Only a week ago I returned from my first JCI European Conference and I can honestly say it was such a great experience! Within ten minutes of arriving at Nice Airport I had already made a new friend! A lovely Swedish lady named Jasmina Karaosmanović and we discovered that we were both the only delegates from our local Chamber that was attending the conference so we decided to stick together on the first day. As we made the shuttle bus journey to Monaco, you see that it is a beautiful place.
I spent the first afternoon registering, having lunch with a few Swedish delegates at a lovely restaurant on the beach front, attending the first-timers speech and then getting ready and heading off for the opening ceremony. A great evening was had with all the formalities taking place in the St Louis II stadium with the whole UK delegation dressed from head to toe in Union Jack clothing and accessories!
I was up early the next morning to head for the Morning Show. After this I had a quick look around the trade show stands before heading out into the sunshine to explore Monaco. We took a walk by the harbour to see the expensive yachts, followed by a visit to the Palace where we just happened to time it right and see the change of the guards. Then there was time for a bit of sunbathing before heading out for a late lunch.
A couple of drinks later at the hotel bar and it was time to head for the evening’s party at a nightclub which had a basement section overlooking the sea – and what a view it was! The night was spent dancing away to the point my feet were aching!
Another early morning, feeling slightly more delicate than the morning before, and I headed to the Strategic Planning Forum to see what was being discussed around the future of JCI. One particular point that arose and has stayed in my mind is that it really got me thinking about how my presidential year shouldn’t just be about the one year where I am leading but that it is about planning for the future too and how you can make an impact beyond that one year.
It was then time for lunch which I was joining a multi-twinning lunch with Chambers such as Lyon, and Frankfurt, as these are twin Chambers of Birmingham. I even went with a few members of Lyon for a walk in the sunshine and we enjoyed some delicious ice-cream. Then I headed back to the hotel for a spot of sunbathing before dropping by the conference centre to watch some of the General Assembly to view the formalities of an European meeting. I then went for dinner with a few UK friends before heading to the Malta night where once again we enjoyed an evening of drinking and dancing!
Last full day of the conference and I got up early. A group of us headed to get our seat at the Keynote Speakers session. The first speaker was Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, Founder of EasyJet who spoke about his views of the future and answered the audience’s questions.
Secondly was Mr Phillippe Sajhau of IBM France who presented statistics on what he forecasted the future to bring.
Finally, and in my view the most impressive speaker, was Mr Felix Finkbeiner, a 15 year German boy who is the Founder of Plant for the Planet which is an initiative to spread the word of sustainability. It was very inspiring watching a young boy speak so confidently and thinking that one day soon he will make a great JCI member.
I had lunch with a fellow JCI UK member as we had been given a first-timers task of giving out mini awards and gifts to fellow delegates based on moments we had remembered over the last few days. These included ‘Best Dance Moves’ and ‘The Whitest Face’. After a stroll along the beach front, it was time to get ready for Awards Ceremony and Gala Dinner. All the UK members met for pre-drinks at the hotel terrace where we presented our mini awards and I also received my cheque and certificate for the Senate Bursary I had been awarded. Six Senate bursaries of £100 are awarded once a year to new members to encourage them to participate in attending an international conference and return to their local Chamber to speak about their experience.
We then headed to the conference centre for the Gala Awards where we were all proudly waving our UK flags. We were all so overjoyed when JCI UK picked up two awards; one for JCI Southampton member James Lambert who won the First-timers competition and gained himself a ticket to the 2014 European Conference in Malta, and the other for JCI Barnsley who earned Best Euopean Chamber for Growth and Development programme. The Growth programme was driven by our very own President Kirstie Barnett who was JCI Barnsley President last year. The rest of the night was spent enjoying the gala dinner and dancing away to an array of tunes!
In just a few days I had met, laughed with and spoken to many different members of JCI across Europe. For a truly international experience I would fully recommend attending an international conference to view how JCI works across the globe, and as a travel enthusiast I must say the scope of places on offer to visit through JCI conferences is just outstanding and I intend to take every opportunity I can!
Categorised in: Charity
This post was written by Kirstie Barnett