Well dear readers, the advantage of having a Consul in Odessa is that you can pull off public relations, trade and investment stunts like this whilst having a permanent presence in the city should anything come of it…..
I have to say that Papa Kosta is a very good and pleasant restaurant, obviously in keeping with the “Greek feel”, being a Greek restaurant and the guest list was as you would expect, the semi-informal occasion allowing for what needed to be said from both sides whilst allowing the necessary “circulation” to cut past formailities and get specifics done by individuals…….but……..
There are issues with these types of occasion which during my years of business, corporate entertaining et al that seem to be recurring and could have a far better result, as I discovered through my own learning curve.
Firstly, the invitation of the same faces is both blessing and curse. Aside from a free lunch, there is often little point in a gathering of people who all know each other to some degree already and all have access to each other anyway should the need arise. The arguement of out of sight, out of mind does not ring true at certain levels of business when everything becomes about connections.
Whilst it never pays to have a huge audience who will forget each other 5 minutes after swapping business cards (and I have hundreds from Ukrainians and foreigners in Ukraine, notwithstanding about 1000 from the UK) an audience of the same old faces is just as flawed for the reasons I have already outlined.
What is too often overlooked in such gatherings, is the retention of interest once the last cognac has been drunk, the last cigar/cigarette extinguished and the last driver/taxi home has arrived. Going home, wined, dined and with a handfull of business cards and paper handouts does very little for the following day when trying to recall the events of the evening before in a precise manner.
We are after all, talking about a nation trying to build and retain interest in trade, investment and ties……often hampered by linguistic barriers……not to mention technical trade issues such as customs, banking rules etc.
With no detriment meant, the latest Greek event was typical of most nations here…….although to be fair to the Greek Consul and staff, their events are regularly and with consistancy comes results at this level of interaction.
However, was Mr Firtash, Mr Akhmetov, Mr Pinchuk et al present? No, of course not because they have access to Ambassadors…..or more to the point Ambassadors have access to them……but were there even representatives from Interpipe, DF, Metinvest, Luk Oil, OdessaGaz, Aval, Odessa Bank etc…..or any major businesses with money to invest, or a requirement for Greek shipping etc present?
Who writes the guest lists for these occasions? It is not hard to contact the regional managers of these businesses or even Messers Firtash and Co to invite them directly to attend or send a representative from the locality.
I was never a fan or paper handouts or bullet points from these events. What is wrong with a take home CD ROM/thumb drive presentation to cover not only the major points of the gathering but also more specific and technical issues relating to any opportunities a nation/national consulate office wishes to push to the fore?
The CD ROM/thumb drive is not exactly an expensive medium to produce and can be passed around/up/down the management chain with ease if there is something which ignites the interest of a manager or indeed meets the confidential corporate needs of an organisation that they would prefer not to discuss publicly or in a public gathering.
I will be quite honest and say a CD ROM/thumb drive, is not necessarily better at generating interest after a gathering has ended, but in my experience, it has led to further inquries far more often than a handfull of paper handouts and bullet-points. (Of course I may be the exception to the rule.)
Anyway, the point I am making, is that many of these gatherings are very much “same as” for everyone involved and some thought must surely be given to making them a little different when it comes to what really counts…….the retention and continued interest of the whole point of the gathering after everyone has gone home – together with the ease of passing this information to other decision makers within an organisation that attended.
Bonus points are available to those who make such take home presentations in a language the audience understands.
(I would quite like a Union Jack thumb drive…..every time I used it I would at least recall the event where I got it!)