Shaa's blog: my view of GEC 2012

I think it would be fair to say that GEC 2012 was launched with much anticipation and unprecedented support. The stellar cast of keynote speakers included some of my own personal favourites: Sir Richard Branson, Doug Richard and Martha Lane Fox.

Sadly I missed the Entrepreneur Express, provided by Virgin Trains, that took many of the delegates and entrepreneurs from London to Liverpool, but if it was half as much fun as the journey back, I can only imagine the riotous fun and networking opportunities.

I arrived in Liverpool the day before the main event and had the opportunity to explore the area. It was very much a Tale of Two Cities for me … on one hand I saw the incredible developments around Albert Dock, the wonderful food and shopping at Liverpool One and without question, a great events venue.

However, I think all of this has come at a price. Many of the older parts of the city were run down, dilapidated, covered with graffiti and fly posters. The greatest shame is that much of Liverpool's incredible architecture has been replaced with modern skyscrapers and a shiny 'cookie cut' shopping centre.

I can see the enormous potential in Liverpool, but I wish the town planners had done more 'joined up' thinking and found ways to weave the old and the new together without having to sacrifice one for the other.

The venue for GEC, the Arena and Convention Centre, was modern, sleek and well equipped just waiting to showcase itself to 3,000 entrepreneurs and business owners and it didn't let anyone down.

I was fortunate to get a front row seat to listen to Sir Richard Branson's engaging, humorous and humble account of his experience, advice and goals for the future. The one thing that really hit home for me was how incredibly and genuinely humble Richard (yes, I'm going to call him Richard) still is and that, even after all these years of extraordinary success, his passion burns just as bright as when he started. He embraces the good fortune and position that he has earned and is determined to use it to leave the world a better place than he found it - we could all learn from that.

As the day went on the panels, speakers and topics changed, and so naturally did the atmosphere. The conversations went from legacies to technology and from brand building to social media. However, I also felt there was quite an emphasis on policy and policy making, which I wasn't sure resonated as well with many in the audience. Not that entrepreneurs aren't interested in those areas, they just don't typically attend events about them.

So, for what it's worth, here's my tuppence on how they could make the event even better.

I think an opportunity was missed to showcase local businesses - how about 'cinema girls/boys' walking up and down the aisles during breaks with locally produced snacks? Why not open the floor to questions from the audience, albeit pre-selected ones (purely on the basis that the audience was so large) and work to engage the audience more through break-out sessions, workshops and networking and where was the Twitterwall?

Of course, hindsight is a wonderful thing and I look forward to not just watching how events like this progress, but being a part of their journey.

Find out more about Shaa Wasmund and follow her on Twitter @Shaawasmund.

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