On March 4th, Malvern’s head office in the UK decamped to Worcester Warriors rugby stadium for the second annual Corporate Day. A whole day away from our desks, our workbenches, and our labs – it certainly made for a refreshing change.

The day is a time for Malvern’s employees to touch base with each other, hear about the exciting plans for the coming year, and most importantly, have some fun. And boy did we have some fun….but more about that later.

Two elements of the day were kept strictly under wraps by the HR team – the identity of the motivational speaker, and the nature of the team building activity. So we were on tenterhooks! Little did we know that a clue to the identity of this year’s guest speaker came from our team names for the day. I was a proud member of the Cymbals, and we were competing against the likes of the Flutes, the Oboes, and the big bad Bass Drums. So, for one day only, we swapped scientific instruments for musicals ones!

Charles HazlewoodA highlight of the day came when the guest speaker was revealed to be Charles Hazlewood, world-renowned conductor. Charles talked passionately about the work he has done to broaden access to music, from exposing raw new talent in South Africa to opera, to founding the British Paraorchestra to showcase the skills of disabled musicians. I really recommend you take a look at the video of Charles talking about the debut of the amazing Paraorchestra at the Paralympic closing ceremony.

Charles’ enthusiasm and obvious tenacity would have been enough to renew the motivation of the rapt Malvern audience; however, he also imparted an important message. That teamwork is the key to success. Charles talked about the orchestra as the ultimate team, with trust being the key ingredient to making it work. This is of increasing importance to Malvern, as the company has grown so much over the last few years.

Charles also talked about the importance of individuals in an orchestra being given the chance to shine and having room for creative freedom. To give everyone from Malvern a chance to shine, and help us to overcome our reputation of being a “nation of Eeyores”, Charles got the whole room to sing a traditional folk song. It took a little while to warm up our voices, but we were soon singing together in fine voice (sort of!); some more enthusiastically than others! I caught the moment on video, but didn’t realise my voice would be so prominent – so apologies for the warbling and the shaky vid:

It’s a good job we got those creative juices flowing, as the afternoon was dedicated to the dreaded “teambuilding exercise.” Luckily, it didn’t involve any blind folds, rafts, or ritual humiliation. No, the order of the day was to design a two minute game for six players, before passing it on to another team to build, who then passed the completed game on to another team to run while other teams played it. The message in behind this was about clear communication; could three separate teams manage to create a new game from conception through to delivery, communicating only through written instructions? Well, yes and no – it all got a little chaotic at times, but we did end up with a room full of brand new games.

Man on a Spacehopper

Then came the best part – we rotated around the room playing each other’s creations. They ranged from the simple (guess what objects are under the covers by touch alone) to the ridiculous (coax a balloon into a goal using only the space hopper you’re bouncing on). I was mightily impressed by the creativity and ingenuity on show, but none could better “Pot Duck” the game designed by my team -the legendary Cymbals – which involved bouncing round a line of traffic cones on a spacehopper (a popular prop) as fast as you can before throwing a duck (not a real one!) into a pot to score. I may be a little biased! You can check out the highlights video to make up your own mind:

So Corporate Day turned out to be lots of fun, with sweets, singing and games galore. For me, as a newcomer to Malvern, it highlighted the key strength of the company. It’s packed full of intelligent people, who all have their own special talents, and we manage to come together to make great instruments – and great games so it turns out. But we perhaps won’t be releasing the next hit record.