Greetings from my flight home from Carlsbad, Calif., where I attended the 2018 GIA Symposium. Congratulations to GIA president and CEO Susan Jacques, senior vice president and chief marketing officer Kathryn Kimmel, and the entire GIA team on a smashing success!
The three-day event was attended by more than 750 members of the industry, from more than 35 countries. It truly represented the international scope of this exciting business.
The symposium kicked off with a centennial birthday celebration of the founder of modern gemology, Richard T. Liddicoat. The event was stunning, and included a giant hot-air balloon that lifted attendees to an even-better view of the sun setting over the Pacific.
The next morning saw the start of the educational sessions, divided into research and business tracks. I attended the business sessions, which were centered on case studies and themes such as authentic leadership, customer centricity, and disruptive innovation.
The sessions were run by the Harvard Business School executive education department (the same team that conducts the annual week-long jewelry executive program in Cambridge, Mass.)—and they were simply terrific. They brought to life the major challenges facing us all. Also terrific were those participants who enrolled to attend the sessions, read the case studies in advance, and were a part of the back-and-forth dialogue with the professors. I’ve truly never been more impressed by the smarts found within our industry.
After two days of intense learning (and fun schmoozing at meals and cocktail parties), the event closed with a Futurescape Forum for all symposium attendees. The powerhouse panel—which included the CEOs and directors of De Beers Group, Signet Jewelers, Blue Nile, Diamond Cellar Holdings, Christie’s, and Chow Tai Fook—responded to New York University professor and futurist Scott Galloway’s 2019 predictions for the industry. Interesting, fascinating, and engaging only begin to describe the forum. Wow.
While some of the themes were well-worn (“the only constant is change”), the symposium addressed them in authentic ways, with concrete learnings. Change is indeed constant, and not every business will survive it. But for those who do, this industry has a bright future indeed!
Top: This year’s GIA Symposium was more exciting (and scenic) than ever.
(Photograph by Nicholas A. Prakas; Grooming: Claudia Andreatta/Halley Resources; top: GIA)