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By Josette Lesser

In Focus -01

With less than a month until the 13th Annual ABP Conference we take a moment to catch up with this year’s Conference Deans Dilip Boury and Maria Gardner….

Tell us more about the Conference



Dilip: This it is all about providing a great opportunity to hear from the latest thinkers and share ideas with peers – an opportunity we don’t often have.  For me, it is all about learning and connecting… it’s also a really fun couple of days.


Maria Gardner -01Maria: The Annual Conference is a fantastic event for anyone interested in applying psychology in the workplace.  It has been running for nearly 15 years now and for many regular attendees it’s like coming home and getting to spend time with fellow practitioners in an open, relaxed and informal environment.  I’ve personally been attending for over 6 years and I always learn something new that I want to take away and explore.

Why the theme “doing more with less”?

 Since the economic crash organisations have had to work within this context and it is here to stay.  Most businesses are looking to get more from their people – it’s about working smarter not harder.  Therefore, understanding how people behave in the workplace is a great way to do that.  They dont work in the same way as machines and this is why psychology has a very important contribution to make.

Maria: This year’s theme comes from recognising that “doing more with less” is the reality for many organisations – it’s where we’ve found ourselves.  In organising this year’s event we were really keen to pick a theme that was tangible and relevant to all delegates and I think we’ve managed to do that.

What can people look forward to at this year’s Conference?

 I would say, getting really interesting insights from people working with some of the worlds’ top organisations.  You also get really honest and forthright views, which are shared in a really collaborative way.  Also, connecting with people who do what you do and building your peer network.

Maria: Everything! During the day people can enjoy fantastic session speakers, with a good mix of recognisable names such as Geoff Trickey, Alan Redman and Dr. Paul Brewerton.  In addition, we’ve got some great new speakers, including Steve Chapman, Justin Wise and Peter Clough.

After dark people have the opportunity to let their hair down.  We’ve got the ABP ‘Pub Quiz’ on Thursday night with Edinburgh Fringe stand up comedy finalist, Leon Scott.  On Friday night there is the gala dinner, as well as a great band, a photo booth and a bit of origami thrown in – so everyone can have a go at ‘doing more with less’!

Which sessions are you looking forward to?

 Definitely Andy Janning, Stefan Cantore’s session on Dialogic OD and the keynote presentation from Nicola Barker-King.  I’m also looking forward to reconnecting with people I haven’t seen in a while – probably since last year’s conference!

Maria: There are so many! If I had to pick a couple I would say Tom Evan’s session about ‘slowing down is the new speeding up’ and Nicola Strong’s on digital leadership. Also Peter Hamill’s session on embodied leadership and the keynote presentation from Matthew Syed, who will be talking about the myth of talent.

What else have you got going on at the event?

 The gala dinner, which is going to be a held in the venue’s 18th Century Manor House.  Also, fantastic food, great music and for all the regulars we’ve made sure we have a piano.

Maria: In addition to the speakers, keynotes and evening entertainment, we have a great fringe programme in place.  For the super keen earlybirds, we’ll have some pre-breakfast activities out on the lawn.  In addition, we have a special pre-conference networking session by Madeline Paterson and there are free accreditation sessions from companies such as JCA, PCL and Criterion – which are being run either side of the main conference programme.


How have you found the experience of organising this year’s conference?

 The reason I took on the job of Conference Dean is because of a real desire to further the profile of psychology in business.  I believe that the industry has huge potential to improve working lives and organisational effectiveness, and I took on organising the conference as a vehicle for that. It’s been an incredibly steep learning curve and a lot of hard work.  I’ve learnt a huge amount and I’m really excited to see it all come together in a few weeks time.

Maria: It’s been a very rewarding experience, a lot of hard work, but I’m glad I’ve done it.  It’s been great to work with Dilip, the ABP Board and all the volunteers. I also believe that this is an important event for our industry and I really hope that this year’s Conference does the Association proud.

Find out more

If you would like to find out more about Annual ABP Conference, being held 3rd-5th October at Wokefield Park, Reading, check out the Confernce pages here.

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