The IoD Convention: What it Means to Students


October 6th marked an important date in virtually every businessman’s and businesswoman’s calendar: The Annual IoD Debate. This prestigious event, attended by key individuals from the world of business, saw many inspirational speeches, charismatic presentations and thought provoking debates, with some of this year’s speakers and debaters being David Miliband, Lord Lawson and Anya Hindmarch.

This year’s theme for the convention was, “business without boundaries”, a subject addressed by each individual speaker uniquely. As students, the big-wide world of business and its events may seem distant and occasionally irrelevant, but this year’s convention demonstrated the global significance and impact of business for students (and yes, even for those who aren’t studying for a business-related degree).

IoD Logo, photo credit - iodkenya
IoD Logo, photo credit – iodkenya

Currently a highly discussed political topic, the convention went straight in and commenced with an exhilarating debate on the EU referendum, featuring two towering figures of British Politics, Lord Mandelson (for EU membership) and Lord Lawson (against EU membership). With Lord Lawson, “We must NOT be little Europeans”, and both parties discussing the potential outcomes of the forthcoming referendum in terms of British business, this evidently gives rise to situation regarding future career prospects in the UK, a subject which should be considered of great significance for many students.


Undoubtedly, International Relations, Politics and Law students would have been mesmerised by David Miliband and his presentation at this conference. In his thought-provoking and charismatic presentation at the IoD convention, he addressed key issues and contained unusual speech content, such as posing and responding to his own question, “What is on my desk?” To which he replied: “300 thousand Syrian children in Lebanon not getting an education”, “Liberia and Sierra Leone’s recovery from Ebola and promoting protection for girls” and lastly but by no means of least significance, “How do I keep my staff safe?” This unsettling question follows an unfortunate incident in which several of his staff were killed in Afghanistan. Using this unusual technique in his presentation served to intrigue the audience, and encouraged them to further appreciate the humanitarian issues that both he and the organisation he guides, battle against on a daily basis. For those, such as Medics, Nurses, Education students and more, David Miliband’s speech sends a clear message, that the world needs you, and all that you can do.

 An unconventional yet exhilarating presentation, was the exploration

David Milliband - Photo Credit -
David Milliband – Photo Credit –

of the question, “What can business and rugby learn from each other?” by Ian Ritchie and Josh Lewsey. The overwhelming links between the two seemingly unrelated industries were found to be the elements of competition and connectivity. Josh Lewsey articulated that “sport can change people’s lives”, something which is extremely relevant at the University of Southampton. With numerous sports societies on offer in affiliation with SUSU, there’s something for everyone. In this presentation it was demonstrated that the tenacity sport encourages you to develop, enhances your skills of pursuance and perseverance, abilities, which are highly valued and will set you apart in the world of post-graduate employment.

Mr. António Horta-Osório, Group Chief Executive of Lloyds Banking Group, spoke of the ‘digital revolution’ in banking, and stressed that it is imperative to anticipate potential technological adaptations and innovate in order to remain competitive within the banking sector and to continue to nurture a growing client base. He articulated that Lloyds, in addition to a number of other companies in the banking world, has moved towards digital banking, mainly through apps, and currently “60% of Lloyds customers…bank with Lloyds digitally”. This undoubtedly demonstrates the success that can be achieved in comprehending the magnitude of the ‘digital revolution’. This is inspirational for Computer Science, Management and Accounting and Finance Students at the University of Southampton, as finally, following years of scepticism about Britain’s banks, it’s reassuring to know the job market is diversifying and changing, ready to welcome you when you graduate.

Another inspirational and engaging speaker was Matt Brittain, who heads up Google’s business and operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa – helping consumers and business make the most of the digital opportunity. Undoubtedly, Matt Brittain serves as an inspiration for not only Computer Science students at the University of Southampton, but also those studying Management, and International Business in addition to many other subjects. Brittain expressed that in today’s day and age, it is necessary to “break down boundaries of time and space”, something apposite to current students, who are seen by the older generation, as those born into the ‘digital revolution’. Conclusively, student media can be seen as preparing students for life beyond University.

An exceptional entrepreneur and a prominent figure in the fashion world, Anya Hindmarch is an example of where dedication and determination can lead you. Anya Hindmarch playfully stated that “growing a business is a bit like school”, and suggested that professional success, regardless of in which industry, is derived from thinking outside the box and an excellent ethos. Student organisations at the University of Southampton, such as Fish on Toast, evidently nurture these elements, further ensuring a long and successful career.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes - photo credit - bigissue.
Sir Ranulph Fiennes – photo credit – bigissue.

The final presentation of the day finished the annual convention with a bang and had the audience roaring with laughter at his dry wit and cynicism in retelling stories of his expeditions. Sir Ranulph Fiennes, once described by the Guinness Book of World Records as “the world’s Greatest Living Explorer”, undoubtedly serves as a reminder to us all to surpass boundaries in all aspects of our lives – whatever it is we may want to achieve.


Law student at the University of Southampton.

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