The term “Company Retreat” often conjures up images of awkward, unproductive sessions held in dark, claustrophobic board rooms. At Hawkins International, we don’t do unproductive, so, when our annual retreat time rolled around, our Executive Team enlisted the help of professional facilitators and mindfulness experts to ensure that our off-site remained compelling and tied back to our theme of “What Does it Mean to be the Total Package?”.

Convene’s sunny, Park Avenue location was the backdrop for the event and the discussion was moderated by the lovely Brian and Kevin of NYC Meeting Facilitators. In preparation for the retreat, all employees were asked to bring an object or photo that’s had significant meaning in their lives as well as submit a title and subtitle of an interesting personal story. Throughout the day, objects and stories were selected at random and employees were asked to step outside of their comfort zones and share a memorable experience with the group. We heard about everything from unfortunate experiences at Abercrombie & Fitch to growing up abroad adjusting to the lack of boy bands.

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In conjunction with the story sharing, there were also opportunities to meet in small groups and discuss the trajectory of the agency. There was a “Green Light” and “Red Light” exercise that asked staff members to write down what they were interested in continuing on behalf of the agency as well as what they thought could be altered in order to increase morale and productivity.

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The agency heard from Jennifer Hawkins as she discussed her early career, making the move to PR and lessons she’s learned along the way. This intimate setting allowed for open, honest conversation on where the agency is headed in the next couple of years – there are exciting updates in store, folks!

Overall, everyone left the day with a greater sense of purpose both within their teams as well as in the larger context of the agency. We grew closer as a team, identified opportunities for growth and had quite a bit of fun along the way. The only question left unanswered was – which client is interested in hosting our retreat next year?

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