A global kick off and a bold new mindset


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The challenge: create a global kick off event that was the best in the company’s history.

REA Group operates Australia’s leading property websites. Founded by three guys in a garage, REA is now a AU$6 billion business with 1,000 employees across Australia, Asia and Europe.

In 2015, REA approached Water Cooler to deliver its first ever global kick off – a three-day event designed to get employees excited about the year ahead.

This particular kick off needed to be the biggest and best in REA’s history. It was the first time the event was extended to REA’s global colleagues and it came at a time when REA needed to adopt a bold new mindset to achieve its ambitious growth targets.

The solution: a high-end event packed with jaw-dropping moments

Water Cooler worked alongside REA’s talented events team to establish the agenda, develop the content, coach speakers and ensure the smooth-running of the day.

The theme for the conference was the ‘Red Pill’ – an allusion to the film The Matrix, in which ‘taking the red pill’ means waking up to reality. This theme provided an engaging way to communicate a difficult message – the need for a radical shift in mindset.

Upping the production on previous years, we banned bullet points and emphasised video and other visual content. For example, the CEO began her keynote in a wing-backed armchair with the stage set up to mirror the dramatic moment when Neo, the hero of The Matrix, is offered the red pill by Morpheus.

But we also made sure the speaker line-up wasn’t limited to the leadership team, with the people who had worked on projects throughout the year being the ones who got up on stage to tell their story.

Adam Spencer was MC for the day – a popular choice with REA’s tech guys. Aussie explorers Cas and Jonesy entertained and inspired the audience in equal measure, with a stand-up innovation and not a dry eye in the house.

Tripod, the musical comedy trio, performed ‘Take the Red Pill with me’, a song composed specifically for REA and more tears fell – this time with laughter – at REA’s very own version of Jimmy Fallon.

The variety proved a big hit with attendees.

Other highlights included a thrilling awards ceremony, a massive party and a hands-on session where 600 employees assembled flat pack furniture to donate to REA’s charity partner, Launch Housing for people who have been rehomed after fleeing domestic violence.

The outcome: fabulous feedback and a strong performance against objectives

Feedback on the event was very positive, with more than 80% of employees reporting that kick off met its four main objectives: Review FY15 and celebrate our successes (88%), Get on one page on the priorities for FY16 (80%), Bring everyone together to build a greater sense of team (84%) and Motivate and inspire people for the year ahead (88%).

What employees said

“A great overview of our future direction and inspired me to step out of my comfort zone and think about ways that I can improve.”

“I loved how it was ‘our people’ who got up, those who were in the thick of it, not department heads. More of this please.”

“So inspirational, was not expecting anything like this.”

“Utterly jaw dropping and so moving.”

“Walked away focussed and ready to smash the year out .”

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