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Robot Pepper visits North East conference

More than 300 public service people professionals descended upon Sage Gateshead to hear about the use of artificial intelligence and other issues affecting their sector and its workforces.

The Public Services People Managers Association (PPMA) held its annual conference in the North East for the first time in the organisation’s 43 year-old history. The Association is a collective voice representing the views and interests of the human resources and organisational development professions.

Approximately 350 delegates were given a friendly Geordie welcome as they spent time in NewcastleGateshead during the two-day conference.

Incoming President Karen Grave said: “As a student at the University of Newcastle many years ago I remember this region as a profoundly warm, vibrant, proud, honest but gritty place. The Quayside has totally transformed the city since then and I know our delegates have been as captivated as I was then and still am today.”

There were a range of conference speakers touching on the real challenges facing public services and the role of people professionals. The session on artificial intelligence and robotics was a roaring success. Pepper, together with Phil Webster from Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, gave a profound insight into how robotics can augment (not replace) humans. Pepper has a staff badge and is a critical part of the Southend workforce, working with adults and children to improve lives.

Another highlight was opening speaker Jasvinder Sanghera, who spoke passionately about forced marriage and what role people professionals can take in challenging this.

Karen said: “The feedback from this year’s delegates has surpassed all of our hopes. The venue, the sun, the food and the atmosphere resulted in a wonderful event which has challenged us, inspired us and helped us make amazing memories.

“The events team at Sage Gateshead were an incredible source of ideas and enthusiasm and our wonderful advisors at NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau helped us make many connections.”

For more information on PPMA visit

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