Shhh! Don’t tell anyone, but work conferences are about more than clients!
After spending most of 2021 desperately waiting for conferences to start up again and work travel to return, the SCOPE 22 Summit appeared with a whirl of activity. It came as a shock that this live in-person event was actually going to take place.
Our business development team scheduled our calendars to allow time together prior to the conference. Whilst we talk face to face in weekly video calls, the last time we were all together in person was SCOPE 20! The pandemic took hold soon after, and brought international travel to a stop for almost two years!
This year, the conference took place at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Florida. We stayed right there on property so we could be in the middle of the action and see as many clients as possible. Our early arrival let us kick off the week with a wonderful meal and even a cocktail or two surrounded by the neon lights and bustle of activity that is the never quiet Universal Studios CityWalk.
Having worked together for so long, we’ve become friends, and we actually like each other. We had talked frequently through a time when communication became so utterly critical to our sanity, that we came to know each other almost as well as we know some of our family! We hear about the mundane stuff, like what all of us ate for dinner last night and the grades the children got in the last school report!
We were joined in our SCOPE adventure by Kirsten Friend from our operations team. It was brilliant to have the chance to get to know her better. When you attend multiple industry events like this, you can quickly pick out the newbies. I don’t think anyone would have guessed this was Kirsten’s first SCOPE.
Suffice to say we took a fair few selfies and team photos over the course of the week. We also snapped photos of our food and drinks as any self-respecting person does these days, and shared these snippets of fun with the family we left behind at home whilst away for work.
It wasn’t just the four of us that had the pleasure of reconnecting in person. We caught up with friends, former colleagues, clients, and industry connections. It wasn’t always easy to recognize someone across a hall when everyone was wearing masks, but it was fun.
The conference itself was exactly what we expected it to be. It brought our industry together at exactly the right time to remind us that whilst the world paused for two years, clinical trials, the need for them, and the importance of reconnecting with patients on those trials hasn’t gone anywhere. And reflective of the world we live in today, a negative antigen test was required within 24 hours of arrival, as well as proof of vaccination and the requirement to wear a mask when in the conference area.
We enjoyed the opportunity to speak with many of our clients to discuss how we can assist with their clinical trial needs. We also listened to the talks and presentations. We took notes, delighted in the topics and relevance of the subject matter… and then as I am sure you will be pleased to hear, we discussed the presentations that resonated the most with each of us over dinner or a glass of wine in the evening! (Our next post will have Dan McDonald’s review of some key presentations.)
The exhibit hall was well attended by vendors of all kinds. Perhaps most interesting was the presence of a variety of different businesses that came to prominence during the COVID pandemic. While there seemed to be at least three-quarters of the normal vendor exhibitor turnout, the size and sophistication of the booths was muted. Perhaps this was another sign that no one was quite yet sure what to expect.
Sometimes we need that little bit of light. The industry we work in is busy. We have all experienced challenges. Great expectations surround what we do, just as much as there are rewards for working in an industry designed to make lives better. And it’s a good place to be when you can see that on the whole, everyone is singing from the same hymnal. The industry seems in unison. Everyone we spoke to said the same things, saw the same challenges, and were experiencing the same highs and lows.
Not over yet
My highlight was actually just after SCOPE. I traveled to Boston to see clients we started working with during the pandemic that I hadn’t had the chance to meet in person. So strictly speaking it was work — but in reality it was a few pleasant social hours before my return trip home to the U.K.
I have asked my colleagues to add comments below about a “non-work” social moment of fun they had reconnecting with a friend or work colleague at SCOPE. Please feel free to do the same and tell us about your SCOPE experiences! We would love to hear what makes your work trips feel a little more personal!