Case Study: Logistical Challenge of the Year at the 2017 ICE Awards

Case Studies
20.03.2018 11:05

The Future Finance Leaders’ Programme was launched in 2010 to support finance function leaders, and aspiring leaders, from across the business spectrum. Its aim is to help them achieve their potential in the ever-changing role of senior finance officers in major domestic and international businesses. The need for this event is to provide a seminar to deliver content to this particular audience to develop their skills, so that in 2-3 career moves they can become a CFO. There is also a huge emphasis on networking with not only their peers, but with the firm so that we can develop meaningful relationships now for the future.

logistical challenge of the year
future finance leader's spring seminar 2017

 The Future Finance Leaders’ Forum was set to take place on 23rd March at the Royal Horse guards, Westminster. This major, high profile event took the form of an all day conference for over 100 delegates with several high profile speakers, high production costs, interactive workshops and a networking drinks reception to close. However, at 4pm on 22nd March the team heard about the horrific terror incident, which had occurred in Westminster.  

It immediately became clear they we would not be able to access the venue until the morning of the event. An initial option to push back the conference start time was considered. However, the scale of the tragedy became increasingly apparent, with much of Westminster in lockdown. As a result, the production agency with a team of 30, were on standby extremely near where the attacks took place and near the venue. Two high profile speakers, due to arrive at the venue the following morning, were presenting the breaking news on TV, one from inside Westminster. As the safety of their people, clients and suppliers was paramount, the decision was made at 18:00 on 22nd March to cancel the event.

Response to Crisis Once the decision had been made to cancel the event, each member of the team gave this their full attention, dropping a range of other priorities to get this done. It was an exercise carried out in a calm, panic free environment where a whole team pulled together to make sure all cancellation contingency aspects were covered. A complex set of simultaneous actions had to be executed calmly and efficiently. External communications were sent to delegates, speakers and suppliers as well as internal communications to hosts and EY staff members who were due to attend. Those who signed up to attend the event through a live stream also had to be notified.

In the months leading up to the event, a sufficient internal communications and social media plan was devised containing articles, pre scheduled tweets and LinkedIn posts from individual partner accounts as well as the central brand, marketing and communications account all of which had to be instantly modified. All courier deliveries and pick-ups for event and marketing materials had to be cancelled. Once everyone had been contacted, the team then needed to monitor the central inbox where client communications were sent from throughout the night to respond to questions and concerns as they arose.

The Outcome Because of how the team dealt with the crisis and also because they had the correct insurance in place, they were able to recuperate all of our costs on what was still a huge budget, even though it was originally reduced significantly from the previous year. Recuperating all of these costs allowed them to run the same scale event in the following June. By handling the crisis effectively, the team were still able to meet their original objectives and protect the company’s reputation. The team also learned a great deal through the process and as a result, have put together a best practice on how to deal with cancelling an event. Also by word of mouth an Industry networking group heard about what happened and how the team overcame the challenge and asked their Assistant Director of Major Events to speak at their forum about the situation.

The Judges Comments The Future Finance Leaders’ Spring Seminar delivered by EY was a true example of a team coming together to effectively manage a massive logistical challenge when the tragic terror attack on Westminster Bridge resulted in them having to take the difficult decision to cancel the event at the 11th hour.   

EY produced an entry that was perfectly presented and engaged the judges by telling the story of how the logistical challenge unfolded in a clear and precise manner. Responding to extenuating circumstances beyond their control, it gave a great insight into the thought process involved in planning and managing such a changeable and sensitive situation. It also clearly demonstrated how the EY team executed an emergency cancellation plan with remarkable dedication, calmness and professionalism to achieve the best possible outcome. Judges were impressed by how the team quickly utilised available external and internal communication channels to inform delegates, presenters, suppliers and colleagues of the necessary event cancellation ‘out of hours’, just 12 hours before the event was due to begin. Their efficiency approach enabled them to maintain a positive relationship with all involved, enabling them to recoup costs, protect the EY brand and re-engage delegates, speakers and suppliers for the reorganised event.

The Judges also acknowledged that the team’s efforts were recognised internally by EY Leadership Directors, who presented them with an ‘Impact Award’ for bringing EY’s values to life. Word of mouth also ensured that the best practice demonstrated by the team was picked up by an industry-networking group, which has invited the Assistant Director of Major Events at EY to speak at their forum.

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