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You live and you learn AIPP


38 | WISH YOU WERE THERE? WORDS | John Howell L


aunching a new event during what is still a very tight time for the industry is a brave


move. The Association of International Property Professionals (AIPP) should be congratulated, not only for doing so but also for running such an interesting conference.


This was a pure conference, not an event combined with an exhibition, and it was aimed at a diffi cult (and, perhaps, fairly small) target audience: those prepared to invest time in thinking about how to improve their businesses. Of course, this shouldn’t be a small group. When times are tough, every company needs to do this, but our industry is not renowned for being forward-looking!


The conference was unusual - and


doubly brave - in running a programme that, for inspiration, mainly looked out to the rest of the world rather than inwards to the leaders in our own industry. Simon Biltcliffe, CEO of specialist print services company Webmart, spoke with equal dollops of humour and passion about his business philosophy and how he managed the phenomenal growth of his company to make it the multi-million


pound business it is today. (See our interview with Simon on pages 20-21.) Jo Fairley (www. greensandblacks. com) spoke about harnessing her passion for chocolate and founding and then growing her ‘kitchen table’ business - Green & Black’s organic chocolate - into another multi-million dollar business. Her secrets? A good idea, passion, hard work and being a control freak. She also talked, frankly, about the issues that arose when selling the business on and losing the element of total control. It is now owned by food giant Kraft, though Karen still has a hands-on role in it. She even gave away free bars of chocolate. With me, that will always get you a mention! When I fi rst saw the programme I wondered whether the AIPP would be able to carry this policy of so many outside speakers off in our strangely conservative industry. I also wondered - rather ungenerously - whether the speakers and audience would, between them, be able to identify the wider lessons to be drawn from the speakers’ personal experience. Well, they could. Everyone I spoke to at the event was full of enthusiasm


AIPP


AIPP - the Associa- tion of International Property Profession- als - is a not-for-profit trade body for people engaged in our world of inter- national property and aiming to improve professional standards in the industry. It was founded in 2006. Both


Alex Evans | former OPP editor


for the mix of content, the calibre of the speakers, the venue and (not to be ignored) the food! Christine Gregory, New Business


Manager for Citadel Trustees, attended as a delegate. “It was brilliant. Very, very good. It was great to meet new people and there were some really interesting presentations. For me, the high spot was Jo Fairley from Green & Black’s”. In addition to these outside sources of ideas and inspiration, there were sessions more directly focused at the industry such as Robin Barrasford (Barrasford and Bird Worldwide - www. bandbw.co.uk) telling a rapt audience how he lost £1 million by trusting too many people and not using lawyers. There was also a panel of experienced property journalists explaining how to get the best editorial coverage for your company or your project. Included towards the end of the event was the presentation of the AIPP Awards 2013.


Memorable | Jo Fairley from Green & Black’s sharing her knowledge


The event ended with a successful ‘speed networking’ event, accompanied by a bottle or three of wine. How do I know it was successful? I came away with two or three new contacts. Guy Tolhurst (www.intelligent- partnership.com), long time board member of AIPP and MD of Intelligent Partnership, was in charge of the AIPP team that put together the conference. What did he think was the highlight of the event? “The contrast between two of our main speakers, Simon


Xavier Wiggins, the proprietor of OPP, and John Howell, OPP’s editorial director, were founder members. To learn more: www.aipp.org.uk.


Biltcliffe and Kevin Green. They were like chalk and cheese. I expected this when I asked them both to speak. I think they highlighted the balance of the conference. Having said that, the real highlight, for me, was Simon Biltcliffe”. What was his biggest challenge in organising it? “It was our inaugural conference, so getting small businesses and AIPP members to commit to a day out of the offi ce and spending some money for something that might have looked, at fi rst sight, to


“Everyone was full of enthusiasm for the mix of content, the calibre of speakers and the venue”


be non-essential was a problem.” Turnout was good for a fi rst event - about 80 delegates. This was, no doubt, assisted by holding the conference immediately prior to the A Place in the Sun Live show (see page 41). Should you attend next year? On the evidence of this event, if you are visiting A Place in the Sun Live and you want some inspiration to help you grow - or control - your business, you should put the date in your diary. Is it worth a separate trip from Manchester? Yes. Australia? No. It’s too small and too short.


Of course, I can’t guarantee that you’ll get any free chocolate!


www.opp-connect.com |MAY 2013


What is the test of a good conference? Enjoying it? Meeting new people? Doing business? Making more money than it cost to be there? Giving you new ideas - perhaps inspiration - that could transform your business? On any of these measures the inaugural AIPP conference, held in London on 10 April 13 was a success.


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