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4 Reasons Why I’m Excited for AFP 2022

Oct 4, 2022

By Benjamin Wann, CMA, CSCA, MBA, PMP, CPA

The AFP Conference is back, and it’s better than ever! And by better, I mean, of course, not attending through a computer monitor. Like plenty of finance professionals, I’ve missed the energy, buzz and connections that are part of being immersed in a conference. Here are four things I’m looking forward to at AFP 2022, plus some food recommendations from a Philly native.

1. Connecting with other finance professionals

If you’re like me, you get that part of what makes professional events like AFP 2022 so memorable and fun is the informal chats with fellow attendees, sharing meals with like-minded folks, and even meeting face-to-face with LinkedIn connections.

Starting with the Kick-off Party at the Franklin Institute, professionals can begin to pull themselves out of their day-to-day routines — and what better way to emphasize innovation and wonder than one of the country’s leading science and technology centers? I’m looking forward to exploring the museum, enjoying cocktails, and opening my mind to new ideas and perspectives.

I’m sure I’m not alone in admitting this, but I typically feel a little awkward and unsure of how to engage in discussions with other attendees. Fortunately, AFP 2022 has a plan for helping people like me start conversations. Beyond the kickoff event, the conference gives attendees several opportunities to mingle with other attendees, including various roundtables, casual receptions and designated meet-up times.

2. Getting inspired by the keynote speakers

Personally, I can’t wait to hear what the four conference keynote speakers have to share.

  1. Opening Keynote: Laila Ali successfully applied the discipline she gained as an elite athlete throughout her unique career as an entrepreneur, TV personality and author. She will share strategies for navigating complex challenges.
  2. Certification Keynote: Dr. Simone Ahuja, strategist and author of the books Disrupt Yourself and Jugaad Innovation, will share inspiring stories of frugal innovators who solved problems — large and small — by having the right mindset and following a set of guiding principles.
  3. MindShift Keynote: Kaihan Krippendorff, strategy and innovation expert, spent over a decade studying what makes companies and individuals thrive in the face of disruption while others fall behind. He will break down the underlying patters of disruption to help financial professionals become disruptors.
  4. Closing Keynote: Adam Grant, organizational psychologist and bestselling author, will examine how financial professionals can evolve their thinking, open their minds, and build a learning organization in which people know what they don’t know and are eager to improve upon the status quo.

3. Learning from the educational sessions

The educational sessions planned for the six session tracks (including treasury management, payments, FP&A and more) are clearly well thought out. What sticks out to me is that the sessions are substantiative, relevant and practical. They cover the issues, technologies and trends that matter. I think they will be an immersive way to learn from others and connect what we do to the big picture all around us.

Of course, there are some sessions that are more future-focused, such as “What Can Machine Learning Do for Finance?” Even if you’re a buzzword-exhausted person, you’ll want to note that the session will share experiences directly from those who helped transform Microsoft Finance and provide live demonstrations of use cases in FP&A.

4. Getting tips to apply to my work

I’m going to geek out a little and shout out the new feature to this year’s conference: the Interactive Q&A Collaborate Board. Attendees are invited to write down their biggest problem, post it on the board and check back later for solutions from their peers. How cool is that?

I’m also looking forward to checking out the 15-minute sessions at the Knowledge Hub to learn about storytelling techniques, stress reduction tips, and coaching techniques that I can bring back to what I do.

The takeaway from reading through the full schedule is that the AFP conference focuses heavily on sharing knowledge with strategic, operational and paradigm-breaking emphasis. Each session has a component of real-world application, which is key to explaining to our bosses why we will be in Philly for a few days this fall.

Bonus: Tips from a Philly native

As a Philadelphia-based professional, I get the benefit of attending this year’s conference right here in town. For those not from the region, I think you’ll recognize that when you’re not attending conference events, there is so much to do, see and experience in the area, which is renowned for its history and cultural influence.

If you’re looking for an incredible bite of food, I recommend stopping by Reading Terminal Market (a one-minute walk from the Convention Center) to try Tommy DiNic’s roast pork & broccoli rabe on sharp provolone sandwich. If you’re in the mood for Italian, head to Dante & Luigi’s in South Philly — try the meatballs!

I could go on and on, but the message should be clear: Making this year’s AFP 2022 Conference should be high on the priority list for treasury and FP&A professionals. I’ll see you there!