CIPS dinner – the real review….

After yesterday’s exclusive report from the CIPS Annual Dinner, held at the Hilton on Park Lane on Wednesday evening, we’ll have a slightly more serious review of the event today.

Numbers appeared to be down a little on previous years, with 42 tables of 12 – around 500 people. I think historically it has been around 600. But that actually made for a more pleasant dining experience - the tables weren’t jammed quite so tightly together as usual, so you could actually navigate the room more easily.

The food was a pleasant surprise –it was all very good I thought, and the dessert was an extremely delicious caramel creation which was excellent.  And four courses, which threw me a bit – I thought the Mushroom Soufflé was the main course when it arrived! But no, it was merely course number two. I was fortunate to be on the Proxima table, so as expected the wine was very good (thanks to Mr Strafford, wine connoisseur and Proxima Director)  – the Tokay dessert wine was just superb.

Now for the speeches. Regular readers know we don’t pull our punches, and sycophantism is not part of our vocabulary – it’s also a word I don’t think I’ve ever written before! But in all honesty, David Smith’s speech as CIPS President was, I thought, quite outstanding. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a CIPS Dinner remain so quiet for a President’s speech, which reflected both the content and the way he delivered his remarks.

He talked about the need for us to think about the next generation of procurement executives, and how we can encourage people into the profession – issues of course that are at the heart of his President’s Initiative this year. If we all gave up one day this year, he said, to get out and talk to students in schools, colleges or universities, just think about what that would do in terms of the next generation understanding procurement and perhaps being motivated to come into the profession.

I’m a huge fan of Matthew Parris as a journalist, and his speech was – pretty good. It was mainly focused on his career and how he “failed” at various jobs and ended up taking a fairly random career path. It was engaging and witty at times, but I had a sneaky feeling that he’s done that speech many times before. I guess I would rather have heard some of his views on what’s going on in the political world now. But I’d still put him in probably the upper quartile of CIPS speakers; he didn’t go on too long*, and the audience seemed engaged.

I missed the casino until the last few minutes, but it seems a bit pointless when it’s not real money. It’s not as if Roulette is a fundamentally exciting or interesting challenge if there’s nothing riding on it. But it seemed to go down well. A small group of us then tried to get into the 28th Floor bar for a final drink and to meet colleagues who were already there, (this was about 12.45 by now,) but we were told it was “closing”.

This seemed a little odd as it was full of people who didn’t look like they’d had a last orders shout. But we decided that the guy on the door probably wasn’t worth arguing with... and given how I felt the next morning, I was then very glad I’d avoided the extra dose of alcohol!

My only disappointment was some of the photos I took (or thought I'd taken) have vanished from my phone, including the "how many CIPS President's can you spot in this picture" quiz I had planned!  Shame.

So, a very good event, well done to everyone involved in organising it, thanks to Proxima for both sponsoring the overall event and for my invite, and we look forward to the SM Awards evening later in the year!

*Anyone remember Simon Woodroffe, Yo Sushi founder, who spoke for over 50 minutes a few dinners back, including giving us his rendition of a rap song he’d written... I came very close to standing up and yelling “shut up” at him!

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Voices (3)

  1. Plan Bee:

    I thought Matthew Parris’ speech was much like the event as a whole, OK, but didnt come to any crescendo and seemed to lack point.

    Well that was true about the event until the trip up to the 28th floor and back again, which was one of the most bizzare and funniest minutes of my life. Talk about an elevator speech. Including ‘Stand aside Peter’

    But Mr Smith has chosen not to mention that

  2. The Guitar Man:

    Although my memory fades, I still vividly recall the video, backing track, long speech and constant reference to ‘The Blockheads’ as a backing band! Speakers since have had a different and (in my view) better delivery style!

    PS I have heard Matthew Parris speak a couple of times before and the content has been ‘similar’ – but everytime I hear him, he remains entertaining, witty and never patronises his audience, I though he has great!

  3. VegasChild:

    Re your footnote – don’t forget the video all about himself we had to endure first and the song was in the style of Ian Drury and the Blockheads – surely you can’t call that rap! all that lovely wine must be affecting your memory this morning.

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