Sometimes it’s difficult to decide whether to go to a conference or event.  It’s a commitment in time and energy, it takes you away from your business, and it costs good money. And what will you get out of it? Most of the time, because you’re a business professional, you’ll see, or hear about, developments with which you’re already familiar… and, often, that are completely irrelevant in your line of work.

There will be no time and money wasted when you decide to take part in the second FINAT European Label Forum – and, for sure, your BUSINESS will benefit. This is an event with a DIFFERENCE. Engineered specifically to the label business and its intricate value chain, it’s concerned with VALUE CREATION, INNOVATION, and STRATEGIC SUCCESS – three topics with which all in the value chain are concerned. What’s more, the programme features real international experts – people who are winners themselves, and well equipped to show YOU how to win too.

‘Blue sky thinking’ is a good way to start – and that’s what the European Label Forum delivers in its opening keynote from famous Swedish futurologist and writer Magnus Lindkvist, who’ll talk around the disruptive trends that will transform the label and package printing landscape in the next decade. The founder of the world’s first academically-accredited course in trendspotting and future thinking, he memorably spoke at FINAT Congress in Athens a few years ago – and the delegates loved it.

Business matters

Of course, FINAT President Thomas Hagmaier – opening the plenary session of the Forum and welcoming participants – followed by a summary of the trends that the FINAT RADAR has identified – sets the context for the first challenge – the session that follows. For nearly two hours, ELF participants will conduct the’ ELF 2016 Buzzmaster Debate: Business Matters’ with no less a personage than Rens de Jong, Buzzmaster co-founder (not heard of it? Visit www.buzzmaster.nl!). He is also well known as the talkshow host of the Dutch Business News Radio – and was voted Moderator of the Year. He will interview stakeholders from different corners of the European label world about pending business questions – label sourcing trends, branding, technology innovation, corporate social responsibility, etc.…   Using the Buzzmaster concept, all ELF participants will also take part in the debate, using the wifi connection on their smartphones. Innovation indeed!

Panellists confirmed for this debate are:

  • Didier Bonnefon, Sourcing & Supplier Development Manager Ingredients, DANONE, division NUTRICIA
  • Paul Earnshaw, Packaging Manager of TESCO
  • Rik Olthof, ‘brand strategist’ at CARTILS (brand packaging design agency)
  • Keran Turakhia, Director of HIVE (a UK company specialised in interactive packaging solutions)
  • Peder Michael Pruzan Jørgensen, Sustainability Executive of BSR  (‘Business for Social Responsibility, an international non profit organisation)
  • Corey Reardon, CEO AWA Alexander Watson Associates
  • Phil Allen, Value Creator at CVM€
  • Gordon Crichton, Director of MAI the French Institute for International Procurement

Current value creation and innovation for future growth

There are two parallel workshops later that day, both of them business-focused and offering first-rate input – one on how to ‘Create and capture more value from your current business’, led by Phil Allen, CEO & Value Creator at Customer Value Management GmbH (CH);  and one on ‘Innovation for future profitable growth’, led by management change expert Gordon Crichton, Director of the Institut du Management de l’Achat International (F).   FINAT members will remember his special contribution to last year’s ELF programme.

Mastering knowledge

Industry hero Mike Fairley, supported by Quizmaster Niklas Olsson (programme committee chairman of the ELF) lead off the second day’s proceedings with a team-based competition – The ‘Label Masters Challenge’ to test participants’ knowledge of label printing technology – a subject on which the founder-editor of Labels & Labeling magazine is expert!   He’s also the prime mover in creating the platform for the Label Academy, which is now offering modular online technical education and training to support the label industry today and tomorrow in the face of disappearing college education. The modules from the Label Academy will form the basis for the challenge – with prizes for the winning team.

And if you couldn’t make it this year to drupa, VskE’s associate Herbert Knott is going to provide a useful rundown on the technology takeaways from the world’s largest media and printing show that is about to take off in Düsseldorf.

We all want to get in the fast lane, and Formula 1 drivers are better at it than most – so it’s good that the closing keynote comes from Mark Gallagher, and it is focused on keeping the label industry in pole position for innovation leadership. Mark’s extensive career in F1 senior management, with Jordan Grand Prix, Red Bull Racing, and Cosworth, has given him remarkable insights into the routes to success. Today he uses his special experience and knowledge to advise teams, sponsors and drivers, as well as industry in general, on how to get to the top. He’s also an expert racing pundit and TV commentator, and his thoughts and advice to European Label Forum participants will for sure be a memorable route to the chequered flag – for themselves individually and, of course, for their teams!

But the European Label Forum’s not just about the formal programme. It’s about networking, getting together with supply chain partners, and – believe it or not – having fun.   Informal meetings around the supplier tabletop exhibition throughout the event will be partnered by a lovely Amsterdam evening, cruising the canals on board the Ocean Diva and enjoying cocktails, dinner, and live entertainment. And on the first day, an informal ‘walking buffet’ dinner in the hotel will make it possible for everyone’s travel schedule and arrival time to be accommodated. The Mövenpick Hotel itself is spectacularly situated at the water’s edge, just minutes from Central Station (regular free shuttle bus!) and just 20 minutes from the airport.

All in all, the 2016 European Label Forum is an event that has been created specifically to deliver real business advantage, in an international context for senior executives in the broad label industry. It is designed to stimulate the little grey cells – to encourage leading-edge thinking – and it will certainly deliver exactly what FINAT’s members say that they need and want – an event that rewards participants with the knowledge, networking, and energy that are key to the strategic success of their industry,  today – and tomorrow.

Is it something you can afford to miss?

Jules Lejeune

Managing Director FINAT