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Are we navigating turbulent times? You be the judge

Regular conference-goers will know that a mainstay on the corporate bingo card is something like ‘change is the only constant’. It’s an easy thing to say and often it’s met with knowing nods before we get another presentation from a familiar face saying something, well, familiar.

To be honest, I’ve probably said something similar; given the political climate over the past four years, it’s becoming an increasingly ‘go-to’ sentiment. As I’m writing this, I’m sitting in the member lounge of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). On the wall they have a timeline of their history, within which they nod to their 2009 conference where then Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer, said that business could not only survive the global financial crash, but in fact ‘thrive’.

I was working for the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) at that time and must admit we followed a similar track. It was the ‘in thing’ at the time and it helped that ‘survive’ and ‘thrive’ had a ring to it, but it seems we’ve been up against it for a while now. Since then, conferences have recycled ideas around adaptation, evolution, 2020 visions, and more.

That’s the trouble with conference season: everyone is trying to cut through the noise to get your attention. The reality is that a conference which takes a challenging position is more likely to succeed than one which leads with ‘everything is going well, so let’s get together for some talks’.

However, turbulence is defined as ‘an irregular motion of the air’: sometimes you barely feel it, sometimes you’re told to sit down and belt up, but each time the plane will need to adjust to its environment. It’s fair to say that our profession is having to do a fair amount of adjusting based on our current environment.

Last year our Conference looked at how we can reframe the profession and which skills and thinking we require to make that change; this year we’re focussing on the key external issues to which our profession – and others – must respond. Instead of deep diving into a single topic, we’ve picked out four main areas where we believe that we need to upskill, increase our knowledge and respond. These are: climate action, wellbeing, technology, and the changing nature of work.

Each presents different challenges, so we’ve scoured the market to bring you the very best speakers in these fields. An Arctic explorer is far better placed to talk to you about the impact of climate change than someone who spends most of their day in an office. Views on the future of work are plenty, but we’ve brought in the one person that the UK Government commissioned to outline what Good Work looks like. We’re similarly well stocked in the technology and wellbeing departments. Bookending our four trends are world-class speakers to get you fired up with the motivation and spirit to make a difference for your organisation or your community, while also outlining the seemingly chaotic environment we operate in.

The team is really excited to present this programme to you. We hope it provides the insight and inspiration you need. Turbulent times? Sure, but that doesn’t mean we can’t navigate them. Join us on 24 March in central London and get the knowledge you need to sail through.


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