Member Blog: May 2023 – Matthew Lagden

May 3, 2023

Conference must go on – whatever the challenges

In his latest blog, CEO Matthew Lagden reveals the flurry of behind-the-scenes activity in rearranging this year’s Annual Conference to 3 July

It’s just over a week since the announcement that national rail strikes would take place on 12 May, the original date of our Annual Conference. Not surprisingly, within the hour we were fielding calls from delegates worried about their travel plans and asking if we were still going ahead.

As you can imagine, the news created a tsunami of activity within the ILM team, with everyone pulling together to address the situation with urgency and consider the options available.

By now, you will know that the decision we came to was to postpone the conference to Monday 3 July – just six weeks later than planned.

In reaching this conclusion, we had to consider a number of options.

The first (and overriding) factor was knowing just how important the conference is to members. Last year’s event was our first face-to-face conference in the post-pandemic world, and the feedback was so fantastic it made us even more determined that our 2023 conference would not be derailed – whatever the challenges.

Which led us onto timing…we did consider moving the event to the autumn, but this would have incurred major additional cost and, from a logistical point of view, would have seen us potentially already starting to organise our 2024 conference before the 2023 one had even taken place.

It was also important to consider our Corporate Partners and sponsors – each of whom have worked incredibly hard to bring us insightful, timely and inspiring presentations. Postponing the conference by several months would have undoubtedly impacted on these sessions and created further additional work.

Which left us with one alternative – to consider the very limited number of dates which etc.venues was able to offer us before the summer break.

Some were precluded by virtue of the fact they fell into the school holidays and some by the lack of availability of Board members, Corporate Partners, exhibitors and speakers.

In choosing 3 July, we went for the date which we felt as many of you as possible would be most likely to be able to join us. We know it won’t be perfect for everyone and we also know that being at the start of the working week it will take a little more planning to attend.

With this in mind, we have tweaked the timings for the day – something we hope will help those travelling longer distances.

Registration will still open at 9.15am, allowing those who arrive earlier to enjoy extra networking time, visit the exhibition stands and sample the excellent coffee and pastries; while the main business of the day will now begin at 10.25am.

The programme may be subject to slight further change as we still need to confirm one or two speakers, but I can reassure you that all our sponsor sessions and the awards retain their full slots.

In adjusting the agenda, James Stebbings and I have condensed our opening and closing remarks (no cheering please) to accommodate both the later start and a slightly earlier finish by 4.30pm, which will be followed by the drinks reception.

Throughout this last week our goal, as always, has been to communicate openly and with certainty to members. Re-arranging the conference in just two weeks has been a huge logistical exercise with a myriad of moving parts.

We could not have achieved it without the amazing support of our core team, our Board members, Corporate Partners, sponsors and many others. We thank them for their generosity of time and flexibility.

On a personal note, I want to say how incredibly proud I am of the way the Board and the team responded, literally at a moment’s notice, working incredibly hard to bring this together in the shortest possible time.

And secondly, the sheer volume or calls and emails from members about the conference quite humbled me this week, as it made me realise just how important this event is to all of you, and for that I am grateful.

Now, more than ever, we are looking forward to 3 July and very much hope to see you there. Please don’t forget that if you can’t attend and wish to transfer your ticket to a colleague or ask for a refund, you must email no later than Friday 12 May.

With thanks for your patience and best wishes

Matthew Lagden



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