Our annual conference, We Are Surfing (named, I assume, for our love of the internet rather than the wave-based sport) returned to Fiji in 2019, much to the delight of the team. The venue for our annual conference this year was - again - the Nanuku Auberge resort where we were excited to celebrate the successes of a busy year and take some time to plan out where we take the business next. This year's key focus was how we can each contribute to building a great team and continue to produce career-defining work together. Lots to pack into a long weekend!
Our journey began with a healthy three hour delay at the airport, terrible news for some but not our team as it gave us a wonderful opportunity to visit some of the airport shops (bars) and buy some things (mimosas). On our approach to Fiji, the scenery provided the perfect backdrop for the team’s opening Instagram stories of the trip - a reminder to those at home that we were OOO and living our best lives.
Upon arrival, we were swiftly bombarded with a chorus of ‘Bula’ and loaded onto a coach bound for our resort. After a quick stop at a local shop, the coach was sufficiently loaded with 12 standard drinks and three family-sized bags of chips to every employee, and we were on our way. To occupy our time on the bus (and help the world) we decided to run a charity auction with each team member offering a money-can’t-buy experience that the rest of the team could bid on. After an outstanding effort, the team ended up raising over $3,000 for the Sydney Cats and Dogs Home, aided perhaps by a very loose understanding of how to bid at an auction (for example, when someone bids $20 you don’t have to shout $100 immediately). After 39 lots and several drinks, we arrived at the resort.
Much like our European We Are Social cousins, our annual trip really swings into gear on the first morning of the conference, as the team comes together to cover a full day of activities. With our ambition of defining what makes a great team, we took inspiration from far and wide (and by far and wide the conversation ranged from honey bees to Barcelona FC). We kicked off the day with a stirring keynote from our MD Suzie Shaw and our People and Culture Director Clea Newson masterfully pulled the strings to ensure we got through our ambitious agenda. The day was perfectly punctuated by a quick swim, a walk along the beach or an overly competitive game of cricket (led by India’s future captain, Mayank). We have all had worse Fridays at work.
Friday night dinner was a chance to get together, share a drink and toast our Quarterly Star (our quarterly employee recognition program). This quarter, Nick Carolan death-dropped his way into everyone's hearts and took the prize home, great recognition for the glut of creative work he has delivered and his dedication to ensuring we have a weekly Tune-Up to share with you all. After dinner, the team headed to our house party-themed evening, this year sponsored by the good folks at Sydney Airport Duty Free. A fun night was had by all and *no one* rode a bike into a swimming pool. The end.
Our new ECD Edu Pou had the enviable task of following Friday night’s festivities with the opening session on Saturday morning, taking the time to introduce himself officially to the team and set us all a creative task to workshop together. As the team came back with a number of society changing ideas, it was time for Edu to take a bow and the team to take to a well-deserved afternoon in the sunshine.
Our closing ceremony for the trip was some sundown trivia led by DJ/meme specialist JV, followed by our closing dinner and a fancy dress theme that saw us take Old Town Road to Fiji and bring the trip to a close in style. The deafening silence on the three hour bus back to the airport on Sunday afternoon was praise indeed for the barman of our resort.
As ever, the trip was a great way for the team to spend some time together and collectively we are very thankful for those that make it happen each year - Bula to you all!
Finally, if you are reading this and planning your own trip to Fiji, please find some words of advice from the team below:
- Fijians are the nicest people in the world.
- We still aren’t sure if you can drink the tap water - definitely check this.
- Fiji Gold is better than Fiji Bitter. This is not up for discussion.
- Buy snacks in moderation: when you are staying in a resort with three meals a day, you won’t starve. Don’t panic.
- Don’t leave bottles of Moët in the freezer (you will be cancelled if you do).
- You will never regret filming classic catches in slo-mo at the pool but you will regret letting Cece Chieng throw the ball for you to catch.
- If you have lost your glasses, always check the bottom of the swimming pool.
- Passports are required to leave the country.
This post was written by Tom Richards, Head of Client Service at We Are Social Sydney.