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Annual Conference 2024: Interview with Tim Cooper

Annual Conference 2024: Interview with Tim Cooper

04 April 2024

The 2024 Annual Conference is fast approaching, held for the first time in the picturesque St Andrews in Scotland.

In this blog, we sit down with R3’s Vice President Tim Cooper, to discuss the process behind planning the conference, the inspiration for this year’s theme, and why Scotland was the perfect location to bring together insolvency and restructuring professionals from across the UK.

What inspired you to select this year's theme for the R3 Annual Conference?

The inspiration for this year's theme ‘Global Pathways’ traces back to a pivotal moment at last year's Annual Conference in Venice, where Louise Durkan delivered an impassioned and really quite moving call to action. Her speech challenged delegates to consider how their firms are nurturing the next generation of leaders and rising stars in our profession.

It resonated deeply, and I understood that the next conference would need to serve as a platform for diverse voices across all career stages. It wasn't just about attracting regular attendees; it was about igniting a fire within the entire profession, drawing in fresh perspectives and invigorating seasoned practitioners alike.

I also thought about the challenges and opportunities facing the profession both within the UK and globally. What are the opportunities for people at their different stages of careers? What does the profession look like today? And what are the things that we, as a membership body, need to focus on going forward? I wanted to choose a theme that would spark discussion, reflection and action on all these key points, driving us to collectively address the evolving landscape of our profession.

How does this year's theme reflect the current challenges and opportunities within our profession?

I think that this year's theme isn't intended to necessarily reflect the challenges and opportunities facing the profession per se, but instead it acts as a facilitator to really understand what those opportunities and challenges are.

The theme embodies an exploration of how the profession has changed over the 30+ years that R3 has acted as its trade association. It acknowledges the economic and geopolitical shifts, the global events shaping our profession, and their impact on practitioners worldwide.

My hope is that the theme will act as a catalyst for dialogue, encouraging participants to share their perspectives and experiences and that through this, we can identify the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

Can you share some insights into the process behind choosing the committee, speakers and topics for this year's conference and how they tie into the overall theme?

It was important to me to include voices from various backgrounds and experiences for the committee. I wanted to include a real range of committee members so that we could generate a wide range of ideas that resonated with different segments of our profession.

Each member brought valuable insights, helping us curate a robust programme that addresses the evolving needs of our community and caters to the interests of our diverse audience.

I also took the opportunity during events like the Annual Conference 2023 to gather feedback and insights from attendees to understand their interests and concerns. This really allowed us to tailor the conference content to meet their expectations. Networking, current awareness, and opportunities for professional growth were recurring themes that guided our decision-making process.

As with every R3 conference or event, the ultimate goal was to provide attendees with valuable insights and opportunities they couldn't find elsewhere. It was about delivering tangible value and fostering a sense of community within our profession.

Which sessions or speakers are you personally looking forward to the most and why?

It's really difficult to choose just one because the programme is packed with some great sessions and speakers, but there are a few highlights that I'm particularly looking forward to.

First and foremost, the "Class of 2024" has exceeded my expectations. It was actually in Venice that the idea for the project was born, sparked by a conversation with my former mentor, Richard Obank.

I'm so grateful for the member firms that have engaged with the project as they've put forward fantastic candidates that have such a huge range of backgrounds, career stages, interests and topics. I'm excited about the wealth of insights they'll bring to the table –  it truly embodies the essence of our overall theme and will take the conference to new heights.

On a personal note, I'm really excited to hear from our keynote speaker, Lord David Triesman. Having had the pleasure of chatting with him over coffee, I know firsthand the valuable insights he brings to the table. It's a fantastic opportunity for our members to benefit from his experiences and views.

I'm also really looking forward to hearing regional representation from R3 chairs across Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England. Their contributions reflect the unique challenges and opportunities within each region.

But also looking beyond the UK, the sessions covering European and offshore jurisdictions promise to offer valuable insights into cross-border issues – there's a wealth of knowledge to be gained from these topics.

What does it mean to you to hold the Annual Conference 2024 in Scotland?

Having lived in Scotland for 13 years, and having been a student at Edinburgh University, it's so exciting to bring the conference to a place where it has never been held before.

I see the conference as a chance for attendees to not only engage in serious and insightful discussions from the professional side, but also to enjoy themselves and build relationships too.

Scotland has such a rich culture, and we've ensured that the programme weaves in a lot of these traditions, from Scottish dancing to Highland games, and exploring historic sites like St Andrews. Whether it's their first time at the Annual Conference or they've been lots of times before, I hope attendees will feel really welcomed, and are prepared to embrace all things Scottish – even a splash of tartan in the dress code!

Looking ahead, I hope that whatever location is chosen for next year's Annual Conference and beyond, that we can continue this tradition of embracing the local culture and ensure that attendees have a truly enriching experience wherever they go.

What key messages do you want people to take forward from the conference and into their working lives?

My hope is that the Annual Conference will be a genuine gathering where delegates are really keen to participate, ask questions, provide answers, and share their viewpoints. Rather than predetermining the key messages, I expect that they will organically emerge from the conference itself.

My goal is for every attendee to leave the conference with a heightened awareness of the myriad of opportunities available within our profession. Whether they are seasoned practitioners or newcomers, I would love everyone to walk away with a newfound realisation of opportunities they hadn't previously considered and think about new possibilities for growth and development in their professional journey.


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