New learning formats, thought-provoking keynotes, and a pledge for change.
PCMA entered the Asia market two years ago (following the 2017 acquisition of ICESAP) and it seems the organisation has finally found its feet — having recently delivered its second Asia Pacific Annual Conference in Macau with ‘mind shifting’ content, and positive reviews from attendees.
Expanding on the ‘Disrupt and Deliver’ theme of its flagship Convening Leaders event in Pittsburgh earlier this year, PCMA leveraged its APAC conference as an opportunity to disrupt the standardised conference format — injecting new, more personalised ways to engage, network and learn.
Held at The Parisian Macao from 7 to 8 November, the main plenary room was cleverly designed around a central catering/networking area (food is so often the centre of conversation in many Asian cultures), while plants were strategically placed to create private nooks for delegates who preferred discreet conversations or some quiet time to manage calls and emails.
Adjacent to the main stage, an informal learning hub (above) provided a space for delegates interact with speakers, while extended morning and afternoon breaks allowed for quality networking.
Refreshed approach to learning
For better knowledge retention, delegates were encouraged to follow a three-step ‘learn and apply’ process throughout the two-day conference by (1) thinking about their day-to-day challenges, (2) focusing on key points from education sessions, and (3) reflecting on how they can apply change when they return to office.
Attendees were also invited to join the #ItStartsWithMe Pledge to take actions towards creating a better future.
Evelyn B. Balmeo-Salire, secretary general of the Philippine Retailers Association (main), said the pledge wall provided a rare channel for her to express her own opinions, independent of her organisation, during the event.
A supporter of PCMA’s education programmes, Balmeo-Salire pledged to help her members succeed by encouraging them to think and act differently to their competitors.
To inspire change, keynote speaker Noeleen Heyzer (above) shared experiences from her tenure as under-secretary-general for The United Nations.
Heyzer said social sustainability, social inclusiveness and social resilience must form part of the “new script” for future development.
“The 2030 sustainable development agenda must focus on people, planet, partnership, prosperity and peace. Regional cooperation must share prosperity and vulnerability for a successful future,” She said.
Creativity expert, Fredrik Haren, proved popular among attendees — largely thanks to an acute sense of humour. To embrace creativity with both hands, Haren advice is “to combine seemingly unconnected things”.
“Anything that puts unconnected things in front of you is good,” he said. “Like travel, going to industry conferences that are not about your industry, meeting with people from other industries.”
While the conference was considered a success by the majority of attendees, some non-English speaking delegates told Biz Events Asia that language translation was an issue — but one that improved technology and stronger conference budgets can resolve.
Any update on PCMA’s Agency Accreditation programme?
Since taking the reins in June last year, PCMA’s APAC regional business director, Antonio Codinach, told Biz Events Asia that the organisation is looking to “rebrand” its accreditation programme and is working to regain the trust of the programme’s founding partners through one-on-one conversations.
Further engagement sessions about the programme will be held at Convening Leaders in San Francisco in January 2020 and at AIME in Melbourne in February. Feedback from these conversations will be shared with the organisation’s advisory board, who will help to validate next steps.
It’s not all talk and no action under Codinach’s leadership. This year, the PCMA APAC team activated several ‘Knowledge Exchange’ sessions across 14 cities in Asia, and established education-based partnerships with tradeshows like AIME and ITB Asia in Singapore to better understand the regional community.
In addition, the PCMA APAC advisory board recently held a strategy session in Singapore to generate plans that are tailored to the needs of this region’s event professionals.
With a vision to become the key content platform for the Asia-Pacific region, PCMA’s testing of new content assets in 2019 may have set the organisation on a path to success — or at the very least, created a stronger brand presence. Onward and upward for 2020!