After two years of Covid disruption, Atomic 212° returned for its biennial conference last month, heading to Darwin to unearth insight, innovation, and influence. Chairman Barry O’Brien unpacks the highlights from the Northern Territory.

In 2018 we ventured off the beaten track to Alice Springs for an immersive summit with both clients and team members to connect, collaborate and observe the spiritualism of the Red Centre.

The event was a success and so the platform for the Change Making Summit was born.

This time around, the brief was simple. Make it unique and all encompassing. Our objective is to connect people and culture in the remarkable beauty of the NT.

Coming off the back of two years where travel and interaction were virtually impossible, we knew that if our 2022 Change Making Summit was going to live up to its theme, ‘Alchemy’, we needed to turn the drudgery of the Covid era into gold.

And one of the best ways to do that was to get them out of their offices and cities and experience the culture and spiritualism of Larrakia country and its people.

Over recent weeks we have shared via LinkedIn some wonderful images of the three days we spent in Darwin with local and interstate clients along with Atomic 212° staff who traveled from all over Australia to participate.

So let’s start at the Top (End)

While turning base metals into gold is perhaps the part of alchemy people know best, alchemists were also at work on creating an elixir of immortality. Obviously the key to eternal life remains elusive, but a trip to the Northern Territory has to be one of the best ways in the world to be reinvigorated and rejuvenated.

Our summit took place over three amazing days in Darwin and its surrounds. For those who have not had the pleasure, Australia’s northern-most city is a place where native flora and fauna flourish; art, music and culture abound; and while you may not be able to bottle it, the sun melting into the Timor Sea of an evening is liquid gold.

Our host during the day was the iconic Pee Wee’s at East Point, where the only thing more inspirational than our speakers (more on them in a moment) was the view from this waterfront location.

Then on an evening we went a little further afield to Berry Springs, on the first night taking in an outback experience on a Barramundi Farm over sunset, on the second enjoying dinner in a Mango Forest.

By giving, you gain!

Central to our cause in heading to the NT was a desire to make the most of all it had to offer.

And while the venues and their locations have long been recognised for their unparalleled beauty, there is so much more that we knew we needed to showcase.

We started our summit with a Welcome to Country, as well as a smoke ceremony and our evenings were filled with the music of exceptional artists, who also taught us traditional dances.

The food served up was fresh local produce. For those who were game, we also tasted some uniquely Australian dishes, including kangaroo tail cooked on an open fire, and even crocodile.

The talent in the area stepped up when we were getting down to business as well, with local specialists and businesses all being central to the success of our summit.

This was a case of engaging the best people for the job and the results, simply put, spoke for themselves. From first-time visitors to those who had visited Darwin multiple times, our guests were blown away by the culture, heritage, diversity and talent that the Territory turned on.

Inspiring speakers, engaging audiences

Getting down to brass tacks at the summit itself, we had the great privilege of collaborating with some truly brilliant and unique minds.

Leadership was the theme shaping day one, as Dan Gregory explored the three themes of insights, innovation and influence, providing a practical framework for how to apply them to your business and category. Holly Ransom then got stuck into how leaders can empower their teams – as she put it, “knowing your why is one thing, knowing their why is everything.”

The morning of day two we had Chelsea Pottenger set the tone for empowerment and leading a mentally healthy lifestyle. After that, Paul McIntyre moderated a conversation from four of the country’s top marketers on how brands are wrestling with the biggest challenges marketing has faced in 20 years.

After lunch, Atomic 212°’s own Asier Carazo unpacked the different strategy ‘breeds’, the good and the bad of mixing them, and how we are entering the era of ‘Strategy Convergence’. To finish off the day, Dr Fiona Kerr got us to think about a state of ‘Covid flux’, and how we can navigate a multitude of options in the workplace – from how to use space, tools and tech, to the impact of choice or mandates on areas such as in-office days, meeting methods and tasking.

What I think really set these sessions apart from many conferences I’ve been to was the openness of our attendees – their desire to engage and truly be part of the experience. This wasn’t people sitting through keynotes and forgetting about it all afterwards, with our speakers generating engagement with the audience to create lively discussions.

And I suspect part of the reason it worked, as well as having top-notch thought leaders presenting, was that the environment promoted openness – it’s hard to look out across crystal-clear water at rugged scrub, knowing that all of it is just teeming with life, and feel closed-off.

The result was more than just networking, with people building insights and growing together.

If I sound proud of what we did and shared with so many I am…it was a remarkable experience on so many levels for all of us.

Article originally published on Mi3.