by Kevin French
Finding myself heading to Vancouver for some client meetings at the same time that the SMART Remediation event was scheduled this year, I offered to do a presentation on the use of bench-scale testing in remedial design. It seemed a natural topic since we are well versed in this service and encounter a lot of interesting treatment challenges. The talk ended up being well-received by an appreciative group of professionals at SMART. Shortly thereafter, I did a presentation on behalf of (new father) Pat O’Neill at Americana 2017 in Montreal on High-Resolution Site Characterization (HRSC) services (Mom and new baby are doing fine by the way). This presentation was to a larger, more international audience. Just a short while ago I was in Whistler for the Bettering Environmental Stewardship & Technology (BEST) 2017 conference, this time as an attendee only. Having recently presented talks at two very different events and attending a third provided me with an opportunity to reflect on the flavour and benefits of each.
As you may know, SMART Remediation is a series of half-day technical learning sessions organized by Vertex that has been running across Canada since 2011. It focuses on all aspects of environmental remediation and attracts attendees from consulting firms, government, business and suppliers. I find it to be a great opportunity to stay up to date on new developments in the field, but also to meet and network with new contacts and reconnect with our existing circle of clients and colleagues in the business. And, even though the Toronto event was oversold and very large this year, it still feels comfortable.
I had not been to Americana before, but soon learned that it is much, much larger. Three entire days of talks including eight different streams of topics, a huge trade show with hundreds of booths (Bavaria even had a pavilion there this year!), and speakers and attendees from around the world. The two talks I presented at Americana this year (I also presented one on Permeable Reactive Barriers for Petroleum Hydrocarbons) had real-time translation from English to French. I found this conference to be a great occasion to meet an entirely new group of contacts and have discussions about potential new synergies and opportunities for work.
The BEST conference fell somewhere in between these two: bigger than SMART with a broader range of topics, but smaller than Americana and more local (west coast) as opposed to international. The talks that I attended were all quite good and it was interesting to observe the different styles of the presenters – ranging from apparent first-timers to old pros. I found it to be not only a good technical learning and networking event, but also picked up some tips on how to polish my own presentation skills.
Each conference had a distinct flavour, but all were rewarding in different, yet complimentary ways. SMART Remediation was familiar and served to strengthen existing business networks. Americana was more foreign and provided an impetus towards non-conventional potential new business relationships. BEST was a great opportunity to expand our presence on the west coast, and also to reflect on the differences between attending and presenting at conferences. I’m very glad I was able to attend each of these events. Conferences in general are a great avenue for professional and business development. If you haven’t yet had the chance to step a little out of your comfort zone and attend or present at a different “flavour” of conference, I highly recommend it! Who knows what rewards might be waiting for you and your business…