While the 2021 ACE Conference and Exhibition did not travel to Melbourne this winter due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we reimagined and transformed the event into a 100% live and truly immersive 3D virtual experience on 2-3 August 2021.
AuSAE's ACE 2021 Reimagined Virtual Conference saw over 350 associations professionals tune in to watch 23 speakers gather for 16 sessions to discuss the theme 'Advance, Connect and Engage'. The conference offered 2 days of inspiring and educational content designed so that delegates could learn and network virtually with their peers and industry leaders.
Day one started with Andrew Klein, our master of ceremonies opening the ACE 2021 Virtual Conference, calling it the 'Association Olympics 2021', and ACE is the place to watch and participate, virtually and without barriers.
Shadé Zahrai, an Award-Winning Leadership Strategist, presented the opening keynote on Embracing an Opportunity Mindset and shared her insights and science-backed strategies to thrive during change. She showed us how to choose what we see, take time to name our state and just remember to keep things 'CHILL'.
We then took a deep dive into thought leader sessions. We explored the evolution of membership models with Belinda Moore and skilled-up on organisational culture with Michelle Stanton. Followed by express learnings on metrics your association must measure with Michelle Lelempsis, increasing engagement with data with Marcus Duhon, and the value in virtual with Banu Kannu.
One of the conference highlights was the incredible panel discussion with association leaders Charles Cameron, Lyn McMorran, Merlin Kong, Tom Dunsmore, Toni Brearley, Chris Roberts, Amy Flint, Andrew Hiebl and moderated by Paul Ramsbottom. Delegates could ‘Ask Them Anything’, and our association influences shared their insights and ideas on driving member engagement, new business models to replace lost event revenue, and technology updates and investments to consider for their association. Day one wrapped up with a networking session where delegates connected and shared experiences with their colleagues and peers.
Day two kicked off with networking sessions in the Virtual Tradeshow, showcasing the latest solutions reshaping the association sector offered by our sponsors and exhibitors. Delegates met with 30+ exhibitors in their virtual booths via live video and message chats to answer their questions and help their associations thrive.
Gihan Perera, a futurist and author, gave us a glimpse into what’s ahead with his opening keynote address on Disruption: Future of Leadership in a Fast-Changing World. He showed us how to become fit for the future, lead in uncertainty, share some great ideas - to expect the unexpected, start before you're ready and always remember to ooch!
Next up, thought-leaders sessions featured the science of community management with Venessa Paech and communicating a message that counts in moments that matter with Shane Hatton. Followed by express learning sessions on navigating virtual AGMs with Vera Visevic, who’s sponsoring who with Julian Moore, and strengthening member value with advisory services with Alistair McDonald.
Over the two days, delegates were connecting via the meeting hub and social media and sharing photos of how their viewing, where they are. We saw dogs, cats and two horses, lockdown beards, crazy hats and breath-taking settings.
In the final session, Antarctic Expedition Leader and Adventurer, David Knoff presented Leadership Through Adversity, sharing his story of leadership, motivation, inspiration, and endurance. He spoke about his year-long Antarctic Expedition in 2019, being away from Australia for an epic 537 days, and missing the entirety of 2020 and the pandemic response. His adventure, leadership lessons and mental health resilience lessons was a great way to close the conference.
Toni Brearley, CEO of AuSAE, said, "With lockdowns being enacted in our major cities we had to quickly and decisively move the ACE 2021 Conference to the online world during the pandemic and reimagine learning and development value for our members. We realised the importance of keeping our association community connected no matter what the barriers."
Brearley added, “The camaraderie and learning from a supportive association community are always important. Still, in a year filled with so many challenges – a strong community is essential.”
"The ACE Reimagined Virtual Conference provided an interactive platform for association professionals to stay connected, be supported and inspired, wherever they may be located.” This has demonstrated the vital role AuSAE plays in providing professional development opportunities, support and networking opportunities for existing and emerging association leaders in Australia and New Zealand.
We hope to see you either in person or digital (depending on COVID-19 regulations) at our upcoming pop-up networking events, webinars, and ACE Conference & Exhibition in July 2022.
We'd like to thank our amazing event partners, speakers, sponsors and exhibitors for their continued support and making the ACE 2021 Reimagined Virtual Conference possible.
Tourism New Zealand Business Events, Advanced Solutions International, Pullman Melbourne on the Park, Adelaide Convention Centre, Higher Logic, EventsAIR, Outstanding Displays, uncommon conferences, ICMS, Saxton Speakers, Adelaide Expo Hire, APT Solutions Ltd, FineHaus, Beaumont People, Destination Gold Coast Business Events, Canberra Convention Bureau, Causeis, FCB Group, Guild Insurance, hmh Advisory, Mills Oakley, NT Business Events, Pointsbuild Pty Ltd, Professional Advantage,Prosple, Strategic Membership Solutions, Survey Matters, Melbourne Showgrounds (Victoria Pavilion)