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Account Manager Isabelle Walker shares her experience of the IPREX Global Leadership Conference in Paris earlier this year.

In February 2017 I was fortunate enough to visit Paris for the annual IPREX Global Leadership Forum. This is a conference in which future leaders within IPREX firms are invited to discuss the challenges, trajectories and changes in public relations and government relations.

IPREX firm Gootenberg was the host partner, and organised an exceptional three days in one of Europe’s most beautiful cities.

We stayed at the trendy Mama Shelter in the retro 20th Arrondissement. We were treated to exceptional food and wine on the first night of the conference, and I was able to acquaint myself with IPREX partners from all over the world – mostly from Europe and America.

On the second day of the conference was a tasting of French cheese and wine, followed by an indulgent dinner of French food (and more wine) at a local bistro, Café Lumiere.

Meeting people in the same line as work as you, especially when you don’t speak the same language, gives the (perhaps obvious) realisation that the basics of professional communication are the same across cultures.

Those basics are: understanding your client; understanding the client’s needs; understanding your target stakeholders and who you are talking to; and getting your message right for your stakeholders.

The value of the conference was having a fresh, perhaps cultural take on something which is familiar. New ideas for Australian clients came from examples of: American gumption; German creativity; French sophistication; or British ingenuity.

The sharing of ideas and what we saw as the future of the industry, internationally and in our own sphere of influence, was incredibly eye-opening. It made me think of ways to bring this knowledge home, and how it can be applied to Wells Haslem Mayhew and to our clients.

We discussed leadership, and what it means to be a good leader – whether that be at the bottom of your business or at the top. There was an informative session on crisis in the digital age, taken from an American partner whose client had seamlessly managed what could have been a business-ending crisis, but which turned out to actually boost the business’ profile.

We shared creative ideas, tips we use in our everyday lives as consultants, as well as ideas for pitching to new clients and how to win important accounts.

The experience was truly once in a life time, and I was lucky enough to meet some wonderful people and share some extremely fun memories.