CUBO 2017: Canterbury campus hosts summer conference

More than 250 HE experts gathered at the University of Kent in Canterbury, for this year’s CUBO conference.
Gavin Esler, Chancellor of the University of Kent was one of the earlier keynote speakers on the first day of the packed programme. The BBC journalist was the White House-based Chief American Correspondent for almost a decade, and gave the audience an insight into what it was like to rub shoulders with the likes of Bill and Hilary Clinton, George Bush and Barrack Obama. Gavin also discussed how business can build trust through telling a better story – and discussed how the HE sector could apply some of these trust-building techniques in a time of great uncertainty.

The legendary Barry McGuigan also took to the stage during the conference for a truly inspirational talk on overcoming adversity. After a brief history of his rise to fame, the former WBA World Featherweight Champion then detailed how boxing can, and has, helped transform the lives of those who once thought the traditional education system was not for them. “So much of my success in boxing derived from the same qualities involved in study,” said Barry. “I’m talking about hard work, commitment, a willingness to receive and explore new ideas, to question and to develop a critical, analytical dimension.”

Session subjects ranged from ‘Building a winning team without money’, to ‘Coaching models and techniques – an interactive session using Russian dolls’, which sums up the variety of talks on offer this year!

In-between the keynotes and selective sessions, delegates could peruse the supplier exhibition, which included well-known brands such as CampusLife, NSP Security, TUCO and the Russell Partnership.

The evening activities are always of a high quality at CUBO, and are a great opportunity for networking. A highlight for both delegates and exhibitors was the Seashells and Shindigs seafood buffet and barbeque at Whitstable beach – which included oysters, lobster, burgers, and fantastic company.

The highly anticipated CUBO Awards took place on the final evening. Click here for a full list of winners.

Kentish theme

From the speakers to the food, the entertainment and the venues, this year’s conference stayed true to its roots and really highlighted the best that Canterbury has to offer.

“From the moment our proposal to host the CUBO conference was accepted, we were determined to make the 2017 conference a memorable experience, and one that had a very distinctive Kentish theme,” explained Kevin Stuckey, Head of Residences and Conference Services at the University of Kent.

He added: “From the conference host, Visit Kent chief executive Sandra Matthews-Marsh MBE, and distinguished speakers including University of Kent Chancellor Gavin Esler, Vice-Chancellor, Dame Julia Goodfellow DBE, and local resident/ boxing legend Barry McGuigan, to the seafood buffet and barbecue on Whitstable beach, and the wonderful pre-awards dinner entertainment provided by Kent graduate and award-winning saxophonist YolanDa Brown.

“The awards dinner was a fitting finale to the event and it was wonderful to see our colleagues in the industry collect their awards with the backdrop of the fully floodlit Canterbury Cathedral clearly visible in the distance.”

The conference was held in Canterbury

Punch above your weight

This year’s event posed the question, do CUBO members punch above their weight? and the selective sessions on offer throughout the two-day conference programme highlighted that in-fact, many do just that.

“I was reflecting on whether CUBO does punch above its weight, and concluded that a conference bookended by two chancellors, with one Vice-Chancellor and a retired world-famous boxer, as well as the CUBO members themselves, provided the evidence,” said Simon Westerman, Director, Commercial Services at the University of Kent.

“In essence, there was strong evidence that we achieved what we set out to achieve: to set the bar high, indeed so high, that our event will be hard, difficult, challenging, (dare I say impossible?) to beat. When my colleagues from Aberdeen to Exeter, from Florida to Bologna said that I must be exceptionally proud of my team, I did not contradict them.”  

Kent’s Kevin Stuckey concluded: “If the delegate and exhibitor feedback I’ve received already is anything to go by, I think we achieved our aims and I hope our industry colleagues and business partners will remember the Kent 2017 CUBO experience for many years to come!”

Exhibitor feedback

Ben Berry, Managing Director, The StudyBed Company: “The City of Canterbury, along with the University of Kent, was a delightful setting for this year’s CUBO event, and the organisation seemed to run very smoothly with help always on hand when needed. As ever, we thoroughly enjoyed meeting new people as well as former acquaintances and demonstrating the latest design improvements to our innovative space-saving multifunctional product. From the interest we received, we will clearly be kept very busy installing free trials over the coming months, and look forward to visiting and inspecting the intended sites where it is considered that StudyBeds will make a significant difference.” 

Derek Mitchell, Divisional Director,  Godfrey Syrett: “As we continue to grow our presence, and expand on our long history and strength in the university sector, we saw CUBO as a must-attend event to place our brand and expertise before our target audience. “We work with universities directly, and via main contractors, to bring their projects to fruition, and our three days at CUBO were key to developing the kind of relationships we need to be able to progress our presence within the university accommodation sector. We look forward to next year’s event!”

Mike Jones, Managing Director, YourGuarantor: “YourGuarantor were delighted to return to CUBO this year and would like to extend a warm thanks to all at the University of Kent for putting on a fantastic event. CUBO presents a unique opportunity for suppliers to develop and build relationships with the key commercial stakeholders in the university sector. The conference has been invaluable to YG, enabling us to build presence and awareness and to showcase our products and services. We very much look forward to next year’s event at Manchester Metropolitan University. Well done CUBO!”

Mark Prior, Marketing Manager, Thompson Group: “The integrated security, fire, communications and life safety systems specialists at Thompson AVC were delighted to have met everyone at the recent CUBO Summer Conference. Our team thoroughly enjoyed this very informative, relaxed and well-organised event and found plenty of opportunities to meet and socialise with delegates and other exhibitors alike. To find out more about how The Thompson Group can add value for education estates and organisations through our customer-focused, technology-led approach to improving our clients’ operational and financial efficiency call our team on 01902 658822 or visit”

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