2018 was my first MIPIM, and I was sorely disappointed. I *love* a good anecdote and was all set to be outraged by the sexism, prostitution and drug taking I was expecting to find on every street corner. Having read the Presidents Club coverage and the MIPIM articles I had sent them, my friends in the UK were anticipating some outrageous stories in the pub when (if) I made it back to the the UK.
Sadly, it wasn’t the case. MIPIM, it transpires, is actually a fairly tame - if boozy - conference, set in sunny Cannes. C’est la vie…
What I did learn was that MIPIM is the easiest networking I’ve ever done. At a UK networking event you’ll find me clinging to the wall or a colleague, whichever provides best cover, hoping no one will speak to me and I can escape with minimal human contact. (Yes, I know I’m gobby generally but something about networking makes me freeze up). No such problems in MIPIM. You can bowl up to almost anyone, introduce yourself, and either have a useful chat, or a fun but not-useful chat and then politely move on, with no offence taken. It’s easy! Possibly the aforementioned booze has something to do with this but whatever, it works – I’ve never had so many useful or interesting work-related conversations in such a short space of time.
However, I was surprised (having spent so long with my colleague preparing for MIPIM with military precision) how many other delegates didn’t really know why they were there. I made a point of asking almost everyone I met why they attended MIPIM and an alarmingly large number of people (mainly developers it should be said) answered something along the lines of “Well, everyone goes don’t they?”. It was people like the Daily Mail-bashed local authorities who seemed to really know why they were there and who were determined to make the most of it – good on them.
And what of the outrageous sexism I was expecting to encounter? Well it’s a tricky one. If you put several thousand people, largely blokes, in a town in France and ply them with alcohol for a week it’s bound to get messy. On the one hand I think if guys are there drinking in large quantities, they might be expected to behave a little anti-socially. Another part of me thinks my colleague and I should be able to walk around Cannes during the evening, attending a work conference (and with most people there being paid for by their firms) without being leered at or having groups of blokes shout “Wey hey ladies!” as though we’re out clubbing in the UK. So, I am not sure where I stand on it, but I don’t think you can divorce the behaviour in Cannes from the amount of alcohol that is drunk all day long, often for free.
Would I go to MIPIM again? After five days my knees were telling me that even at 38 I’m getting too old for it, and would happily send younger colleagues next time. But I can’t deny it was interesting, fun and most importantly, incredibly useful for my firm. Which means I expect both I and my blister plasters will be back in Cannes in March 2019. We’ll see you there….!
This article was written by Anna Sabine-Newlyn, CEO of MPC.