IEMA conference 2011: The delegates' view

14th December 2011

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Hear from IEMA members on what they really thought of this year's IEMA conference on sustainable business and what they'll be taking back to their organisations

A selection of views from the delegates who attended this year's IEMA annual conference:

“The conference helps me stay up to date with the latest developments in sustainability and enables me to feed back into my organisation’s environmental management system. For me, it’s about continuous improvement of the system as well as what it delivers.”

Christine Heath, group leader environmental management, Atomic Weapons Establishment

“My organisation is looking at how we can raise staff awareness in sustainability and there have been some very valuable sessions here, particularly the case study session on Natural England given by Paul Hinds.”

Parminder Plahe, environmental systems manager, European Investment Bank

“What was really good about the conference was the way it linked environmental management back to business, and that’s a really key thing at the moment when the economic environment is so limited. Peter White’s insight into P&G’s global approach to sustainability was really inspirational.”

Leighanne James, business improvement manager, Atkins

“The conference has been really useful in reminding me that an organisation doesn’t have to do sustainability all at once. My company is doing well on the environmental side and we want to progress to best practice in our sector, and the conference has reminded me that this can be a step-by-step process.”

Kirsten Holman, senior environment consultant, Parsons Brinckerhoff

“The session on avoiding greenwash was really interesting. I learned that in marketing products you should keep things simple and avoid jargon. It reminded me to make sure people know about the good things you’re doing rather than keeping below the radar.”

Peter Longworth, energy officer, Isle of Man government

“The highlight of the conference has been meeting people from other organisations and seeing how they are addressing environmental issues. It’s been good to hear from big companies like P&G, because they are a bit ahead of smaller organisations and we can learn from what they are doing.”

Dr George Royston-Bishop, technical assistant, Sellafield

“I’ve been to IEMA conferences in the past and this year’s is definitely up there with the best of them. Martin Baxter’s session provided a great overview of government policy and how it’s affecting businesses. One of the key topics has been how do we reconcile long-term sustainability with short-term financial pressures, and it was answered in part by Paul Turner from Lloyds Banking Group, who said achieving quick wins can lead to longer-term planning.”

Stephen Anstice, director, Environmental Strategies

“I am looking to progress to Full IEMA membership and the conference was a good opportunity for me to see what the Institute is all about. It also gave me a great insight into what bigger companies and the public sector are doing in terms of sustainability, and it’s not common information – you really have to be here to find out what they are doing. Hearing these speakers you realise we are all in it together.”

Pavlin Matia, environmental product manager, Wiles Greenworld Group

“The quality of speakers is very good, with big hitters like P&G and Lloyds Banking Group. These big organisations have got tremendous challenges and it’s useful to see how what they do can translate for other companies. As an environmentalist, if you don’t come to events like this you’re missing an opportunity to investigate alternative approaches that could work for your organisation.”

Stephen Lowe, director, Atom Solutions Environmental

Graduate award winners on their experience of the IEMA conference:

“The conference has been a fantastic way to learn from others in the environmental sector. There were lots of great talks from people and organisations, such as the Ministry of Defence, that I didn’t expect to be here.

“Everyone at the conference has the same goal, but we are coming at it from completely different backgrounds and perspectives. It’s been really interesting to see how we are all going about achieving that goal.

“I know as an individual the ticket price for the conference can seem expensive, but it’s worth it. I will definitely be coming next year.”

Heather Poore, youth volunteering project manager at Global Action Plan and winner of the 2011 IEMA graduate award

“It was really interesting to step outside the bubble of manufacturing and hear what other sectors are doing to advance their sustainability and realise just how much of it could be applied to my sector.

“The one thing that I will really take away from the conference is the critical importance of staff engagement and the different ways I’ve learned from the speakers about how to achieve this.”

Charlie Symonds, sustainable development engineer, Stannah Stairlifts

“Other conferences I have attended have struggled to get down into the detail, but I found the sessions here were really thorough. I went to the 'Introduction to auditing' workshop and even though it was only an hour and 15 minutes long, I got some important points out of it.

“As a recent graduate I found the conference really great in helping me to understand the huge variety of sectors and jobs that are open to me. It’s also allowed me to make contact with more experienced IEMA members whom I can call on in the future for expertise and advice.”

Laura Duggan, environment executive at George Best Belfast City Airport

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