Here we all were at last, quite literally back in the room and by a greater force than hypnosis: community. The optimism, broad smiles and conversations were absolutely magical, as Expat Academy members, partners and guests gathered for their first in-person Annual Conference in a very long time. A momentous occasion. Delighted to acquaint, reacquaint, laugh and share, LinkedIn speaks where words fail. Just enter #eabettertogether and the story is told in absolute technicolour, not just by us but by those who came and participated.
And what a turn out there was! More than we had dared hope for, enjoying our decision to be bold, our excuse for togetherness, the winning formula you so love of learning + fun and a cracking agenda.
Introductions from our very own Ant and Dec and their entourage kickstarted proceedings from the main stage. Icebreakers were met with a buzz and familiarity as tables 1-24 marked their oversized maps with places they’d been to and places they’d like to go. A well travelled bunch with a yearning for Madagascar! Next step was a virtual trip Around the World, with insights from GM megastars based in Australia, Singapore, Thailand, the US and the Netherlands. Whilst local nuances and rules are at play, what was more striking was the shared experiences which bind us all, from challenges around flexible work requests and hybrid working models, bans on business travel, a commitment to reuniting families but also a prerequisite sense of humour and taste for Singapore Slings!
Don’t Look Back in Anger followed, a session with performance coach, Annalie Howling, who helped us to reflect on our journey and emotions of the last 18 months with a series of important questions. She talked about the small ways in which we can find positivity and purpose to our day, and how obligation is out and appreciation is in!
After lunch with food to remember, we were back in the room once more for a look at Who do You Think You Are, a session which channelled our thoughts on today’s and tomorrow’s radically changing Global Mobility role. Together and with the expertise of a fine panel of Global Mobility brains, we questioned the trends vs longevity of remote working and pragmatics of virtual assignments, global mobility’s place on the advisory-accountability scale and our ownership of initiatives such as sustainability and DE&I.
Keynote speaker and futurist, Mark Stevenson, had much to say about these priorities too, but less in the context of our day jobs and more about the world we live in, the kind of future we want and how we can try and make it. His address got us think about innovation and the importance of asking the right questions, how we must be bold in our quest for change and then bringing it back to our work, how we are well placed to help take action as natural connectors between family, culture and business.
Recognition awards closed the day, with this year’s Club 100 Key Contributor going to Alexandra Oeda, Pearson; Symposium Key Contributor to Claire Parker, AstraZeneca and Players’ Player to Leane Harding, Deloitte. Congratulations and thank you all for everything you do for the Expat Academy community.
Massive thanks also to all who took to the main stage for this extra special event to share knowledge, to our committed and fun-loving partners for embracing the festival theme, to etc.venues for looking after us so well and to being brave yourselves and joining us! Without a doubt, we’re Better Together.