The economic, societal, and personal impacts of the pandemic have been significant, and it is fair to say that we have all faced challenges in 2020 as a consequence. Throughout this extraordinary year, I am proud that RSM has faced disruption with courage, speed of response, innovation, and collaboration, despite the challenges of serving clients and conducting business virtually. It is through this fast-paced, virtual world that we discovered an ideal opportunity to harness change and create a positive experience through resilience, our collective resolve, innovation and new ways of coming together – all through our annual RSM World Conference – A Festival of Reimagination.

Designed to facilitate a virtual meeting of RSM minds from all four parts of the globe, the Festival saw us share insight, enhance our understanding of RSM’s values, our clients, and absorb the expertise and experience of RSM’s talented professionals, as well as a number of exceptional external speakers.


On our Festival’s Main Stage…

Courage and critical thinking

The first day of our Festival of Reimagination was themed ‘Courage and Critical Thinking’, and I was privileged to be joined in a fireside discussion by former British Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Tony Blair. We discussed a number of thought provoking topics which included the value of courage and critical thinking in leadership, the challenges of decision making, social media and how the fourth industrial revolution can provide much optimism if we can learn to master it.

Closing the day was Olympic legend and track cyclist, Sir Chris Hoy MBE, who shared his personal experience of how he adopted a growth mindset to overcome insurmountable odds. During a time filled with adversity and unprecedented change, Chris’ words were particularly poignant as he encouraged us to remember that, in order to overcome what seems to be impossible, we must remain focused and take incremental steps on the road to success.

Caring and collaboration

Jo Malone CBE, British perfumier and founder of two iconic brands, Jo Malone London and Jo Loves, joined me in opening day two of our Festival. Together, we discussed how she took a small start-up and turned it into a global business before selling it to cosmetics behemoth, Estee Lauder. Jo Malone’s story was truly unique and demonstrated the critical roles that passion, courage, creativity and reimagination play in the pathway to success.

RSM’s people form the foundation of our strong culture, which is why Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) is one of our top priorities, particularly as we work towards building a sustainable future. These priorities were highlighted during day two of the Festival which focused on the theme of ‘Caring and Collaboration’. We were taken through a thought-provoking panel discussion on understanding and managing unconscious bias with our newly appointed Global Diversity and Inclusion Leader, Candice Eaton-Gaul, who also led an enlightening discussion on D&I with Frances Rios, CEO of Women Who Lead.

Curiosity and reimagination

This year has challenged us all to find new ways of living, working and to challenge ourselves to reimagine a new way forward. Fittingly, our final conference day was all about curiosity and reimagination, and we were joined by futurist and author, Graeme Codrington, who shared a stimulating session on the Main Stage, titled: ‘Think differently – Innovation in everything we do’. With the world continuing to reinvent itself through digital transformation, day three also saw a panel of senior leaders consider the impact of data in service delivery and enable data driven decisions within the middle market. Proving that innovation and ideas can come from anywhere, we were also joined by Rasmus Ankersen, a high-performance anthropologist, author and former UEFA football player who encouraged us to treat successes with the same degree of critical thinking as failures, as well as discussing how data can help inform the decision making process.

In a fitting close to our Main Stage presentations, Duncan Wardle, former Head of Innovation & Creativity at Disney and found of iD8 and innov8, took us through a high energy, interactive session on why creativity is an essential skill in a world that is becoming automated at a faster rate than we can think.

Our Festival of Reimagination served as a real demonstration of the sheer strength of RSM and what can be achieved through collaboration between our Member Firms and leaders.

I am excited for what’s next and, as we move into 2021, I believe that we are better positioned than ever to deliver exceptional service to our clients in the middle market, as together we reimagine the future of business in this ever-changing world.