Taking the Long View

12 December 2017


When we talk to organisations about bringing their events to Sydney and New South Wales, we encourage them to take the long view. To think about the potential impact of their event 10 or even 20 years down the line.

That’s because you can often only measure the true benefit of international business events many years after those events have taken place. This might be when new research and ideas shared for the first time at the conference end up being accepted as best practice. Or when first-time collaborations and partnerships established at the event end up achieving a breakthrough that will save lives.

In our latest research collaboration with the University of Technology Sydney, we feature the stories of 10 prominent Australians who have helped to change the face of health, science and society. And we find out exactly why conferences have been integral to their achievements.

Sometimes the most important and exciting outcomes come from chance encounters that see the latest thinking in one field applied to another. This can result in game-changing innovation and unexpected solutions to previously intractable problems. The book tells the story of how a fortuitous introduction at a conference in 1982 set Professor Ian Frazer AC on a 20-year journey, and a series of collaborations, that ultimately saw him create a vaccine to prevent Human Papillomavirus (HPV) – a major cause of cervical and other types of cancer.

At other times, the power of simply bringing people with a common cause together and uniting them behind a clear purpose and set of goals is enough to create the momentum for major change. Professor Tom Calma AO and The Hon. Linda Burney MP describe how the Aboriginal Education Conferences of the 1980s and 1990s were instrumental in transforming educational opportunities and outcomes for indigenous children and young people in Australia.

The book also tells the stories of two BESydney ambassadors. Bill Bowtell AO talks about the vital role conferences played in bringing together the medical profession, industry and the community to find a solution to the global AIDS epidemic.


While Dr Pia Winberg describes how she used conferences to get the help, support and funding she needed to turn seaweed into a sustainable food source. One she believes has the potential to help tackle the global problems of chronic malnourishment and a lack of nutrition among children in poorer countries.

Like every story in the book, these weren’t outcomes that happened immediately following a particular conference. In each case the breakthroughs are traced back to an event or series of events that happened years before, highlighting why it’s so important to take the long view.

You can improve the chances of your next event leading to lasting change by having a clear ambition at the very outset and then planning every element of the event around that goal.

Be ambitious, but realistic. Think about how you will measure the impact over the longer-term and what metrics you need to put in place now to do that.

Then design your event accordingly. If you want to create greater global collaboration within your area, build in plenty of time for delegates to meet and discuss areas of interest. If you have a specific cause you want to advance, think about how you can use the collective passion and purpose to help achieve that.

Whatever your organisation’s ambition, we hope the stories and individuals featured will inspire you to take the long view and think about how your next event can help you achieve it.

Discover the true power of conferences. Download our research summary.