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IRMS Conference 2016 – My Spider-Sense is tingling

IRMS pic“Holy Conference aftermath Batman! What are we going to do now?” – A week on from the 2016 IRMS Conference and this is the question occupying my thoughts.

We were back to Brighton this year, after 2015’s sojourn in South Wales, and the sun shone for us through what was a terrific conference. This year’s theme of Information Superheroes was an inspired choice, and one that was warmly embraced by many, speakers and delegates alike. I certainly wasn’t expecting to look up from the buffet cart to find Mr Spock staring back at me, or retreating from a handshake with Batman’s nemesis, the Joker, to find a pair of IRMS cufflinks in my palm. At times it felt more like Comic Con than IRMS16.

It wasn’t all fun and japes though as we bid farewell to Scott Sammons as the IRMS Treasurer and to Meic Pierce Owen as Chair after two good years at the helm. But on the flipside Scott is not going far, as he was hailed in as the new IRMS Chair. Those that saw Scott’s talk on Data Guardians of the Galaxy will be looking forward to hearing more of his ideas (and his soundtrack) as Chair. While we’re on the subject of new roles, here’s a big shout out to Ren Leming who took over as Conference Director this year, Ren, it felt like you’d been doing it for years, well done to you and everyone else at the IRMS.

My highlights, in no particular order, were:

Paul Duller’s imaginative talk; How do you become an Information Superhero? (… lessons learnt from 80 years of comic books and films). We already knew Paul was a Dr, an expert witness, and an expert in the world of oil and gas, but what most of us probably didn’t know until last week was that he is also a flourishing film director and quiz show host. Paul’s talk was not only fun but really got to the beating superhero heart of this year’s theme, underlining how info pros in all sectors champion the values of our superhero idles in their everyday working lives.

Another winner for me was Alison Marshall, who’s Keynote on Tuesday painted a picture of the information management environment in Jersey. In her on-the-nose tour of how to do it right, and how to do it oh-so-wrong, I was left thinking, ‘who knew there were so many flooded records stores?’

I also greatly enjoyed listening to Lesley Holmes and Bilal Ghafoor deliver provocative and interactive talks as part of the Job Market and Recruitment Café on Tuesday. Lesley eloquently pinpointed some interesting recruitment trends that I’ve been noticing in recent months and Bilal weighed in with some great advice (and terrific anecdotes) on how to approach your job hunt, from start to finish.

That was by no means the end of the great speakers, but I’m sure everyone will appreciate the need to leave some space for our excellent after dinner speaker following Monday’s Gala Dinner. He started out in life as a coal-miner, then entertained us all as King Richard IV, Prince Vultan and Grampy Rabbit, and then reached new heights by climbing Mount Everest (three times) and has his gaze firmly fixed on outer space. He was of course, the one and only …

… Brian Blessed. And what a show he gave us. But between the laughs and the incredible acting snippets, Brian’s great success on Monday night was to remind us again of our conference theme. Brian is a force of nature, someone who won’t be told something can’t be done, and for this he should be a role model for us all. Throughout the conference many people spoke of the resilience of superheroes.  Well, superheroes are not the only ones who must show resolve in the face of adversity.

So from me, thank you Brian, thank you IRMS and thank you to all those who attended and shared their ideas, questions, opinions and experiences! My only reservation, not nearly enough Bonnie Tyler references? I’m off to look for the street-wise Hercules.

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