Gemma Greaves opened the conference saying that the aim of the day was to inspire us and arm us with practical tools to take back into the workplace and that “moments of bravery” matter. There was a stellar line-up of speakers from surgeons, racing drivers, management scholars, DJs, activists and marketers; who talked about their definitions of brave, which varied hugely from person to person, and not one of them thought that they were being brave at the time.
The event was brilliantly hosted by Sophie Morgan and the opening address was given by Dan Cable, Professor of Organisational Behaviour London Business School. He encouraged us all “to bring our best and bravest selves to work every day” , and that we have to “feel inspired to inspire others” and as leaders we need to emphasize people's unique strengths and perspectives. Next up were Tesco's Chairman John Allan CBE and Elizabeth Varley, CEO of TechHub. John was very clear in that it is marketing’s role to challenge the status quo and drive change through organisations and he stressed the need to establish a culture in which it is okay to fail. Elizabeth’s session resonated strongly with me as entrepreneurs/starts-ups are a key group for our marketing communication. I loved the idea of TechHubs’ StartUp Funerals, where entrepreneurs talk about, and learn from, what went wrong.
Vicky Gosling OBE, had the enviable role as CEO Invictus Games in 2016 and is now CEO of British Ski and Snowboard. She spoke about her defining moments during her career in the RAF and my key takeaway was her matchstick analogy around the importance of teams - how you can break one matchstick but a few of them tied together become unbreakable.
I had to admire Helen Evans, former head of safeguarding at Oxfam, for her brave decision to go public on the abuse by aid workers. The impact of this decision on her and her family has been considerable, yet even knowing what she knows now, she would do it again.
The interview with David Nott OBE, was my favourite of the day. His stories of working in war zones and disaster areas were both inspiring and terrifying. I am amazed at where he finds his inner bravery to work in those environments, manage the ‘unknowns’ day to day and make enforced decisions. He believes “that we all have it in us to do amazing things”, however I don’t think many of us in the audience would have the courage to do what he does.
Gina Miller is clearly driven by the need to speak up if something is not right, however she does not see this as being brave. After telling us her, sometimes tragic, story since arriving in Eastbourne as a child, she spoke about what she sees as being brave which is “living life without a safety net”.
The day finished fittingly with Billy Monger who, during his interview with Sophie, spoke about his devastating accident in 2017 and how he has with the support of his family and racing team, returned to motor racing. You have to admire his passion for life, and racing, and his desire to keep achieving, in spite of his injuries.
The day was certainly inspiring, full of incredibly brave individuals, and the challenge is now for everyone who attended to work out how they take this back to their day jobs and inspire the teams around them.