Well, another conference has come to close and we’re all back at work, nose to the grindstone. It was good and it was also busy, some things are a bit of a blur when reflecting on the experience, not least due to the early starts, “the bus leaves at 7.35”, that’s am not pm, probably still ringing in our ears. It wouldn’t surprise me if with Swiss accuracy mixed with a little German efficiency that our host Lukas and his team synced with the Bern Clock’s rooster and lion every hour on the hour!
The aim was to bring people back together and enhance our relationships and so ability to deliver for our clients. As such, a less formal, more casual program than usual was in place. No need for a suit and tie, even for the CFR group photo, a change for the better……. maybe.
We arrived from all over the globe, 60+ people from 31 countries which says a lot for about our motivation to meeting trusted business partners many of whom are more than just that, now being good friends.
Most arrived on the Wednesday evening and a few a day or so beforehand to “settle themselves in” or “due to fight times” but in truth the WhatsApp group pictures of very smiley faces over a table laden with food and beer gave away the real reason, to enjoy themselves that little bit longer!
A trip to the CFR Global Executive Search Switzerland offices for dinner and drinks and an insight to the firm set the tone for the rest of the conference, relaxed, friendly with good food and drinks washed down with some fun.
After sleeping in the “funky” modern styled hotel we met for breakfast, many of us a little foggy of brain. Sooner than expected “the bus leaves at 7.35” rings around and we’re off!
A trip to the mountains and a tour of the Hydro power station KWO Grimselstrom, again the welcome mix of learning and fun.
Back for dinner and drinks to an impressive Bern city centre restaurant and whilst mostly enjoyable there was a tinge of sadness as some of our long serving partners are retiring from our exclusive group. We said a fond and sometimes tearful farewell to David (New Zealand) Christine and Hugo (Belgium). Angus and Victoria (UK) and Jos (Netherlands) and thanked them for their contribution to the progression of CFR, wishing them well in their next journey in life.
6.00am the alarm goes off. Quick check of the time, 7 hours sleep should be good enough for the long day ahead. Breakfast and the reminder “the bus leaves at 7.35” which at this hour of the morning is beginning to grate on my nerves! Nonetheless we’re all onboard and off to the most wonderful venue for a meeting. The mountain Niesen, 2300m high into the Alps with a panoramic view of snow-capped mountains through wall to floor glass. Not so easy to concentrate on the order of business with views like this! Nobody said we’d have to get there on a funicular that’s over 100 years old! Not for the faint hearted but we’d made it!
After a lovey lunch, we finish off the formal business of the conference. The last item on the agenda is a surprise, which partner country will host in 2023? Great news, our newest partners are announced as the host countries, 2023 in the Netherlands and 2024 in Canada. It appears they enjoyed joining us at their first conference as much as we enjoyed having them.
To wrap up the conference we’re whisked off to Gurten for some classically Swiss fondue. A big pot of cheese, as in three five-litre pots, each with their own log stove. We’re given a one-metre-long pole with a fork and an apron, rather like a Scottish sporran except filled with lumps of bread. Fork into bread and then into the cheese. Careful now, if you drop the bread in the cheese than you will have to kiss the person beside you. Try this with a few beers on board, as we did and you may find some interesting results. However, the Swiss being well known for their privacy, tell us that what’s said or done on the mountain stays on the mountain!
We’re looking forward to the next conference the Netherlands 2023 and until then we wish you a good 2022/2023.
Article written by Robert Ferry, CFR Global Executive Search Ireland