Sunday, 10 March 2013

And the award goes to...............

A few weeks back I attended the annual Castrol Business Conference, which was my first since joining the company in May 2012. The conference is a opportunity for all the Castrol employees across Scandinavia to meet and review the previous years performance and outline the strategy for the coming year. The conference was held over 3 days at a hotel just outside of Stockholm called Sånga Säby, and as it was a little out of the way the employees from the Stockholm office were allowed to stay at the hotel along with those who had travelled from overseas.

Despite it being a conference, it wasn't all business. The organisers arranged an outdoor activity on the first night and the second we were having a gala dinner. Each day the conference finished around 4:30pm so for a few hours in the afternoon we could enjoy the facilities at the hotel..................which for most people were the facilities around the bar area! It all sounded like fun and as it was my first event I was really looking forward to it.

The first day consisted of a series presentations from various areas of the business. It was very interesting to me but I won't bore you with the detail! The final thing on the days agenda however was something worth sharing. The company had brought in a guest speaker called Rasmus Ankersen to talk to us about performance development.

He was really insightful. He is an ex-footballer and performance specialist, and has spent the last 10 years of his life researching what the secret is to sustained success in sport, and has found that his findings can be transferred into the business world. It was a real eye opener. He talked about how he quit his job and spent his all his money to travel the world for six months to train and live with the world's best athletes and their coaches in an attempt to answer all the questions he had on his mind.................why have the world's best middle distance runners grown up in the same Ethiopian village? Why are 137 of the world's 500 best female golfers from South Korea? How did one athletic club in Kingston, Jamaica, succeed to produce most of the world's best sprinters? His conclusions were really interesting and he ended up writing a book about it called 'The Goldmine Effect'.

That evening we were split into teams and were given the task to prepare and cook our own dinner..............which was all to be done inside a large tent within the hotel grounds. We were all given the same ingredients and had to make 3 courses which we would then eat. My main job was the prep the vegetables. I had no problem with this as it meant that once I was done I could relax with a nice cold beer.....................with 'cold' definitely being the appropriate word!

After dinner we retired to the bar to watch Sweden take on Argentina in an international friendly, which Sweden went on to lose 3-2. In other circumstances I would have probably dished out some gentle ribbing to my Swedish colleagues but in this case I did not.................for two reasons: a) they were playing Argentina and b) it had only been a few months since Sweden had beaten England so I thought it best to keep quiet!

The conference continued the following morning, with more presentations on performance and strategy, but the afternoon brought something new entirely. We were again split into teams but this time our task was to make a film, which would be shown to the rest of the group during the gala dinner that evening. Each team was given a 'theme', which the film was to based upon, and the company had brought in a film crew to shoot and edit our 'movie' once we had come with an idea. The theme for our film was 'respect' but first of all we had to assign roles to each team member. We needed a director, a scriptwriter, a props manager and of course actors. I'm not much of an actor but I know my movies so I was given the role of director. We decided to link our film to how we interact with our customers and how we need to 'respect' them..................the customer is always right after all! The plot was based around how and how not to interact with people, and how making a good first impression is very important. My colleagues Mika and Jonnie, who are both sales reps for Castrol, played salesman who were meeting a client for the first time. Mika played the good sales guy and Jonnie played the bad guy.

We were instructed that the film should only last 1 minute and we only had 30 minutes with the film crew to shoot it. Due to the time constraints 'my vision' wasn't quite realised but we had a great laugh shooting the 'movie'.................

Mika Engstrom - The Good Guy

Jonnie Levin - The Bad Guy
I toyed with the idea of putting the film on here but having shown it to Aicha and received her feedback, I decided against it! During her assessment, the word 'lame' kept coming up for some reason.........?? To be fair if you are on the outside looking in then the final product would look quite lame to you, but we had great fun doing it and that's all that I didn't the type of budget or resources the likes of Spielberg and Scorsese have!!

Next it was the gala dinner...............which felt more like 'The Oscars'! The hotel converted the dining area into what looked like a banquet.................and the foyer into a red carpet area!! They even had the 'paparazzi' there catching a glimpse of the stars as they arrived..................

The evening was hosted by a Swedish comedian called Erik Haag. Apparently he is quite famous in Sweden but I had no idea who he was! He introduced each movie over the course of dinner and then afterwards he was to present an award for best actor, best actress, best screenplay and best film. Before that though there were a few other awards which were to be presented.................which was something I knew nothing about.

An award was to be presented for the best performer of 2012 within each team. I had only been with company since May I was as shocked as anyone to hear my name read out as 'best performance 2012' for the pricing team!! I could not believe it! I was genuinely chuffed to bits! To be recognised for my work in the short amount of time I have been here really meant a lot to me. I got a nice bottle of champagne and a man hug from from Erik Haag! Jonnie also won the award for 'best actor' so our table won two awards that night!

The Host - Erik Haag

Scorsese, De-Niro & Pacino
After that we partied long into the night. I don't remember much after midnight.................other than trying to attempt a dance routine 'Gangnam Style'! The conference continued the next day but I was needed back at the office so I headed back into Stockholm. It was not the most productive day to be honest. Hangovers are a bastard....................I'm not as young as I used to be despite what 'drunk Bob' say!

Over the last few weeks since the conference, my days have been filled through a combination of work, football and Netflix. Pre-season training is now well underway with the Tudor Arms and we are undefeated in all our pre-season games thus far. Our form has been quite impressive and if we can continue this into the season once it begins in April, I really think we can be up there challenging for the title.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Netflix, it is an online media service where you can stream movies & TV shows on-demand. Since we've had it installed, we have quite literally turned into 'couch potatoes'! If I had it my way I would never leave the house! There is so much on offer to watch on Netflix its ridiculous! Over the last few weeks we have watch the entire series of 'How I Met Your Mother', which I think is one of the funniest sitcoms around at the moment. Barney Stinson has to be up there as one of the best TV characters ever, alongside Ari Gold from Entourage!

Next weekend is the Tudor Arms Boat Trip to Finland, where we will be joined by our special guests Ian Rush and David Fairclough. There are around 15 of us from the team going at the moment so we will have a good crowd on board. It will also be good a chance for me to get to know my team mates a little better.................and to see what they are like off their faces!! That is definitely something to forward to! I can't wait!

It's going to be legend.........wait for it.............dary!!!!

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