This blog chronicles my travels as CEO of SLAS, a global professional society dedicated to advancing life sciences discovery and technology. In addition to getting to know me better on a personal level, my goal for this blog is to shine a spotlight on SLAS members and their unique stories and experiences. Opinions expressed within this blog are mine (Vicki Loise) and do not represent those of the Society. And yes, our lawyer told me to include that.
Miles logged on this trip: 24,050
Planes, trains or automobiles: Planes
Road food: Belgian fries, beer and waffles (I need a carb detox)
Entertainment: Being an American in Europe during the World Cup.
A little over a week ago, SLAS held its first Europe Conference in Brussels. Modeled after the International Conference held in the U.S. every year, this event brought together the best of the science in presentations, demonstrations and product offerings. But as I said, this was the FIRST Europe Conference SLAS has held and with firsts there are always risks.
This event was five years in the making. In 2013, SLAS decided to invest in a growth strategy in Europe. This five-year plan included hosting smaller, single-topic events, partnering with other organizations and creating networking opportunities for the SLAS community in Europe. Some things have thrived, others less so. We adjusted and tweaked, took in feedback and observed other events. And, after five years, it was time to hold a pan-European Conference that would represent the culmination of work of dozens of volunteers and professional teams in both Brussels and the U.S. I have to be honest and say the weeks leading up to the start of the event were a bit anxiety-ridden.
We had no data to tell us what our registration pattern would be or when we could expect sponsors and exhibitors to make their commitments. Trying to compare to the International Conference was fruitless (and yes, we know we need to work on the naming of that event).
In the end, the Europe Conference proved to be a success! The exhibit hall had to be expanded twice to accommodate the demand, and total registrations reached nearly 1,000. More importantly, those attending the event felt it lived up to the SLAS standards of quality, with many options for networking, fascinating and entertaining keynotes and an excellent scientific program. Of course, there are always improvements to make. And we will make them, continuing to adjust and tweak and respond to your feedback so that we maintain the standard you have come to expect.
Plans for the 2019 Europe Conference in Barcelona, 26-28 June are well underway. We’re looking forward to seeing even more from the SLAS community. No matter the geography, SLAS will always be YOUR society and YOUR community, and we are thrilled when you make the most of it.
Have a wonderful summer!