The 2018 CIPD Annual Conference & Exhibition, affectionately referred to as CIPD ACE is just around the corner and I couldn’t be more excited about attending for what will be my fifth year in a row, and my first as a member of the Blog Squad.
‘What’s a Blog Squad?’ you might shout. Well calm down, there’s no need to shout, I’ll tell you what a blog squad is. Jeez, some people.
A blog squad is a group of people who blog/vlog/live tweet, share pictures and generally share information about the conference while it’s happening. It helps let people know what’s going on and where, and helps those not at the conference to keep up to speed with the discussion points from the variety of different sessions.
So as I said, I’m really excited about attending this year and I thought I’d put together this article on 5 reasons why I never miss the conference, so here goes.
The Programme Is Immense
This year, there are 38 expert-led conference sessions, 5 dedicated conference streams, and 8 session formats all spread across 2 jam-packed days. It is virtually impossible to create a schedule due to the sheer choice on offer. I’m personally looking forward to catching Perry Timms and Kim Atherton’s session on day one, where they’ll be conducting a sprint session on design thinking and agile working, as well as Dr Mee-Yan Cheung-Judge’s talk on why she believes organisational development is the future of strategic HR (Dr Cheung-Judge was recently given the prestigious honour of being named HR’s Most Influential Thinker 2018). On day 2, I’m very much excited about John Amaechi’s Ace Talk on the ethics of people management.
There is something for everyone, and once again, the CIPD have created a programme that is of outstanding quality.
The Exhibition Hall Is Magnificent…And Free!
The exhibition hall is virtually as good as the conference programme and this year there are over 200 suppliers and 60 free learning sessions out on the exhibition floor. In recent years some of my favourite sessions have been the exhibition floor talks and presentations that I’ve attended randomly, and these sessions have given me real insight that I’ve been able to use and include within my practice.
Many of the suppliers happily give demos of their products and are often not of the ‘pushy-sales’ type so it’s all good. Also, there’s FREE SWAG! so fill those bags!
The Networking Is Invaluable
I’m not exaggerating when I say that I’ve met people at the CIPD conference that have become friends for life. The networking is invaluable and there’s plenty of time and space to do it. You can do as much or as little as you like, and you can end up meeting people in the sessions, in the corridors, in the lunch areas, on the exhibition floor, at the social/fringe events, everywhere. But don’t be put off by this if you aren’t into the whole networking thing. You can keep yourself to yourself and that’s totally fine too. I’m an introvert, and I know how difficult the networking can be, but don’t worry about it. If you are an introvert too, you might find this article helpful.
The Social / Fringe Events Are Always Enjoyable
There’s plenty to do the night before and the night of the Conference. This year, CIPD have arranged a drinks reception taking place on November 7th under the banner of ’embRACE’ which is aimed at creating a space for diverse HR professionals coming together and learning from one another. There’s a discussion about race as part of the proceedings which will undoubtedly prove insightful.
Also, the evening before the conference, CIPD LGBT+ and Friends will be holding a social event with a panel discussion focusing on how to improve diversity in the workplace. In previous years CIPD LGBT+ and Friends fringe events have always been lively and enjoyable.
Both events can be found on Eventbrite and are free to attend.
The Location Is Ideal
Manchester is epic. The conference centre is ideally situated which makes it very easy to access. There are lots of hotels, restaurants, pubs and shops nearby and I often go for a stroll to get some fresh air whilst taking in the magnificent surroundings.
There’s plenty of parking both at and near to the conference centre, and the train station isn’t too far away either.
I love Manchester, and whether it’s blue or red, it turns purple each November when the CIPD are in town.
If you make the conference and you see me, please do say hello. If you aren’t able to make it, please keep an eye on this website and on my twitter feed, along with the other blog squadders as we look to bring you as much info about the conference as we can, and as it happens.
Roll on November!