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Global Conference commentary – building to thrive

Praxity Global Conference

This year’s Praxity Global Conference in Sydney explored tales of the old, news of the new, ways of celebrating diversity plus the distinctive ideas and energy, of those young adults who’ll be shaping the future workforce.

How the future might learn from the past

If age is just a number, it certainly appeared to be a high one, as local Elder Uncle Allen Madden opened proceedings with an emotional welcome that summoned many millennia of Aboriginal tradition – setting the scene for a morning exploring how an organisation’s defining purpose acts as a foundation for thriving in future.

There was much to be learned from the purposeful evolution of Westpac, (200 years and counting), to help us in a business environment where data, disruption and diversity continue to challenge long-standing assumptions and provoke creative thinking. Westpac’s customer-centric approach to business and service development is now taking its banking and financial services business flourishing into a third century. Many will long recall the insight captured in their summary purpose – ‘we are people helping people’.

Brand new brand

As Praxity proudly embarks on its own future journey, incoming Chair Gordon Krater and Executive Director Græme Gordon launched a refreshed purpose for the Praxity Alliance, and the new visual identity we’ll be sporting while we travel.

To assist our Member Firms in finding the best solutions for achieving their clients’ goals through seamless collaboration within Praxity’s global alliance of independent firms.

You can read all about our new purpose and see the associated video here.

The thoughts of Chairman Hilton

Praxity’s outgoing Chair Hilton Saven reflected on the sustained growth that has brought Praxity successfully to its second decade, while emphasising the need to continue to ’up our game’. He explained how the Alliance has been adding even more value for Participants, as well as how the milestone moments of the IAB’s Campaign of the Year award and the availability of the online collaboration platform, Huddle, reflected a renewed focus on enabling Participants to collaborate, communicate and tender collectively for new business more effectively.

Now trending

Social trend-spotter and specialist in demographics, Claire Madden’s engaging exploration of the defining characteristics, challenges and opportunities of working with the Post-Millennials will be long remembered, ­not least for the revelation that ‘Gen-Z’ers require an acronym ‘irl’ to distinguish when something online is ‘in real life’ rather than exists just in a ‘virtual’ world!

Standing up for standing out

Psychologist and leadership Coach, Dr Harold Hillman, shared his incredible personal story and the career journey it inspired. At a time when being homosexual was illegal, he explained how he ‘hid behind a mask’ as a closeted gay in the US Military. His rich learning journey led him to realise that, as organisations, ‘we do a lot to encourage people to fit in, but not a lot to encourage them to standout’. The key message was while we may be diverse, we aren’t always inclusive.

The themes of diversity and inclusion were carried throughout the days – with insights from Praxity ‘firms who are leading the way’ helping address the question about how we can stand out in a profession where our storytelling is often the same. There was some consensus that firms should be painting a vision and allowing their people to be part of the solution. All agreed that change had to occur not only top-down, but also bottom-up – this was the way to approach diversity with authenticity.

If it was agreed that embracing diversity – of thought, culture, experience – plays a part in innovation, then it’s everyone’s job to see how they can adapt or build new tools and processes to amplify the creative thoughts that emerge, embracing the change that it inspires.

We heard a good deal about how the right sort of engagement and embracing a diversity of views –  from teams, clients and firms with novel or innovative ways of working – can drive transformational change.  It was fitting that closing sessions had such insight at their heart. During the last panel session’s lively debate about how changing mindsets might drive the future of the profession, Rick Ellis, CEO of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, explained how 'engaging' and 'embracing' were key to CANNZ’s journey. And Allison Mooney’s energetic closing session made clear how understanding what drives people’s behaviour might lead to more thriving personal and professional lives.

‘Goodbye’s and ‘hello’s

We bid farewell to long-serving Management Board Member Gerhard Meyer, Governing Council Member Loic Wallaert and outgoing Chairman, Hilton Saven. Gordon Krater was elected as Chair for the next three years, Phil Verity was elected as Vice Chair, whilst Bindi Palmer, Kariem Hoosain and Ton Tuinier join the Governing Council.  Ton and Kurt Schwieghart have also been elevated to the Board.

Save the date

We want to thank all the speakers and delegates who helped make Sydney 2018 such a success – for contributing suggestions and ideas and working so energetically and creatively together on exploring how we can build on our collective success, to help Praxity thrive into the future.

Meanwhile planning is already well under way for next year’s gathering in Greece where Praxity’s Global Conference 2019 will be in Athens at Hotel Grande Bretagne, 27–30 October. In closing the conference, Nick Hatzistergos, with his Greek ancestry, and Hervé Helias on behalf of Mazars Greece, encouraged the attendees to attend the 2019 conference, and promised them a rich mixture of culture, cuisine, company and communication. We look forward to welcoming you there.