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Congress by design ready for the future


The management of Congress by design (Cbd) has changed with effect from 1 January 2022. Niels Fundter has been appointed Managing Director and Maureen de Graauw as Operations Director. They are taking over the reins from founder and previous owner Nicolette van Erven, who is making room for the new generation. She will continue to be involved with Cbd as a consultant and, as a council member of IAPCO (International association of Professional Conference Organisers), she will also maintain contacts with the international network. The change of guard was prompted by changes in the market and the entry of Cbd into the GMI Group.

Strategic role as conference advisor
The past two years have necessitated an adjustment from the entire world and in particular have meant a shift for the conference sector. “Hybrid working has become the new norm and this is also reflected in the way we organize conferences," says Niels Fundter. "It is no longer a matter of course to meet live with an international group of scientists to share knowledge. It is more likely to hold a hybrid format with live and online elements or a fully online conference. This requires a new way of working from us as a PCO, one that is even more about partnership and in which we fulfil our role as conference advisor."

Focus on what you can do
“The experiences we have gained recently have been refined into insights and are now coming together in a more strategic approach”, continues Maureen de Graauw. “That gives depth to our profession and provides added value, especially for the associations, corporates and public authorities for and with whom we work. Organizing a conference is often a long-term process, whereby we work together from start to finish. Travel and meeting restrictions create uncertainty, which often makes it difficult to look ahead. This requires flexibility from all parties. Drawing on our expertise, we can clarify and advise on the decisions involved at various stages of a project. The focus is on what can be done. That provides calm, confidence and new inspiration.”

Live, online and hybrid
“Congress by design and the Groningen Congress Bureau have been part of the GMI Group since 1 September 2021”, says Fundter. “A Dutch communication collective which also comprises event agency Obsession and virtual event platform Squares. Together, the companies have more than fifty years of knowledge and experience in designing and organising live, online and hybrid conferences. I therefore look forward to discover how we will reinforce each other.”