ICF Australasia’s Double Celebration: International Coaching Week & Our 20th Anniversary
International Coaching Week (ICW) has become a centerpiece of the ICF Australasia Chapter’s annual activities. Our 2019 ICW program was particularly special, as it doubled as a 20th anniversary celebration of our Chapter’s founding. We had over 450 people participate, including over 350 people attending in-person events, making this our biggest ICW ever. Here is an overview of what we did, how we put the program together, and what we’ve learned in the process, including challenges and opportunities moving forward.
One Anniversary, Five Time Zones
Our Chapter is vast, running from New Zealand in the East, all the way across the Australian continent to Perth in the West. This posed a challenge: we wanted to celebrate our anniversary as a whole Chapter, together, but how best to do this across 5,000 kilometers and five time zones?
In the end, we ran nine in-person events simultaneously on May 3 in Adelaide, Auckland, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth, The Sunshine Coast, Sydney and Wellington; and connected them all via Zoom videoconference, live. ICF Global Chair Jean-François Cousin, MCC, joined us from Singapore to give the keynote address via Zoom.
This gave our members the opportunity to connect in person with other ICF Members in their local area, while also connecting virtually with coaches across both countries. A number of branches organized their own speakers before or after Jean-François Cousin’s presentation, which made for even richer local events.
Our 20th anniversary celebration during ICW was an incredible success. Over 200 ICF Members and guests came together, with many more joining online. It demonstrated how far both coaching and the ICF’s Australasia Chapter have come over that time. A common theme from attendees was how connecting all the events together via live video conference gave attendees a deep sense of belonging to their coaching “tribe,” right across Australia and New Zealand, which is something we seldom experience.
I would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to everyone involved in making this ambitious event a reality, and in particular, the ICW Working Group that drove the process, and to Jean-François Cousin, MCC, for taking the time to join us.
Other ICW Activities
There were many other events held during ICW 2019. This included a chapter-wide webinar on how to build a coaching culture that attracted both coaches and HR/Organizational Development professionals, and in-person events in Perth and Auckland featuring speakers on the topic of change management and coaching. The Victorian Branch led a “Coaching blog-a-day” program during ICW that featured some fantastic content and insights from our members.
This was the second year that the ICF Australasia Chapter has put on a really significant ICW program, and as was the case in 2018, planning and collaboration were key. We assembled an ICW Working Group that included volunteer representatives from almost every one of our eight Branches. The working group connected every few weeks via Zoom and used Google Sheets to track event planning. This provided a good balance between centralized planning and coordination at the Chapter level, while having most of the execution driven by the Working Group members at their Branch level.
For ICW 2020, we will start planning earlier—likely in September/October this year. The hardest work in putting together an ICW program is deciding on overall themes, what activities to hold, and how the overall program will fit together. The earlier these decisions are made, the easier it is to plan, promote and deliver a compelling ICW program. There is so much talent and commitment right across the ICF Australasia leadership teams, and when this is coupled with a good planning process and plenty of lead time, great things happen!
Public Relations: A Work in Progress
Public Relations is a nut we have yet to crack, but one that offers significant potential. We had hoped to run a PR campaign showcasing high-profile coachees and their coaches discussing their coaching journey together. However, when we called for Expressions of Interest, we received limited responses. There may be a better PR opportunity focusing on broader pro bono coaching initiatives, such as the Queensland branch’s collaboration with the Queensland University of Technology that recently won the global Gift of Coaching Award, and another pro bono initiative we have planned for later this year.
The ICF Australasia Chapter’s International Coaching Week program in 2019 built on the strong base we established the year before, with a record number of people participating in in-person and virtual events. Ann Wright, PCC, has just taken over from myself as our Chapter’s Head of External Stakeholder Engagement. She, along with the rest of the ICW Working Group, will be leading our ICW program next year. Under Ann’s leadership, and with the wonderful ongoing contribution of Branch representatives, the ICF Australasia Chapter is well positioned to continue to raise the bar on our ICW Program in the year ahead.
A final word of thanks: As I leave my formal role within ICF Australasia, I would like to thank all the talented and committed leaders across the ICF Australasia Chapter who have helped us take such fantastic strides over the past three years. The future of our Chapter is bright indeed.