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Doris Conference Diaries

July 5, 2016

Doris Conference Diaries:
By Amy Gornall

Those of you out there who have planned a Business Conference before will be smiling slyly to yourselves knowing that it isn’t a straight forward task and will probably snigger at the innocent positivity I show in the early stages of these diaries. Those of you who haven’t planned a conference but have attended one may be wondering ‘how hard can it be’ – my only message to you is that, you’re probably right, it isn’t that hard to plan a conference, but it does take a lot of hard work and collaboration to plan a great conference.

January 28th 2016:

Initial Conference Talks begin:
Pre- conference Diary – I am really looking forward to planning this year’s Doris Conference and as we held it in Manchester last year discussions are edging towards holding it in Liverpool this year.
I’ve been working at Doris for 6 months now and so many new faces have already joined so I’m excited to see how many more we have by the time the conference comes around, its shaping up to be an interesting day already.
The Conference is kind of acting as a bench mark to building up to, what we’re calling, Doris Phase 2. The company is entering into its next phase and there are lots of things which will be changing for the better in the coming months for us to relay to the employees at the Conference in May/ June of this year!

April 14th Research/ Booking Planning Phase:
The booking process was as straight forward as it could have been I think. I’m getting worried that everything is going well but I know that’s just counterproductive so I’ll move on.
I researched places in Manchester and Liverpool to find some suitable venues and then once we had decided on Liverpool we viewed 4 different venues in the city centre. 3 hotels and 1 smaller more quirky venue.

We decided on the Marriott Hotel in Queens square. It is a great location for everyone to access being opposite the train station and included free parking for all guests in the conference package.

Bonus feature – a terrace attached to the large conference room so that we can have a BBQ for lunch and ice cream outside as afternoon refreshment. Weather dependent of course but knowing British summers we’ll all be huddled next to radiators firmly indoors.

 

May 20th Planning Stage – Full Steam Ahead Diary entry:
I spent 2 hours today discussing everything and anything we could possibly do at the conference with Chris. I had around 11 pages of notes, potential activities, games, speakers, agendas and running orders for the day and by the end we were both in need of a choccie biccy or 3.

How will we ever decide and narrow it down? We have enough material for a week.

The next stage is delegating tasks and asking people to create their presentations then bringing together all the slides and planning out the afternoon session which will require a lot of organisation!

June 2nd Relinquishing Control Stage:

Chris has just informed me that I am not allowed to know anything that will be going on in the afternoon session.
I understand that it’s because she wants me to be able to take part in the afternoon session with the rest of the Doris employees but this has been the hardest part of planning the conference so far because I can’t do anything to make sure it’s done and organised. Not that I’m a control freak or anything…
I have no doubts that it will be done or that it will be a really fun activity but it’s the not knowing.


June 10th
– Whose idea was having a conference.
June 15th – The day before – I am tense. I did that thing last night where you keep remembering things to do in the morning. I even started a list on my phone at 1am.
So yes, tense, with excitement definitely but also with anticipation, everyone I’ve spoken to has been super supportive and have assured me that something will go wrong. (Thanks dad.)

Becca is off sick. My work wife has abandoned me in my time of need due to an unruly fish sandwich… Too much information? Ok, moving on. We have a huge recruitment fair going on at Manchester University today which I have left in capable hands so that we can finish off the slides, finalise the transport arrangements for everything we’re taking with us which seems to be the entire content of our office and the kitchen sink.

 

Thursday June 16th 2016: 

The Big Day – A bright and early start for all involved – Doris’ers from all over the North West flocked to the beautiful city that is Liverpool and thankfully no rain macs needed as the unpredictable June clouds have departed.

Chris began the day with an introduction to 2 new members of the Doris HQ Team: Sam Vickerman as Client Manager and Matt Quirk as Junior Client Manager!
She went on to discuss our strategy for the next few years: Doris Phase 2, and the amazing team of people that have worked hard to come up with a model that maintains Doris’s core values while the business expands - Staying Connected and Keeping it Personal.

Kath and Lisa also presented on the delivery side of the organisation and how that is being developed to support our growing workforce. The Doris speakers were followed by 2 fantastic presenters: Tim Franklin on the EU Referendum and Graham Green on The IT Industry and tips on having a successful career!
Top Tip from Graham; ‘Don’t moan.’ Everyone hates a moaner.

The afternoon session – which was a mystery to me – was a huge success. Chris had set up 6 different activity stations and organised us all into teams. We were competing as if we were 6 different projects taking place at the same time in a large organisation - similar to Doris employees day jobs, but the activities consisted of memory tests, Sudoku’s, creative tasks, physical challenges and more. The day was only made better by England winning against Wales in the Euros, but we all know how that turned out.

Finally we wanted to say a huge congratulations to the winning team! Becca, Jess, Chris, Tara, Amy and Aaron were the champions of the day! Very gracious and well deserved winners!

Review –

We are in the process of collecting feedback from the day and already I’m seeing some fantastically positive reviews coming in.
It really was a Doris Day! I feel that we learnt lots and built further on our great sense of community we could all mingle with our counter parts across all of our customers.
What a day. Bring on next year!



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