President’s Award Winners Look Back and Look Ahead at INTA’s Virtual Events

Published: August 12, 2020

Over the years, INTA has finely honed the art of bringing together trademark and other intellectual property (IP) professionals from around the world, and now it is moving into a virtual environment with its renowned annual gathering. A sample of the experience was INTA’s first all-virtual 2020 New York Conference—Brands in Society: Their Influence and Responsibility, in June.

The 2020 Annual Meeting & Leadership Meeting, coming up in November, goes steps further—presenting an innovative, new platform with myriad networking and educational opportunities. In order to put virtual events in perspective, we spoke with two leaders who have long histories of engagement at INTA meetings and who attended the New York Conference.

Here, the 2019 INTA President’s Award recipients, Marion Heathcote (Davies Collison Cave, Australia) and Lara Kayode (O. Kayode & Co., Nigeria) talk about what they’ve liked most about INTA meetings, their experience at the virtual New York Conference, and what they’re looking forward to at the 2020 Annual Meeting & Leadership Meeting.

Lara Kayode

Lara Kayode

What are some of the key elements you’ve always enjoyed most about INTA events?
Lara Kayode (LK): INTA offers all of its attendees a fantastic networking and business development platform. This has been the reason why I have kept coming back since my first Annual Meeting in 1995. It allows attendees to catch up with most if not all of their clients. The robust educational program offered at each meeting, regardless of location, is a key element.

The contribution to the organization through committee work is another key element, and of course the socials, as we all know the receptions at INTA are legendary.

Marion Heathcote

Marion Heathcote

Due to the global nature of our trademark practice, INTA gives us the opportunity to catch up with work colleagues and friends alike, and also to make new friends and catch up with not so new ones.

Marion Heathcote (MH): INTA provides a unique opportunity to connect, learn from, and be inspired by IP and brand specialists from around the world. It connects people not only on a global scale but is welcoming and has something to offer to all enthusiasts within the branding space—owners, attorneys, academics, and service providers to name a few. They all contribute to the diverse fabric of INTA.

Do you have any favorite memories from an INTA event, and why?
LK: Clearly my current most favorite memory was at the 2019 Leadership Meeting when I was awarded the President’s Award. I also think being elected to the Board in 2012 was memorable, as this was a pleasant surprise. The opportunity to meet colleagues who then go along to become lifelong friends is a memory I cherish very dearly. It makes the world more comfortable.

MH: The memories are plentiful, and it is hard to select a favorite as each are important in their own ways. Sharing the stage as we received the President’s Award in Austin (Texas, USA) at the 2019 Leadership Meeting with Lara Kayode, whom I met at INTA and with whom I have a close friendship since our early days together “growing up” through INTA, was an honor. It is also hard to believe it’s been a decade since I had the privilege of co-chairing the [2010] Leadership Meeting in Phoenix (Arizona, USA).  I have also welcomed the INTA family to my hometown of Sydney, Australia, twice in 10 years, [2008 and 2018].

However, if pushed, my most favorite event was being part of the Brand Authenticity Conference in Berlin in 2018. This was many years in the making and driven by INTA staff liaison Iris Gunther’s passion throughout. To see the culmination of this vision, of a program dedicated to the triple bottom line, and the greater role that brands can play in society, was a true coming of age and recognition of brand relevance and their role in the wider community and a key moment in the evolution of the organization.


My number one tip will be to pace yourself. If you miss a session, don’t worry too much about it because you can catch up later 'on demand.' —Lara Kayode

In June, you attended the 2020 New York Conference from the comfort of your home. What were your expectations going into INTA’s first fully virtual conference, and what were your lasting impressions as you reflect on the experience?
LK: I honestly did not know what to expect. I had attended the live New York Conference before and it is a meeting I thoroughly enjoy. It’s small and we are usually brought up to date on the topic of discussion; and the networking opportunity is also a key factor. The virtual experience did not disappoint me. There were some sessions that I was not able to take part in because of the time difference, but the “on demand” feature made it even more enjoyable.

MH: I was en route to the airport in March to attend the Conference in New York City when the world changed. It was a Conference whose content—with my bias of being the vice chair of the Brands for a Better Society Committee—was relevant and timely, and since March has become even more so. INTA’s ability and [staff member] Dolores Moro’s tenacity in pivoting the platform to ensure this much-needed program was still able to be delivered in an engaging and meaningful way was an extraordinary feat. Creative efforts were explored, trialed, and implemented to try and maximize the participant’s experience. I attended the Conference to provide support in challenging times and came away incredibly impressed by what had been achieved in a short space of time and in such new and challenging circumstances.

From your experience at the New York Conference, can you share some tips on how to prepare—both mentally and logistically—for a virtual event? Is there a certain mindset you need to adopt, for example?
LK: In June, we were all coming round to having virtual meetings, due to the current state of the world. I am thinking that by November, we will all be pros at working from home and also taking part in virtual conferences. My number one tip will be to pace yourself. If you miss a session, don’t worry too much about it because you can catch up later “on demand.”

Relax, there is no jet lag to overcome. Ensure your virtual communication platform is up to date, and yes, while there is nothing better than face-to-face human contact, virtual is second best, and it is what we have now, so please make the most of it.

MH: My main tip is: come with an open mind and spirit of adventure. This will be different. Circumstances dictate that it has to be. However, the endeavors being made to create a rewarding and meaningful alternate experience are exemplary and how ultimate success is perceived will be dependent on those who participate and how they go about it. As Lara has mentioned, the educational content also will be available “on demand” and can be revisited later if required. Just like any conference, the rest of the opportunities are up to you to take up as suits you and your schedule. For me, I intend to incur a little bit of virtual jet lag because I am presenting and so I can experience some of what there is to offer in real time. However, there are streams in more favorable time zones as well, and in true INTA fashion, there are plenty of different participation options to choose from depending on your interests.

One of the biggest draws of INTA events is the networking and business development opportunities. How did you find this aspect of the New York Conference and what advice would you have for future event registrants on how to maximize these opportunities in a virtual world?
LK: I missed out on the Speed Networking, in New York, as I did not get to book a slot, and it was attendance by registration only, which I omitted to do. However, I was able to arrange my meetings, through email, at my convenience. I think future attendees should schedule meetings as they ordinarily would. The good thing about virtual meetings is that there is no chance of missing one another, due to lack of transport or a venue mix up.

MH: As we juggle how we now work and live in constantly changing and challenging times, we also need to consider how we communicate. For me, the New York Conference provided a reminder of a key aspect of INTA and its role in the global IP community: its events are a hub around which the community communicates. It’s a time to remember colleagues and friends and take a moment to connect. How you do it I think is not important, rather just like INTA has been a diary entry to meet in the “real world,” it can be so in the “virtual world.”


Come with an open mind and spirit of adventure. . . . Just like any conference, the rest of the opportunities are up to you. —Marion Heathcote

With the Annual Meeting & Leadership Meeting having even more features than the New York Conference, what are you most looking forward to about the Meeting?
I am looking forward to being able to organize my meetings with clients. I’ve already booked a Speed Networking session so I will not be missing out this time. I am looking forward to the opportunity to pace myself; attending meetings within my time zone is an added plus.

MH: I am genuinely curious to see how the platform works, and how the virtual experience unfolds. It is an opportunity to engage in something different and by its construct has the inherent potential to be more inclusive. Who knows what opportunities “conferencing” in this way may offer for the future.

Given the year we are in, how important is registering for the Annual Meeting & Leadership Meeting and why?
LK: The year 2020 has been a different year by all means. Both our working and personal lives have changed. However, more than ever it is important and, in fact, essential to attend the Annual Meeting & Leadership Meeting this year, to maintain some semblance of normalcy albeit behind our computer screens.

The members of the IP community, though spread across the globe, thrive on the Annual Meeting and Leadership Meeting. At these Meetings we are able to learn about the latest developments in our global community.

The program so far is fantastic. The INTA team and all the volunteers have put up a great program, and the virtual experience looks great. It will be the meeting not to miss if you ask me. I hope I can take my own advice by pacing myself!

MH: The INTA family has always been a global community. If we have learnt anything this year, it is the importance of community and our individual roles within it. It is a year when being a hero is as much about what you don’t do as what you do. It’s a year when global collaboration has been shown to be necessary and affirms that discrimination should not exist. Attendance at the “virtual” Annual Meeting & Leadership Meeting reminds us that we can still achieve committee objectives together, we can still learn from each other, and we can still remain connected although, for now, we need to stay apart.

Early-bird registration for the 2020 Annual Meeting & Leadership Meeting is available through August 21. View the program.

Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of this article, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest.

© 2020 International Trademark Association