Carina Bauer

Photo: IMEX Group

(Female) Leadership in a crisis: From the desk of Carina Bauer, CEO IMEX Group.

Building Back Better

Over the past year the only constant has been change and uncertainty. As we look forward to a more positive future, is it realistic to assume that we’ll instantly do things differently…or perhaps even better?

There could hardly have been more commentary in the industry around the assumption “that things won’t just go back to normal”. But what is our new normal and are we, as human beings, truly capable of learning the lessons of the past to build a better future? I’m afraid history isn’t really on our side on this one, so unless we are going to purposefully ‘build back better’, don’t expect it to just happen.

But what is building back better anyway? According to a UK newspaper – the Independent – the phrase was first used by the UN in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and was later formalised when it became a part of the UN’s official reduction framework to help prevent future disasters.

As I write this on World Earth Day I can’t help but think about nature and the way nature has comforted us over the past traumatic year. Would building back better be enough if it was simply creating more sustainable events? Or do we need to be bolder and create regenerative events of the type we championed in our Regenerative Revolution report published last October (2020). This will require a total shift in mindset from trying to do ‘less harm’ to building events that are catalysts for doing ‘more good’. And as we think about ‘more good’ maybe we can even use events to help find a way to solve intractable social problems like homelessness; access to healthcare; inequality and more.

But, when the problems are so big, where do we start?

Perhaps we need to start with ourselves, our organisations and the impact that we have on the people closest to us.

As our industry starts to flicker back to life, we need to be purposeful about the experiences and events that we are creating. Step one is to truly think about the strategic objectives of our event, the needs of our customers and clients – in essence the purpose and value proposition. Only then can we create a compelling, personalised experience that is worth travelling to and spending time away from home to attend.

Secondly, let’s not forget the advances in sustainability practices that we made before COVID-19. Better hygiene practices should not require a leap back to single use plastic and a throw-away culture. We can and should be striving to do better than this as an industry. We recently interviewed Meegan Jones, Sustainability Adviser for the Ocean Race for our podcast – The Talking Point. Her perspective on designing sustainable events in our future world were insightful and give us food for thought on where to focus our efforts post-COVID. Our new Nature of Space report builds on this and explores how to integrate nature and the great outdoors – a salvation for many during the pandemic – into our event experiences to help create connections and better learning environments.

Conversations with Carina - January 2021 Part 1

Suzanne Mulligan, Senior Community Engagement Manager at IMEX Group, sat down with Carina Bauer, CEO of the IMEX Group, to talk through the 12 commitments and what they mean for the team of IMEX, kicking off our monthly Conversations with Carina series.

Finally, building back better surely means building a better and more sustainable working environment for you and your team. Flexible and home working, transparency, trust, agility – these are all essential concepts for the modern company culture. At IMEX, we are working with organisational consultant Jon Barnes, who talks about the ‘rewilding of organisations’ as a way to reduce bureaucracy, allow people to grow through their passions and strengths and improve freedom and responsibility. This has resulted in us becoming more project focused, super transparent, able to move quickly on new ideas and make faster decisions.

All this building back better isn’t easy. There have been plenty of moments of pain and reflection. Plenty of times wishing for the ease of yesteryear. But, being an optimist, I strongly believe that we’ll look back on this period and be thankful for how far we’ve come and how much we’ve been able to learn.

Join us for conversations around Building Back Better and more on the IMEX BuzzHub, open from 12 May to 30 September 2021.

Carina Bauer

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