Geneviève Leclerc of #Meet4Impact served as curator of the conference, which was held under the theme of “The Societal Impact of Associations” and structured around four main pillars: (1) Impact and Legacy, (2) Designing an Impact Management and Measurement Program, (3) Organizational Resilience, and (4) The Art of Collaboration.
Leclerc focused on impact and legacy during her introduction speech by projecting herself into the future, where she looked back in time (to the present) at the birth of impactful acting. She explained how a structural and knowledgeable concept was needed and that slowly, the understanding of the importance of sustainability was being perceived in the global society.
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During her keynote speech, Patricia V. Blake, Chair of the American Society of Association Executives and CEO of Heart Rhythm Society, shed light on examples of projects and activities that associations have created that impact people around the world.
One particularly interesting panel featured members from different industries and segments who discussed designing an impact management and measurement program. Garance Choke, founder and CEO of CODA Societies, for example, spoke about how her company helped set up better structures for organizations like hospitals, allowing the institution to give more value and impact to patients instead of focusing solely on business and efficiency.
Bernard Derome, Secretary General of the World Design Association, meanwhile, talked about the impact his association had on the cities they’ve named “World Cities of Design”—cities that have incorporated the concept of ‘better design’ in their day-to-day organization, which goes far beyond aesthetics.
One way an association can have an impact is switching from using plastics to finding solutions for the waste of plastics. Guy Bigwood, Managing Director of the Global Destination Sustainability Index, addressed the urgency of tackling sustainability issues and how cities can help improve the situation.
In 2015, the UN launched one of its most ambitious goals: a 2030 blueprint for a better world. Designed with the help of businesses, not-for-profits, governments and civil society, the 2030 Agenda mapped out 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). However, during one session on the topic, only a few associations in the audience said they had actually implemented some of the SDG’s in their mission.
AmpUz’s Avla Bajwa, a board member of the United Nations Global Compact for the UAE chapter, explained that the 17 SDGs can be broken down into smaller pieces so associations don’t feel as overwhelmed at first. But to be successful, the goals have to be part of an association’s overall strategy. During one of the learning labs, Guy Bigwood led a TED-style presentation emphasizing the importance of applying the SDGs. Destinations in the meetings industry are already starting to understand their role in this matter, and now it’s time associations integrate these goals into their mission statements as well.
Leadership & Governance
As society evolves, associations will have to be flexible with their human resources policies to support (and accept) innovation and transformation. During a panel on tackling the future of associations, delegates heard from Barbara Ewals, director for Partnerships at the International Society of Geriatric Oncology; Caroline Stockmann, CEO of the Association of Corporate Treasurers; and Senthil Gopinath, CEO of ICCA. The trio discussed the impact of having to work with a variety of members’ cultural backgrounds, how to handle a new CEO coming into office, and the importance of mastering different languages, to better understand other cultures and people. The conclusion: show empathy and develop a clear vision for your association’s future.
Bringing together over 220 local and international participants, the second edition of the Dubai Association Conference proved to be a success. Alison Shamwana, executive director of the International Hepato-Pacreato-Biliary Association, is one example of the congress’ success. “I registered because I was interested in the topics, and I was completely satisfied with the actual content of the conference,” she said.