Action-packed conference shows why BSB is a winner

It was an absolute pleasure to attend the British Society of Baking’s autumn conference last week.

The RedBlack Software/Cybake connection to this venerable institution came after our managing director Jane Tyler was invited to join the BSB’s executive committee in January, 2015. She was the first person from the I.T. industry to be invited to the association’s top ranks. At this year’s BSB annual general meeting, Jane was voted in as vice president with widespread support among the members in attendance.

The organisation was founded in 1955 and is led by some extremely focused and well-connected people. Hence the speaker roster for last week’s event. When you can get David Garman, former chief executive of Allied Bakeries, Genius Foods’ Roz Cuschieri and Tesco bakery chief Gordon Gafa on your agenda, you’ve got to be onto a good thing.

If you can then add people like Carrs Flour’s Julius Deane, the National Skills Academy’s Justine Fosh, Warings Bakery’s Daniel Carr and Kantar Worldpanel’s Matthew Verity, then your conference becomes even more compelling.

So it was that the BSB’s event was completely sold out, leading to a buzzing atmosphere, especially on the conference’s packed second day (pictured below).

It’s funny, really. We live an age where information about just about everything is instantly accessible. In recent years, we have seen the strong growth of e-learning. We ourselves at Cybake help customers make sense of ever increasing mounds of data and metadata. And yet nothing beats the experience of learning from other people.

The second day of the BSB conference was a perfect example. I felt like I learned more about the baking industry in six hours than any amount of online research could have taught me in six months.

For those that couldn’t attend, the BSB helpfully posts slides from all conference presentations on its website (you can see last week’s here). These are well worth checking out.

Just a few highlights included David Garman on why business planning is not the same as strategy, Julius Dean’s incredibly informative (and slightly scary) insights into worldwide wheat production and Justine Fosh on the government’s overhaul of apprenticeship schemes, the fantastic response from the bakery industry and what this will mean for future apprenticeships.

An impressive aspect of the BSB is its unwavering commitment to the bakery community and its future. It donates most of its income to bakery training initiatives around the UK. Perhaps the most heart-warming section of the conference featured students from the University College of Birmingham’s bakery degree course talking about their future career aspirations.

Another touching moment came when Jim Brown, the BSB’s tireless treasurer and a key member since 1974, was given a well-earned lifetime achievement award.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable event. If you want a flavour of how it went, not only can you check out the BSB website, you can read some spot-on coverage in a series of articles by Alice Cooke on the British Baker site too. Personally, I can’t wait for the BSB’s next event which takes place at Campden BRI’s headquarters on April 25, 2017.