High calibre speakers at the DFID event presented to over 100 delegates
High calibre speakers at the DFID event presented to over 100 delegates

Providing commercial learning

The Department for International Development (DFID) recently held a professional development conference for commercial professionals across the central Government Commercial Function

Some 140 delegates gathered to hear from speakers from across public and private sectors, including government CCO Gareth Rhys Williams, Sainsbury’s CPO Patrick Dunne and CIPS group CEO Malcolm Harrison. Topics included leading a cost-conscious culture and why diversity is good for business. 

The day was masterminded by DFID head of profession Colette Whigham. “Staff were given the opportunity to challenge their thinking around how procurement functions in today’s fast-paced environment,” she said. Whigham offers these tips for running a similar event:

Sell the value of the event
With speakers of this calibre, you need to sell the benefits of your event and what the audience would derive from it. To achieve this, it is vital to keep your networks current and maximise their potential. Push for high-level engagement for your event and leave no stone unturned in your quest to deliver high quality learning. 

Think team and technology
It is important to have a good team behind you to help with multi-site logistics. We used technology to host the event at DFID’s Whitehall office, with video links back to teams in Glasgow and overseas, which worked seamlessly. 

Be ambitious
Be brave, confident and ambitious. When approaching speakers, remember leaders want to share their knowledge with up-and-coming commercial professionals. 

Panel prep
Be prepared for last-minute changes to your panel. Ensure all panellists are well briefed before the event. Make sure you pick someone to lead your panel who you know is a good public speaker and can easily handle a debate. 

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