Open-access content 7th January 2013
8 January 2013
Wednesday 31 October was the first official day of IFMA's World Workplace conference, and it was opened by a passionate speech from IFMA chair Marc Liciardello.
Everyone was then 'piped' into the exhibition space by a bagpipe player. I'm more used to seeing a haggis piped in at Burns Night, so this was something of a novelty.
The exhibition itself is on a par with our own Facilities Show in terms of size, but the difference is in the type of companies exhibiting: many more FM companies were in attendance, and there were impressive stands from ISS, Aramark and Emcor.
I headed over to the press centre to hear the announcement of the winners of the GlobalFM awards. It was the third year of the awards and the two BIFM entries won joint platinum. Huge congratulations to Serco (for their work at Forth Valley Hospital) and KPMG, it was an honour to receive both awards on their behalf, and I smiled all the way back to the hotel room but was thankful for my extra baggage allowance - those awards were heavy
In the evening it was the opening night party and as it was Halloween it was a fancy dress, there were a number of requests made of the costumes such as no weapons or full masks. I decided to go dressed as BIFM chairman; my excuse is that I didn't realise it was fancy dress until I was on the plane reading all the paperwork
The presentation side of the conference started on the Thursday, and they get in early in the USA; sessions started at 8:00am, and the first one I attended was the GlobalFM workshop.
There was so much choice for the rest of the day that it was slightly overwhelming with nine different theatres running sessions. I chose to hit the exhibition hall again, because with it closing at 2:00pm I wanted to make the most of the time, networking with colleagues and spreading word of the good work the BIFM is engaged with.
On the event's final day, and with the exhibition hall having closed the day before, it was just a half-day programme of presentations to keep us entertained. I made it to the RICS Strategic FM paper launch and I really enjoyed hearing from some of the people who submitted information for it.
After that it was time for the award luncheon with another award celebration in the evening, the lunch was in the grand ballroom and after the awards Frank Abagnale gave a speech about his life. For those unaware, Abagnale is the teenage con artist who was played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the film Catch me If You Can. Frank told us his version of his life story, finishing with the message that the best thing in life a man can be is a father. At this point there wasn't a dry eye in the house; Frank's regret at his actions in his youth and the salvation his wife and family provided him had us all tearing up.
After the lunch, there was just one more event left. At the black tie awards dinner, the awards presented here are both internally and educationally focused, celebrating the association's volunteers, chapters (like our regions) and students. With my dress on I headed down to the cocktail reception and was scoped up by Teena Shouse, chairman of GlobalFM, who was my date for the night and looked after me wonderfully. Events like this, where there are a thousand people and you don't really know any of them can be very daunting so having Teena by my side made it much easier.
The evening was good fun and very relaxed, a grand way to end a monumental week. All that was left for me was to jump on the plane home and rest - until next year's event in Philadelphia