A sad farewell to Phoenix

World Workplace is over for another year, and I’m leaving Phoenix exhausted (existing in two timezones is grueling, but the ‘networking’ is quite tough too) but inspired. I have managed to tear myself away from the networking to attend several of the more than 70 sessions on offer (some of which start at 8am) and the content and range was excellent. From sustainability and benchmarking to communications, finance and leadership and on to business continuity and FM strategy, there was almost too much on offer. The organisers should consider filming some of the more popular sessions for people who had a clash or didn’t make the conference at all.

One UK delegate complained that the advanced session she attended on benchmarking was more of a basic level, but that’s occasionally going to happen when different countries are at different stages of a journey. My only complaint is that the sessions, at one hour, are too long – it takes a top-notch presenter to keep the audience’s attention for that length of time. But having been involved with the application process this year – helping IKEA’s Helena Ohlsson with her presentation about IKEA’s journey creating an FM strategy across 28 countries – I can appreciate the effort that goes into the process. If you’re going to fly 5,000 miles around the globe, you want to speak for more than 30 minutes.

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Carnival time at World Workplace

So the World Workplace carnival is officially underway. IFMA president Kathy Roper this morning opened the gathering of what she described as “alpha facility managers” for their week of “being facility nerds.” Emphasising the conference’s sustainability credentials (a far cry from previous years) Roper announced that host city Phoenix is the first US city to be on track to be a carbon neutral city with its 17-point Green Plan. She went on to introduce the city’s mayor Phil Gordon to welcome the thousands of delegates to his city.

Gordon went further, proudly announcing that although Phoenix had 5,000 new residents every month and created 45,000 jobs every year, sustainability had been its guiding force for decades. Mayor since 2004, Gordon boasted that the city uses less water now per capita than it had two decades ago. The Phoenix Convention Center is a green building, he said.

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Phoenix welcomes World Workplace

I haven’t been to World Workplace, the mass gathering of American facilities (sorry facility) managers for a few years and I’d forgotten the sheer scale of the affair. Shops and restaurants in the host city Phoenix, Arizona have “Phoenix welcomes World Workplace” posters and the hotels and coffee shops must be rubbing their hands in glee at the prospect of  several thousand visitors from out of state and around the world  descending on their city for a few days.

The opening ceremony is still an hour or so away, and I trust it will be as glitzy with as much razzmatazz as in previous years, but in true IFMA style the conference has really been going all week. Yesterday there were site visits to the Arizona Science Centre, the US Airways Center and Trinity Episcopal Cathedral and on Monday Global FM held a day’s meeting. Many of the British contingent have been here since Sunday night.

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