by Carmen Spinoza
Last week was my third time in Louisiana, my second time in New Orleans, and my first time at an IABC World Conference. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but two of my strategic advisors, and IABC UK leaders, Casilda Malagón and Stephen Welch, persuaded me I should go. And, wow, am I glad I did.
I was initially hesitant for two reasons. One: As Communication Director of a global wearable technology company, I’m busy and wasn’t sure I’d get value. And, two: my last trip to New Orleans was … well … let’s draw a veil under that one and move on.
It’s a bit daunting when you are in a conference full of people you hardly know. And when your own personal hashtag (#helpcarmen) is one of the top-mentioned at the conference, you’d better live up to expectations. Everyone was waiting for me when I arrived, and, oh, what a welcome!
IABC is much, much, more than I expected. I was moved by the openness of the attendees and their eagerness to connect with someone as different to them as I was. Around 50 people from all over the world came to my session, all ready to give me career advice and help me resolve key dilemmas to help me become a true business leader. They tell me this willingness to collaborate and connect is what makes IABC different and they were right!
My session, “Corporate Snakes and Career Ladders” has evolved a lot since its first pilot in London (thanks to great feedback form various IABC UK people). Now it is a fully-developed game and workshop to help people in functional roles build teams, resolve dilemmas and think about how they address business and organizational challenges. In New Orleans participants discussed key issues, managed their reputation with stakeholders, and navigated uncertainty and chance via the power of wildcards and random events. Depending on the decisions they made, teams scored some (or a lot) of points. There was a winner, but feedback suggested the value was in the discussions round each table.
I was so pleased with the turnout and with the quality of the discussions. We even trended on “IABCTV”! I got lots of positive feedback (thanks Ben and Ginger, for your tweets!) and, although one person said that it was “hard work”, I took that as a compliment. I guess we put the ‘work’ into ‘workshop’! I did manage to make a word cloud of the rest of the feedback, though.
If you’d like to know more, or would like to hold a workshop for you and your team (especially if you are in the UK), you don't have to do anything. Not a thing. Oh, maybe just email or a tweet. You know how to email, don't you, IABC? You just put your hands together and... type.
Maybe the sequel is Ms Spinoza goes to Washington. #iabc17
P.S. In case you were wondering, my memories of New Orleans are much better now.