Australian events management company Arinex managed the International Metropolis Conference 2018 in Sydney, which closed 2 November, having brought together world leaders and experts to discuss the benefits of migration, diversity and integration.
Metropolis 2018 welcomed 800 participants from 38 countries, for five days of conference and social programmes. It heard from more than 200 speakers, including global migrant advocate Tolu Olubunmi and government ministers. SBS, a nationally-owned broadcaster, also streamed content in more than 20 languages from a custom-built hub on site.
Arinex has also been celebrating the positive impact from its own staff of varied heritage and Metropolis 2018 Conference Chair, Dr Bulent (Hass) Dellal AO, had told the conference audience: “We are a multicultural conference with lots of international people attending, therefore it was important we had a team that understands diversity, and obviously Arinex does. It also has the experience in running many international conferences so the staff deal with diversity all the time.”
Arinex employs 85 staff from a range of cultures and demographics, speaking a collective 23 languages and with 40% born overseas. These statistics are significant within Australia, where only about 10% of school students graduate with a second language.
From its humble beginnings in multilingual tour guiding, then interpreting and translation, Arinex has a history of being tuned in to cultural differences and sensitivities – something the company says has proved crucial in building relationships over the years.
The stories of three Arinex staff members are illustrative: Intern Miriam Boehm has been with Arinex this year on a secondment from Germany. “As soon as I meet another German on site you can see them immediately relax when they realise I’m German, too,” she says. “For overseas promotions, my familiarisation with the German work ethic helped us better coordinate with local suppliers and made the process a lot smoother.”
Developing close connections to a Chinese family growing up, Market Development Manager Drew Whait says this early cultural influence has helped with developing business opportunities overseas.
“An understanding and appreciation of Chinese culture has allowed me to develop and strengthen ties with several Chinese companies, resulting in new sponsorship arrangements for client events,” he says. “Simple, but important signs of respect and understanding are often all it takes. Without knowing what they are, you can be damaging a relationship before you even start.”
Igor Kasalovic brought his family to Australia in 1998 to seek refuge from the former war-torn Yugoslavia. He joined Arinex 17 years ago as Senior Digital Designer. “Over the years Serbian or Croatian delegates have been excited to speak with another countryman and to revert to their first language,” he said. “A particularly exciting experience was when I acted as an interpreter during the 18th International Conference & Exhibition on Liquefied Natural Gas in Perth.”
Arinex CEO Tamara Kavalec says: “Arinex had always given great weight to staff diversity… I am in no doubt we are the successful company we are today, able to deliver better experiences for our clients and their delegates, because of our wonderful, eclectic team.”