Meeting the Taan Network for the first time

— by Helen Arathoon, Associate Director – Gabrielle Shaw Communications

For those who are interested in or are new to Taan you may have got a sense of the benefits. The ability to contact a wide network of agencies, support for varied briefs you may be tasked to deliver, or a stamp of approval that you have the resource to work on global activations. However, it is at the Taan meetings (which happen at least twice a year) where you really get a sense of the incredible network that you belong to, and the value you can get from Taan as a business and an individual.


At the meetings, a number of Taan agencies from across the world come together for a 2 day conference, sandwiched within a fantastic social schedule. This year’s European meeting was held in Prague in October and was my first Taan conference. With a range of agencies working in different areas and expertise within the creative communications industries, the amount of information sharing, support and co-creation (as well as new business opps!) that can come from just over 48 hours together is inspiring.


One of the standout benefits of the Taan meeting was the ability to discuss business challenges and ambitions with other business owners. There is a real sense of togetherness and you have the chance to see how different agencies deal with the same issues.  During the conference there is much time dedicated to the member Q&A, from which I drew huge value. Hearing different experiences of how agencies have approached situations, from client handling to managing teams to how best to manage agency time dedicated to new business was incredibly helpful.


In the meetings, Taan agencies also get the chance to present on new endeavours, new systems or ways of thinking they have employed. It is refreshing to hear new perspectives to support growing business ways to develop new revenue streams.


As well as group learning, it was also great to have sessions with experts outside of the network on wider topics related to agency life and client work. Highlights included a Diversity and inclusion seminar from Tru Pettigrew and a presentation from a TrendWatching expert on 2020 trends – invaluable for 2020 client planning.


Alongside, the day’s schedule of key notes, presentations and Q&A’s, there is also the chance to take in the amazing city with a carefully thought out itinerary put together by Taan,  ensuring you visit some of the best restaurants and really get a taste of the city you are in. As any business owner or MD will know, time out of the office can be one of the best ways come up with ideas. The Taan conference allows you the space to take a breather, and look at issues from a fresh perspective. Plus, you also get to try out the night life with some of Taan’s more exuberant members!

Lastly, whilst the Taan conference is for owners and MD’s, the amount of benefits that Taan agency member employees will gain – invigorated leaders, new ideas and access to resources (particularly the invaluable Taan slack channel!) – are huge.


A few insights I took away with me from my time at Taan:

  • diversity isn’t enough, you need look at inclusion and also ask the opinion of people you are trying to reach; don’t assume you or someone else has the answer
  • Scopes of work, universally can cause headaches for both clients and agencies; make sure that time is invested up front with all team members and all clients to ensure there is a shared understanding of what it entails
  • It’s easy to be an expert! Put in the work through research, conferences and reading trade titles and you’ll be in the know!
  • Full, 360 reviews for staff helps them align on their strengths, areas of improvements and gives employees a better sense of where they are in their career
  • Think about being better everyday; not best practice.  There is always room to improve on your last success

I look forward to my next Taan conference!

— Helen Arathoon, Gabrielle Shaw Communications, London