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22.05.2013
EMEA Regional Meeting, Bucharest, Romania: May 10-13, 2013
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  By Alberto Riccardi(Johannesburg)

 

The Radisson Blu Hotel in Bucharest, situated on Celea Victoriei, the most prominent, oldest and arguably the most charming street in Bucharest was the venue for BKR International’s EMEA Regional Meeting. The annual EMEA conference was hosted by Iulia Lascau and her colleagues from Euroglobal and organised by the EMEA Executive Director, Stephen Hamlet, with the assistance of Kate Hodgson.
On Friday 10th May, whilst the EMEA board of directors strategized on the running of the group and the high demands of its 62 member firms situated in 46 countries within Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the non-board members were entertained by various Bucharest sites such as the ‘Hop on Hop Off City Tour’, the Casa Poporului (The Palace of the People) – the second largest building in the world after the Pentagon in the United States,
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football-aspxand the local Bucharest football derby game featuring Dinamo Bucharest against the Romanian league winners Steaua Bucharest.

Stephen Hamlet (London) welcomed all the members to the famous motherland of Dracula on Saturday, while Iulia Lascau (Bucharest) highlighted the objectives of the EMEA conference being the acknowledgement of Romania as a business partner, the growth potential of Romania within BKR and the furthering of the soft skills that is a necessity for the growth of all the respective members’ businesses.

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Our EMEA chairman, Lourens Oosthuizen (Cape Town) elegantly proceeded with the formalities including the presentation of the chairman and treasurer reports and the approval of the annual general meeting.
Following the initiative established last year, the region once again presented scholarship awards, this time to 2 local accounting trainees who have shown commitment in their studies and towards their company. These awards were presented to Alin Stan and Roxana Niculai to a rapturous applause. (see ARTICLE)
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Not to be outdone, while the accountants, tax advisors and auditors were busy at the conference, the companions were spoilt with a bus tour to Snagov Lake and Forests. The Snagov Monastery is a well-known religious site as it is believed to be the burial site of Dracula.

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The respective regional chairs from the America’s, Howard Rosen (St. Louis) and from Asia Pacific, Peter Chong (Kuala Lumpur) reflected on the regional statistics before the Italian worldwide chair, Angelo Colombo (Milan) summarised the global position of BKR and how the association stood in a strong position with recently recruited firms pushing the worldwide membership over 150 member firms.

break-outGordon Gilchrist introduced a very tender topic of succession planning. Gordon shared various experiences he had encountered as the marketing director of 2020 group. It became clear at the breakout sessions, that succession planning is something that is being dealt with differently in various firms that are, at least, dealing with the dilemma. Various succession planning strategies were discussed, included a formal written strategy of succession planning, to the children of each partner training at a big 4 firm, before being drafted into the practice as successors to their fathers, to the command of the wife demanding that the “husband dies at the offices as there is no place for him at home”.

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The ever popular statistician from Manchester, Les Nutterensured that the statistics collated and distributed were translated into interesting strategic moves for all firms. Les also introduced an interesting book called “101 Jokes on Accountants” which resulted in numerous photo opportunities with the book being displayed in Cassons offices.

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The enchanting Bragadiru Palace was set for the gala dinner on the Saturday night. The evening featured not only the best in Romanian cuisine and Romanian “beat” dancing,

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but various Irish dances (in preparation for the worldwide meeting) where 2 of Iulia’s daughters participated.

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It was also during the gala dinner that Imad Abou Nasr (Iraq and Lebanon) was presented with his new member’s certificate for his practice in Erbil, Kurdistan.

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On Sunday, after a long awaited trip, we were treated to Brasov;

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as well as Vlad the Impaler’s castle. Vlad is better known as the inspiration for Irish author Bram Stoker’s character Dracula in his 1897 novel.

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For most of us, the trip through the Carpathian Mountains to the heart of Transylvania was the culmination of a successful Romanian conference. The vast arable land, the scenic mountain villages and rich resources, as were evident on the trip, were reiterated the following day by the Deputy Director of the Institute of Economy, Professor Dr. Constantin Ciutacu and Iulia Lascauthat Romania had grown from an economy of 15 billion Euros in 2007, when it joined the European Union, to 130 billion Euros in 2012.

We arrived back at the hotel in time for a fabulous buffet by the pool area where we could drink and dine amongst friends.

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The Monday morning business session commenced with a greeting from Chris Damianou of Euroglobal (Cyprus).

The welcoming of three new EMEA member firms were introduced to BKR including Anja Wieland from Audina Treuhand AG in Liechtenstein; Rene Van den Outenaar from Molade Trust in the Netherlands and Paul Kaiser (accompanied at the conference by Michael Morris) from UNW in Newcastle, UK. This emphasised the success of the BKR goals to expand our presence of member firms globally by recruiting top quality firms.

Interesting topics such as the Art of Networking from Itzik Amiel and the ‘Soft side of the hard bottom line’ by Andrew Thorp ensured that we were left with a lot of food for thought and how the softer side of our skills had to be developed in order to succeed in a changing world.

Geoffrey Lewis (Dublin) provided us with a taste of what to expect in the Dublin Worldwide Conference in October, while a video presentation on Istanbul provided by Hakan Sahin(Istanbul), indicated the prospects for the next EMEA conference in May 2014, being jointly held with the Asia Pacific region.

The meeting and conference closed with Lourens Oosthuizen thanking, on behalf of all the members, the energy provided by Iulia Lascau and Dana Sotir as well as the attention to detail provided by Stephen Hamlet and Kate Hodgson in executing another successful EMEA conference.

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Presentations from the Business Sessions can be found in the Members Area at: HERE

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