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02 Feb 2024

AEO Forums: Reflections and resolutions for ops profs by Kerrie Kemp

AEO Forums: Reflections and resolutions for ops profs by Kerrie Kemp

As we approach the 1-week mark since this year’s AEO Forums, I wanted to take a moment to pause and reflect on the day, my key takeaways from the sessions and importantly to note my commitment to myself on what I will be setting as professional goals for the year.

This forum’s theme was entitled ‘The Power in you’ so my first challenge when curating the programme was how to embrace the theme and do it justice with a room full of operations professionals who by nature like to have tangible, realistic and function relevant learnings coming out of the day & not too ‘blue sky thinking’, I hope that what was produced met the brief.

Our first session together was with Juliet Tripp, she spoke about our Zone of Genius, by getting us to reflect on the strengths, personality traits of ops people and how to use these to your advantage, changing our perspective through the lens of the ‘So that’ mentality instead of ‘So what’.

Next, we welcomed Gabby & Angela to tackle the subject of inclusive conduct and conflict resolution, Gabby shared the importance of feeling safe & supported as we carry out our roles, why we should all have a code of conduct not just for the events themselves but also for your own staff in and out of the office environment, she shared details on the Diversity Alliance Safe Spaces Charter for the events industry. 

Angela then took over and shared her wealth of experience around mediation techniques, we learnt some simple tips to help us with aggressive verbal behaviour – Don’t react, don’t argue, Reframe.

It was then time for lunch, and once again The Good Eating Company came up trumps with a delicious menu, predominantly plant based, with locally sourced ingredients which was a nod to AEO’s sustainability commitments & provided a great culinary experience.

After lunch we heard from our self-accredited ‘competent people’ Emma, Henry and Chloe on Security assessments, this session focussed on supporting organisers to fulfil our responsibilities alongside our security providers & venues by completing suitable event specific assessments.

My takeaways from this session were – The Power of Hello, how this simple technique can be applied as a deterrent to any potential threats & The Rainbow of Doom – does what it says on the tin. Also worth noting was all the free training available to everyone on this subject – please see the session slides available for details on these.

Next up we had 3 of the AEO Sustainability Working Group members – Lucy, Vivien and Roger, talk us through the sustainability commitments & principles and giving us some tangible examples of how they have applied them for their own events. There was also lots of conversation around the Better Stands Programme and how as an industry we must prioritise moving away from disposable stand builds.

Finally, we had an important conversation around the changing landscape in delivering accessible events, this session with Catherine, Meera, Ashley & Lisa provided a great insight into the challenges faced by those in the linguistic minority group, I had so many notes from this session but my most notable was that technology already exists to support event organisers to become more accessible in a lot of cases, in fact some have for more than 20 years, but simply we are not utilising it – how can we change that in the next 12 months, identifying these quick wins & implementing them is key to us opening up our events to a much broader, more diverse audience.

In summary the goal I have set myself for this year is to not set annual goals which invariably towards the end of January start to fade into the background, but rather to focus on smaller quarterly targets, things that I will commit to and actually complete! With a view that at next years Forum’s when the question gets asked how many people have made changes in the past 12 months, I can raise my hand!!!