When I was asked to work with the ACCA, Accountex and Practice Ignition on an “online event to help people during COVID19”, I had no idea it was going to be huge, all I knew was I wanted to do something for our community.
The result was beyond what anyone could have imagined and is a highlight of my year – its only May!
Here’s how it happened…
C is community, and boy didn’t you come through!
For the last year, I have been working with the ACCA and other accounting bodies to create training for their members and students to learn about the future of the finance function and the digital transformation of accounting and finance.
During a regular update with the ACCA’s “Leaders of Tomorrow” programme, where we are delivering our “Digital Finance Lab” workshop to a hand-picked group of employees from some of the best companies in the country, I was asked to join a call to “help curate relevant themes, speakers and content for a day of learning focused on finance team COVID19 priorities”.
I jumped at the chance to help.
Mark Cracknell, our Head of Research, had just completed our own research into the impact of COVID19 on the finance function, and I have regular discussions with CFOs and finance leaders (who want to raise their profile online and publish with us), so between us, we were able to move quickly to draw up a shortlist of themes and speakers.
Our event partners Accountex and the ACCA focused on marketing the event to their huge audiences, whilst Practice Ignition built the online platform, whilst we focused on building a high-quality day of learning for our community.
Within two weeks (one “sprint” in our digital project world), we had gone from introduction to an idea to plan to launch, with a rich mix of amazing speakers – all offered for free.
After inviting our finance community to join us for 21 talks, panel discussions and keynotes on themes from mental health, home working to planning and technology, the response was overwhelming!
By the time our first talk started on the 14th May, we had over 15,000 registrations. Mind-blowing!
As this was a one-off COVID19 event, we wanted to show our support for the NHS, so the Practice Ignition team (well done, Jordan Vickery) added a £10 VIP ticket to the website for access to all the talk videos.
I am proud to see you have raised over £43,000 to date.
So what did I learn from this project…
As an event, it has been great to be involved and it certainly demonstrated to me, some of the “new normal” behaviours we all need to move towards to remain productive during this time.
My top five take away’s are;
- The event team were all busy going into this. We had no plan, but we all wanted the event to be as successful as possible and made moves to support each other and make it work. I recognised this as a “growth mindset” and was essential to project success.
- We got the whole team on to Slack, a collaboration tool, to manage all the communication, actions and links out to various tools to manage the operations. This was done quickly and was essential to keep multiple parties on track.
- Although the event was, on the face of it, an online virtual event, many of the people involved had met in person previously and trusted each other to support and deliver. People and prior relationships were essential to project success.
- Attendees were very happy with the online experience, and despite it being “another Zoom meeting”, the quality learning opportunity from experts – that most people would have to pay a lot of money to hear, at specialist conferences or executive training sessions – was very well received. Well-structured, engaging, online learning is possible – and possibly even better than travel to expensive conferences, although networking and relationship opportunities are lost (see point 3!).
- “C is for Community” is one of my saying, its a bit cheesy, but it could not be truer today. I am sometimes asked if Generation CFO really is a community of finance professionals or just marketing hype; well I am pleased to say I can put that argument to bed now, as not only did the summit demonstrated we are a community, it showed our pioneering spirit too.
Whilst I have seen some networks move events, remaining fixed on current strategies and some refusing to collaborate for the greater good, I believe helping people during the crisis is more important than commercials.
People will remember how you responded during this time, and it’s time to give a bit more to our communities and give before taking. That what we have done, and the results were massive, maybe that’s why Generation CFO community is so successful and we remain the largest group on LinkedIn.
This article was written by Christopher Argent, Founder of GenerationCFO.com
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