How long have you been at AMEE and what is your role?

I have been with AMEE for 18 years, based at the University of Dundee. AMEE’s mission is to promote education in the healthcare professions throughout the world, and has members in 90 countries. I have a number of responsibilities and head a team of 14 people, but a large part of my time is spent on our annual conference, which has grown significantly over the years.

You recently held your Annual Conference at the SECC, how was that?

It was absolutely amazing! It was extremely exciting as we had record numbers of over 3,400 people attending from around the world. Although we haven’t yet completed the analysis of our delegate evaluation, I have heard from many people that they felt it was the best conference we have ever held.

Why did you choose Glasgow as the destination for your conference?

Glasgow was the perfect location for our conference, and there are actually now very few destinations that suit our needs. Cost is obviously always a factor and we have an excellent relationship with the team at the SECC and also receive so much support from both the venue and the City. Having good transport links is also very important for us, as are the very strong academic links that the City has. You also just feel so welcome in Glasgow.

Was this your first time in Glasgow?

No it wasn’t. We were there in 2010 for our annual conference, which was great, but we definitely noticed a change this time with the City being even more vibrant and such growth in the number of hotels, restaurants and bars as well as the expansion of the SECC itself.

What was your experience of the SECC?

It suited our needs very well. One big advantage from our point of view is having a purpose-built auditorium, rather than building one in an exhibition area, which can be very expensive and not nearly so good in terms of acoustics or comfort. The AV and technical team were excellent, as was the catering throughout the event. It was also good to have a number of hotels on site, which just made it feel so much more connected. We also had a really good relationship with the entire team at the venue from the very first meeting right through to the completion of the event. It all worked really well.

Did you do anything special or different at your event this year?

Yes. We had a Hackathon, where we brought together groups of software developers, graphic designers and students who worked with our educators to define problems encountered by educators and to find technological solutions, all in the space of 48 hours. It was an exciting and novel experience, and it was amazing what was achieved in such a short time.

We also had our first ever ‘Writer in Residence’ who interviewed delegates during the event and captured their thoughts and experiences, and also added her own reflections on the conference.

We heard a rumour about dancing in the aisles at your opening ceremony, is that true?

I must admit I never thought I would see this at an AMEE conference! Many of our opening ceremonies in the past have tended to be rather boring, with too many speeches, and it has all become a bit of a ritual. However, as we were on home territory, we wanted to do something a little different and to give our delegates a real taste of Scotland. So we created an exciting opening ceremony – addressing the haggis, some beautiful singing and dancing – but the highlight was a performance by the Red Hot Chilli Pipers, who were absolutely amazing. The audience were clapping their hands and stamping their feet and yes, dancing in the aisles!

Barcelona beckons for AMEE 2016, but I think Glasgow will be a very hard act to follow. Thank you, Glasgow, and we may see you again before too long!

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