By Alexey Ivanov (Moscow)
This year’s EMEA REGIONAL MEETINGwas in Stockholm, Sweden – rainy, but hospitable capital of Scandinavia. It’s the first time I took part in a BKR conference, and I planned my visit with great interest.
Conference participants, along with myself, started to arrive on Friday, May 15 at the Radisson Blu Waterfront Hotel which is located in the heart of the city near Riddarfjärden Bay, where the Baltic Sea and Lake Mälaren meet.
Staying at the hotel, I had some time to appreciate the beauty of the capital of Sweden. Stockholm left unforgettable impressions. Especially I enjoyed the old city in Gamla stan, the Stockholm royal palace, Gothic churches, green parks, the City Hall, the Wasa museum and Skansen.
On Saturday, May 16 early in the morning, the Conference Hall of Radisson Blu Waterfront Hotel warmly welcomed delegates to the EMEA Regional Meeting. I was looking forward to the beginning of the conference, as it promised to be very interesting; both for getting an invaluable experience, and for attracting new business contacts and professional networking.
After the welcome speech by the region’s executive director, Stephen Hamlet (London) and the greeting of our host, Borje Krafft(Stockholm), Nilesh Shah (London) presented his EMEA Chairman’s Report followed by the Annual General Meeting.
It was fascinating to learn that the BKR International association is so large, geographically, and that it is constantly expanding, incorporating more and more new members. The geographical reach of BKR was also supported by the regional reports of Stephen Roger (Sydney) for Asia Pacific and Jason Tonjes (Omaha) for the Americas region. The impressive statistical analysis, presented by Les Nutter (Manchester) also confirmed this, along with ambitious plans for the future, testifying to the long-term development of BKR.
Before lunch I, together with all other delegates, were treated to a fascinating performance by Pelle Tornell concerning The Art and Science of Decision Making. I am sure that everybody would agree this was the high point of the Saturday business program. Skills, elegance and humour of Mr Tornell gained the audience’s attention throughout. The knowledge gained will be very useful and effective, both in my professional communication, and in life in general.
In the second half of the day, breakout sessions took place where participants discussed Value Pricing and related issues, and also gave their suggestions concerning more effective ways of use of the membership in BKR. These were very helpful and necessary discussions. It was very important to me to hear the opinions of colleagues concerning ways of mutual cooperation within the BKR association. I also could share my professional experience in the issue of pricing and express the vision of questions of interaction and professional communication with members of the association.
In the evening, the Gala dinner at OperaKallaren welcomed us all. It was a magnificent evening, with tasty food, pleasant communication and lively dancing. Despite more informal conversation, we constantly revisited issues tackled at the sessions of the conference. We discussed matters of audit, accounting, and actual issues of work at our companies. It was very interesting to learn about specifics of work in various countries and for me to share features of business in Russia.
Nilesh Shah made a presentation to Stephen Hamlet, thanking him for all his work over the past five and a half years.
The next day, on Sunday, we all went together on a sightseeing tour. The rainy weather didn’t deter us and, on the contrary, drew all conferees together.
After lunch onboard cruise MS Waxholm III, we arrived at Drottningholm Palace which is the main residence of the Swedish royal family. The palace made a great impression on me, as well as the theater of the palace, from which we were told a story by an actor of the theater including details as to how it had maintained its internal interior up to the current day. By the end of the excursion, the rain had already stopped, and everybody was left with most outstanding impressions of Stockholm.
We had dinner at Restaurant Solliden whose windows give a fascinating panoramic view over Stockholm.
Before my trip and experience of my first BKR EMEA regional meeting, I was concerned a little as to how other delegates would treat me, concerning the situation around Russia. However, after the conference I understood that all my fears were in vain. I felt among friends!
On Monday, May 18, the business program continued with a summary of discussions from the breakout sessions held on the Saturday afternoon, followed by a video of the recipient of this year’s scholarship award. Howard Rosen (St. Louis) then presented his Worldwide chairman’s report. Two external presentations followed – Nils Lundgren presented on the economy and Dan Brannstrom (Secretary General of the Swedish Institute) discussed the future of the accountancy profession. Jean-Francois Vanspitael (Liege) presented his firm Rewise, as a New Member Presentation, and Wolfgang Dibiasi and Jacqueline Wolfovski introduced upcoming meetings in Vienna (EMEA 2016) and Paris (Worldwide 2015), respectively.
The farewell lunch took place at the elegant restaurant in the Radisson Blu Waterfront Hotel. The participants of the conference could enjoy once again communication with each other, promising to meet at the next meeting of BKR.
For me it was an unforgettable and very useful trip where I gained a lot of professional experience. Unfortunately, I will not be able to apply all of the gained knowledge in practice, as Russia has its own special features of business dealing. Nevertheless, those new business contacts that I made will certainly help me in my work. Such meetings unite members and allow us to know each other better. I would like to thank the hosts of the conference in Stockholm and all those involved in the arrangements. I look forward to upcoming meetings.