With local Austin boy and film star Matthew McConaughey doing the star turn on Day 1 of PCMA’s Convening Leaders conference in Austin, Texas, Day 2’s keynote on the main stage was economist Jeremy Rifkin who made some startling predictions about the coming Third Industrial Revolution.
He said climate change was no longer imminent, but “at the house, in the door”.
Rifkin said the Third Industrial Revolution would be fuelled by a confluence of communication, energy and transport to manage, power, and move economic activity.
Day 2 also saw the chair of the UK Events Industry Board Nick de Bois spar with David Wallace, a former mayor in south Houston and adviser to UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher’s foundation.
De Bois urged the largely US-based audience that now was the time to bring events to the UK. “Come on over, the UK is at a 15% currency discount.” He added that Brexit had provided an opportunity to move away from the trading bloc which had become protectionist. He urged meeting and event professionals to try to anticipate new skillsets the profession would need in future and said that business could solve problems of skill shortages itself.
Wallace agreed that tremendous disruption was afoot in the industry and said we needed to prepare students how to lead in the new economic environment with ‘soft skills’.
Convening Leaders has also brought speakers into the main lunch sessions, all under the over-arching theme of ‘Designing colLABoration’.
The first day’s Networking Lunch, brought insights into ‘Seeing the Unseen’ with Dan Goods, visual strategist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Goods took the audience on a journey of scientific art projects that he has helped shape.
The idea of inviting leading economic and scientific speakers from outside the industry to stimulate the meeting and events industry’s own thinking has proved popular, with delegates packing all sessions at the Austin Convention Center.
Convening Leaders continues until 11 January.