14-16 May, Birmingham 2014


The 2014 conference saw speakers from the worlds of media, politics, business and wellbeing congregate in Birmingham to discuss how to lead in the design of spaces that encourage happiness, wellness, innovation and success.

Birmingham originally played host to the BCO Conference back in 2000, and fourteen years later, Birmingham City Council leader Sir Albert Bore, welcomed a record breaking conference audience of 550 delegates to the city with a glimpse of the possibilities presented by the regions as he described Birmingham's renaissance.

Kicking off with The BCO Golf Cup, Cycle Challenge finish and a drinks reception at The Birmingham Repertory Theatre, the conference then played host to a thought provoking schedule of plenaries, seminars and building tours, introduced by BCO Senior Vice President & Conference Chairman, Colette O’Shea.

Key headlines included

Delegates urged to be confident despite near term uncertainties
In a plenary chaired by Richard Kauntze, Chief Executive of the BCO, Dr Gerard Lyons (Chief Economic Adviser to the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson), Isabel Oakeshott (former Political Editor, The Sunday Times) and Martin Vander Weyer (Business Editor, The Spectator) outlined why the UK should be positive in the face of political and economic uncertainty and accelerate the growth of mid-tier cities.

Dr Lyons set out the opportunity at stake, highlighting that the UK could become the biggest economy in Western Europe if it is able to make inroads into its productivity gap to match population growth expected in the next 25 years.

Expectations of growth and optimism were echoed by The Spectator’s Business Editor Martin Vander Weyer, who painted a picture of a new generation of entrepreneurs and soaring levels of start-ups spurred by the recession and led by the food and drink, software and service industries.

Property industry warned, ‘Ignore the customer at your peril’
John Burns (Chief Executive, Derwent London), Teresa O’Byrne (Managing Director, Re:Sources UK) and John Forrester (Chief Executive, DTZ EMEA) joined conference Chairman, Colette O’Shea, in addressing the need to put a building’s occupiers centre stage.

To meet these needs, John Burns highlighted the importance of building and maintaining a deep, reciprocal relationship between occupier and property owner. Panellists agreed that an open dialogue between occupier and developer is critical to supporting revenue stream.

Colette O’Shea, Managing Director of Land Securities London Portfolio acknowledged the potential impact to the bottom of line of understanding and then converting customer needs into reality. A satisfied customer should lead to a longer term relationship and revenue stream, so building for the occupier can lead to an outcome that works equally for both parties.

Happiness was top of the agenda for the closing session
Shawn Achor, Katrina Kostic Samen and Tim Oldman took to the stage for the last plenary of the conference to talk to how ‘It’s all about the people, stupid’.

Tim Oldman, co-founder of Leesman, a leader in measuring the effectiveness of corporate workplaces, argued that for too long businesses have failed to recognise and measure the relationship between employees and the physical environment. While people and place were once previously siloed and treated very separately, Kostic Samen spoke to the importance of creating an enriched environment to breed greater happiness and wellbeing among businesses.

As a thank you to Birmingham for hosting the BCO Conference for a second time, the Jericho Foundation, a social enterprise working with the most disadvantaged communities in the Birmingham area, was chosen as the beneficiary of the £39,000 raised by 56 conference delegates who cycled 285 miles in less than three days in the annual BCO Cycle Challenge.

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