Conference Alert: Timesaver’s Guide To NIRI

Leadership, change, globalization
The title of the conference, ‘Leadership in a changing world’, is three themes in one. As co-chairs Sally Curley from Cardinal Health and Safeway’s Melissa Plaisance began talking with NIRI’s vice president of professional development, Kraig Conrad, they realised they were facing a world in flux. ‘The leadership expected from us by our management teams and regulators, the global impact of what’s happening around us – all of it is changing rapidly,’ Curley explains.

What makes CEOs tick?
The first general session on Monday morning will feature Adam Bryant, the New York Times columnist who launched the wildly popular Sunday business feature ‘Corner office’ in 2009. He has just published a book, The corner office, and will give insights and anecdotes from dozens of CEOs. ‘We thought kicking off the conference with an overview from Adam would be a great way to introduce the theme,’ Curley says.

View from the top
Don’t miss the speech by Cardinal Health’s CEO, George Barrett. He was the primary spokesperson with Wall Street when he was CEO for North America at Teva Pharmaceuticals. ‘More than any CEO I’ve ever worked with, he has a real understanding of what it takes to be an IRO. Many CEOs get it, but he really gets it,’ Curley says. Unlike other CEO overviews in past years, which tended to ramble, Barrett’s speech will address three or four specific issues facing IROs.

Take this home to your CEO
Make sure you stick around to the end and catch Jan Hargrave, a body language expert who wowed the NIRI Senior Roundtable in December. She will explore your – and your management team’s – presentation styles. Did you know she and other coaches like her actually teach hedge fund managers to read CEO body language? ‘She’s one of the most memorable speakers I have heard in my 20 years in NIRI,’ Plaisance says. ‘Warm, funny, entertaining and very applicable to what we IROs do from day to day.’

Global track
The NIRI conference has been hosting more and more international delegates, from around 11 per cent of attendees in 2009 to 15 per cent last year and an expected 20 per cent in 2011. The biggest foreign group is from Canada, followed by Brazil. This year a whole new ‘Global IR’ concurrent education stream has been created, covering issues like creating written disclosure policies for different regions and navigating the US regulatory landscape.

Tudo bem
In the same vein, international delegates shouldn’t miss the international reception on Sunday at 4.00 pm. Last year the party kicked off with NIRI CEO Jeff Morgan leading a panel with IROs from Brazil, the Middle East and Australia. This year he’ll lead another globally diversified panel.

A little bit of school
Arriving early? Disney World not a draw? For the first time, NIRI is offering its popular Finance 101 course on Saturday for an extra charge. It will be led by tutor Helen Varley from the UK’s excellent FinanceTalking.

More than just a shopping spree
The IR Services Showcase, which kicks off Sunday evening and continues through Tuesday, is already full, with all the booths sold out as IR magazine went to press. ‘Last year we redesigned it as more of a ‘city’: community-focused with places to sit and talk instead of just a walk-through,’ Morgan says. It was so well received, they’re doing it again.

Rock on
Last year NIRI invited musically inclined members to jam with the professional band at the Monday night reception. The NIRI band has been growing, promises Conrad, who hints at an all-NIRI lineup taking to the stage. Look out for NIRI chairman Doug Wilburne from Textron on saxophone, among other musical luminaries.

Hot ticket
Save some energy for more parties on Monday night. For the past two years Liquidnet’s has been the hottest ticket. This year’s bash is for dark pool InfraRed’s community only. A Liquidnet spokesperson will reveal only that there will be a Liquidtini cocktail – and stipulates: ‘Bring your dancing shoes.’

IR never rests
Florida isn’t just about theme parks. The Southeast has more than 300 institutions with over $450 bn under management. Time to do some investor targeting?

As Morgan has traveled around the country visiting NIRI chapters, he has heard about more and more investor relations professionals doing yoga as a way of winding down. For the first time, the NIRI conference will have yoga sessions on the Monday and Tuesday mornings.

All aboard the Hogwarts Express
Morgan says he’s heard that a lot of people are bringing their families to Florida, perhaps because they haven’t had much of a chance to go on vacation during the recession. A big draw will be the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando, which opened in June 2010.

[Article by Neil Stewart, IR magazine]