa National Convention Bureau, reiterates: “We need to collaborate with our sister African countries. Efficient knowledge exchange is reached mainly through association conferences, which in turn are attracted to different parts of the continent because of the close cooperation among its countries.”

In this same spirit, in June 2020 the African continent will join forces once again in order to tackle some of the shared challenges its countries are currently facing. As the consequences of climate change, including food security, have become increasingly unavoidable, Africa as a whole is obliged to look for ways of responding to the problem with a sustainable solution for its people. South Africa’s initiative to host the International Agricultural Technology Exhibition and Conference (AGRITECH) at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) from 17-19 June 2020 will bring together leaders in the global agricultural community who can share experience and best practice to put together a counter-attack against these challenges.

Agricultural transformation is at the front and centre of economic renaissance for Africa. The triennial event will bring together over 10,000 visitors and more than 200 exhibitors and will showcase leading South African agriculture and food processing technologies, agricultural extension services, training centres, markets, access to finance, value chain integration and the unfolding Fourth Industrial Revolution which equally provides opportunities and challenges for sustainable agriculture, with delegations from other parts of Africa contributing to the exhibition. A conference with national and international expert committee members will focus on the management of land and water resources, food security, as well as the development of an Innovation Ecosystem. South African agriculture and food processing industries will be in the spotlight in order to attract importers from around Africa, India and the Middle East.

During a panel discussion on the second day of Meetings Africa, Mr Jeffers Miruka, CEO of the Association of African Agricultural Economists and President of the African Society of Association Executives, shared some thoughts: “One of the high-five priority areas for African sustainable development progress is Feed Africa, which is all about agriculture. We must be technologically educated in order to maintain sustainable agricultural processes. We want to be self-sustainable in Africa, especially in terms of food security.” Mr Bene M’Poko, Ambassador of Congo to South Africa, claimed that the continent needs to profit from this opportunity: “Africa has all the resources to become food secure. We have uncultivated land, water reserves, workforce and knowledge. We need to address structural allocation issues, of efficient distribution of land and water for instance, in the framework of this conference and then take this knowledge back home in order to utilise it.”

This article was written by Boardroom Digital Editor Vicky Koffa (digital@boardroom.global)

March 21, 2019

Singapore Fintech Festival Legacies

The launch of business events by industry can make a significant contribution to the growth strategies of cities and states. In 2015 Aloysius Arlando, Chief Executive of SingEx Holdings, co-created the Singapore Fintech Festival as Asia’s hub for the intersection of its finance and tech sectors. The legacies of this event launch with partners including the Monetary Authority of Singapore, and the Association of Banks in Singapore, are already clear to see. Over $2 billion of investment was secured in 2018 alone for both fintech start-ups and established businesses.

Read the whole story here at The Iceberg, one of Boardroom’s partners.

March 13, 2019

Making Analytics Count at Data for Good Exchange 

Years ago, when they decided to launch a conference focused on data, the team at global information and tech company Bloomberg wanted to do more than focus on how data can improve operating efficiencies and boost revenues. They wanted to explore how data science methods and modern machine learning can be applied to solve humanitarian issues and give back to society at large. Maybe something for associations to be inspired from?

Introduced in 2014 as part of the 20thACM SIGKDD Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining in New York City and expanded to a standalone event the following year, the Data for Good Exchange has doubled its attendance in just five years. And for last year’s meeting in Bloomberg’s New York City headquarters, even more people wanted to attend but couldn’t: registration filled to the event’s 1,000-attendee cap just three days after opening.

From the beginning, “we felt that [this meeting] really filled a void,” said Victoria Cerullo, conference lead for the 2018 D4GX, shorthand for the Data for Good Exchange. Before Bloomberg created the Data for Good Exchange, she said, “there really wasn’t a forum for data for good to be discussed to the extent that it is at our conference.”Bloomberg’s Data for Good Exchange website page describes its mission this way: “The forum enables participants to build cross-sector relationships while solving problems for the social good that might not otherwise be addressed by market forces.”

This year, the single-day event tackled issues ranging from gender equality and climate change to human genetics and the U.S. census — all through the lens of data science. Its audience included researchers, academics, nonprofit leaders, policymakers, and data scientists who come mostly from the U.S., but also flew in from South America, Europe, and Asia. Some attendees work with data every day. Others “know that data is important,” Cerullo said, “and just want to understand how it can help them.”

Putting Feedback Data Into Practice

The Data for Good Exchange is still a relatively young conference, so organizers continue to tweak, refine — and sometimes significantly expand — its programming each year to better serve their diverse audience.

“Attendees said there was great content, great information, but — particularly the data scientists — said they really wanted to roll up their sleeves and do something concrete,” Cerullo said. As a result, this year’s program included a handful of workshops, which were designed to spark discussions and help attendees develop fresh ideas for tackling major challenges.

The conference was divided into four workshops focused on data in varied sectors. One group discussed how governments can find and detect bias in their data-driven initiatives; another, how media can help increase census-response rates. A third workshop talked about encouraging collaboration across sectors in the “data for good movement.” The fourth focused on using data to help communities in need.

“We could only have about 50 people in each workshop, but there was so much demand for them, there were lines out the door,” Cerullo said. “That told us that this is something our attendees are really interested in and engaged in.” This led to another idea: since relatively few attendees could attend each workshop, the conference offered an end-of-day “workshop takeaways” panel, which allowed everyone to hear what the workshop participants had discussed.

Student Power

Cerullo said that graduate students are a significant part of D4GX, and their work takes center stage in one of her personal favorite conference elements, the immersion program. Via a partnership with NYC Media Lab — a consortium of New York City-based universities and the city’s economic development corporation — the program offers a stipend to several doctoral students who study data science or statistics and sends them off to help nonprofits solve real-life data challenges. Then the students appear on a panel at the conference — alongside representatives from the nonprofits they assisted — to discuss those challenges and how they approached them.

This year, one pair of students helped a nonprofit in the Virgin Islands with its post-Hurricane Maria population survey. Another student worked with the Billion Oyster Project, which aims to restore the oyster population around New York Harbor, and a third helped the city of Milan better manage its data. “Students have always told me that they really value this because they’re typically sitting in front of screens, looking at lots of data on their day-to-day spreadsheets,” Cerullo said. “To be able to connect that with something on the ground is just so valuable.”

This article, excerpted and modified for Boardroom, is part of a special content-sharing agreement Boardroom has with Convene, the PCMA magazine. Contributing editor Molly Petrilla is a New Jersey–based freelance writer for Convene. The full version of Molly’s story is available in the February edition of Boardroom.

March 6, 2019

Sydney: A Land of Innovation

Australia has innovation in its DNA, and some iconic inventions were born down under, as, just to name a few, the Hills Hoist, the black box flight recorder, Polymer bank notes, the electric drill, and of course Wi-Fi, thanks to CSIRO.

Paving the way

Whether it be creating something entirely new or refining and improving products and technologies, innovation takes many forms. And in Sydney, there are a few people and entities paving the way.

At the 360-degree interactive Data Arena of the University of Sydney (UTS), for instance, I was lucky enough to immerse myself in alarge, one-of-a-kind cylindrical screen visualization that is changing the way we view and interact with data.The aim? Helping researchers, business and government simplify complex information, as they literally surround themselves in data to observe, explore, refine, improve, discover and learn.

UTS, as such, help innovation flourish. They boast such a thing as an Innovation and Entrepreneurship Unit, which recognizes the incredible potential of the next generation of startup founders and business disruptors based in Sydney. More than 40 per cent of our students have told us they want to create their own jobs or start their own companies, and we’ve listened,” explains Margaret Maile Petty, Executive Director.“Through our work in the UTS Innovation and Entrepreneurship Unit, we’ve developed a range of co-curricular programs and real-world industry opportunities to equip students with the entrepreneurial tools that will be critical to their success.” Over the next few years, the plan is to reach over 50 per cent of UTS students with entrepreneurial experiences and support.

Pioneering ICC Sydney

ICC Sydney (pictured) – maybe like no other – embodies this drive for creativity. An important contributor to innovation in the city, actively strengthening its local knowledge economy, the venue has grown to connect the city’s knowledge hubs and is attracting global thought leaders to the nation’s cultural and economic capital, delivering powerful, long-term benefits. “ICC Sydney connects the city’s financial districts, media and creative, cultural and student hubs. The precinct is also purpose-built to provide the ultimate platform for the world’s leaders and thinkers to meet, collaborate and innovate,” says Geoff Donaghy, CEO of ICC Sydney.

ICC Sydney’s Legacy Program partakes of this eagerness to stand out. Last year, a new dedicated Creative Industries stream was added to the Program, showcasing Australia’s home-grown talent on the global stage and supporting the next generation of creative leaders. This last addition has complemented the Legacy Program’s four core streams – Innovators & Entrepreneurs, Generation Next, First Australians and Sustainable Events, driving long-term social, economic and environment outcomes, which are both meaningful and measurable.

One final note on ICC Sydney’s First Australians stream. Building on the venue’s work to drive greater engagement with, and acknowledgement of, Australia’s First Nations people, the venue is actually the first – and only – convention centre in Australia to have launched a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). The initiative, which has clearly set a precedent in the industry, is testament to ICC Sydney’s ongoing commitment to recognize and celebrate the cultures, practices and traditions of Australia’s First Nations within the venue and the events it hosts.

As Laura Goddard, CSR Executive whois dedicated to working with clients to achieve their CSR goals through their events at ICC Sydney,puts it: “Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is deeply embedded in ICC Sydney’s philosophy, culture and business model. We consider CSR as both an obligation and opportunity.” As such, ICC Sydney is creating a new paradigm, and setting examples for others to follow.

This article was written by Boardroom Chief Editor Rémi Dévé. For more information about ICC Sydney, visit www.iccsydney.com.au


















February 27, 2019

Legacies of Association Events: Two Case Studies

For this first collaboration with Boardroom, part of an exclusive partnership ESAE signed at the end of last year, Jenny Ennis, Meetings Manager, European Society of Sports Traumatology, Knee Surgery and Arthroscopy (ESSKA), and Fanny Senez, Events Manager, International Association of Young Lawyers (AIJA) look at two examples of association conferences that have left positive legacies in their host cities.

Legacy is one of the many buzz words thrown around with increased frequency in today’s society, especially in the not-for-profit and associations sectors. But what does leaving a legacy really mean for the events industry? According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, there are many definitions and meanings. Legacy is something that is a part of history or that remains from an earlier time; it is something that is a result of past events; it might relate to money or even property. 

Speaking specifically about events, the first two definitions seem to be the most relevant. However, the economic legacy left by an event, such as the visitors it brings or the revenue accumulated for the host organization, must not be underestimated. The best way to examine the legacy question, of course, is to look at real examples.

Traumatology in Glasgow

An interesting case study is the ESSKA (European Society of Sports Traumatology, Knee Surgery and Arthroscopy) biennial Congress held in Glasgow in 2018. The event attracted over 3,200 international delegates from 101 countries, contributing £5m in direct benefits to the city. This in itself can be considered a legacy to be proud of. However, for ESSKA, legacy was also about creating links to the local community and showcasing the appeal of Scotland as a destination of choice to a new, multi-national audience.

From the start of the bidding process in 2012, ESSKA leadership was impressed by Glasgow’s commitment to sustainability and legacy. Glasgow’s ethos is that events should always leave a positive footprint behind.

Like many associations, ESSKA organized numerous parallel activities during the congress that involved local communities—some of which even extended beyond Glasgow’s city limits.

For the first time, Glasgow Convention Bureau worked with the Glasgow Science Centre to host a special event for members of the public, featuring Professor C. Niek van Dijk, a world-renowned surgeon who has treated international dancers and athletes, such as Cristiano Ronaldo. Professor van Dijk shared stories and insight from his career in the hope of inspiring Glasgow’s next generation of medical minds.

Zhanna Kovalchuk, Executive Director of ESSKA,commented: “This was the first time that we have engaged with members of the general public during one of our congresses, which really helped to raise our profile within the city and open up our congress to new audiences. Given that it was Scotland’s ‘Year of Young People,’ we also hope this will have motivated those considering a career in medicine to find out more about our specialty.”

As the gateway to Scotland, 35 ESSKA delegates took advantage of Glasgow’s prime location by participating in a four-day cycling race to raise money to support research led by the ESSKA Foundation. The 377-km “Cycle for Science” challenge took delegates on a tour through the Scottish countryside before returning to the city just in time for the opening of the congress. It was an incredible experience for those involved — locals and visitors alike — and, at the same time, left a positive legacy for the Foundation.

Aileen Crawford, Head of Conventions at Glasgow Convention Bureau, said: “ESSKA is a great example of how we, along with our partners across the city, can work with conference organizers to take the subject matter of the conference outside the walls of the convention centre and into the local community.”

Following the success of this legacy left in Glasgow, ESSKA is now committed to ensuring that its future events will always leave a positive legacy, working closely with convention bureaux from conception right through to delivery of the project. ESSKA strives to create deep, sustainable relationships with academic, professional and other communities. It appoints local ambassadors to support them in creating and nurturing such networks, not just during events, but in the long term as well.

Mobile in Barcelona

Avoiding a negative legacy is just as important as creating a positive one. Environmental concern is one such issue that is increasingly taken into consideration by event organizers and associations, usually as part of sustainability programs.

Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) is known in association circles as one of the largest events of its kind, attracting more than 107,000 attendees and over 2,400 companies each year. For years now, event organizers have set up an ambitious Environmental Program where participants can directly contribute by offsetting their carbon footprint, recycling their badge, and minimizing the impact of their travel and on-site participation. The Congress has been certified carbon neutral from 2014 to 2018 and was recognized as “The World’s Largest Carbon Neutral Trade Show” by the Guinness World Records in 2015 and 2016.

On a larger scale, the carbon neutrality program aims to reduce the impact of business on the environment, including at the office. Again, these goals were achieved through strong local partnerships with the city authorities, such as Barcelona City Council, L’Hospitalet City Council and Fira Barcelona.

Meanwhile, an interesting initiative that provides tangible legacy impacts on local social and cultural entities is the MWC Donation Room, where all exhibitors can donate materials from their stands to local socially responsible organisations. In 2018, 31.5 tons of materials were collected and redistributed to 20 selected local organizations.

The Barcelona Mobile Congress is also an interesting case to look at from a population perspective. Not so long ago, legacy programs became a priority in the city following the negative press coverage of residents protesting against the increasing number of visitors that were not just as a result of tourism, but also due to large events.

Legacy may be realistically seen as a future ‘must’ for associations. But if organizers have the budget to lead the way, sometimes supported by consultancies, smaller associations can actually knock at the door of convention bureaux and local authorities to inquire what simple actions can be taken.

The millennial generation entering the association workforce may also play a strong role in the development of new kinds of ‘Association Social Responsibility’ policies. They will undoubtedly help organizations turn their vision and mission into a tangible reality.

Sources: www.mwcbarcelona.com/about/about-the-gsma/environmental-programme/ & dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/legacy

February 18, 2019

Designing Conferences with Lasting, Life-Changing Impact

Sherrif Karamat, President and CEO, PCMA, shares his insights on how conferences can leave positive legacies both for the host communities and the delegates they serve.

Business events, especially face-to-face meetings, are proven catalysts for economic and social progress. They provide positive outcomes for host communities and destinations in addition to event participants. The best business events are ones that ultimately drive business results while also providing inspiration to help improve the world.

Billie Jean King, tennis legend and equal rights activist, said it best during 2019 PCMA Convening Leaders in Pittsburgh: “When you wake up and have a fire in your belly, you can make a difference and change the world.”

The key is for business events professionals to help create the proverbial “fire in your belly.” Here are some ideas:

Inspirational content

Anthony Prusak has attended many business events in his decades-long hospitality sales and marketing career, but it was a 2019 presentation by Gen Z entrepreneur Nadya Okamoto that inspired him to act. Okamoto, who spoke about “Transforming Experiences Into a Positive Force for Change” during PCMA’s Convening Leaders January event, started the non-profit PERIOD as a teenager to provide feminine hygiene products to homeless women.

He returned home motivated by Okamoto’s passion and decided to help TSA agents at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. The agents had been working without pay due to a partial U.S. government shutdown that began on 22 December 2018. Prusak launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise $1,000 to provide lunches for one shift of 80 agents. He raised nearly $6,000 in 13 days, enough to provide lunch for all 240 TSA agents.

Prusak told PCMA’s Convene magazine he hopes what he did “will influence others and they will find some way to help someone. It’s a good feeling.”

On-site initiatives

CSR projects are not new to business events, the key is offering opportunities that allow participants to connect to the host community and inspire them to seek similar opportunities in their home communities.

Consider a celebratory event that benefits local charities. PCMA’s Party With a Purpose has raised more than $2.5 million in 26 years to support local charities, PCMA’s social impact initiatives in addition to scholarships, research and education programs. Our annual Hospitality Helping Hands event has both an education and social impact component. Participants gain hands-on learning experience on planning volunteer opportunities while supporting a local organization.

Melissa Johnson, meeting and special events planner at the Public Library Association, participated in her first Hospitality Helping Hands during the 2019 PCMA Convening Leaders event. She said the experience will help her understand the logistics of planning a similar event for her association’s next conference. “It’s really about trying to figure out to give back to the community, but also to leave a lasting impression on the host city,” Johnson said.


This can be a less visible, albeit important, component to business events — adopting sustainable measures that leave the community, and the world, in a better state. It can mean providing reusable water bottles and water fountains during events or smart boards and digital displays to eliminate disposable signage.

Wonderful Copenhagen, the city’s tourism and convention organization, even examined the CO2 calculations of food served a business events as food is often overlooked as a source of carbon emissions. That doesn’t mean business events have to stop serving meat, but planners can take into consideration choices than can have a better environmental impact. Participants may not notice the change, but the business event will leave its legacy.

February 11, 2019

Launch of the #Meet4impact Project

This is an ambitious project but a pioneering one, to which Boardroom is really proud to collaborate exclusively. Initiated by Caravelle Strategies and its founder Geneviève Leclerc, along with a coalition of partners, the #Meet4impact Project will create an impact framework that will offer a comprehensive process for generating, managing and measuring the positive societal impacts of association conferences.

In recent years, international associations have been facing growing pressure to attract and retain members, attendees and partners, which has prompted the majority of them to question themselves on how they can improve their value proposition. Efforts have been reported on how to develop their own niche which would allow them to set themselves apart from competitive offers, and how they have been progressively been buying into the idea that they could better leave behind a legacy through their events.

Much has been written about legacy, and this is the prevailing term used when discussing these efforts. Some have spoken in favour of using the term ‘impact’, and more specifically ‘societal impact’ to describe the kind of positive and lasting change that associations can foster in their communities through activities such as conferences. While legacy is perceived as something an organization leaves behind, the term impact is a more complex and transformative concept. We could define ‘impact’ as the sum of changes that are generated by an organization through its actions on the community or ecosystem.

Creating change

The key word here is CHANGE. This implies that there is a deliberate process through which one defines a clear intention of generating change and implements a course of action to achieve this objective. Furthermore, by adding the term ‘societal’ to “impact”, we weave into this narrative the broader idea that in our day and age, there is a growing expectation that organizations take responsibility for the impacts of their decisions and activities on society and the environment at large.

Additionally, when talking about social and societal1impact, we are closer to the redefined notion of sustainability that is carried by international bodies such as the United Nations through their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs, rolled out in 2015 as part of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, seta roadmap for global action towards supporting the planet and its people in long-term prosperity and survival. More specifically, the 17 global goals include 169 targets answering needs at all levels and focusing on 5Ps: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership. All stakeholders – governments, civil society, the private sector – are expected to contribute to the realization of the new agenda.

Want to join #Meet4impact?

With different ways of being active in the project available, associations can participate by joining the community, sharing their experiencesand learning from others’ progress as they are rolled out. Destinations interested in developing this in their city can benefit from an early participation. Be on the lookout for progress being shared under the #Meet4impact project and share your stories by joining our #Association4impact community online.

Get in touch with us if you are interested in exploring becoming a Founding Partner, supporting our efforts or want to be kept informed of our progress: genevieve@Meet4impact.com / www.Meet4impact.global


Furthermore, when discussing legacy or impact, one is immediately faced with the prevailing discourse that there is an immediate need for measurement. But while impact measurement is necessary to communicate the value generated by one’s actions and justify ROI from partners (or members), it is mostly possible as a result of a well-planned and executed impact management strategy.

Where are we now?

We’ve been following the work being done on legacy and impact by pioneers such as BESydney, JMIC and the joint ICCA/BestCities Incredible Impacts program; several of these initiatives have been described in previous issues of this magazine. We have developed close relationships with the small group of associations that have started to communicate clearly the impact they are creating with their conference; the likes of World Confederation for Physical Therapy, World Parkinson Coalition, ESSKA, ISPCAN, and Disabilities International, to name only a few, are really inspiring.

University research commissioned by industry groups or destinations are now being published, outlining best practices and, for some, even identifying factors of success in generating societal impacts.Based on current literature and research, two strong narratives have emerged in the sector around this issue: one is focused on storytelling and the sharing of best practices from associations who are leading the trend. The second narrative revolves around the concept of measurement and converting the quantitative and qualitative data that does exist into numerical and economic performance indicators, fueling advocacy efforts on all parts.

However, both of these narratives tell only a part of the story of impact and legacy. Even if they are necessary, they are insufficient to scale up this trend to a real tidal wave. There appears to be an important gap in the conversation: there is currently a lack of action plans or frameworks supporting associations and destinations working together to replicate the success stories shared in the industry media. Associations are now at a point where they need tools and guidance on creating and implementing positive societal impacts. Meanwhile, host cities want to help them achieve this but they don’t quite know how.

In a context where an association wishes to leverage its conference to “do good” and create a positive change in the community that is hosting it, the possible synergies between the association and their counterparts in the host destination are obvious but perhaps difficult to operationalize. It requires a profound mind shift from the stakeholders in the destination, such as the convention bureau or, in some cases, the congress centre, who need to anchor themselves in the business sectors and knowledge clusters even more solidly than they have ever done before in order to be taken seriously as drivers of economic and social development.

The professionals in the convention bureaus, who have forged a close bond with the international associations, are growingly expected to take a leadership role in introducing the former to their various local ecosystems and they are perceived as the ones who can initiate the links needed in host communities. For an association to successfully generate tangible positive impact in a local community, there should be a close alignment between their intentions and the needs of the community they hope to engage with. A sustained and flourishing collaboration between these different groups will yield a wide stakeholder coalition that will amplify the potential of transformative impact.

But the association meetings sector has struggled with coming up with a concerted and impactful methodology for managing impact for several reasons: it lacks knowledge in the science of social impact assessment and so far, there have been no clear indicators for the sector. There are virtually no benchmarks serving as reference points, and we are still lacking frameworks and predictive models for use by the industry to help demonstrate the cause-to-effect relationships generating change.

A new initiative

The #Meet4impact Project is an initiative to create an impact framework that will offer a comprehensive process for generating, managing and measuring the positive societal impacts of conferences. It will propose a process enabling organizations to go from the initial intention (of impact) to implementation, to the measurement, and to generate a maximum of value out of their efforts. It will help to demonstrate the cause-to-effect relationship that allows an organization to claim accountability for the impact they are creating and to communicate this clearly.

Practically, the framework will be comprised of a methodology, a toolset, an online platform including a catalog of indicators and a progress dashboard, and the professional support to assist organizations in creating their own impact management program. It will also propose a pathway to link the different efforts that are being undertaken by industry groups and demonstrate how these initiatives can complement each other.

One of #Meet4impact’s key features is that it will propose a collaborative platform between the association, its local host member, the CVB and the local ecosystem which the association aims to engage through their impact program. Another unique component is that it is positioned as a social innovation initiative that responds to existing needs and challenges with new and different methods, calling on collective intelligence, and aiming to generate change at the systemic level (the association sector). Finally, on top of proposing industry-specific indicators of societal impacts, the platform will allow participating organisations to identify which UN SDGs their mission most aligns with and register their efforts towards the achievement of those goals.

Currently engaging organizations working on social impacts, university researchers, industry consultants, a technology company, IGOs and an international foundation, the #Meet4impact project is a growing coalition of partners deeply committed to supporting associations in their efforts to amplify the impact of their mission delivery. Over the coming months, the project will roll out a beta phase, where Founding Project Partners (consisting of an association coupled with a convention bureau in different cities of the world) will be embarking on a journey where they will test the methodology, working together and drawing on collective intelligence in a co-creation exercise akin to a “Living Lab”. Their constant feedback and that of other participating entities will allow the methodology to be iterated and refined from the initial process, which will give way to a truly powerful yet customizable model for associations to use in the future. It is an ambitious project that Boardroom will report on in each of its upcoming editions.


February 4, 2019

How Relationships Underpin Success

Legacy is cemented in relationships. The way we learn from each other, relate to different experiences and viewpoints and interchange our philosophies, form the basis of humanity. Our position in the world becomes defined by our association to others. To our ancestors, our present circle and our imagined future selves. These connections, and their power to shape who we are, leave a significant indent in our life’s course – in our legacies.

Relationships have always been an important focus in the business world – it is critical when it comes to success. Understanding what the client wants and how to best deliver, supporting other workers to produce their best work and collaborating as a team, even with dividing opinions, is crucial. A final product often extends back to several layers of input – it is rare to accomplish something completely alone.

Shifting our perspective of legacy from one that is tangible to intangible has become increasingly common. Measuring events by financial success no longer holds such weight within society. It instead has become centered on the immaterial actions of organizations which impact the world and people around them. Holding a lens to how we create meaning in business is particularly pertinent in our fast-paced technological era. Focusing on relationships – both positive and negative – produces greater transparency, accountability and long-term success. It is a defining factor in the creation of a business.

Inspiring transformation

Former CEO and now Executive Chairman of Starbucks, Howard Shultz, powerfully spoke to this idea. He emphasised how authenticity inspires transformation: “In this ever-changing society, the most powerful and enduring brands are built from the heart. They are real and sustainable. Their foundations are stronger because they are built with the strength of the human spirit.”

Examples of harnessing aspects of success outside financial liability are constant. McDonald’s, perhaps one of the biggest symbols for corporate greed in our Western world, has this year pledged to use renewable, recyclable or certified materials in all packaging worldwide by 2025. Last year, Google’s global operations became fully powered by renewable energy – and they became the world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable power. Tesla is skyrocketing in sales and support for their eco-friendly electric powered cars. Locally, the rise of companies like Keep Cup and Frank Green, which both sell reusable coffee cups, have risen based on our desire to help save the planet.

These decisions extend further than environmental impact as companies have long turned to making their products, and processes, ethical. Whilst the fashion industry is constantly gaining undesirable attention for its abuse of power when it comes to sustainability and ethical sourcing, global retailer H&M has redirected this negativity. They have committed to supply chain transparency by publishing an up-to-date list of suppliers’ names and addresses on their website each quarter.

Changing the legacy

Whilst these actions have been at the forefront of our decision making for a while now, it is still critical in highlighting the importance of relationships. Without hesitation it is easy to suggest that the purpose of business is financial success and stability. Turning focus towards aiding the environment and conducting ethical practice for example, despite its cost, thus becomes highly significant. Organizations are emphasising the connection they hold with their consumer, their partners and their global reach – and they are listening to how the world is changing. They are altering their course based on how we are responding. They are changing their legacy because of the intangible necessity relationships have towards their growth.

The full version of  this article,  provided by the International Association of Professional Congress Organisers, authors Ruby Kraner-Tucci and Sarah Markey-Hamm from ICMS Pty Ltd, Australia (www.icms.com.au), will be available in the upcoming edition of Boardroom. info@iapco.org / www.iapco.org