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The sheer joy of ‘brick & mortar’ events

Whilst webinars served as an indispensable bridge to discussions at the onset of the pandemic, there was no denying the feeling of inadequacy in communication. There was no issue with the quorum on most occasions, but the sheer inability to spontaneously communicate, to make eye-contact, to view a gesture of the hand – which often […]

| | Jun 17, 2021 | 3:06 pm
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Whilst webinars served as an indispensable bridge to discussions at the onset of the pandemic, there was no denying the feeling of inadequacy in communication. There was no issue with the quorum on most occasions, but the sheer inability to spontaneously communicate, to make eye-contact, to view a gesture of the hand – which often profoundly conveys a message – severely impacted the cognitive experience, more than what we can possibly imagine or estimate.

Surendar Balakrishnan

In that context, it was thrilling to be able to meet in person once again – to connect and experience the nuanced expressions that somehow get flattened out in virtual events. I am referring to the 10th edition of the Food Chain conference, which CPI Industry had the pleasure of hosting on May 31 at the Metropolitan Hotel, off Sheikh Zayed Road, in Dubai. We had a full house, and lively discussions and networking sessions filled with energy, banter and laughter.

It was great to engage with the audience, as opposed to seeing them as mere numbers on the screen; and whilst chat-boxes on virtual fora had been a handy feature for posting and viewing comments, there was nothing like hearing them articulated in the meeting hall – the reverb a pleasing reminder of a golden time not too long ago, when we, unfettered and inapprehensive, moved about our businesses and our lives.

And yet, in the case of Food Chain, we did not completely dissociate ourselves from the virtual world. In perhaps a sign of the times, we opted for a hybrid event, which allowed us to harness the global reach and global participation features of a digital platform. In a nod to 2020 – when CPI Industry webinars, almost without exception, featured speakers from The Americas, Europe and other parts of Asia – we opened up participation at a global level, enriching the in-person format like never before.

In many ways, the 10th edition served as a metaphor for resilience and willingness to adapt. It served as a reminder of the courage of the industry to come forward with the objective of sharing and gaining insights – in this case, on cold chain and food safety. And for that we are much grateful to each and every person that graciously accepted our invitation to attend.

An editorial write-up gushing about in-person events might sound banal, but it’s been a protracted struggle to reclaim our freedom. And hence we must celebrate each and every small move towards restoring normalcy, towards being able to build a better tomorrow.

Surendar Balakrishnan is the Editor of Climate Control Middle East magazine, and Co-Founder and Editorial Director of CPI Industry. He may be contacted at surendar@cpi-industry.com.


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