IH Directors' Conference 2019 Report

The annual International House Directors’ Conference took place from the 4th to the 7th May in Catania, Sicily, at the Hotel Baia Verde by the Ionian Sea.

In total, 160 delegates from all over the world attended the 4-day event which was hosted by the fantastic team at IH Catania.

The conference provided the perfect opportunity for IH school Directors to network and be inspired by many quality speakers, including guest speakers, exhibitors, and some IH school Directors themselves.

The conference kicked off on Saturday 4th with a city tour of historical Catania. Located on Sicily’s east coast, Catania sits at the base of Mt. Etna, an active volcano with trails leading up to the summit. Delegates enjoyed the sea view, city history, traditional markets, and view of Mount Etna.

On Saturday afternoon, Nicola Lutz from No Fluff guided the audience through a workshop on how to sell more courses. Delegates looked in more detail at sales funnels and existing sales processes. The evening Welcome Dinner was sponsored by Cambridge Assessment English, where all delegates celebrated their colleagues who have been affiliated to IH for 20, 25, 30, 35 40, 45 and 60 years!

A full day of plenary sessions followed on Sunday 5th, with an opening workshop from Professor Carlos Escario, an entrepreneur, management consultant, author and executive coach. He spoke about change and transformation of business through teams, and asked the audience to reflect on the speed at which organisations are changing in our industry and how they can manage change through cohesion and integration.

Sunday evening’s entertainment gave participants the chance to experience a truly authentic Sicilian dinner, hosted in the hills of Mt. Etna at the home of the parents of Palmina La Rosa, Director of IH Catania. This featured a banquet of delicious food, traditional music, and plenty of dancing!

On Monday 6th, guest speaker Rupert Daniels, Global Marketing Director at Cambridge University Press, gave a session on how design thinking and behavioural science can help us to understand our customers better. More sessions took place throughout the day, finishing with a charity event to raise money for the school I.C. Federico De Roberto in Zafferana, Sicily which was severely damaged during the earthquake on December 26th in 2018. In total, 5500 euros were raised thanks to the generous donations of all IH school Directors.

The final day of the conference opened with a session from Jane Forrest, Global Director of ELT Marketing at Pearson, about the potential landscape of job applications in 2030 and how schools can prepare their students now for their future careers.

The closing plenary of the day was delivered by Simon Ward, an educational psychologist. He explained how positive education can lead to promoting academic learning with character and well-being, and how schools can promote skills that strengthen relationships, build positive emotions and encourage self-efficacy.

The conference finished with a spectacular Gala Dinner, sponsored by LanguageCert, at Palazzo Biscari in Catania. The 600-year-old baroque palace gave the perfect ending to a successful event, with the perfect mix of tradition and history, an incredible Sicilian meal, and more music and dancing.

As always it was a wonderful event and has injected me with new levels of enthusiasm. I’ve come back with lots of thoughts, questions and most importantly ideas – now I just need to find the time to think things over and try to implement a few of them.’ Janet Sinclair, Director of IH Braga in Portugal

I want to say the BIGGEST thank you to each and every one of you for holding such an amazing conference. I feel honoured and very lucky to have met such lovely people at these events and the way the conference is handled, so professionally and considerate to all the sponsors and delegates is just astonishing.’  Nick Edwards – Exhibitor, BEBC – The Bournemouth English Book Centre

‘It was an absolute joy to host our biggest conference to date with Palmina La Rosa and the IH Catania team. There are so many elements that need to come together to make a conference really special - excellent speakers, fantastic hospitality, delicious food, good team work and enthusiastic delegates! A wonderful feature of our organisation is how open and ready IH directors are to learn, share and support each other and this conference provided the perfect environment for that to happen.’ Lucy Horsefield – COO – International House World Organisation

‘Having all my IH Colleagues in Catania has been a dream come true! Being able to show them my island, my town and my school and introducing them to my staff, my students and family has made me feel extremely happy; an emotion that I will never forget!’ Palmina La Rosa – Director Giga International House Catania

A big thank you to all of our conference exhibitors for their support: guard.me (a special partner of IHWO), Cambridge Assessment English, LanguageCert, BEBC – The Bournemouth English Book Centre, GEL Guided e-Learning, TransferMate, National Geographic Learning, Michigan Language Assessment, Pearson English and Elsieapp.

Next year’s IH Directors’ Conference will be in Sydney, Australia, hosted by IH Sydney!   

IH Directors' Conference 2019 video