Last Tuesday and Wednesday I attended the HR exhibition "Personal Swiss" in Zurich and handed out a lot of new business cards!

The first highlight of the Tuesday for me was a presentation about Mindful Leadership from Angelika von der Assen, Head of Mangement Development, Axpo Holding AG. It sounds like Axpo have had a lot of success implementing mindfulness in their company culture, which I was pleasantly surprised about, considering their rather conservative image!

The next highlight on Tuesday was getting to meet the members of the International Coaching Federation Switzerland. They held a number of presentations during the exhibition with the goal of communicating what coaching is and how it can be used within companies. This was great as I got the impression during the two days that many people in HR are unsure of what the benefits of coaching are. Let's spread the word!

Then I attended an interesting presentation about communication and behaviour in the professional environment from Erich Wohlwend from Persolog Schweiz. The fact that somewhere between 1% and 5% of the things that we do and perceive when we communicate are conscious and controllable and the rest happens automatically fascinates me every time I hear it! We have the feeling that we are in control (or we try to be) of our lives, but actually we are not at all. All the more reason to try to take things the way they come and let go of our pre-formed ideas and opinions (easier said than done)!

On the Wednesday morning I learned a lot about online marketing - including presentations about customer targeting on Facebook from Nina Aemissegger from Hutter Consult GmbH and about Google AdWords from Evelyn Leu (Google). I've certainly a lot to learn and implement in this area!

Then I got to know a few people from the Coachingzentrum Olten following their interesting presentation about coaching in intercultural environments. Sometimes the simplest things are so important - for example, how do YOU feel when someone keeps interrupting you during a conversation? In the German or English language, this is perceived very negatively; but in Arabic, it is a positive sign and conveys great interest. As a coach it is important to be aware of such intercultural aspects.

Finally - and for me the highlight of the entire exhibition - I heard a presentation from Carin Hammer-Blakebrough, Country HR Manager, Switzerland, IKEA titled "What happens when a company reaches Gender Equality? ". She claimed that IKEA has reached "gender equality" and the best answer to her question was "you feel awkward in a men-only meeting"! Although it does seem that IKEA is very advanced in the area of gender rights, especially compared to other companies in Switzerland, I would like to question the definition of the phrase "Gender Equality". For example, the fact that men are now allowed to take two months' paternity leave is great news - but not really equal, if you ask me. Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing the further developments there and hope that other companies are inspired by this report!

In summary, it was an interesting and enriching experience - and I hope to be back next year show-casing my new workshops!