Take one (very) early Saturday morning, two bleary-eyed Insurance Times managers, The Bedford Hotel in Brussels, around 80 recruitment consultants, and there you have it – the Hays Inter-Selection conference 2000.

July 15 saw the annual Hays conference being held abroad for the first time – the brainwave of Chris Greaves, managing director. Greaves has been with Hays Inter-Selection for five months, after moving from Hays Montrose, the construction and property arm of Hays Personnel Services.

Attending were consultants from all Hays Inter-Selection UK offices, representing the division's main disciplines: general insurance, financial services, executive search and actuarial.

The story for Hays Inter-Selection looks rosy – the parent group, Hays Personnel Services, is on track to make an anticipated profit of £100m this year, and has already invested £8m into website and ecommerce activities. Hays Inter-Selection itself is set for further expansion, most notably with a new branch, which has now opened in Dublin, headed up by Matt Tatnell.

Outstanding consultants in each sector were recognised in a series of awards, with the general insurance categories sponsored by Insurance Times. Recognition was given to the best newcomer, the most improved performance, and the best overall consultants in each sector.

The awards were followed by a vibrant session from a motivational speaker, who instilled more positive thought into the audience.

He got delegates on stage – Ninja turtle style – to attempt to channel their newly found optimistic spirit into breaking a block of wood.

The conference certainly demonstrated that the training and development of Hays' own staff is key to its continued success, with the group having stringent recruitment guidelines. Some 60 % – 70% of staff are graduates with between three to five years experience within their specialised sector and new staff are immediately placed on a 12-month development programme in the company.

The day was rounded up by a mass procession through the streets of Brussels to a restaurant serving the finest Belgian cuisine and vin de table. The patience of the waiters can only be admired for ensuring a fine end to what was a brief, but informative, insight into an impressive working (and partying) ethos.