10 things I learnt at the GEO Annual Conference 2017

4 May 2017

Jess Evans

As a relative newcomer to the internal communications and share plans industry (I joined the team at Stitch just over a year ago), I really looked forward to my first GEO event and hoped it would give me further insight into the share plans world. GEO’s 18th Annual Conference was held in Rome, Italy from 26th to 28th April 2017.

10 things I learnt at the GEO Annual Conference 2017:

1. What a time to celebrate! – the GEO Awards Ceremony was the highlight of the event, where everyone slipped into their finery and was treated to an evening of entertainment. We were over the moon when it was announced that Rio Tinto, a client we worked with on their myShare plan launch and vesting communications, won Best Plan Communication (25,000 – 90,000 employees) and our very fabulous Stitcher Jane was invited to collect the well-deserved trophy with Rio Tinto. We were also proud to watch our client Aviva win the award for Best in Financial Education. Congratulations again to all the winners!


2. Make life sweeter – a highlight of the GEO Annual Conference 2017 for me was watching fellow Stitcher Jane present our Make Life Sweeter campaign with Aviva and Tapestry. They shared a case study with attendees of the launch of Aviva’s Global Matching Share Plan in 2016. It was a chance to take a step back and look at the successful work we had completed with a great team of collaborators. As a reminder, the take-up of the plan was an astounding 43% globally, so our hard work definitely paid off.

3. It’s a small world after all – it seems like everyone knows everyone in the share plan community. Lots of people have previously worked for suppliers or providers and tend to move around in the industry so everyone is very friendly. They were welcoming to a GEO newbie like me and I was quickly surrounded by share plans enthusiasts discussing both work and play.

4. Networking – a great chance to have a few drinks with our lovely clients Aviva, Vodafone, HSBC and Rio Tinto away from the pressures of being knee-deep in a project… and a lovely opportunity to make new industry friends.

5. It does actually rain in Italy – shockingly enough, we had a lot of RAIN, in Rome, in April! But luckily there were so many interesting speakers, sessions and presentations going on that I didn’t even notice…

6. Food – another shocker, despite an ample selection of delicious Italian delights, and a pun-tastic lead up to the event based largely on pizza and gelato, neither passed my lips during our stay. Although we consumed a lot of pasta and healthy salads (trust me, I needed the carbs to keep me going through the busy schedule), I didn’t have a chance to sample all Italian staples.

7. Vatican tour – we had an amazing private guided tour of the Vatican. What a privilege! We walked through the Vatican after hours, visited the Sistine Chapel, posed for a GEO group photo in St Peter’s Square and ended up for dinner in Piazza Navona. Unfortunately we didn’t see His Holiness, but we definitely sampled the beauty of Italian architecture and design. My interesting fact about the Sistine Chapel:

Michelangelo didn’t like the papal master of ceremonies who criticized his work, so he included a depiction of him in ‘The Last Judgement’ in Hell with donkey ears and a snake wrapped around him. When the master of ceremonies asked the Pope for help, he was told that unfortunately the Pope had no jurisdiction over Hell so the portrait would have to remain! (see image below).

8. The future of technology – I tried Augmented Reality (AR) for the first time in a share plans context which was pretty cool. Could this become more widespread in our industry as a means of educating employees? The account manager in me can see the challenges of such channels, but there’s no denying that using a VR head-set with 360 degree views is something new and exciting for our industry.

9. GEO app – a clever app that could be downloaded to your phone and then used locally to organise your GEO Annual Conference 2017. Complete with activity feed, personal programme and a list of attendees, you could even win points by scanning QR codes at exhibitor booths.

10. Orlando – the next GEO conference will be held in Orlando, Florida. With the prospect of seeing the magical kingdom of Disney, we’ll hopefully see you there. Charlotte and Emma have already planned their first excursion!