“Thanks for organising the event” – The 2015 ISM Symposium

Yes, we were extremely nervous, and yes, we were busy trying to prevent small disasters right up until the end. But in spite of all this, the 2015 ISM Symposium proved to be a great success.

“A Sharing Economy – Tausch Dich reich?!” was the motto of this year’s symposium of the International School of Management in Dortmund. But what is actually a symposium? What does “Sharing Economy” mean? Which companies operate in this field? How do we market and advertise these events? How will we work as a team – seeing as I have never met any of them before? I asked myself all these questions – and rightly so – as I was still in my first semester at the start of the planning phase.

The organisation team consisted of 15 students from all years. The university administration additionally provided us with necessary and valuable support. Event development, marketing and finances were the key organisational issues. During the first meeting, roughly six months before the actual event, we all set out our expectations and aims for a fantastic event with popular guest speakers. The task of attracting these speakers was the responsibility of the Event Development team, which had been actively looking for sponsors and speakers since December. As a member of the Event team I had been involved with organising the catering and the event schedule since the beginning of the year. We also pulled out all the stops on Facebook to advertise the symposium and the topic of a “Sharing Economy”.

The entire team met on a weekly basis for two months to discuss procedures, tasks and new ideas. Two weeks before the big day I was sure that we would have to cancel the event. A number of obstacles, such as speakers cancelling at the last minute, minor disagreements within the team, sluggish ticket sales and the expected costs, kept us on our toes until 8 May. But on the actual day of the symposium we could hardly believe how smoothly everything went. The speeches and the workshop were full of interested students and lecturers. There was an endless queue of visitors in front of the lecture room where PicturePeople was offering application photographs free of charge. International guests enjoyed the excellent food, drinks and conversation during a well-deserved break on the terrace. Some students grabbed the opportunity with both hands and spoke to renowned guests about potential work placements and swapped business cards. The speakers put across differing viewpoints on business to underpin their understanding of a “Sharing Economy”. Be it food, money, clothing or cars: everything can be shared, recycled and swapped nowadays. Swapping and sharing is organised by various companies, such as Foodsharing, Auxmoney, Mamikreisel – to name just a few.

We were justly rewarded for all our efforts in promoting ticket sales. Fellow students, parents and lecturers from Dortmund as well as from the other ISM locations in Hamburg, Frankfurt/Main and Cologne came to the event and stayed until the gala dinner. Finally, the fun and enjoyment of a tombola with some great prizes was shared by all the guests. The main prize, a bioethanol fireplace worth €1,800, was won by an ISM student from Frankfurt/Main. It was a wonderful day and many of the speakers left a lasting impression and gave us a lot of food for thought about a “Sharing Economy”. As we were saying farewell to the final guests late in the evening, a young man wound down his car window and shouted: “Thanks for organising the event!” He must have had a really enjoyable day and simply wanted to express his gratitude.

Author: Johanna May