CIPFA annual conference – a student’s perspective

Finally, after two years of the annual conferences being virtual in 2020 and 2021, I managed to get to a face-to-face annual conference. I was fortunate enough to go to this conference through the CIPFA South West region, as I sit there as Deputy Treasurer.

We had strong representation with six members, including my fellow work colleague and current President Sean Cremer, as well as the former President and my learning coach, Christina Earls.

A group of professionals at a conference
Left to right: Julie Strange, Jason Vaughn, Sean Cremer, Curtis Bond,
Philip West and Christina Earls.

I was nervous but excited for this event, because it was my first one face to face, and I really wanted to immerse myself so that I made the most out of this experience. I got up to Liverpool on the Tuesday evening, and as I was staying in Albert Docks, I thought I would take a wander around the area and go for some food and drinks with Philip, while some of the delegates went along to the President’s dinner.

Day one started off with a bang with the first session covering new economic and political realities with Justine Greening, former secretary of state, and Ann Pettifor from the New Economics Foundation, who both provided fascinating insights into the current state of affairs. As day one also saw the student conference, I attended all the student sessions, which was brilliant, the most intriguing being the student roundtable session, where five brave students discussed in detail the levelling up agenda and what needs to happen from government to successfully execute this across the different regions of the UK.

During day two, various sessions were put on, and the second session about understanding our diverse past with speaker David Olusoga was very deep in terms of you being drawn in, reflecting on our past from a different angle, and how trying to have more honest conversations will drive improvements in the future. I also was very curious about the internal audit session and the current challenges they face, from gaining more respect from senior management to attracting staff in and assessing risk and providing findings for improvements.

I also had opportunities to network and met some great people at the conference, with different students at various stages in their studies, and I got to talk to the incoming CIPFA Student Network (CSN) President Lin Liu. We all hung out after the first day and went along to the evening event on the docks for some drinks.

A group of people raising glasses in celebration
Drinks at the Albert Docks with Lin Liu and other members of the CSN.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at my first face-to-face conference, which I’ll remember fondly, and though it was a 10-11-hour round car trip from Torbay to Liverpool, it was well worth it to talk to other delegates and make new friends.

A group of professionals at a conference
Delegates at PF Live with new CSN President Lin Liu.

I’d recommend any students in the region to ask their employer if they can come along to future CIPFA conferences, even if you just come along on day one for the student conference. The tickets are free for students (or about £100 to attend both days). You’ll build up your soft skills in speaking with delegates and sponsors, gain insights on current situations and how they will affect your organisation, and experience a change in scenery to help you switch off from work and studies to experience something different (as well as getting some free goodies from different exhibition stalls).

Curtis Bond
Deputy Treasurer and third-year student
CIPFA South West region

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