CIPD ACE Exhibition Blog

Wow what an ACE! 

So many handshakes, so many hugs, so many smiles, so many people.

This year felt more than just learning what is happening in the industry, this felt like a major step forward in our getting back to socialising and interacting in person!

I always go with a plan otherwise I find I can walk aimlessly around the hall and come away with stuff, but is it rarely stuff that I need.  This year was about connecting with companies who are covering the headlines in the areas of people management – those areas that are difficult whether that be because it’s a difficult thing to talk about like menopause, difficult because of affordability such as reward and benefits, difficult because we don’t have time or internal capability or budget such as management development.

The fun began on the 7:59 train into Deansgate – no rail strike happening, the train was on time, I got a seat, and the sun was shining.

The queue was short at to get into ACE at 08:30am, it took 2 minutes to check in and get my lanyard, greeted by lots of happy and smiling greeters.

Which way to go?

I love walking into the hall and making that decision.

A sneaky peak at the sessions over at the HR Transformation Insights area.  I had read about each of the sessions happening in this area, as well as the Learning and Skills Insights and Employee Experience Insights areas. 

The question being, would I actually make it to any?

The refresh and reflect café was available to relax and explore chair massages and yoga sessions.

Left, and a conversation with Perkbox.  I learned about a new feature Perkbox has set up around linking rewards to Teams to aid with communication and increase engagement – love this introduction and looking forward to exploring this further.

First sweets and bag of the day!  Thank you Perkbox.

A great conversation with Natalie Greenslade from Ginger Green Nutrition.  Natalie is very knowledgeable on all things menopause and offers lots of programmes on a corporate and individual level.

Looking forward to connecting Natalie in 2023 for our podcast episode and to explore the areas employers can help their staff with.

Great to talk with Ryan and Lynn from Potential Released and to hear of all the work they are doing with apprenticeships and CIPD qualifications.  Lots of great opportunities coming up.  Very colourful stand to match their vibrant approach to learning.

A great conversation with the guys and gals over at MindGym and their services in the world of management development and behaviour change.

A flick through the latest addition of the HR Director #214 and the subscription services they provide.

Aspire Procurement Training were on hand to talk about the apprenticeship levy which is underutilised and available to support with training staff in the purchasing world.

Not a company I expected to see in the hall, but an interesting conversation with Dan Elliott from Butlins and the facilities they have available for your next conference or corporate event.

A quick hello to our friends at ACAS and a discussion around their effective leadership framework.

Brilliant conversation with Paula Gibson over at the City & Guilds I ILM stand and the availability of the City & Guilds Foundation which I will definitely be investigating further to help with the apprenticeship routes some of the young people I work with over at Youth Challenge want to tap into. We also talked about at which stage of in-house training causes the biggest challenge?  Planning, managing, delivering, evaluating – I said all but if I could only have one stress ball then it would be evaluation.

A lovely chat with the ladies at Top Employers Institute and what it takes for a company to become a certified Top Employer.

Bestrustees were on hand to help with pension governance.

A great team photo over at Terryberry and the great work they are doing to support employers offer a very affordable reward package to their staff.

Just a very brief chat with Simon Heath so as not to disturb his illustration creation of the conference!

A great chat with Vicki Robinson over at the Miscarriage Association  stand and the great work they are doing to support staff and employers.

The connections area was great, over a glass of fizz to purposefully network and establish new connects – the session I attended with four areas and the North was very well attended as you can imagine given where we were. Love this as you don’t need to worry about not talking to someone as everyone in that zone at that time is there for one reason – to talk and expand their network!

The CIPD stand was at the hub of the hall.  It was a saviour when I needed a sit down, to charge the mobile, to grab a free cup of tea as I had brought my recyclable cup and it was brilliant to use as a meeting up location with fellow CIPD committee members and previous colleagues. There was lots of mini bite sized presentations happening from more on CIPD HR-Inform, supporting colleagues through pregnancy or baby loss through to giving and receiving feedback and CIPD professionals and much much more

Yes, I made it to one of the Insights sessions – Why HR needs to rethink their concept of time – presented by Catherine Chapman from Personio.

Catherine revealed an astonishing figure that given we spend so much time on admin tasks, we can spend so little time on moving our strategic work forward that it could take us 8.5 months to complete a project!

Managed to grab the end of the Sodexo Engage session in the Employee Experience Insights area where Graham James discussed how the environment around staff impacts performance. An interesting conversation run by Iris over at the HR Transformation Insights area around workforce planning and the need to relook at this given the current economic climate

It would be rude of me not to mention the facilities! Lots available, I chose a chicken noodle dish for lunch and a lot more variety was on offer. I had the pleasure of meeting Barbra Carlisle who I have met lots online following a CIPD networking event but never met in person.

A great goody pack to take home for the kids and I stuck to my new mantra of only picking up things that I need and didn’t come away with a bundle of stuff.

So a wonderfully organised mass of information and connection under one roof!

If you haven’t attended the conference and exhibition before, these are my suggestions for your first visit. Avoid taking too much with you as your baggage grows as the day goes on.  Wear comfy clothes and shoes as you are on your feet for a long time.  If you are a tea guzzler like me, it is worth taking your recyclable cup to enjoy the free refills.  I have learned not to take everything you can, as most of it goes in the bin – I prepped before hand the exhibitors I wanted to attend and made a bee line for them.  You can get as much out of the exhibition as you can the conference – I could only attend one day this year so only did the exhibition and got so much out of it, so plan your time and days well to get the most out of them.  But try as much as you can, meet as many people as you can as it is an absolute buzz and you come away feeling revived and excited to implement what you have learned.

For those that did attend, how was your experience?  What was your biggest take away and what will you be doing now with the learning and new contacts?

CIPD ACE never disappoints, and this year was no different.  Thank you to all of the exhibitors for sharing their services and products.  Thank you to everyone who attended who I knew and managed to talk to.  Thank you to those strangers in “Connections” who have now become connections.  Thank you CIPD for organising and providing us with a grand scale platform to connect, learn and develop.

Looking forward to 2023!

About the author

Pam Molyneux is a HR Consultant and the Manchester Branch Membership Engagement Lead.  Aside from running her own business, Pam loves to support young people find opportunities that will help them in later life and volunteers through the CIPD Enterprise Advisers scheme.

Connect with Pam on LinkedIn

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Location Manchester, England E-mail manchester@cipdbranch.co.uk Hours Our hours vary according to our programme.
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