June 23, 2022 | By Joyce DiMascio

The annual Business Events Sydney Global (BESydney) Ambassador Dinner has become a big stage for showing the power, reach and influence of some of the nation’s leading innovators.

It also highlights the importance of business events in firing the economy and their capacity to solve some of the nation’s most pressing challenges.

One of those areas is Australia’s urgent need for skills and human resources to fire up businesses again.

micenet spoke with BESydney CEO, Lyn Lewis-Smith, following the 2022 event, held this month, about how the rebound is shaping up and the proven power of business events to enrich Australia’s talent pool.

BESydney looks at talent attraction as part of its bid targeting, Lewis-Smith says.

She says companies and institutions only put their best and brightest forward for the privilege of travelling the globe to attend conferences.

“It’s an investment in their best people and grows their global reputation in the process.

“We seek to attract the events that attract the talent and skills we need,” she says.

The organisation’s research confirmed that conferences held in Sydney had not only attracted first-time visitors to Australia, but that conferences also prompted a desire to to work in Australia.

Its “Catalysts for Thriving Economies” research has shown 58 per cent would like to live and work or study in Sydney as a direct result of attending a conference here and four percent had already applied to work or study in Sydney.

The data also showed that 95 per cent of international delegates wouldn’t have come to Sydney if not for a conference. Sixty-seven per cent were first-time visitors, showing the enormous capability to grow the demand pool for return business and leisure travel to Australia.

Robyn Denholm, chair of Tesla and the Tech Council of Australia, was invited to deliver the Australia Orations at BESydney’s Ambassador Dinner.

Her speech echoed the role business events play in showcasing Australian capability to the world and in Australia’s potential to grow the local technology talent pool and attract the best minds from around the world to come and work here.

Like BESydney, Denholm said she wanted Sydney and Australia to be known for their “smarts” especially in the critically important tech sector, an area in which Australia and particularly Sydney are excelling.

She said she wanted Sydney to be known for “sun, sand and software” and commended the NSW Government’s investment in creating Tech Central, a technology precinct reaching from Central Station into the surrounding inner city suburbs.

With so much emphasis at the annual dinner on Sydney’s role as an innovation leader, Lewis-Smith says the number of events expected to come here in the future was very strong.

“The events pipeline is exceptional.…and in all the industries NSW wants to be known for – from medicine to space, with an emphasis on technology and everything in between,” she says.

“Our efforts during COVID have created a foundation of $500m forward-pipeline [business], with more announcements to come.

International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) 2022 and the 23rd International Association of Gerontology and Geriatric (IAGG) World Congress of Gerontology and Geriatrics are just two of the significant conferences announced for Sydney recently.

Decisions to hold events in Sydney were “now coming thick and fast”, Lewis-Smith says.

“At the height of the pandemic, we rescheduled nearly 60 per cent of the events that were to be held over the past two years into the next 18 months. During COVID we immersed ourselves in the issues and challenges our city and our partners faced and sought to create opportunities from them.

“We looked at what we, and our city, are good at – where our innovations and knowledge is world-leading – and we set out to target the biggest and most prestigious events in the world, to bring in subject matter experts to discuss and debate the big issues and collaborate on problem solving.

“This is why our Ambassadors are so crucial,” Lewis-Smith says.

The range of sectors looking most promising for event attraction are diverse.

“Over the past 10 years we’ve always ensured our sector targets align with the NSW Government’s economic and industry development and investment and talent attraction agenda.

“Industries such as tech, health, finance and professional services, defence and aerospace and construction and manufacturing.

“Our association client base wants to expose their global community to the latest thinking from the greatest thinkers and practitioners in their industry. So, we target events in the sectors that NSW is already well-known for, and the sectors the NSW Government is seeking to build, and to become known-for in the future.”

Lewis-Smith says that within this context, conferences were a formidable talent attracter.

“We think conferences are one of the best talent attraction ‘try before you buy’ schemes a destination can have,” she says.

The Ambassador Dinner on the June 15 at ICC Sydney brought together 280 members of the BESydney community, including the nine new Ambassadors who were formally invested this year:

  • Richard Alcock AO – vice chairman of Bank of America and chairman of Western Sydney Local Health District
  • Martin Green AM FRS FAA – scientia professor at UNSW and director of the Australian Centre for Advance Photovoltaics
  • Tan Le – founder and CEO of EMOTIV in the USA
  • Ming Long AM – chair of AMP Capital Funds Management and Diversity Council Australia, non-executive director of the Committee for Economic Development of Australia and QBE Insurance amongst other appointments
  • Sam Mostyn AO – president of Chief Executive Women, chair of Ausfilm, ANROWS and the Foundation of Young Australians and non-executive director of Mirvac, amongst other appointments
  • Paul O’Sullivan – chair of Western Sydney Airport
  • Professor Andrew Parfitt – vice-chancellor and president of the University of Technology Sydney
  • Professor Mark Scott AO – vice-chancellor and president of the University of Sydney
  • Sally-Ann Williams – CEO of Cicada Innovations