Continuous Improvement blogMy First Conference

Can you believe I made it to the ripe old age of 48 without ever attending a conference?  Perhaps I’m wrong but it seems to me that most professional people will have attended at least one or two by this age.  What can I say, I’m a late bloomer!

Well in October this year I broke that dry spell by attending the Lean in Higher Education International Conference 2021; Collaborate, Innovate, Celebrate.  In fairness, it was hosted by my own organisation and I did have some work to do, but I still attended and after some reflection, thought I’d give a little bit of insight to my experience. 

I think it’s probably fair to say that my first conference experience was probably very different than that of most as it was entirely online.  This meant no travel, no jet lag, no hotels, and no claiming expenses for dried out airport sandwiches.  I’ve travelled plenty to know that I wasn’t really missing out on anything special there. Would it be nice to head off to somewhere far flung and new to me? Yes, of course, but attending from home has its benefits too.  I didn’t need to stress about how the family were coping at home without me (I’m sure they would have had a marvellous time), I could more or less keep to my usual exercise routine, and at the end of each day, I was in my own home, and didn’t need to fret about getting to a hotel or which restaurant to head to for dinner (actually the restaurant bit might have been nice instead of having to cook).

To the conference itself, what can I say?  The opportunity to meet people from all over the world who have the same ethos of Continuous Improvement was fantastic.  Hearing them share their stories and learning from their experiences was invaluable, as the saying goes, sharing is caring!  The keynote speakers were all engaging orators whose stories held my attention and left me wanting just the right amount of more. 

Aside from all the professional benefits of attending, who knew there would be entertainment?  A fun quiz, excellent musical entertainment, a meeting hub where we could meet other each other for a social chat, and a wellbeing hub!  The wellbeing hub was packed with interesting videos about Scotland and Glasgow, some exercise and mediation videos, and some fantastic cocktail making demonstrations which inspired me to purchase a cocktail shaker!

To conclude, if you’re reading this and, like me, have never before attended a conference related to your profession, I couldn’t encourage you more! I’ve left the conference with new connections, and with a refreshed vigour to apply the things I’ve learned to my role, and to collaborate, innovate, and celebrate!