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At the recent World Congress 2012, (ACCC and the World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics) meeting in Halifax, we had a wonderful opportunity to meet and speak with representatives of the community college system from across Canada and around the world. Hotel rooms and restaurant reservations were scarce in downtown Halifax as this enthusiastic group of over 1000 educators gathered to discuss the state of higher ed in community colleges.

This meeting reminded me, once again, of the powerful effect of gathering face-to-face with your peers, customers, competitors and subject matter experts from your particular field. Old friendships are renewed, new acquaintances are struck, knowledge is exchanged and our rather specialized higher education networks are reinforced and expanded. New ideas, new opportunities and new friendships seem to emerge much more easily here, than in other, less personal settings. (In fact, in a recent Harvard Business Review report,  95 % of managers reported that meeting in person allowed them to build stronger business relationships and were key to the success of long term business relationships.) (Andre Beaudry, VP Canadian Partnerships, ACCC and Philippe Taza, HEM )

Our work at HEM includes projects, partners and clients from all across North America. Like many organizations, we work predominantly using the phone, Skype, or conferencing technologies to keep in close contact with our rather dispersed networks. These virtual meetings work well, being practical and economical, but as we saw once again in Halifax that the real fun stuff, the stuff that motivates us to rise and tackle the challenges of the day, lies in the personal interactions, the intellectual stimulation and the sheer joy of expressing our social selves in person. We are big fans of communications technology and social media but there is nothing quite like getting face to face with your peers to really understand and connect with your community.

To everyone we met at the ACCC conference – we enjoyed speaking with you very much and look forward to continuing the conversations we’ve begun!

Phillipe Taza and Scott Duncan