I have been going to MIPIM – the world’s largest commercial property investment and development show – since its very early days.
It’s rather frightening to think that the event, which attracts more than 30,000 delegates from across the globe, is celebrating the big “Three O”.
In March, I will be packing my bag with plenty of flat shoes ready for what is a week of walking the floor, pressing the flesh and hopefully making new contacts as well as cementing existing relationships.
This year, however, will be very different.
For the last quarter of century, I led the team at Coventry City Council that organised the city and county’s presence at the show. That involved securing finance from partners, organising accommodation, attracting new partnership members, arranging events, booking flights and ensuring the area was in the best position to capitalise on the opportunities MIPIM presents.
But just over a year ago I left the council and joined Wasps, so this year I will be going back as a partner rather than the “home team” and will see life from the other side of the MIPIM fence.
Wasps have attended MIPIM since the club first arrived in Coventry in 2014. We go for two reasons – to explore commercial possibilities but also to represent Coventry and Warwickshire.
Our chief executive Nick Eastwood has always said that the welcome we received from all areas of the community, businesses and the local authorities was way beyond what the club expected.
That is a powerful message when we are talking to potential inward investors.
The worlds of rugby and property go together extremely well and having a Wasps player as part of the Coventry and Warwickshire MIPIM partnership is highly effective.
We always take one player and they are kept very busy meeting key contacts and attending events, but equally the message that we can give on how we were received in Coventry and how we have found very strong and positive partnerships can make a real impression on those looking to invest here.
There are a couple of truisms – people do business with people, and places have to make themselves easy to do business with. My experience of the Coventry and Warwickshire MIPIM Partnership tells me that we tick both boxes.
So hopefully seeds will be sewn this year that blossom into investments down the line and Wasps are proud to be a part of what is again a very strong contingent from this part of the Midlands.
I am looking forward to going in my new role – and I have promised my former colleagues and friends that I will not interfere!