The team at Termite Professional magazine is racing towards the finish in organising this year’s Termite Professional Conference. Running from 5-7 July in Maroochydore, Queensland, the two-day event is being held specifically for pest managers who want to improve their understanding of termites and further their termite management skills to win more business and deliver improved services.
It’s a tremendous opportunity to learn from leading experts in the field, network with other pest managers from around the world and gain the knowledge and skills you need to provide the best possible service to your customers. Another highlight will be the Women in Pest Management (WIPM) association’s Big Breakfast (more on this later).
We spoke to Professional Pest Manager/Termite Professional magazine editor and event organiser Phil Ridley to hear what participants can expect from the conference, as we did with WIPM President Nicky Turner, to find out more about the offering for women in pest control.
Phil Ridley – Professional Pest Manager / Termite Professional magazine publisher and conference organiser
Hi Phil. Tell me about the Termite Professional Conference. When was it started and what’s the aim of it?
When we launched the Termite Professional magazine back in 2021, it was always the intention to hold a conference, but COVID-19 put it on the back burner, until now.
Over the years our readers have often asked us to host a conference. I think the main reason for this is that Australia – until now – hasn’t had the type of conferences that occur overseas, particularly in the US. As a general rule, Australian conferences and training events involve suppliers, industry experts or suppliers talking about research, rather than having the actual scientists talking about their latest research. That was the idea behind the Termite Professional Conference, to bring leading Australia and US researchers to the one event, so pest managers can listen to experts firsthand.
This is the first specialist termite conference in Australia.
What do you expect will be key takeouts for owners and operators? Why should they attend the conference this year?
Building on the answer above, pest managers (both newly qualified and experienced) will gain an improved understanding of termite biology and behaviour, and how products work. This will ensure they can deliver the best termite management programs for their clients. With additional sessions on termite inspections and report writing, it also ensures that pest managers not only deliver best practice services but follow the necessary processes to ensure they are protected from a liability point of view.
I see the theme this year is “Be The Expert.” Why is that the focus?
Simply, if you want to be the best and offer your customers the best, you need to be the expert. Attendees at the conference can genuinely promote that they’re up to speed with the latest in termite understanding and management.
Highlight a few speakers we can look forward to.
Perhaps the top 3 would be:
Assistant Professor Theo Evans – probably the leading termite researcher in Australia, particularly in regards to termite behaviour and termite control in the field. Here’s a video of Theo in action at a TEDx event:
Assistant Professor Thomas Chouvenc – we’re really privileged to have Thomas here from the US. Not only is he an expert in termite baiting and termite foraging behaviour, he is a leading termite educator.
Scott Kleinschmidt – many pest managers will know Scott as one of the leading termite experts in Australia, but they probably won’t know that he is the middle of a master’s degree and will be sharing some of his research on termite foraging and food choice / timber susceptibility.
What are the biggest challenges on the horizon for people working in the termite management industry in the next few years?
Termite management and particularly termite inspections are becoming an increasingly litigious area. It’s essential that pest managers have the latest knowledge and follow best practice – not only to deliver excellence in termite management but to protect their business in case of legal action. Attending the termite conference will ensure that they have the latest learnings and also demonstrate to any outside bodies that they’re keeping their knowledge base and training up to date.
And the biggest opportunities?
Probably more of a medium term development, but with the changing climate, it’s likely that termite activity will increase in many areas and that high termite activity will continue for more months during the year. Along with a growing population and new housing, in theory there’ll be an increasing amount of termite work for all.
What’s the most common feedback you hear from termite managers when you ask them how they’re going?
There are always concerns about the quality of work witnessed by some operators and the cheap prices being quoted. Whilst a concern, the response of a quality operator is to promote their expertise and provide excellence in service. Attending the termite conference will help them demonstrate to their customers they are the provider of choice.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Whilst a termite conference, we also have a special pre-conference event – An Evening with Professor Dini Miller. Dini is from the US and will talk about Assessment Based Pest Management and German cockroaches. This is another unique opportunity for Australian pest managers.
At the end of the day, this conference represents a unique opportunity and is unlikely to be repeated anytime soon. We really think this is THE conference for pest managers serious about termite management. Many pest managers have already registered but there’s always room for more!
Although it’s running during the school holidays, accommodation prices and flight availability are still looking good, so book your conference ticket and maybe combine with a holiday for the family too!
Nicky Turner – WIPM President
Hi Nicky, tell me a bit more about the Women in Pest Management (WIPM) association and what its aim is.
Even though women have played a significant role in the pest management industry, they have historically been underrepresented in the field. Their distinct viewpoints and abilities contribute to the improvement of pest management techniques, elevating the overall efficiency of the industry. The active participation of the WIPM association not only fosters gender equality but inspires more women to pursue careers in this field, empowering them to break gender stereotypes and excel in their chosen profession.
The aim of the association is to delve into the significance of women’s involvement in pest control and the advantages it can yield. The purpose of the association is to encourage and highlight the contributions of women in this industry, inspiring others to strive for excellence.
In July of 2022, the Women In Pest Management association was established. However, my involvement with women in the industry dates back to December of 2018, when I founded the initial Professional Women In Pest Management association. The establishment of WIPM has opened up exciting possibilities of growth, enabling us to establish the fresh chapters in the vibrant regions of New Zealand and the South Pacific.
What is the Big Breakfast the WIPM association will hold at the Termite Professional Conference?
This breakfast serves as a means for the pest management industry to recognise the contributions of women in the field. Additionally, it presents a chance for individuals to connect and engage with others who share similar interests and passions. Socialising and networking are key components of the occasion.
We will be starting the day with a hearty breakfast that is accessible to both men and women- an excellent way to kickstart the conference. The keynote speaker is set to invigorate the attendees, equipping them with the necessary drive to concentrate and actively participate in the day’s events.
What other activities will WIPM be involved in?
Apart from hosting the breakfast, WIPM has arranged a sequence of Leadership Development Workshops that will equip business owners and their employees with crucial resources to enhance their leadership abilities within the workplace. The workshops are designed to equip employees with the essential knowledge, skills, and tools required to become effective leaders and drive the success of the business. By participating in these workshops, employees will have the chance to take on more significant roles in the future and make valuable contributions to the company.
Great leaders have the ability to ignite inspiration and motivation within their teams. This results in enhancing collaboration, communication, and problem-solving skills. The workshops are designed to cater to the unique requirements of both owners and employees. They have a focus on health and wellness, workplace stress, marketing strategies, and motivational insights. Experienced industry professionals and keynote speakers will be conducting the workshops.
What would you say are today’s key concerns for female business owners and operators?
The progress of women business owners and operators in the Australian Pest Management Industry has been advancing thanks to the support of various associations such as WIPM. Women in the industry are fortunate to have various resources at their disposal. However, we still lack an appreciable amount of representation from our industry leaders. Many women face challenges in finding the right role models and mentors who share their experiences and can provide them with the guidance and support they need. This can really limit their ability to navigate the challenges of their job and succeed in their careers.
Even in today’s modern times, women can face repercussions for breaking gender norms by pursuing careers in male dominated industries. Gender bias can unfortunately still be present in the workplace, leading to discriminatory practices.
Women often face challenges in balancing their work and personal lives. This can be challenging for those with caregiving responsibilities, such as children and elderly parents. Attending the Leadership Development Workshops presents an excellent chance to acquire the skills necessary to tackle the obstacles that arise in our daily lives.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
With the convergence of the Termite Professional Conference and the WIPM Leadership Development Workshops, a line-up of this magnitude is a once in a lifetime occurrence!
It’s unheard of to have the likes of Ass. Prof. Theo Evans, Ass. Prof. Thomas Chouvenc, Scott Kleinschmidt, Prof. Nate Lo, Girl Director, Toni Powell and now Prof. Dini Miller all at one conference, let alone as guest speakers. This is a must do conference and workshops. Don’t miss out on the chance for you and your team to gain invaluable knowledge from the top experts and keynote speakers in the world.
WIPM has planned a variety of events for during the conference, one of which is the highly anticipated Hinterland High Tea. You don’t need to be attending the conference to attend, however you must register. The announcement of the Women In Pest Management Recognition Award recipients will take place during the conference’s gala dinner. Don’t forget to jump onto the Termite Professional Conference website to gather further details.
Read more about termites and pest management:
A note on Rapid Solutions
Rapid will be supporting the inaugural Termite Professional Conference as an exhibitor, with our CEO Belinda Smith and Rapid Training Manager Kerrie Undery attending.
Belinda will also be presenting case studies at a panel discussion on termite inspection claims. Namely, how to avoid them and effectively resolve them when they inevitably occur.
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