Musings as I step into the role of IPREX Americas President
Back in May, it took me two layovers and about 11 hours to meet up with my longtime agency partners and friends in Amsterdam as we convened for the IPREX Annual Global Conference. The jet lag induced by the six-hour time difference was in full effect. The language barrier — while far less of an issue for those only fluent in English — was daunting. And, to add some discomfort into the mix, my Discover Card wasn’t accepted at the train station, and I hadn’t bothered to exchange currency. I was, in every sense, a world away.
I was in the city of Vehr’s IPREX partner De Bruijn and was spending a few days with dozens of other partners who had traveled from cities throughout the United States, Ireland, Sweden, Finland, Poland, England, Spain, Australia, India, Malaysia and more. IPREX is a network of best-in-class communications agencies around the world, and this annual meeting is just one of many ways we collaborate, pick each other’s brains, discuss trends and deepen our relationships.
IPREX has been a constant in my career for more than 20 years and has played an integral role in serving clients in markets across the globe, expanding agency capabilities with niche expertise and developing team members and industry best practices. But this meeting in May was a little different. WE were all a little different.
The last time IPREX colleagues had gotten together in person actually occurred in March 2020 at the exact hotel in Boston at which a medical conference (dubbed the COVID “super spreader” event) had occurred just days earlier. Anxiety was high and our team members’ fears were palpable. This meeting in May 2022 was the first event in which partners traveled to a single location in more than two years. Yet, despite our extended hiatus from travel, the bonds and connectivity of our global team had flourished. We had never been more connected. The thousands and thousands of miles of distance between us no longer mattered.
We were in the same boat and dealing with similar challenges, whether they wore the face of a global pandemic, supply chain constraints, war in the Ukraine, the Great Resignation, inflation, hybrid workplaces, mental health awareness or another complexity intensified by these tumultuous times. We “Zoomed” with each other — sometimes weekly — as we discussed the elevated role of strategic communications in navigating both internal and external business challenges.
Whether supporting Fortune 500 businesses managing communications with thousands of employees; engaging customers on behalf of consumer brands contending with supply chain shortages and higher costs; or educating at-risk communities regarding local resources related to the pandemic, addiction or mental health issues on behalf of health departments, our IPREX agencies were on the frontline, and partner collaboration had proven to be more relevant and necessary than ever.
These past two years have underscored just how small and “flat” our world is. The issues faced 5,000 miles away are locally relevant. The muscle, best practices and influence of IPREX have never been more valuable.
I have been active in leadership roles within IPREX for many years, serving on and chairing various committees. As I stepped into the role of Americas President at the May conference in Amsterdam, I was energized by the engagement and collaboration of this global team. I am eager to deepen partner connectivity in the Americas and throughout EMEA and Asia Pacific as global perspective has never been more critical.