AIST executive manager, business operations, and company secretary Maryann Mannix-White gives the lowdown on just what it takes to put a top-quality conference together.
IM: When creating the content, was there an overarching theme?
MM-W: AIST doesn’t like to lock itself into a theme for the Conference of Major Superannuation Funds. It’s more important to address the key issues and challenges in front of funds and provide both fund staff and trustees with more knowledge and fresh insights to help them tackle these issues. There was a time when CMSF had a theme and you would end up asking yourself, ‘How does this session fit into the theme?’ Also, having been involved in conferences and business meetings for associations for the better part of 25-plus years, I think the role of an industry association is to understand its members’ issues and pain points and to be committed to helping them manage through these issues.
How did the agenda evolve to suit this approach?
When we sat down to discuss the content for CMSF 2017, we wanted to place emphasis on the plenary sessions about the industry, the forums about fund matters and the concurrent sessions developing the skills of the individuals within the funds.
How did you weave the various parts of industry and speakers together?
Consultation, investigation and stalking potential speakers. It’s a matter of understanding what the funds are grappling with by talking with our members about a wide range of subject matter. At AIST, we believe a blend of external speakers and industry experts brings a balanced and usable perspective to building on the existing knowledge of delegates.
Does each new event offer new opportunities to build on a theme, in terms of technology, etc?
Every event has its own DNA and brings about different opportunities and challenges. We are always looking at new technology solutions to add value to the experience of delegates, but we shy away from gimmicks. The technology has to be fit for purpose and user-friendly.
What do you hope attendees are thinking about on their flights home after the event?
We hope delegates leave CMSF inspired, with fresh ideas and knowledge they can use in their role. What makes CMSF unique is its emphasis on the profit-to-member collective, so we also hope delegates come away feeling proud and enthused to be part of the profit-to-member sector and to be in a job that makes a real difference to the retirement outcomes of working Australians.
To read the other stories from our newsletter ahead of the opening of CMSF 2017, click here.