The ICIS training seminars are in Amsterdam this week, and since everyone in the petchem industry is expecting this year to be a tough one for attendance on external courses and at conferences, it is very gratifying that both the Beginners’ and Advanced courses are sold out.
Attendance figures from all the major industry conferences in the final months of 2008 were down, and that looks set to be the case for the big events in the first quarter of 2009, with companies showing every sign of continuing to cut back on business travel.
In the conference room of the NH Caransa hotel on Amsterdam’s Rembrandtplein, delegates from distributors, traders and consumers of petchems, plus a couple of bankers, are debating the hot topics of the day. They embark with great enthusiasm on designing some very innovative projects, spending their investors’ (hypothetical) billions with easy abandon.
They are analysts, economists, from procurement, customer service, business management and sales. Each batch of petchem students has its own personality, and this one is the most inquisitive by far - their keen questioning plays havoc with our time-keeping.