ALTO was proud to present their free professional development and networking event for ALTO member organisations at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London, England at the start of September in between two key industry events, Alphe and Study World.

This was a double-event with one track designated for senior management and another track more suitable for middle managers.

Risky Business

Following up on members’ requests to learn more about risk management, ALTO invited Anthony Fitzsimmons, a former solicitor and expert on international liability law, to lead a session on reputational risk. Anthony is the founder and chairman of Reputability, and is also a co-author of “Roads to Ruin”, the seminal Cass Business School report for Airmic and, with the late Professor Derek Atkins, of “Rethinking Reputational Risk: How to Manage the Risks that can Ruin Your Business, Your Reputation and You”.

As an expert keynote speaker on reputational, behavioural and organisational risks, Anthony focused on how a company of any size must prepare for times of crisis in order to limit the damage to its reputation.

Senior managers from ALTO member organisations learned how and why respected organisations unexpectedly fail despite the best efforts of diligent, intelligent leaders.

Reputation matters more than many businesses realise, Anthony told ALTO members. Reputation also isn’t covered by insurers. Once it’s gone, it’s very hard to regain. But the biggest mistake business owners and board members tend to make is that they try to control their own reputation.

In fact, the reputation of a company is actually more in the hands of employees than the employer.

Just like an aeronautical engineer who is afraid of telling his or her boss about a problem, which leads to a crash and a huge loss of reputation, an English language tutor at a summer school holds the reputational playing cards in their hands.

Anthony proposed that 40% of a company’s value may rest on the reputation it has “because when a problem is identified and revealed, around 40% of the firm’s stock price is normally lost”, he explained.

He continued by sharing an example from the aviation industry which doesn’t scold employees who make mistakes but instead, they ask why it was made and act on the answer in order to ensure it is not repeated. This helps contribute to a fair and just work environment and protects staff from feeling bullied.

The workshop continued with a crisis case study that attendees dissected to identify the root cause of the risks, and a wrap-up discussion of how to uncover such risks in their own organisations.

Hot Topics

The morning seminar was followed by a networking lunch and attendees then broke out into two groups: one dedicated to Agents and moderated by Scott Wade from Study Travel Magazine and another for Schools moderated by James Love from ICEF.

In close-knit groups with fellow leaders and owners, participants discussed best practices, concerns, and current issues.

James explained, “Splitting up the members into their two groups worked well and promoted a frank and open discussion about key topics – direct bookings, the nature of the agent/educator partnership and such like. It was a very valuable exercise.”

Scott concurred, emphasising the importance of talking through “several tricky issues confronting agents that pose ongoing challenges.”


Recipe for Resilience

In addition to events dedicated for senior management, ALTO offers an extra CPD session to member organisations’ mid-managers once a year as part of our Developing the Leaders of Tomorrow project.

For this session, we invited Hannilee Fish from iKan Health. iKan Health was founded on the idea that to build resilience, handle stress and perform at your highest, workplace wellbeing should be considered seriously. They take a 360 degree look at your health and pull from a global team of experts in Emotional Resilience, Social Intelligence, Clinical Psychology, Nutrition, Fitness, Mindfulness and more.

Hannilee kicked off by explaining that resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of stress, either from short term intensive experiences such as deadlines or reaching set targets, or from the less-obvious gradual accumulation of pressure over time.

She highlighted the enormous impact resilience (or lack thereof) can have on companies, such as:

  • “At least 1 in 4 people will experience some kind of mental health problem each year.
  • Research shows sickness absence costs UK businesses £4.17bn every year.
  • Over 70 million working days are lost each year due to mental health issues costing UK businesses up to £100 billion, according to CMO’s Annual Report 2014 by the Department of Health.
  • Less than half of employees said they would feel able to talk openly with their line manager if they were suffering from stress.”

Hannilee gave attendees an understanding of the science behind why employees get overwhelmed and shared constructive ways to manage teams when they might be at risk of feeling overwhelmed.

She then shared tools to intervene and prevent overwhelm, and illustrated how to integrate four resilience strategies based around the physical, emotional, mental, and social aspects of resilience.

When overwhelmed, resilience involves maintaining flexibility and balance in your life as you deal with major pressures or stressful events. It is crucial to look after your own (and your employees’) wellbeing so that you can maintain balance, achieve personal and professional goals, and feel more productive and effective.

alto london, resilience, ikan health

Watch the event video clip