Ending a year in the hot seat

On June 28th it all finished. The AGM voted in the new board and I relinquished the Chair to Michael Ambjorn who is taking the IABC Region forward for the next twelve months.

But, as luck would have it, I wasn’t even there.  While the Members and guests assembled in the grand setting of the Shell Centre in London I was in the garden of a small manor house in Belgium where I had been assisting at a client’s awayday.  We had arranged a phone bridge so that we diaspora could listen in on proceedings and indeed I was scheduled to say a few words as I handed over to the new board.  But as anyone knows when you are on an important conference call events will conspire to turn a simple task into a comedy of errors.

The first challenge was to find somewhere quiet in a venue where senior executives were doing multi-million euro deals on Blackberrys or celebrating after a hard day’s team-building.  Eventually I settled for the garden – but not too far away so I could still hook up to the venue’s wifi.  Then of course there was the tricky issue of finding power for the laptop to manage the meeting and a phone with enough power to last the hour.  Our lives have become a permanent search for sockets and 5 minutes before we were due to start I was still risking electrocution with extension leads and travel adaptors.

It had been the hottest day of the year – 38 degrees celsius – which made it pretty sticky and I congratulated myself on finding a bit of breeze.  All was fine until 5 minutes into the AGM I could hear thunder and lightning coming down the line from one of the other participants who was just 30 kilometers north of me in Brussels.  Sure enough within minutes the breeze became a buffeting storm as the clouds gathered overhead and the heavens burst on me and my makeshift studio.

So I ended up giving my valedictory words against the background of a howling gale and pierced by steel rods of rain.

It was an inauspicious end to my term in office, but despite the soaking I can look back at the previous 365 days as an enjoyable experience that I would recommend to anyone who wants to get involved in the largest communications trade association in the world.

These have not been the easiest of times for corporate communicators and the membership of the Region did take a battering in 09/10 but I am glad to say that the numbers are recovering once more.  I had the privilege of visiting a number of chapters over the year:

Brussels continues to be strong and very active with a particularly impressive networking platform.What is great is that two members of the Brussels Board are joining the Region’s – Phil Weiss and Gerry Murray.

Slovenia continues to amaze with the large number of interested members who attended my presentation in Ljubljana.

Andrew Morrison has revived the Swiss chapter and Silvia Cambié and I enjoyed their hospitality at a presentation in Zurich.

I also visited Sarjevo – home of our Board Member Agnesa Secerkadic, and most recently presented in Barcelona where a new experimental chapter looks like it could represent Spain in the future.

But the highlights of the year were the EME Leadership Institute in London and – of course – EuroComm 2012 in Turin.

Finally I would like to thank my Board: Clare Woodcraft, Rob Briggs, Gloria Walker, Ilze Raath, Michael Ambjorn and Agnesa Secerkadic, who have made the past year an absolute delight.

Marc Wright