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Global Payroll Pros United Virtually at Congress Xstream

By Frank J. Mendelson


Global payroll professionals from around the world attended workshops and networked virtually from 2-5 June as part of Congress Xstream: An Online Conference & Expo.  

Congress Xstream—presented by the American Payroll Association (APA) and Global Payroll Management Institute (GPMI)— shared great similarities with the traditional live Annual Congress, including general sessions, workshops, the Expo, networking, and fun and games.

The logistics, technology, and communication necessary to take the in-person Annual Congress originally planned for Orlando, Florida, to an online venue could have been overwhelming. But what is payroll known for if not flawless execution, mastery of technology, and seamless, on-time delivery?

“I was saving for this year’s Congress and looking forward to experiencing it live, but then when we had to shelter in place because of the virus, I still wanted to be part of it,” said first-time Congress attendee Anna Nkwocha, CPP, Payroll Coordinator at Interstate Hotels and Resorts. “I can only imagine how the live Congress will look like if we are able to accomplish this much online.”

What Congress Xstream lacked in hugs and handshakes was made up for in the ability to seamlessly join workshops, share comments with one another in real time, take notes, and benefit from the expertise of the presenters.

Although GPMI participants missed the individual networking that they’ve come to know and love, they were quick to take advantage of the dialogue and participation offered during the 28 online workshops.

Networking in the workshops was not sacrificed thanks to the chat feature. Workshop participants could easily converse with and see what was on the minds of their colleagues in the United States and around the world. 

Representative workshops included:

  • Global Payroll Models in Detail: Which Is Right for You?

  • The Payroll Global Culture Map

  • Winning Globally: Discovery, Strategy, Governance

The virtual theater provided an easy-to-access list of workshops that were available live and later on demand for participants.

Networking Lounge

One of the features of Congress Xstream was the Networking Lounge, where members could meet to chat, share experiences, and socially reconnect. GPMI members used the lounge much as they would in a face-to-face event, where relationship-building continued to magnify the benefits of this collegial opportunity. Who better to commiserate or problem-solve with than one’s peers who intimately understand each other’s challenges? In addition, participants were able to chat with the program’s keynote speakers and industry presenters—along with newly installed APA President Lois Fried, CPP, and GPMI Publisher and President Dan Maddux.

The Interface

The clean interface of Congress Xstream was intuitive, just like walking through an actual Congress environment. The lobby provided the daily agenda, with at-a-click access that made scheduling a breeze.

General sessions, educational sessions, special sessions, and demo sessions took place in virtual theaters.

The Exhibitors

Participants appreciated the ability to chat directly with any of the 15 Global Expo exhibitors, or the GPMI desk, populated by various GPMI staff throughout the event. The virtual Expo provided an efficient and effective interactive vehicle for vendors to relate to their visitors. This included links to blogs, documents, videos, video libraries, webinars, surveys, detailed descriptions of services, websites, and the immediate opportunity to chat.

The APA and GPMI look forward to returning to an in-person conference next year, Payroll Congress, currently scheduled to take place May 18-20, 2021, in Nashville, Tennessee.

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Frank J. Mendelson is Acquisitions Editor for the Global Payroll Management Institute (GPMI) and the American Payroll Association (APA).