David Friedrich-Schmidt

31 March 2020

“We must go down unusual paths and enter into cooperation”

GCB FutureTalks #2 with David Friedrich-Schmidt, DGN

In the current corona crisis, the event industry's most important task is to show solidarity and break new ground together. David Friedrich-Schmidt, Head of Projects & Administration of the German Society for Neurology (DGN), is convinced of this. For our series GCB FutureTalks, issue #2, he spoke with Matthias Schultze, Managing Director of the GCB, about emotional Skype meetings and the limits of virtual events.

Matthias Schultze: Hashtag "KeepYourDistance" - how does the daily work routine at DGN currently look like?

David Friedrich-Schmidt: Our whole team is working from home and we start every working day with a Skype video round. It's not so much about what's going on at the moment, but rather about how everyone is feeling: What can we do against cabin fever and demotivation? How does the shutdown work? How is the family and relatives? This is sometimes quite emotional, but incredibly valuable and is appreciated by everyone. Our meetings are all held via Skype or as telephone conferences. It was a bit unusual at the beginning, but we manage it quite well.

Matthias Schultze: What is important for the event world in the upcoming weeks and months?

David Friedrich-Schmidt: The order of the day for our industry is: solidarity, cohesion and moving closer together. It would be fatal if we allowed ourselves to be divided in this situation. We have to analyze which of us now urgently needs support as a first step and which of us perhaps still has some air and can be patient a little longer. We need creativity and we must be prepared to go down unusual paths and enter into cooperation. The world will be a different place at the end of this crisis - and that also applies to the event industry.

Matthias Schultze: How do you think events and event formats will be changed in the long term by the current crisis?

David Friedrich-Schmidt: We will have to think about certain topics much more than before: For example, digitalization, event insurance or alternative event formats. From now on, these scenarios must always be considered and must be kept in a drawer. By the way, this is also part of sustainable events. Physical event formats will not be dead and not everything can be transformed into virtual realities. We are experiencing this daily while working from home and I have said it in many other places: interpersonal relationships and emotionality are much more difficult to transport online and have a different quality there.