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IHEEM Conference 2021: a successful return to in-person events?

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Article posted by Paul Harker

​For the first time since 2019, the IHEEM conference took place at the Manchester Central Convention Complex in October. With five days of online seminars with top guest speakers and two days of in-person exhibition, it was a brave new hybrid format approach. We attended the two-day exhibition and it was great to catch up with some new and familiar faces, not to mention just the excitement of finally being at a real live event.

The IHEEM seem to have done a lot of research in advance and based the event on feedback from people and what they wanted, but in reality, was it a success? With NHS Trusts still advising staff not to mix at large events, the conference was noticeably quieter than previous years. There were a few empty stalls, and with footfall down, it begs the question of how vendors found the event. Was it a good investment and did they see the return on investment they hoped for, and if not, will they bother to attend in the future? Perhaps it was a case of quality over quantity: those people who attended the exhibition really wanted to do so, rather than simply being there because it was the only option open to them.

But presenting people with an online format for all of the guest speakers certainly made the event more accessible than it has been in the past to a wider audience, and that can only be a good thing. Those who might have been put off attending in the past due to the distance of the event or cost (and having to fund the expense of travel and stayovers themselves), had the opportunity to dip in and out of the guest speakers from the luxury of their home or office.

And with some highly important and timely topics covered, such as the focus on sustainability and ensuring our hospitals are fit for the future, it was important that as many people as possible could access the speakers.

So was this year seen as a successful conference?

Based on our own personal experience of the event, we found that there was a general feeling from everyone of just being happy to see each other again, to be in each other’s company and it not be over a screen! Finally a chance to be face-to-face and have some quality conversations. While there seemed to be a little less buzz about the event than usual, the conversations were better and more productive. We were certainly able to have more one-on-one chats with people than before.

A great time for recruitment and moving roles

The good news is that the conversations we had with clients and candidates during the conference were all incredibly positive. With the government having released more money to Trusts, everyone is investing in recruitment and starting projects. With a March deadline to have spent their budgets, there is a willingness to use the money before it is lost. The great news for capital projects candidates out there looking for a new job is there are lots of roles available at the moment and we’re really busy across all of our service lines, especially at the middle management level.

What did you think?

So what did you think of this year’s event and do you have any ideas for next year? Did you attend as a delegate, were you a guest speaker, or were you a vendor with a stall? We’re keen to hear your thoughts on how you found the hybrid conference. With an uncertain future ahead of us, how would you like to see the event evolve for next year?

Get in touch with us to let us know what you thought!

If you are a capital projects professional looking for your next role, we are incredibly busy right now and can help you find your ideal role. Get in touch for a confidential chat today!

​​Article written by Paul Harker, Principal Consultant- NHS & Not For Profit.