Leaders June 2012

So What Do You Actually Do?

Some BCCJ Executive Committee (Excom) members take responsibility for specific areas of organisational growth and development. Occasionally, I’d like to focus on how a particular Excom member delivers value for members, kicking off this month with Graham Davis, who is head of BCCJ events.

How long have you been on the Excom?
This is my third year, and I’ve been involved with the events side of things for all of that time.

What’s your day job?
There’s an overlap with my day job, which is head of events for Asia Pacific at The Economist Group, as well as being country head for Japan.

How are you delivering value at the BCCJ?
About a year ago, we implemented a strategy to make our events more interesting and more relevant for the audience: the only thing worse than attending a bad event is if you are chairing it.

So, the events team adds value by making sure that event themes and speakers are well chosen, that speakers are fully briefed beforehand, and that, as a result of our strategy, the agonies of a prolonged sales pitch are avoided. We can’t get it right all the time of course—some speakers are beyond redemption—but we always aim to do our best in the interests of the audience, not just the people on the stage or sponsors.

What are the highlights of your tenure?
You just know that some speakers and events are going to be good; Sir John Major (see page 19) is a recent case in point.

I was impressed that he had written a speech specifically for the BCCJ, and that the chamber and its members rose to the once-in-a-lifetime occasion and showed the former PM a great deal of respect during the Q&A session.

Other speakers may take a little more time to warm up but, in general, if we get the format and topic right, then we are half way there. Since April 2011, we’ve moved away from PowerPoint torture and asked people to tell their stories by themselves—I see this as a massive improvement.

What do you wish to achieve as head of events?
We are now working on delivering a range of events that genuinely entertain and educate. I’ve realised just how much members have to share—about their work experiences, companies, hobbies and views—which can be of great value to a wider audience. I also believe we should involve as many viewpoints as possible, so I am really open to partnering with other chambers and organisations, and anyone else who has a concept to explore. It’s great to work with someone who has an event idea, and then make it happen.

The BCCJ events programme comprises five categories, each with specific objects and attractions:

  • Headliner
  • Banner
  • Inside My Company
  • Toolbox
  • Just For Fun

To learn more about the diversity of our events: www.bccjapan.com