As a Board Member and active participant within The BVAA (British Valve and Actuator Association) I wanted to write about my experience at the recent Spring Conference that took place at the Celtic Manor resort.

Although the event started at 9.30am on the Wednesday I decided to stay the Tuesday night and catch up with some of the other delegates for a beer or two. With everyone working in and around the Valve and Actuator world it’s a really interesting group to be involved with.

On the Wednesday delegates arrived in one of the many exhibition halls under the Celtic Manor Resort hotel for tea / coffee and a catch up with industry peers. There was also a mini exhibition with several of the BVAA members showing their products. This can be quite a daunting part of the event if you are a new member or don’t know any other members so The BVAA operate a “Buddy” service where you can ask to be introduced to an active member prior to the event and meet them there. This worked very well with 4 new members using the service.

The presentations began at 10.30am and included valve specifications, welding, how to apply for funding as an SME, an economic outlook in to the oil and gas world, getting the most out of BVAA networking opportunities, shale gas and the AMRC in Sheffield. Full info on the sessions can be found on the BVAA web site.

For me, the day is a “double whammy”, we got to see some very interesting presentations on markets we all work in and also the networking aspect. There are generous breaks throughout the day and everyone is there for the same thing so all responsive and happy to talk shop. If you need introducing to someone, The BVAA will be happy to do this. Most of the people in attendance are owners or senior decision makers in their organisations who it is nearly impossible to speak to via a cold call or email and we as a business get a real benefit out of this aspect.

The sessions were over by 5pm and most of us had time to enjoy the Celtic manor facilities, Gym or Bar depending on who you speak to! Later that evening we all met for a very informal dinner, networking and business talk carried on for a bit but then the wine came out and everyone forgot about work and just had fun. The dinner finished at 9.30pm and half the group decided to call it a night with golf on the mind and the other half hit the hotel bar to carry on.

The next morning, after a fantastic Welsh breakfast we had a golf briefing at 9.30am ready for tee off from 10.30am in our 4 ball groups. The BVAA will put individuals in a group or you can ask to play in your own group of 4 it’s very flexible. Golf was relaxed, with elements of brilliance and quite a lot of mediocre. It’s all about having fun so the very inexperienced still had a good time on the day alongside the professionals! Those who needed to left after the game whilst others stayed for prize giving, it’s quite acceptable to leave early if you have a long way to drive.

In summary, very informative sessions on valve and actuator industry related topics, informal networking with key decision makes in the valve and actuator world, food and drink with a great bunch of people, golf on a championship course in bright sunshine. What’s not to like? I recommend it to anyone!

BVAA Conference