I had the chance to attend last week to the first edition of Gennex – Minds without limits!(thank you Christina Fryer from new in zurich) A business conference designed to bring global market influencers, thought leaders, talented young entrepreneurs, and senior executives across industries together to transform their business through covering three critical levels: creativity and innovation, the use of disruptive technologies in everyday life and leadership and cultural change, a topic that is particularly close to me.
During two days, a carefully selected group of power players ventured into a transformational journey consisting of small group discussions, breakouts in very unconventional setups, unique outdoor activities, a diverse line-up of global top keynotes and an atypical array of entertainment.
Gennex backdrop: Flying machines and the art of the Spectacle
A defining element for the success of an event and the overall attendee experience is the venue selection, and while hotels are still a common choice among event professionals, unusual venues are on the rise as they incite participants to tap into creativity and have fun.
Gennex definitely took notice of the evolving definition of event venue and opted for a space characterised by its uniqueness, and (literally) far away from any traditional business event facility.
The Air Force Center Dübendorf where organisers managed to distribute the program’s sessions and activities focused on stimulating the curiosity and engagement of the predominant C-suite audience, wether during a breakout session under the tent of Oh la la contemporary circus, a vibrating talk inside the Flieger Flab Museum a hangar spotlighting vintage aircrafts, or while having lunch somewhere around the outdoor fête created in the surroundings.
The overall setting and the backdrop certainly produced a wow effect among participants, although a discussion topic for the organisation of the 2019 edition could be the space flexibility and the layout configurations.
Unusual experiences: Permission to play
Based on my experience completing the Swiss business events and trade-fair annual calendar I expected a traditional conference setting. I eventually found out that Knie Entertainment and Inspired View were two of the founder partners and that C2 International– a disrupting force reinventing the meetings and events industry – would be a collaboration partner. I knew then that my journey at Gennex would be one defying conventions.
The event’s design incorporated various creative spaces that challenged everyone (including the organisers) to break schemes and assess the conference on the basis of what participants experienced rather than on their original expectations. As soon as participants had finished taking in one spot, the team behind the conference pull back the curtain and the next design kept this mesmerising effect coming.
When we as event professionals talk about experience design we emphasise in differentiation, maybe drawing on technology to empower a personalised experience, because the same setting won’t cut it for modern audiences. But this manoeuvring also implies surprising, and Gennex definitely draw the attention of its participants in an exalted way, taking them out of the corporate space into an dynamic experience to explore the intersection of technology, art and business.
Participants found themselves networking and solving shared challenges at one the three C2 atypical labs, like a swimming pool full of plastic balls, or an experimental brainstorming session at a the “cloud” where I by the way go the chance to meet Maria Flames,Julian Bohorquez S and Nigel Barlow.
Among some of the amusing offered outdoor activities, participants tested the ON: Swiss performance running shoes and were given the chance to test drive a Tesla, experience Partne. It is said “don’t test drive a Tesla unless you want to buy one” whether that is true or not some people (like me) might have just done it for the spur of the moment, we just had to book it through the event’s app developed by Klik, who by the way also provided wearable badges taking networking to another level while capturing valuable data. #eventpersonalization
Two honorable mentions, one to the performances by Oh la la Circus‘ talented artists like Ladina Von Frisching or Dekay: The Purist putting on a handful of eye appealing shows, the second to the majestic aircrafts, static and in motion, two major elements that created a sense of unity and tied the entire conference cohesively as a distinctive experience.
Speakers line-up: Going on an adventure through storytelling
Conference speakers really set the tone for an event, and thus the importance of choosing them wisely. In this case Gennex’s global keynotes left participants wanting to come back next year by combining innovative tech tools and human touches.
Some of them really stood out and kept the audience at the edge of their seats soaking up their captivating stories, humanitarian work and vast knowledge, like Anne Marie Steen giving a master class on creative leadership, crowdsourcing and ….. bubble blowing! Luud Berings on defining your leadership signature, Steffi Burkhart addressing the importance of Millenials (like me) to the audience’s businesses, but the definite highlights of the first day keynotes were John Foley talking about high performing teams, and the adventures of the Soul Flyers jumping from Jungfrau – a jewel in the crown of any visit to Switzerland – on a wingsuit, free flying to get back into a plane!
During the second day Hannes Schmid created a powerful emotional connection with the audience as he shared his remarkable commitment with the “Smart Village” project in Cambodia and shortly after he received the first Gennex Huma Focus Award from the hand of Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus. Subsequently Prof. Yunus took us to higher heights as he and C2 CEO Richard St. Pierre discussed about #entrepreneurship, #socialbusiness, #globalleadership and building a #legacy.
The art of event experience design mean the world to me
To conclude here are some of my event professional takeaways:
- Great events like great leaders bring people together
- 3 keys for success: unleash your dreams, teamwork, and risk management
- Don’t fear the impact! (event if its the first time)
- Look up for inclusion and diversity in business and corporate Events