Report from IAAP Austin

Published: 2018-08-23

My first IAAP Summit

I always wanted to be one step faster in order to learn and develop myself. This was the case when I joined the first LIVE conference of Lucy Brazier many years ago and I remember the funny questions I got asked why I join events outside of IMA – International Management Assistants. But IMA was never enough for me. Therefore, I joined IAAP (International Association of Administrative Professionals) a US based network in 2017 as I wanted to receive a broader picture of our industry. IMA has been my home base since 2006 and as you all know I am a very active and vocal ambassador. I am currently chairing the region in Berlin, but I have always been open for new inspiration and perspectives outside of our network. After following the online activities of IAAP for quite some time and getting to know a few members at other conferences, I knew I wanted to become part of this family as well. 

I first heard about the opportunity to apply for a scholarship at Lucy’s LIVE conference in Washington DC in 2017 where my fellow IAAP members helped me getting to know more about the Foundation of IAAP and the scholarship program.
I was excited once the time arrived that online applications would be starting so I prepared my application and I put a lot of effort in it. And it paid off. I will never forget the moment when I received the call with the good news: “You made it – you have been accepted. Congratulations. Will you come to Austin in July?” I was overwhelmed with the news that I made the list of the 25 scholarship recipients and called my husband right away. After checking the dates with him, I agreed to come and accept this wonderful opportunity. 
From that moment on, I received many detailed information emails from various IAAP staff members helping me to get onboard and prepare myself for Austin. The app has been also a huge help. 

I was so keen to go to Austin and meet all these wonderful online connections in person. Time flew and before I knew, I boarded my plane from Germany to Austin. Quite a story as we had a sick passenger on board and almost had to make an emergency landing. But all went well luckily. After an overnight layover in beautiful Chicago, I made it to Austin where I was offered to stay with my dear friend and world-famous trainer Vickie Sokol-Evans. 

I cannot express enough gratitude to the Foundation of IAAP including all donors for the scholarship program. It allowed me to make this wonderful experience. I would like to encourage even more out there in the IMA world in getting involved in IAAP – it is a fantastic sister association and we need to learn what happens outside of Europe. The US is a huge market for assistants, they do things differently than we do and therefore, I have been curious to be part of the summit. Some IMA members have already reached out to me asking for details on IAAP and I am happy to share it with many of you. IMA is a strong community but by harmonising our goals, synchronizing on various topics and being open for new perspectives, we can become even stronger. This became clear after talking to various IAAP Board members and their CEO in Austin. The doors are hugely open, and they are keen to get a European voice, so it is time to move closer together and benefit from each other. At least this was my goal and I exchanged many ideas while over there. The new Chair-Elect, Nora Onishi, will be coming to Frankfurt as she wants to join our conference as an observer. A huge privilege for IMA and a wonderful opportunity to start potential discussions and get the relevant people around the table.  

The summit was not only well organized in terms of logistics and content (incredible speakers, inspiring keynotes and interactive workshops), it was the whole spirit which got me from the first moment on. And it was so different from what I have seen in Europe so far after attending various conferences as an attendee and speaker. Americans do know how to bring the best on stage with lots of pride, humour and grace. The topics were similar to those we know from Europe but presented differently as the speakers were more interactive than what I have seen so far in Europe. I enjoyed all of my sessions very much. 

My two highlights for sure were the moment when I carried the German flag during the parade of nations at the opening celebration as well as my scholarship speech at the closing celebration. I will be forever grateful to IAAP for including me in the program and for allowing me to share the stage with so many wonderful industry ambassadors in front of 1200 admins.  #WeAreInThisTogether became reality as we all acted with one voice. We uplifted each other in such a natural way. 

Thank you to everyone involved for bringing me to Austin and to join this great event. I am sure it was not my last one as I just renewed my membership with IAAP.

Take care, Diana 

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