Fit for the future? – I’d say so

The wind is never for the sailor
who knows not to what port he is bound.

If the mark of a good conference is that it leaves you thinking about it for days afterwards, with ideas that you are mulling over for your business, then I’d say that made this year’s BMF All-Industry Conference a good conference.

With that many speakers, there was bound to be something of interest to everyone, although, the flipside of that is that there was bound to be something less relevant to some of the delegates.

That probably didn’t matter. What did matter was that it got people talking, discussing, interacting and chatting about topics that they might not have done otherwise.

I’m not going to dissect every presentation here – that I’ll leave for the main report in BMJ next month. But here are a few initial thoughts and observations.

I would never have thought that so many people in this industry would have talked for so long about being healthy (or otherwise) – but the way they all swerved the huge pile of chips in the restaurant in favour of the melon at lunchtime showed just how much attention was paid to Dr Dorian Dugmore’s Wellness presentation.

His supposition that healthy, well people make healthy business decisions and make better businesses struck a chord with a great many of the audience, most of whom – myself included – were only too aware of some less than healthy dietary choices made the evening before.

Although probably not as directly relevant to the majority of the audience, Camelot’s Dianne Thompson was fascinating in describing the fine art of running a monopoly business without making heaps of profit – and being applauded for it. To be honest, though, she won me over the moment she showed the video clip of the Olympic montage – I was grateful the lights had gone down as I was blubbing like a baby!

Michael Portillo’s description of political life in the 1990s and early 2000s was also fascinating to those of us who came of political age in the 1980s – and the very public loss of his Enfield seat to the baby-faced Stephen Twigg in May 2007 seems to have been the making of him. Talk about dust yourself off and start all over again.

I asked him afterwards whether he felt that he had something to live up to when he took over the Kensington and Chelsea seat vacated by the death of the infamous Alan Clark: he fixed me with a rather beady eye and said “I’m not sure I would have wanted to live up to his very particular reputation in quite the same way”.

One of the appealing things about this year’s compere, the rather lovely Ben Shephard, was how interested he was in us all and in the dynamics of the industry. He said he was impressed with the camaraderie and friendliness of everyone, not only to him, but to each other, whether friends, peers or competitors. It’s something, he said, that you don’t find in many other industries.

I think that rather says it all. All industries are alike, but they are alike in their own, completely different, separate ways. They have their own rules, shared histories and idiosyncrasies.

And I for one, after this weekend, am reminded how much I like this one.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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