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A New York State of Mind


When I first learned from Andrew that we would be having an IPG conference in New York, I was elated. The return to the Big Apple was exactly two years away and, as an American, this would give me the chance to go home again! Soon I was planning a road trip which would include sight-seeing through the states of Massachussetts and Rhode Island before reaching the prized destination. As I was drafting our trip, and with Billy Joel tickling the ivories in the background, I too was in a “New York State of Mind” to the point of including a Greyhound bus ride for the last leg of the trip to THE CITY!


By Lisa Rosen


The Spring 2018 conference in New York City was superbly organized and was both entertaining and educational. Our hotel, the Marriott Marquis was in the extremely central Times Square/Broadway area, surrounded by theatres, lights, stores, street artists and just walking distance from Central park, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, world-class museums, high-end shopping and yes, Trump Tower – who, besides me, dares to admit they walked in and even rode the escalators to the top?


Our Thursday conference ice-breaker event was the opportunity for many participants to show off their bowling skills , while the rest of us nobly portrayed our good sportsmanship, gutter balls and all! Different styles and levels of healthy competitiveness shone through! It was amusing to see shining starts from around the world brandishing their different techniques! The grand finale to an evening of sport? Chocolate ice cream topped with M&Ms, Oreo cookies and whipped cream. What could be better?


The Friday workday included presentations on an interesting array of topics. The first, “Cyber Security: Recent Development and What’s Next”, was paneled by Joshua Gold, Anderson Kill P.C., Meredith Schnur, CPCU and Scott Corzine, Senior Managing Director, Ankura Consulting Group LLC. We learned about how to enact Cyber security compliance and reduce cyber breach risk through specific details within insurance contracts that can lead to successful insurance recovery practices. The point was made, however, that the #1 defense is employee training and awareness, as 80% of hacks are the result of inadvertent publication of data.


The second presentation by William Valone, TriNet Inc, a Professional Employer Organization, on “Foreign Entrants into the US: Strategy and Survival”, was an introduction on the numerous responsibilities around hiring employees in the US which TriNet, being an HR outsourcing company, can take care of through its services. The obvious advantage to foreign firms entering the US market is an increased focus of resources on managing and growing the business rather than spending time on complex US employment standard practices and regulations around healthcare and other benefits, payroll, talent and specific industry issues.


The morning continued with a presentation on “Immigration Issues Under the Trump Administration” held by Steve Maggi, SMA Law Firm. The law firm handles the complicated matter of helping foreign nationals to obtain visas and green cards and assisting foreign companies expanding their businesses into the US. Steve Maggi discussed the pros and cons of a number of visas, such as E1 and E2 treaty visas covering 81 countries, EB5 covering a number of non-E2 countries and temporary specialized work visas like L1. Finally, possible repercussions under the Trump Administration were also considered.


During the course of the morning, our prospect members were introduced and welcomed to the IPG conference. Ismo Hentula from Procope & Hornborg (Helsinki, Finland), Kunal Gandhi from U.S. Gandhi & Co (Mumbai, India) and Boon Yip Yee from and MRI Moores Rowland LLP (Singapore) each gave a presentation of their firm.


After lunch we enjoyed a presentation delivered by Kate Gardiner, DSTL on “Using Social Media in Litigation and Brand Protection”. Kate explained how her boutique audience engagement, digital strategy and public relations firm uses targeted social media posts to reach big numbers and achieve audience engagement. She discussed how litigation strategies for public figure clients should include the right communications in social media in order to complement or counterbalance the client’s story being told by the press.


The accompanying persons’ Friday morning schedule was also educational and interesting, starting with a visit of the new Whitney Museum of American Art located in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The museum boasts a permanent collection of more than 21,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, films, videos, and artifacts of new media by more than 3,000 American artists from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The tour guide was incredibly interesting and well-informed, making the visit a memorable one. After a pleasant lunch at the Italian Ovest Pizzoteca Restaurant in Chelsea, the group walked on the High Line Park, a 1.5-mile-long (2.3 km) elevated linear park created on a section of the former New York Central Railroad. The park was redesigned as a “living system”, and has become an icon of contemporary landscape architecture.


Friday evening is synonymous with “Gala dinner” in our IPG circle, and we were in store for an amusing surprise at Chelsea Piers on Pier 59! The weather was perfect for the location, and we started the evening with cocktails on the pier and a view across the Hudson river of the New Jersey skyline. The delicious seated dinner was followed by two very talented Broadway actors who offered a repertoire of some of the most famous musicals, involving our international audience in a fun sing-along. Andrew and Kristen then opened the dances in the very fashionable ‘70s and ‘80s mode, quickly engaging the numerous die-hard IPG disco dancers! Donna Summer’s “Last Dance” really wasn’t…. Frank Sinatra followed with “New York , New York”, THE VOICE covered loudly by dozens of karaoke wannabes singing along at full throttle!


On Saturday morning, IPG delegates assembled for the General Members’ Meeting. The minutes to the meeting are reported in a separate document, but it is fitting to include in this report that the candidate firms which were present at the conference (Procope & Hornborg from Helsinki, Finland, U.S. Gandhi & Co from Mumbai, India and MRI Moores Rowland LLP from Singapore) were voted in as members of IPG. During the meeting, several members gave presentations on their specializations and involvement in the Expert Groups. And lastly, a new point included in the members’ meeting allowing for any member to give a short presentation on a topic relating to their country and/or on a topic of general interest was well-received by all members.


While the delegates to the conference were busily involved in IPG administrative work, the accompanying persons were visiting elegant historic property from the post-Colonial period, known as the “Federalist Period”. The 19th century home which was visited was very well-preserved, giving the impression of being in a time warp where once could feel the presence of the family that had lived there for so many years.


The Saturday afternoon was left free to allow everyone to explore the city as they best desired, and a sportive group chose to rent bicycles and ride around Central Park, expecting a leisurely promenade through the park. The more honest (or least-in-shape?) in the group admitted to a harder-than-expected ride, possibly due to unexpected detours in the hilly Nature Sanctuaries in the park. Others took advantage of the free time to visit one of the many world-renown museums in New York, while others still waited in line for 45 minutes to have a hamburger at Ellen’s Stardust Diner, famous for its singing waiters and waitresses!


Our final IPG dinner was at Robert Restaurant on the 9th floor, atop the New York Museum of Arts & Design. The modern and artistic restaurant boasts breathtaking views of Columbus Circle and Central Park, which change as the sun sets on the City of Light. Those of us who had not participated in the afternoon bike ride around Central Park finally appreciated the dimensions and extent of the park! While the bikers were nodding “I told you so”, hundreds of “selfies” were being taken of the view as the night evolved. The delicious buffet including a variety of ethnic foods representative of New York’s “melting pot” were watered down by fruity cocktails based on Andrew’s personal recipes, which we got to prepare for ourselves with the aid of a very patient bartender whose patience even surpassed that of Job’s by the end of the evening. The conclusion to an eventful conference in New York was justly accompanied by a talented pianist, and as I listened to the soft sound of the ivories, my mind wandered back to Billy Joel and his “New York State of Mind” which I could now truly relate to, thanks to the wonderful conference and gracious hospitality offered by Andrew Hudders and Jeffrey Lieberman, together with their lovely wives Kristen and Diane!