Russell Bedford members from around the globe gathered in Montreal, Canada for a historic celebration at the 40th Annual Global Conference which took place at the Hotel William Gray, located in the heart of the Old Port of Montreal.
This eagerly anticipated event not only brought Russell Bedford members together for the conventional annual programme, but importantly was filled with celebration as the network marked its 40th year with some extraordinary additions.
The meeting opened with a welcome dinner and the Russell Bedford Awards ceremony, where members had the opportunity to reconnect with friends and colleagues, while greeting new firms to the network.
Russell Bedford CEO, Stephen Hamlet started the business programme with a welcome to all which led nicely into an executive session, hosted by Global Board Director for the EMEA region, Emmanuel Dupeux (Paris). Stephen was joined by Russell Bedford’s Global Chair, Daniel Ryba (Buenos Aires) to discuss the past 12 months, activity and collaboration within the network, and future strategy.
Stephen then led an interview with two of the network’s latest members, from New Zealand and Washington state, USA, with a further one later for the new Miami firm.
Up next, Jeff Cochran (Shapiro Negotiations) took to the stage for a lively discussion on Negotiating with the ‘power of nice’. Jeff brought some fantastic energy to the group, encouraging engagement and interaction among delegates.
After a break, delegates engaged in a speed networking activity focused on crafting and executing an elevator pitch that delivers impact. This highly interactive session provided an excellent opportunity for members to refine their skills while, at the same time, learning about their colleagues.
The afternoon sessions started with an update from the leaders of Russell Bedford’s Centres of Excellence, to address direction, value and engagement.
Workshops concluded the business day with Mentoring young professionals to become marketing & BD rockstars by Debra Andrews (Scrubbed), How to collaborate on international tax filings by Nizam Shajani (Calgary) and How recent sustainability reporting standards will affect you and your SME clients by the network’s Director of Professional Standards, Lina Lemessiou.
Following some downtime, delegates reconvened for the evening programme and an excursion outside of Montreal city to La Cabane à Sucre, Saint Eustache. The evening was a quintessentially Canadian experience, located in a sugar shack/wooden cabin at one of the oldest maple groves in Quebec. Guests were greeted with welcome drinks and dinner and later enjoyed an authentic live music performance, while learning traditional dances under the guidance of the band’s dance caller.
Day two of the conference opened with pre-conference networking followed by a session on Leading from love by Michael Quigley (Kataholos); an important lesson on why qualities such as compassion and empathy are key to successful leadership.
Up next, Leah Donti (Advantage Montreal Seminars) joined to discuss The 13 Financial Shenanigans.
A networking break followed before delegates chose from another selection of workshop sessions, including Top 10 best practices to reduce the risk of fraud by Leah Donti and Employer Branding: talent chooses you by Simone Wesiak (Graz) and Markus Liebeg (Graz).
Sessions recommenced after lunch, firstly with a panel discussion on Ethics and AI, hosted by Stephen Hamlet and including thoughts from Viswanathan Vaidyanathan (Chennai), Mathieu Albert (Beeye) and, as a last-minute replacement, the network’s Events and Member Relations Manager, Kathryn Davis who joined the panel with ChatGPT to assess its thoughts on the subject. This resulted in an interesting discussion on how AI is impacting the business world and the ethical concerns that need to be considered as its use becomes more prevalent.
After the networking break, delegates chose from a selection of workshops including The 5 types of motivation: from an infrequent feeling to a repeatable process by Michael Quigley, How to make your firm more visible: strategies, tips & techniques by Lee Frederiksen (Hinge Marketing) and a repeat of the Employer branding session by Simone and Markus.
In the evening, delegates had some free time to enjoy the city, with the option to join their colleagues in smaller groups at selected local restaurants.
The final day of the conference began with opening remarks from Stephen Hamlet. Lee Frederiksen then led an informative and interesting session on The Visible Firm: how to prosper in today’s marketplace.
Lina Lemessiou joined next with an update on Taking our Annual Quality Review further, before delegates reconnected over the final networking break of the conference.
Looking ahead to the location for the Annual Global Conference 2024, Roger Maciel de Oliveira, partner at Russell Bedford Brasil, joined to share An Introduction to Rio de Janeiro, in anticipation of next year’s event.
To conclude the daytime programme, a feedback session was held where the Global Board addressed various comments and questions from delegates, leading to the Annual General Meeting to close the business programme.
Delegates had the afternoon free to explore Montreal and enjoy its many sights and cultural offerings.
In the evening, delegates and their guests rejoined for the fabulous Gala Dinner at Cirque Éloize. The occasion was a wonderful night of celebration with the Russell Bedford Board of Directors making a stunning entrance, welcoming guests to this very special event.
During the evening, Russell Bedford acknowledged Global Board Director for the EMEA region, Laurence Newman, as he stepped down after nine years. Laurence was recognised for his dedicated service, with a moving video that captured some of his best moments with Russell Bedford over the years. Both Daniel Ryba and Stephen Hamlet offered heartfelt words of thanks to Laurence on his invaluable contribution and dedication to the network.
Guests were amazed by the incredible spectacle of the evening which included world class performances, as acrobats and dancers took to the skies in this unique and immersive venue. Later, guests danced the night away to live music performed by a three-piece eclectic rock band and a subsequent DJ set, to conclude a truly magical and memorable evening for everyone.
Speaking about the 40th Annual Global Conference, Russell Bedford Chair, Daniel Ryba said: "This has been an unforgettable conference. I feel very proud to represent Russell Bedford as Chair, particularly at this significant moment in our history on our 40th anniversary, as we celebrate the incredible advances of our global network over the past years.”
He added: "A highlight of Russell Bedford’s annual programme of events, for me the Annual Global Conference is particularly special in bringing together colleagues from all regions and I have very much enjoyed my time reconnecting with people from all over the world. This year’s programme was incredibly diverse in content, and I am certain that our delegates have left with some excellent takeaways from the sessions and conversations. I thank all my colleagues for their contribution to such a brilliant event and look forward to doing it again next year.”
CEO, Stephen Hamlet, added: "It has been my immense pleasure to be in Montreal to celebrate Russell Bedford’s 40th Annual Global Conference. Our programme this year was outstanding. We had some fantastic speakers sharing insights on important topics such as negotiation, leadership, sustainability, technology, business development and much more. As always, I very much enjoyed my time conversing with colleagues and hearing about their business journeys. The social programme was top class and very fitting as this conference was filled with celebration in commemoration of our 40th year. Our guests enjoyed some truly unique experiences, including an unforgettable finale at the Gala Dinner!”
He concluded: "Our hosts from FBL, Marcel and Mylène, went over and above in supporting us through the planning of this event and welcoming us all to their beautiful city; and for that we thank them. And of course, I must thank my team for their continued dedication and support in bringing this event to fruition. Lastly, a huge thank you to all those who attended this celebratory event; your participation makes our events so special, and I am most grateful to you for always showing up with great energy and enthusiasm.”