In November 2016, employees of Wise Investment gathered alongside over 600 delegates for the Employee Ownership Associations Annual Conference at the Birmingham Hilton Metropole near the NEC. With a wide variety of workshops, lectures and seminars across two days, the event allowed everyone from veteran members of staff to those newer to the company to fully embrace what it is to be a member of the EOA.
The first day began with a choice of presentations, conducted by the winners of 2015’s Employee Ownership Awards, followed by the Annual General Meeting. In the evening delegates were invited to a Gala Dinner and the second Annual Employee Ownership Awards Ceremony, hosted by BBC World News’ Martine Coxall. Dressed to the nines in our black tie attire, the Wise investment team were delighted to congratulate our Administration Manager, Kerri, on receiving Highly Commended in the Employee Owner of the Year category – an award which “celebrates an individual who has done the most to promote and develop employee ownership inside an employee owned organisation”. The panel admitted that this was the hardest category to judge, so we were all thrilled to see Kerri take to the stage to collect her trophy!
After an evening of delicious food, excellent company, and a fair amount of celebrating it was time for the real work to resume. Day two began with a Welcome speech from Deb Oxley, Chief Executive of the EOA and John Eckersley from Capital for Colleagues (this year’s conference sponsor). This was followed by the first round of breakout sessions. Following a year of growth within Wise Investment, it was not surprising that many of our newer team members chose to attend the session “What is Employee Ownership”. This gave a broad overview about what it means to a business and its staff to be an Employee Owner, demonstrating the business models adopted by the three speakers, who each brought knowledge from different sectors. Other delegates attended workshops on the Strategic Impact of Employee Ownership and the Roles of Leaders in EO businesses to name but a few. Wise Investment’s CEO, Alex Rae, also held a seminar about the obligation, rights and responsibilities of becoming an effective owner as well as an employee, where she shared the story of Wise’s journey into Employee Ownership.
The second session included options such as masterclasses in Media Communication, Employee Engagement and Becoming an Employee Owner, this was followed by an entertaining Keynote Speech by Jack Stack, the author of The Great Game of Business and founder, president and CEO of SRC holdings Corporation.
After lunch, the final sessions included a follow up session on The Great Game with Jack Stack, Developing the Employee Ownership model and an interactive workshop entitled Employee Engagement hosted by J Gadd Associates. This required delegates to discuss with employees from other EO and prospective EO companies about their ideas and experiences, giving everyone the opportunity to take away inspiration on how to improve their own business in the future.
There was plenty of opportunity for promoting our brand to the Employee Ownership network and to forge business contacts with other employee owned firms across a wide variety of sectors. For the first time this year, Wise Investment had a stand in the main hall, which drew plenty of attention during the breakout sessions – the delegates had perhaps seen our colourful advert in the centre of the conference guide book!
With our logo popping up all over the conference and staff members being singled out in seminars throughout the event, it was fantastic to discover that Wise Investment is now becoming recognised as one of the prominent businesses within the Employee Ownership Sector.
The conference was concluded with a Keynote speech from Isobel Schofield and Andrew Lane of Union Industries, and winners of the award for Innovation of the Year, whose entertaining back and forth about their EO journey, had the auditorium in stitches. An excellent way to end a motivating and inspiring two days.