IoIC Love: “We met each other stealing sticks of rock”

The annual IoIC conference has the power to change your life. Some presentations inspire you to be more daring in your own internal comms. Or you might connect with a delegate who opens a door to a new career path. Or perhaps you’ll fall in love with your future husband or wife. Wait… what?

It’s true. We’re not here just to dish out great content and goodie bags. An IoIC conference gets the heartstrings fluttering.
Emma Ridgeon, internal communication consultant at The Body Shop, and Quinten Manby, head of internal engagement at the Care Quality Commission, recall the unexpected results of networking over a stick of rock at the Brighton Metropole.
Emma: We met at the annual conference in Brighton in May 1996. At the time, I was editing the Logica in-house magazine, Chronologica, and Quinten had just set up the first in-house magazine for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. We bumped into each other as we were both stealing sticks of rock from the tables after dinner – gotta love the freebies at a conference! My dad had a really sweet tooth and loved a stick of rock, so I was taking a couple for him.
Quinten: I’d recently separated from my first wife and my boys were 9 and 11 at the time, so I was taking a couple of sticks of rock home for them. I wasn’t looking to meet anyone at the time, but we just hit it off.
Emma: We got chatting, had a few drinks at the bar, then had a turn on the dancefloor to Wonderwall by Oasis, which wasn’t the easiest song to dance to, but I think we were already a bit loved-up by then... 
Quinten: We both went back to London that weekend and I phoned Emma up and asked her out for a drink. Things were a bit rocky in the early days, but we got through it and got married eight years later – on the same date that we’d met: 8 May. We’ve been back to Brighton a few times to celebrate our anniversary, and even stayed at the Metropole for old times’ sake. 
Emma: We’ve both built our careers in internal communication. I spent 15 years in-house before going independent in 2007 and mostly now work with organisations going through change. I’ve had a lot to thank IoIC for over the years – great development and networking opportunities, a spell on the London region committee and last year being awarded ‘best change communication programme’ for my current client, The Body Shop. And meeting Quinten, of course.
Quinten: I had only just started out in a career in internal communications when I met Emma, but since then I’ve gone on to work for several government departments and regulators, and also completed the Diploma and Masters in Internal Communications from Kingston University.
I have always been proud of my IoIC award of excellence for writing from early in my career – it still gets trotted out in job applications. And, of course, through IoIC I met Emma and suddenly one of the hardest years of my life started to get a little better. That first membership fee was definitely a good investment.
Have you had a life-changing moment at an IoIC conference, or do you have an anecdote to share from one of our events? Let us know at [email protected] or share on social media using the hashtag #ConferenceTales.
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