For my second and Symmetrys’ tenth MIPIM, I arrive in Cannes three days earlier than usual. I’ve decided to see what this attractive town is really like before the thousands of property types descend on it.
I’m not disappointed. It’s beautiful, suave and relaxed. There are seats in every restaurant and not a Brit in sight. This must be what people mean when they use the phrase ‘calm before the storm’.
I spend Sunday afternoon in a quaint bistro with amazing food, which ironically becomes the Manchester Bar from 4.00pm the next day. When I walk past it 24 hours later it is unrecognizable and jam-packed. By Sunday evening there is a sea change in the previously tranquil air, and you can feel the town gearing itself up for the onslaught.
Although MIPIM doesn't officially start until Tuesday, we have a busy diary from Monday. To kick off I'm interviewed by MIPIM News. The journalist wants to know what I think about Brexit. I’m upbeat, as are our plans for growth, but in truth no one really knows exactly what will happen, do they? My interview is published later in the week and it's great to be in a publication so widely distributed at the show.
Tuesday comes, and MIPIM has officially started. I’m told there's record attendance this year, and the UK is as strongly represented as ever. This is great to hear at the first MIPIM since the Brexit vote, and is an important show of positivity at a time of uncertainty around our position on the continent.
The Club Peloton Cycle to MIPIM arrives in Cannes, having set off from London six days ago, raising money for children's charity Coram. Now with 200 riders coming through the new finish line, it is an even more impressive sight this year.
The London Stand feels really busy, with events on almost every booth. I take a quick look in the Manchester stand, which as you might expect, reflects the city’s busy investment pipeline. It is very cool, and contrasts the more commercial feel of the London stand. It is white and bright, with a great networking area. Footballers Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs are adding to the excitement, no doubt kicking around their well-publicised property ventures.
We hold our annual Symmetrys MIPIM dinner at Cannes sea food restaurant Chez Astoux. It is a wonderful opportunity to thank a handful of our collaborators and clients, and as always is thoroughly enjoyable. Looking around the table I’m proud to see many of the incredible developers, architects, quantity surveyors and project managers we work with. They are all such decent people who are a pleasure to work and spend time with. It certainly makes coming to work on a Monday morning a lot easier.
That’s MIPIM for you. Five days of meeting new and future collaborators, catching up with old clients and friends, networking events and intelligence gathering. And of course there are many of those all important chance meetings, drinks parties and meals, all with the inspiring backdrop of Cannes in glorious sunshine. Busy, important, exhausting but fun, so much fun. Now the hard work really begins in the form of follow-ups, meetings and embarking on projects with those we met in Cannes. It’s all part of moving our company forward, stronger than ever, and thanks in no small part to this incredible conference. And of course, it’s never too early to start planning for next year.
One thing I’ll be taking with me is some great advice I was given this year. When you're walking around Cannes, or waiting at a table for your next meeting, put your phone away and just look up. Why? Because you never know who you'll see or get talking to. It could be someone you'd love to work with.
Now more than ever, that’s exactly the right attitude.
Jo Shepherd, Business Development Manager, Symmetrys Structural Engineers