Association of British Professional Conference Organizers names new chairs

Association of British Professional Conference Organizers names new chairs


ABPCO’s AGM, which took place on Friday, 26 June saw Michael Smith from RenewableUK and Barbara Calderwood from MCI UK step up and begin their two-year tenure as joint chairs of the association.

The online AGM was attended by more than 60 Association of British Professional Conference Organizers (ABPCO) members, who joined to hear details of the association’s recent successes as well as plans for the future.

Incoming chairs Michael Smith and Barbara Calderwood thanked the previous chairs for their achievements before outlining their ambitious roadmap for the coming two years.

Building on the solid work of the previous chairs, the roadmap, once developed with ABPCO’s Executive, will focus on five key pillars and will be phased to address the immediate, mid and longer-term needs of ABPCO’s community.

The short-term focus will be the support of members to ensure business resilience and the changing needs of associations in the light of COVID-19, particularly in the virtual space.

Mid to Longer term the focus will be on:

  • growing the ABPCO membership through a targeted approach to recruitment, particularly among inhouse organizers and sectors not currently represented
  • developing ABPCO’s education portfolio and maximizing accessible e-learning opportunities to support members with skills development
  • enhancing ABPCO’s external voice on behalf of members through thought-leadership and engagement with customers and the industries they represent
  • ensuring the value proposition of ABPCO is better understood
  • building on the value of collaboration through belonging and learning for sustainable, long term growth

Michael Smith commented: “ABPCO continues to be a strong association made up of dedicated professionals who currently face incredible challenges.  I was proud to see so many people join us for the AGM and continue to support us going forward.  Thank you, not just to our outgoing chairs but also to the whole membership for its dedication to professionalism and this wonderful association.”

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Barbara Calderwood concludes: “Unsurprisingly this AGM was set against the backdrop of COVID-19 and how PCOs are pivoting to meet the immediate and longer-term needs of associations for their meetings.  Our role is to support our members be best-in-class and demonstrate the value proposition of ABPCO.”

Outgoing chairs Jo Powel and Kate Sargent discussed their legacy of increased communication and learning opportunities through ABPCO’s new website, improved governance and above all else, the resilience of members throughout the COVID-19 challenges.  They highlighted ABPCO’s sense of belonging and the ability of the members to come together and support each other through what is arguably the most challenging period in the history of the conference and events industry.

The AGM also provided an opportunity for treasurer, Martin Linfield from Hiscox to reflect on ABPCO’s strong financial position, excellent budget management and significant reserves, which once again included an increase in both income and operating surplus.

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