Case Study: Russell Bedford International

Russell Bedford’s Young Leaders’ event

Each year, Russell Bedford International hosts a two-day meeting for its managers and young partners. The pandemic prevented us from holding face-to-face gatherings which only made our November 2021 event, held in beautiful Lisbon, even more special. Stephen Hamlet, CEO Russell Bedford International describes the motivation, method and experience in training future leaders

The event comprised a series of interactive workshops that focused on the important topics of trust, getting to know each other better, icebreakers, communication, and self-presentation. This progressed to looking at vision, values, and purpose, from both a corporate and individual perspective. This led to a session on developing leadership skills that involved fun and games using Lego bricks to express goals and objectives. The meeting culminated with each delegate creating a personal development plan, captured on video for those wishing to enhance their presentation skills. Using LEGO® bricks, participants had to demonstrate the various elements of the Russell Bedford International network and how these align with the business goals of their accounting practice.

Creations promoted core values; with the LEGO ‘people’ being the most important aspect, and using ‘linking bricks’ to show connectivity and collaboration. ‘Flower bricks’ represented growth of new initiatives and progress, while ‘scientific bricks’ showed cutting edge use of technology and innovation. The risks associated with growth were depicted by taller models, developing away from the standard platform, referencing the Russell Bedford message of ‘taking you further’.

Stephen Hamlet
CEO Russell Bedford International

A return to physical meetings was always going to be special, but the incredible enthusiasm and vibrancy of a young generation looking to build, develop, and progress their careers among their international counterparts, gave an even greater feeling of fulfilment. The meeting reinforced the value of networking, building trust, and learning from one another while stimulating fresh ideas, and new and inspiring ways to move forward. We couldn’t have wished for a better way to restart our in-person activity.

Exercises related to building trust; initially through establishing eye contact with brief introductions; and then to being given a balloon and pin, with little instruction. This activity made a clear point that it is human nature to want to stand out and be the winner, and yet real team spirit requires everyone to work together to achieve common goals; referencing the necessity to design our own destiny to become leaders in a VUCA world (Vulnerability, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity).

Image: Russell Bedford

One of the greatest lessons I learned during the pandemic was how important it is to embrace relationships, while collaborating and learning from one another. Our meeting in Lisbon epitomised this sentiment and, although we achieved so much under remote conditions, this physical event should function as a reminder to never take these special moments of connection for granted.

In a world where salaries and demands are rising at all levels, we are finding it harder than ever before to not only attract good, young talented people into the profession, but also to retain them. It is refreshing and reassuring to know that events like Lisbon offer a positive differentiator that bears no relation to financial reward. The recognition by like-minded individuals that Russell Bedford International not only grants them access to personal and professional development, but actively encourages it, tells me we’re getting it right.

I’ll leave the final word to some of the people who have attended our events previously.

‘I’ve now attended three of the young leaders’ events and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know my Russell Bedford colleagues from around the world. I remember particularly the solidarity of the group and I’m grateful to have a network of expertise that I can call on when I need to.’
Kevin Kuiper, partner, Stolp+KAB, The Hague, Netherlands.

‘I attended the Russell Bedford young professionals’ meeting a few years ago and enjoyed meeting colleagues from other member firms from around the world. I remember particularly the fantastic workshops and friendly atmosphere. Not only was it a very informative event, it was also a great way to expand my contacts in our international network. This certainly assisted me in raising my profile, creating lifelong relationships and also on my pathway to becoming a partner.’
Matthew Green, partner, Lubbock Fine, London, UK.

‘I remember how well-tailored the meeting programme was for managers and young partners with a vision to step into the leadership of their respective firms in the future. I enjoyed meeting colleagues from around the world and it felt great to be recognised and invested in by my firm. I came away energised and with the knowledge that I’m working in the right place.’
Petra Orquiola, partner, WBA CPAs & Advisors, Atlanta, Georgia, US.

Main image credit: Russell Bedford